Saturday, June 30, 2007

Naked in Scotland

I'm sure that no one will believe the travel story I have to tell today, but I will proceed anyway...

After spending 3 hours trying unsuccessfully to purchase my ticket to South America (using Delta miles) between the hours of 2am and 5am this morning, I gave up and finally got three much-needed hours of sleep. I felt like hell when I dragged myself out of bed and into the shower at 8, but the possibility of running into traffic on the way to the airport had scared me into taking a taxi at 9am even though my flight to Heathrow wasn't until 11:30.

And good thing I did. No, there was no traffic, but there was a strike. A British Airways check-in staff strike. Phenomenal! So what should've taken 3 minutes (bag drop after self service check-in) took 90 minutes. But then my flight was an hour late taking off, so I had time for a quick coffee before boarding.

Landed in London and had 3 hours to kill before my 4:15 flight and figured I'd spend it at the Delta ticket desk trying to sort out this South America thing. Wrong. I was ushered straight off the plane and in to an excruciatingly long security line. What? I just came off a plane.... Anyway after that I had to go through UK customs, where I was grilled for a full 10 minutes by a very stern British lady who wanted to know what I'd be doing, whom I'd be visiting, where I'd be staying, and if she could take my first-born child in the name of the British throne.

This was my favorite part of the "conversation:"

Stern lady: "Where are you going on your trip?"
Me: Scotland and England
Stern lady: How long will you be in Scotland?
Me: Six days.
Stern lady: How long will you be in England?
Me: Four days.
Stern lady: How long is your total stay?
Me: ... (not sure if stern lady is kidding and thinking this is a trick question) Ten days?

She let me through. And thank goodness I didn't have to go to the bathroom in all that time because it was a full hour after getting off the plane before I found one in the dinky hall where I had to wait for my flight to Edinburgh. Which, by the way, was delayed by 2 hours. We sat in the plane for 45 min of that.

But finally I landed in Edinburgh at 7:30, nearly 11 hours after leaving my apartment, and my friend Andy met me at baggage claim. Where we waited for my bag for 30 minutes. It never arrived.

I'm really not sure what kind of awful thing I did to someone while traveling last year, but my bad travel karma started with that cancelled Alitalia flight from Romania to Milan on Easter 2006 and has never really let up since. Andy is impressed that I'm so unruffled and good-humored about the whole thing, but really there isn't much I can do. I mean, it's totally normal to have a strike, two very delayed flights, and lost luggage all on one day.

Isn't it?

By the way. Edinburgh is freezing. And all my sweaters and jackets are in my bag. But the good thing is I get to go on a British Airways sponsored shopping spree tomorrow! Yeahhhhh!!

Friday, June 29, 2007


It's 2am. I've just returned home from a verrrry long (but fun!) dinner with Benjamin and Julian, after which I spent an hour frantically packing and cleaning my flat, and then drove my moto to Calatrava for safekeeping in the garage. One taxi ride later, and here I am, ready to hit the sack.

Tomorrow morning I'm off to Edinburgh to visit my old colleagues, the boys from Rockstar North, and see Scotland, a place I've wanted to visit since watching Trainspotting 6 times IN THE THEATER back in 1996. Hey, I was about to go to film school and anyway it took that many viewings to understand 70% of what they were saying! (I only got up to 100% on my 46th viewing with my friend Michael, when we watched it on DVD with subtitles.)

So I promise whiskey-laced tales of bogs and highlands, and hopefully some good photos, if the rain ever lets up. Apparently it has been going nonstop for 2 weeks now. But I think my skin needs a break from sunny Barcelona, so Scotland here I come!!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A Tuesday... it IS Tuesday, right?

In case anyone is interested, here are all the things I accomplished today, starting at 7:30am, when I woke up in a cold sweat from a dream about my dad getting pulled over by the cops for driving on the wrong side of the road in the UK. (Hmmmm.... I'm meeting him there next week. Should I do the driving?)

7:30 - 9:00am: Consider going running. Decide many times not to. Anyway, for some reason there are dudes on my terrace running big tubes up to the roof. Maybe I should keep an eye on things... and put some clothes on!

8:00am - 12noon: Unpack. Two whole boxes and two bags. I'm on fire!

