October 31, 2007. Halloween with all its ghosts and goblins was very much in evidence at Calle Josep Bertrand, 17, Atico 1 (our address) as one of the neighbors who has kids at David and Joshua’s school organized a neighborhood trick or treating. Since this apparently was the only organized trick or treat, and other Americans got wind of it, what was supposed to be 26 kids turned into 60 or so. I guess we’re now on the Cemetery Lane of Barcelona. Luckily David and I got home (Joshua didn’t go since he had a 24 hour virus he had just gotten over) just in time to utilize David’s booty and regift it. It’s a holiday in Spain (and Germany) called All Saints Day but is largely being overtaken by Holloween (blamed largely on TV and consumerism).
November 1, 2007. Off to London today, after a 1.5 hour run. On those runs I always find different routes and am starting to know all sorts of short-cuts. Today is a holiday called Day of the Dead in Germany where they go and hang out in cemeteries. Sounds like a blast.
In England, it’s a holiday called Guy Falkes Day the coming Saturday, which commemorates the attempt by Guy Fawkes, to carry out the Gunpowder Plot, to blow up the Houses of Parliament, kill King James I of England, and destroy Protestant rule on November 5, 1605. It’s basically considered an anti-Catholic holiday here and is celebrated with fireworks on the Saturday closest to November 5. Fawkes was caught, tortured (presumably waterboarded) and hanged. With that kind of history, how can it not be a fun holiday and it’s a real hoot here.
We had dinner with my friend Nick from London (bike trip Nick) who works in the insurance industry and afterwards the kids and Anne went home and the men went to the pub. It’s now a no-smoking deal in England, which is directly responsible for the decrease in cigarette consumption by 7.5 percent! The cigarette companies must be shitting themselves! Not only that, but Nick claims the pub business has increased putting an end to the argument about how it will decrease when cigarettes are outlawed. Lots of people were smoking outside.
I found my way home and Anne, speaking of shitting, was having a night of diarrea, perhaps caused by or at least catalyzed by the Indian cuisine we had just eaten.
November 2, 2007. I met Sam Rosen at the Gloucester Road tube station and brought him to our apartment where we all shot the bull. Sam is very easy to hang out with and makes a great and fun companion. We all went to the Royal Air Force museum where some 70 aircraft of all vintages are on display. It’s quite a complex, free as are all museums in London, but required an hour on the tube. The boys love to ride public transit so we got that out of the way.
We made an interim stop at Brent Cross shopping center suggested by Sam who went to pick up his son. We are, of course, now being tortured by especially poor exchange rates, so we went there but ended up coming back without even touring the place. It was really out in the country. One thing is clear, people here are either loaded or poor, because it’s expensive.
It’s very nice to be here since it’s similar to the US (language, eating habits, chain stores, no indoor smoking, much less outdoor smoking, some nice ethnic restaurants open at normal hours) and it’s just a break from Barcelona.
November 3, 2007. I went for a beautiful autumn run this morning in Hyde Park for about an hour. The perimeter plus some extra plus to and from the park was about an hour run. Then the family went to the London Eye, a big Ferris wheel that has the best views of London, this morning. It was not easy to get there since the Underground Circle Line was out of service. We finally gave up and took a taxi. I figured out how to stay out of the London Eye lines, which can take hours so we managed to keep the wait to 30 minutes, which is good.
After the London Eye, which only takes about a half an hour, we went to the Star Wars exhibit that was a bit too strategically located right next door. This was a rip off, but David and Joshua are so into Star Wars... Then back to the hotel, get our bags, and take the Underground to the airport to save a $100 plus cab fare (we were packed light and it was only one line to the airport). Then a much more comfortable flight and back home. London is incredibly expensive especially with the weak dollar. The weak dollar has hurt us everywhere, but the best policy is to try to ignore it.
November 4, 2007. We were all lazy and recovering from the trip and somewhat sick (Joshua and Anne with a cough and David with a slight cold). I went for a ride to try to find the train station in Sant Cogat, which took awhile; then I fell coming down from Tibidabo, very slow motion (I was taking it easy on a corner and hit an oil patch) and scratched my hip (road rash) and elbow. I am lucky with all the riding that this is the only fall in a few years; I try to take it easy and stay in control at all times. In any case, otherwise, a lazy day.
November 5, 2007. Not much to report. Both boys were so tired and not well they stayed home from school. I carefully read the Spanish newspaper to try to learn some Spanish. Unfortunately we have a construction over our heads which is a drag to say the least. Anne was at her Spanish class and I couldn't wait to get out and walk around and finally brought my shirts that needed cleaning to what the porter suggested was the cheapest cleaner around and probably ended up being the most expensive. Henceforth, we will get the maid to start ironing which is cheaper! Ah, the trials and tribulations.
November 6, 2007. I’ve added a page to the website for visitor reviews of our great accommodations.