Newsletter Spain Week 1 -- The Arrival Week 1 Images Week 2 Week 2 Images Week 3 - Down to Business Week 4 -- Settling In Week 5 -- Pyrenees Pyrenees Cycling Week 6 - Facing the music Week 7-What Have We Done Week 8-Bargaining Images-Costa Brava Trip Week 9-Emotion Week 10-Cologne Week 11-England Week 12 -- Just us Chickens T-Shirt Contest Public Displays of Affection Reviews of our home e-mail me

Week 3 - Down to Business

Week Three -- Down to Business

Tuesday, September 04, 2007 we got down to business.  The boys went to school by taxi, we went to school by taxi and subway.  This is day two of our lessons and day two of the boys school.  It's a new thing for me.  Apparently my ability to foreflush the language got me ratedinto a higher class, but I suspect I'll soon be demoted  The French guy was demoted today, que lastima por el.  Now it's me with my nine women.  They are all young, except for the teacher, and consist of the following: two Japanese one of whom I swear is speaking Japanese but some of the others think it's Spanish, an Italian who speaks so softly no one can hear her, at least three Germans one of whom obviously is (or should be) a model.  She is very blond, tall, thin, classic but sports a nondescript beauty and acts like she could care less about the class or anything else.  I assume she is a supermodel.  The teacher keeps asking her about her hangovers and the local discos (apparently they still exist).  The girls and I go out after class and get plastered together (just kidding).

I also found a road bike shop which avoids my having to take my bike to Boulder or some other place where they care and can actually service a pro bike.  They are really nice and seem to like me.

Traffic is getting back to normal (gridlock) and we are wondering how to get rid of all car commitments.  It is worthless to have a car here.  Riding around on my bike I can easily keep up with traffic and it's good interval training.  Parking is either impossible or so expensive you don't want to know.  Cars more more slowly than walkers.  There are millions of motor bikes and regular bikes that people move around on and can park more easily.

I rode up Tibidado which is an amusement park at the top of a 1,200 foot hill that overlooks Barcelona, and took a photo of myself.  I just can't get myself to smile!  I'm working on it.  I finally found my way there more easily, it took about 25 minutes to climb it then I tried to find some other places for biking and spent an hour riding around.  It was perfect cycling weather.  I actually saw three or so other road bikes so at least I seem to be finding the right place, kind of.

Wednesday, September 5.  Went for a run today and got some distance in on the hills and saw some of the very nice areas of town.  I ended up coming out at the kids' school, so it is in the right area.  Another day of class.  The supermodel keeps starring at me, and it's making me nuts.  I feel so violated.

Jueves, seis septiembre, 2007.  Es el tercero semana que estamos en Barcelona.  Es el cuatro dia que estoy en las classes de español. Me apprendido much en cuatro dias. Pero, todovía, no puedo hablar español sin hago muchas faultas y es muy díficil a decir lo que quiero.


Despues esta tiempo aqui, comenzco de comprender la vida español y como los españoles ver la dia.  Habia un articulo en un de los periodicos locales que dice 60 % de niños en Barcelona no durmen bastante.  Puedo ver por que.


A las ocho de la manana es la tiempo por dispertirse y comer el desayuno. Duespues, sin un momento par hacer otras cosas, necessito ir al trabajo o a la escuela. Mi trabaho es de ir con los niños a son escuela y directamente déspues va a la escuela de ideomas con Anne.


Si vivo en españa, trabaho o va a la escuela hasta 1:30 or 2:00 y es el tiempo por comer almuerzo.  El almuerzo es dos horas or dos y media.  A las quatro o quatro y media, mas trabaho o esquela a las 8:00 or 9:00 (si yo soy de aquí).  Afortunadamente, no trabaho y no voy a la escuela pendiente las tardes.  La gente aqui come de 9:00 hasta 11:00, mas o menos, y dormi.


Hay tiempo para mi para hacer cosas que son imortantes como paso tiempo con mi familia, hacer exercício, leer, o mirar el television por que no tengo nada durante las tardes.  No comprende como la gente aqui puede viver y guardan sus razón.


Estoy seguro que voy cambiar estas opinions en unas semanas.


As for what we did, Anne and I walked around the Gothic area of Barcelona, called the Barri Gotic, got a cheap meal that was pretty good with our friends Dan and Amy and I picked up my bike from my friends at the bike shop.  The subways here are just fantastic as is the bus system. 



September 7, 2007.   Somehow I made it through my Spanish class and the teacher told me I had a problem with "production" which means I can't get the words out.  She's right.  As I see it, this is only cured by trying to talk in Spanish.  Anne has a much better grasp of the language but also finds it difficult to produce the words.  Anne and I signed up for next week and since there is a holiday on Tuesday and it’s like a Sunday, it’s only four days – no discount though because “all the schools do it this way.”  Nice reasoning. 