12:30 - 1:30pm: See Dr. McCarthy about the laundry list of vaccinations I need before heading to South America: Typhoid, Yellow Fever, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B booster... I later realize I should probably get a tetanus booster (it's been a while) and ... do I need Malaria pills? According to the CDC, maybe I do. And a rabies shot?! Oh geez.

1:30 - 2:00pm: Drop off prescription at pharmacy. Everything will arrive tomorrow morning. In Spain they just give you needles and stuff and you can shoot YOURSELF in the butt with a Hep shot! Awesome! No thanks. I'll go back to Dr. McCarthy tomorrow.

2:30 - 4:30pm: Impressively improve sunburn at beach. I am lookin' faaaiiiiiine!

5:00 - 6:00pm: Snack on brown cheese (I will have to go back to Norway when I run out!), satisfy my internet addiction by researching all the vaccinations I forgot to ask for, listen to music to take my mind of the possibility of being bitten by a rabid burro. Marco's favorite song comes on. Cue irrepressible smile.

6:30 - 7:30pm: Miraculously sell Huy's beater of a moto (just kidding Huy, it's really nice) to Oriol's sister. This takes time because it doesn't start for a while. After jumping it and then learning it still runs WHEN YOU TAKE THE KEY OUT OF THE IGNITION (!!!! How awesome is THAT!!!!) I head home and get a call a few minutes later. Sold! Cross that off the list.

8:00 - 9:00pm: Accidentally go for a one-hour run. I forgot the beach was so far from my new flat. On my moto it seems like it's 5 feet away....

9:30 - 10:30pm: Scarf pasta and write blog. In an hour I'll head to La Fira (one of my favorites) for Lindy's farewell party. She's leaving tomorrow. We'll miss you Lindy!!!

So I'm not sure exactly what day it is, but I guess I'm still pretty productive. Woo hoo!

Being Boring

Since my very exciting non-adventure to Milan, life has been pretty chill and - dare I say it - almost boring. But I like it! I've been doing lots of errands, preparing for my trips, losing my mind slowly but surely (lack of regulated, organized activity in my life seems to make me absent-minded), and getting a bit of exercise and sun. How very normal. But I guess I should enjoy it since starting Friday life will get interesting again as I start my big travel / beginning-of-work adventure.

So for this week I will content myself with more farewell parties (Lindy & Kathy), taking care of administrative leftovers for Calatrava and Huy, organizing this apartment that I'm still too lazy to properly move into, and packing. Whew! I'd better get started.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

4 taxis richer, 90 euro poorer

This morning I woke up with a start, after having pressed "snooze" on my cell phone alarm clock a few times, at 6:16. Onset of immediate panic. AHHH I have to be at the airport in less than half an hour!

By 6:20 I was somehow dressed, with my contact lenses in and my teeth brushed, and coherent enough to figure out what I did and did not need with me in order to cancel my flight. I ran down the stairs (the elevator literally doesn't go to the top floor in my case!) to what is labeled the 7th floor but is really the 9th and pushed the elevator button. Nada. Joder! I ran down the 10 flights of stairs, only to find I was locked in the building.

Apparently this happens sometimes... some overzealous neighbor (hopefully not the same one who broke the elevator) gets really excited about locking the front door and I can't get out. Two minutes of prying the glass off the door and unlocking from the outside by sticking my hand through the gate. I'm sure this looked awesome to all the zombies walking around outside.

And there were many. Just last week when we came out of the Sonar at 7am, Quentin mentioned that the only people who are walking around at that time on a Sunday morning are people who have been out all night. And they all want taxis! Damn club zombies! And I probably looked like one of them at that point too... just out of bed, completely clueless and zombiefied. I couldn't find a free taxi anywhere and so had to call. 15 minutes, they tell me. Uff, that's 15 minutes I don't have, but suddenly I'm very grateful for them because I realize that I really REALLY need to go to the bathroom.

Back inside, back up 10 flights of stairs, pit stop, grab a book - because you never know - and back down 10 flights. My taxi is miraculously waiting for me outside like a beautiful black and yellow carriage. Haha Zombies!! I win! They reach for my taxi as we whisk by, but it's no use.

