Wednesday, August 29 -- it was exciting and fun. We rented a car until our car we ordered through Europe by Car arrives October 1. Then off to Sitges to the beaches. Sitges is best known as a gay beach and fun it was. It's pretty and relatively upscale from last week's beach. Great swimming and the water was warm.
Anyway, we found a nice place to sit, David and Joshua went diving into the sand and it started to rain. Time for lunch, which took about 1.5 hours at the Kansas Bar, then back to the beach where the sun was shining. Our tans are getting really good and we're going native -- that is, we're using sun lotion, not sun block. Pass the SPF 2! (Just kidding, we're so white the locals have to block the reflection).
There are these African fellows who have very dark skin selling stuff on the beaches that no one buys. Seems like they could sell things that might have a market. Some of the Spanish seem to entertain themselves by asking about everything, then just saying they aren't interested.
August 30 was our chance to fill in some of the gaps of things we needed, electronically speaking. Bought a cheap HP printer and an expensive Sony TV. Everything here seems about twice as expensive as in the US, but it always includes all taxes and delivery. I've been told there is a rebate of tax when you leave the country, but I don't see how that would work unless you export what you purchased. The tax is 16 percent, so it would be nice. We ate lunch at the top of the Cortes Ingles store at Placa Cataluya, which has amazing views.
August 31 we took the car to the kids' school. We got terribly lost, which we should have predicted, plus the usual problems trying to leave the garage and were half an hour late. This apparently did not matter to anyone but us. Then Anne had a lunch "with the girls" which is the incoming class of people who are living here for a year and are being helped by Olympic Advisors. Olympic Advisors is a relocation service run by a husband and wife team; John does the marketing and sales and Christina does the service which includes finding a place to live. There were some nice folkes, like ourselves, with whom we will likely become friendly. Since Christina is doing a "girls" thing, I think John will do a guys thing which probably involves smoking cigars, talking about the time we shot an elephant; that sort of thing. Jordan -- I'll need some help here.
The porter from the garage was in the apartment to install a light and it turns out that he loves cycling and wanted to see my bike and advise me about cycling routes. He said there are tons of cyclists on the week-ends and they go every which way and told me the best routes to use to get out of town. It was a funny conversation since I think he spoke mainly Catalan and my broken Spanish. My impression is that the Catalans find a way to understand and express themselves.
September 1 we decided to take a look at the Costa Brava, which starts about 60 kilometers outside of Barcelona. It's a toll road and has plenty of traffic, but of course going to the beach on a Saturday was not an especially unique idea so it took a while to find any beach once we got far enough north to consider ourselves on the Costa Brava. The travel books generally say that this coast, which means Rocky Coast, is spoiled by overdevelopment. There are a lot of people, no doubt about it. It took about an hour to reach the first resort that was there, called Blanes and we parked where convenient (expensive) and walked 50 yards (meters) to the beach. The boys didn't like it as much as the beaches to the south since it had rocky sand and a shore break. I went on a run for about 55 minutes and ended up running down to the trailer park and then up to the top of a hill, probably about 500 feet high, and down a lot of steps. There were lots of restaurants and generally a pretty scenic place.
September 2, Sunday, is a day of rest in Spain. I told Anne that of course the Carrefour is open (it's the second largest retailer after walmart) so we got the car from the garage (probably would have been just fine renting a car here and there when needed, but that's another story) and made our way through the very quiet streets to the store, to find it closed. We went next door to IKEA and it was also closed. In fact, we found out, everything is closed on Sunday except for restaurants so you better have your shopping done.
I went on a bike ride and got lost, predicably, and it took me 40 minutes to find a road I was on a few days ago. Once I found it, I did a 20 minute climb up to a tower above the town, the views are amazing, and around trying to find alternative routes. Eventually I will get this organized.
Anne had the idea of attending a Barcelona Football Club game and it just happened they had one tonight so we went. Strangely it went off on time, at 7:00 p.m. and we go there as it started. The stadium holds 100,000 people but there were probably about 80,000. I learned that this equates with about 80,000 packs of cigarettes smoked. As tolerant as I am, this started to get on my nerves and took something from the experience. David has been looking forward to the experience and Joshua seemed to like it too. The stadium is about a mile from the house so luckily we walked and didn't have to worry about transportation. I've never seen so many motorscooters parked in one place. The game was high-scoring and Barcelona won 3 to 1.
There are more motorbikes per person in Barcelona than any other place, according to the tourism bus, and I believe it.
September 3, Monday, is the first day of school for the boys and the end of our second week in Barcelona.
We cabbed it to school.
David was totally happy with his first day of school; Joshua a bit more circumspect. Here is a photo of Joshua and David ready for the day:
Anne and I also had our first day of Spanish class. It was at an emersion school called International House of Languages (not Pancakes). I had to pee for about an hour but since I was surrounded by 20 somethings, I didn't want to appear like the guy who couldn't hold it. There was one other French guy and myself and the other six were women (girls). Two Japanese, one Italian, two French and two Germans and me. The entire class was taught in Spanish, which was nice. Anne was put in a lower class, which upset her since she is probably better in terms of vocabulary. I have a certain je ne sais pas about languages and pancakes which confidence seems to work well for me. Anyway it all doesn't matter except that I have homework and Anne does not.
After class we had lunch with our new friends, Amy Fox and her Husband Dan who are attorneys from Pennsylvania. They, like us, are here for a sabbatical and introducing their kids to a new language and experience. Then off to pick up the kids for a long walk back home.