We had lunch at a museum where I saw a super-cheap menu, which is generally a good way to go here.  For 7.90 Euros, you got four courses (soup, salad, main course, desert, and coffee).  That’s about $10. 


After that Anne and I took the metro and she stayed on to pick up the kids from school, which is required.  I took my bike out to continue to try to find places to ride.  I went up the hill and then down to Sant Cugat, another town where another of the parents has a place and is really into cycling.  Joe and his wife went to follow the Tour de France and he is going up to Andorra to see the Vuelta de Espana tomorrow.  It’s a four hour drive and I’m not up for it, nor are the kids.


Given the questions and discussion in my Spanish class, it seems life is focused on week-ends.  We have no plans, yet.


Anywho, I took the bike and went around and found some nice roads.  Then on the way back I passed a guy and went up another hill, then down and there he was again since he didn’t do the extra climb.  I started speaking with him.  First, he didn’t even seem to speak Spanish and we spoke French and his was worse than mine.  Finally I asked him if he was Spanish, which he was and didn’t he speak Spanish, he said yes, and we ended up using that language.  A nice opportunity to practice everything I learned in the last week.


So, after about 10 kilometers, he wanted to show me a park/castle at the side of the road.  Then he started walking with his bike, trying to coax me further into the park.  I don’t need it in writing -- obviously he wanted to get a better look at either my bike or penis, so, since I don’t go in for those back-door shenanigans, and while I was flattered and even a little bit curious, I thanked him for his advice about where to ride and did an above race-pace effort out of there.  Nice.


The family went out to dinner and then right when we got back, the electricity in

The Lights go out in our Building


the entire block went out.  We lit Shabbat candles and strangely so did many of our neighbors – I was surprised to see how many Jews there are around here.


The electicity goes out, view from our apartment:



Saturday, September 8, 2007.  No school!  We went to Carrifour this morning, it was open.  It was fine and we managed to spend a few Euros with basic stuff we needed.  Driving is a pain, no question about it, and the traffic was nill.


David, Joshua and Anne went off to the zoo, where predicably they saw more topless action. 



I went around the roads to try to find some new places and stayed out for three hours of sweaty and hot riding with lots of uphills and some truly wonderful technical downhills around tight corners and down challenging roads.  I'm going to need a new set of tires soon from the roughness of the roads and the challenging cornering.  I went over to two different suburbs of Barcelona and they have some real suburbs, very boring and sterile.  One is Sant Cugat and the other, which looks somewhat nicer, is Sant Joan de Deu.


The roads were very empty probably because it was Saturday and during the siesta when everyone is eating and getting drunk.  Let's just hope they sleep it off before hitting the roads.


Sunday, September 9, 2007.  We went to the beach, which took a while since we got lost getting out of town -- an 45 minute trip turned into over an hour.  It could have been worse.  Town is kind of sleepy on Sundays so you can move along.  Anyway, we made it to the beach at Sitges at around 11:40, parked, found a beach that looks nice, and Anne went for a swim in rough water, then I went for a short 40 minute run in hot conditions, then off to lunch. 

I've been meaning to mention something about the food here.  While the quality is mixed, generally fruits seem fresher and vegetables and some other foods less processed.  Cheeses, wine and bread can be really extraordinary.  There are some interesting Catalan dishes with sausages that can be really good (and greasy).  When eating at a restaurant, the price on the menu is what you pay -- there are no taxes and no tips and none are expected.  If you got very nice service you might leave a Euro or two on a 30 or 40 Euro bill.  It removes all the stress of tipping, that's for sure.


Anne thought the kids would enjoy the cheap very crappy paddle boats that you can rent on the beach.  They have a slide mounted on top. 


Here are two photos (note the camera strap that fell into photo) and one of me holding onto the ladder:




Anyway, we made it home and I bought some wine.  The wine here is incredibly good and cheap here, so we are trying it here and there (every night) with our meals.


Tomorrow, school, yikes!


September 10, 2007, Monday.  So starts the second week of school for David, Joshua, Mark and Anne.  At the end of the day, we are worn out.  Today, after having a nice, somewhat leisurely lunch at a local place in the Barri Gotic with our friends Amy and Dan (Dan, if you read this, tell me the secret word -- the word is "Rosebud".)  Then off to pick up the kids from school and sign David up for club soccer.  The club was fine, a very nice uniform for David, which he'll love, plus practice twice a week with an emphasis on the game aspect of playing and all taught in Castillian, not Catalan.


We did a little tour with the coach, a Bolivian named Freddy.  David and Joshua also got to check out the field which is exactly the same artificial turf we have in Aspen.



Here are photos of the guys on the field to be used by David's new club.  Joshua has just made a goal, David is on his way.