And, 15 minutes later, I'm at Terminal A again. Funny, seems like I was just here yesterday. Oh wait, I was. The woman yesterday told me they'd be open at 5am and I could come at that time today if I'd like. No thanks, 6:45 is early enough... but unfortunately when I arrive I find a sign at the Alitalia ticketing booth. "We open again at 8:15." Damn you, Alitalia!!!! As there are no Alitalia flights taking off for the next 2 hours, there aren't even people at the check-in desk. I'm alone in my Alitalia misery, and now I'm missing the flight I was supposed to be on, so it's possible I won't even get my refund.

So I sit. And wait. For an hour and a half. Good thing I brought the book! I alternate between reading and daydreaming about just jumping on a flight to Copenhagen. Or Fuerteventura. Or Lima... Finally 8:15 rolls around and I head to the desk again. The woman shows up at 8:30 with a guilty grin on her face. I probably don't look amused. I explain to her that I've been here since 6:45 but she says she was here then, so it's not possible. The fact that I disagree with this point and she doesn't argue further leads me to believe that she is indeed BSing me and I'm justified in my annoyance. I explain that I never intended to get on this flight this morning, that I just came to cancel, as I already missed a very important dinner last night and have to be back anyway tomorrow morning. I don't want another flight, I just want a refund. She feels really sorry for me, can't do much aside from print out proof that I did in fact cancel my flight before it took off, and compliments me on my Spanish.

And that's it. I walk out with a little green Alitalia ticket booklet with a boarding pass and receipt that will unfortunately never get used, except to plead my case with eDreams, and next thing I know I'm in another 22 euro taxi back home. Where I have the brilliant idea to take my road bike out for a spin. I'm all dressed and ready to go when I remember that the elevator is broken, but it's too late to turn back, so down I go with my bike on my shoulder.

By 10:30am I'm back home, having accomplished more than I normally do in an entire Sunday, and I've even met my downstairs neighbors. So for the rest of the day I'll probably have to be pretty much useless in order to compensate for all I've accomplished. Starting with coffee at the cafe I just found around the corner! Oops... 10 more flights... here we go!

Saturday, June 23, 2007


Faced with the approach of 21 days' worth of separation anxiety, and knowing that Marco would be in Milan for work this weekend and that, as a result, a Calatrava reunion was only a quick flight away, I booked a ticket on Wednesday night to join the Guapos in Milan. Everything was perfect. I found flights at the exact times I wanted them, I was able to get in and out of Linate (and thus could go to the airport with George on Monday morning) and not dreaded and out-of-the-way Malpensa, and I would skip a sleepless night due to the annual San Joan festival... an extravaganza of fireworks and craziness.

On the way to the airport I made the mistake of thinking that my return flight on Iberia would be the problem, and that I might get stuck in Milan for a few extra hours on Monday morning. But silly me, why was I thinking only of the horror stories of others and not of my very own? Alitalia has screwed me over before and, indeed, I should have been more concerned about the near future...

So when I arrived at the airport, still impressed with the fact that I'd packed everything I needed into a sleek shoulder bag, and dangling my strappy heels in my hand, fully prepped for any festivities that might come my way upon disembarking... well, let's just say all I could do was laugh incredulously when I saw just one flight on the big board that read "Cancelado." My Alitalia 81 to Milan! The last flight to Milan of the night!


Awesome. Unable to reach George, I did what I could, and agreed to take the next possible flight, at 6:50am tomorrow morning. Painful, yes, but it seemed less painful than trying to get my money back from Alitalia and Iberia via eDreams. Ugh. But upon talking to George, and learning that my 8:30am arrival would mean he'd have to get up at 7:30 to drive the 70km to Malpensa, I realized the cause was futile. Even so, I have to be at the airport tomorrow morning by 6:50am in order to cancel my flight before it takes off.

Perhaps I'll use the extra Sunday morning hours that I'd normally sleep through (ie - 7-10am) to be productive and do things like ride my bicycle and finish unpacking in my new apartment. But given that Diagonal currently sounds like Baghdad on a good night, I have a feeling sleep won't come early. And that I'll be getting right back into bed after my 4th useless taxi ride between BCN and the airport.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Lee Miller

Photo courtesy Anthony Penrose via Wikipedia

Today I went to the Picasso Museum for the first time, where I caught a temporary exhibition of photographs of the artist by Lee Miller, who has become my new hero. Model turned muse to Man Ray turned photographer turned war correspondent, she epitomizes the kind of tough, cool lady I really admire. If you happen to be in Barcelona between now and September, be sure to check out this exhibit... totally worth it!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Barcelona vacation

So what's a girl been doing since returning from Norway? Certainly not updating her blog, as I heard from many people. Whoops! Sorry! So here's what I HAVE been doing....

Saying fond farewells (I prefer "See you soon!"s) to many friends, including Rafa, Francis, Andrew, and Ian. And many "well hello agains" as well... to Marco, Francis, and Ian... strange how this works. I like it!

Going to Ikea. Ugh. I hate Ikea. But a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do to furnish a flat, even one she won't get to live in much for the next four months. And so I find it's a good idea to make the best of it and really test everything out.

Only in the first section and already I'm pooped.

But that leather couch gave me a sudden boost of energy!
Enough to ride the train of ugly futon chairs.
All the way to the kitchen section.

Awesome! This will fit PERFECTLY in my living room! Score!
Another activity which has consumed a surprising amount of my time is lounging on the beach working on my tan. Trust me, my tan requires a lot of work... many hours of care and maintenance. Bogatell beach is perfect for playing "which boobs are fake?" and "who's on steroids?"... two of my all-time favorite games, and easy enough that even a beginner can play and feel like a winner!

On Friday, this "advertisement" for the club Catwalk paraded by, pouting and flouncing around. In fairness to them, it was HOT. And they were wearing a lot of makeup and crazy (though not very LARGE) get-ups... I'm surprised they didn't act more bitchy!

And, of course, there was the Sonar Festival... two and a half days of my life lost, never to be returned. Actually, that's untrue. I had EXTRA time during that weekend because I didn't sleep! Bonus!

The crowd

The DJThe sweat
The immediate need for refreshment. Like apple juice! MMMM!!!!!!

Oh. That's not apple juice.

Still standing! Still dancing! Or ... something ...
Ready for a nap.

And don't forget Montserrat! I hadn't been there since March, so figured it was time for a trip. And strangely, I got lost, despite having climbed to the top twice before and knowing there's really only one route. Well, I found another. And it was looooooong. Oops.

Climbing up the seemingly bazillion stairs.
"I think we have to go down here." Famous last words.

Nevermind, I'll just climb trees instead. Isn't that what you're supposed to do when you're 28?

And now you see why I haven't been posting much lately. Whew!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


My friend Nanna, my hostess with the mostess in Oslo, is also a phenomenal photographer. Check out her stuff when you're bored at work. She's having an exhibition in Oslo starting September 6, so be sure to drop in if you happen to be in town.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Norway Photos

I called my dad on Sunday evening to wish him a happy father's day and he said it was really nice that I'd called, but what he'd really like for father's day would be for me to finish my Norway blog entry. Okay, only for you dad. Here's Norway in pictures! Finally! Sorry... it has been a busy week (but that's another entry altogether.)

My dad in Oslo with Nanna and Jan-Erik, at the top of the Grand Hotel. It looks dark out, but that's only because of the flash.

Here's how it really looked:

The following morning we got up very early to start our "Norway In A Nutshell" tour. Highly recommended if you have 12 hours to kill and don't need to get between Oslo and Bergen particularly quickly. (I flew back... took 45 minutes.) The first train took 5 hours, and we saw some amazing views.

Including random snowdrifts between regions of green. This looks cold, but it was VERY WARM. Well, the temperature... not the snow.

Our second train, which we rode for an hour and which took us through some incredible canyons and valleys.

Next up, a ferry ride for 2 hours... my favorite part of the trip. All of these fjords have names... I only remember Narrow Fjord.

After the ferry, a bus took us to the top of a mountain and stopped at a hotel for an amazing view before taking us to the next and final train.

Finally we arrived in Bergen at 8:30pm.

And it was totally worth the wait! What a beautiful city.
I took the funicular to the top of the mountain for some breathtaking views and was surrounded by midwestern Americans searching for their Norwegian roots.

A midnight beer... just what the doctor ordered.

After a night in Bergen, we headed out of town to stay at the summer home of Egil and Ingrid, colleagues of my father's. We stayed in their boathouse on the fjord. SO. COOL. Our view:

And we ate every meal outside. So relaxing!

Thank you to Egil and Ingrid for a fantastic weekend near Bergen and to Nanna and Jan-Erik for their hospitality in Oslo! I hope to be back soon!!!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Norway.... wow

It's Friday, which means I'm about halfway through my trip to Norway and so far I have been completely blown away. What an amazing place...

In 4 days I have taken nearly every known means of transportation: 2 planes, 3 cars, 2 boats (one big, one small), a bus, a taxi, a funicular, and yes, my own two feet. And already it has been a week of firsts: my first tick (ew), my first taste of whale meat (yum!), my first time getting completely lost on an island a la Gilligan (funny once it was over), and my first brown goat cheese (delicious - I am addicted).

I left Calatrava at 6:30am on Tuesday to catch my flight to Oslo via Munich, which allowed me only 15 minutes to make the connection. Much better than my 11 hour visit there last summer... Jan-Erik met me at the airport and we had lunch (lots of shrimp!!!) on the wharf in the sunshine. Apparently I have the good fortune of enjoying the best weather in Norway like... EVER. Nonstop sunshine, no clouds or rain... basically completely strange for this part of the world.

Jan-Erik told me that there had been a slight change of plans and instead of staying in Oslo, we'd be going to an island. Great! Met up with Nanna and their friend Morton, and before I knew it we were on a boat cruising for "Cheese Island." Morton's family cabin there is incredible and while the boys went golfing, Nanna and I decided to take a "short" walk. Oops. Three hours later, after accidentally visiting the houses of many island residents, we finally found our way home... around 10:30pm. At least we worked up an appetite! Burgers on the dock in the still-bright nighttime; the only problems being the swarms of mosquitoes and the seemingly rabid swan that attacked us.

We started Wednesday morning with a swim in the fjord (brrr!) and breakfast outside and then headed back to Oslo to meet my dad for lunch at an amazing restaurant on top of the mountain near the old ski jump. Dad's in town for a conference, so while he headed off to that in the afternoon, Nanna showed me around Oslo a bit before we went for the best sushi EVER with Jan-Erik. That's where we had the whale. And it was good. We wrapped up the night with some very potent Norwegian drinks on the roof of the Grand Hotel in the center of town.

Yesterday morning dad and I hit the train station at 8am to begin a 12-hour odyssey known as "Norway in a Nutshell." After a 5 hour trainride that took us through valleys and forests and into massive snowdrifts, we switched to a smaller, older train for another hour, which cut right through some massive fjord-created valleys and along side raging waterfalls. From there we took a 2-hour ferry and saw dozens more waterfalls and quaint villages and then took a bus to the town of Voss, stopping along the way at a hotel perched at the top of a mountain with an incredible view of the fjords. In Voss we took a final train to Bergen and at 8:30pm we had finally arrived. We had a beer on the wharf surrounded by rowdy locals and then called it a night because he had to do the final round of his presentations today.

Today I had coffee with Nanna's cousin, an actress, and then wandered all around Bergen, which is a really beautiful port town and was once the capital of the region... before Norway was Norway. This afternoon I'm off with my dad and his colleagues Egil and Ingrid to their summer home on the fjord about an hour outside of Bergen. On Sunday I'll fly back to Oslo for a final afternoon with my tour guide Nanna and then on Monday, back to Barcelona!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Calatrava Guapos: The Next Generation

Last night the new guapos threw a party here at Calatrava to celebrate the birthdays of Pete and Quentin. Many first years hadn't ever been to our humble abode and to this day I still get a kick out of the thrill people get when they walk onto the terrace for the first time. What can I say... it's an amazing place, and I'll be sorry to leave, though I'm looking forward to getting fully settled in at my new place (also on the top floor, and also with a terrace and a killer view) on Diagonal.... after I return from Norway.

That's right, I'm off Tuesday morning for Oslo, where I'll catch up with Jan-Erik and Nanna and see the sights with some locals. Then my dad arrives (ever the jet-setter now that he's "retired") on Wednesday and we'll head to Bergen on Thursday for the rest of the weekend. The weather report is looking good, and the fjords are calling. I promise to provide a photographic explanation of my trip when I return.

In the meantime, may I introduce Calatrava 2007-2008: Jan-David, Quentin, and Tucker. Enjoy the house guys, and don't do anything we wouldn't have done... which leaves you a lot of leeway!