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Bus Trip to Barcelona

Soon after our last guests departed, the weather in Key West transitioned from the perfect-every-day variety to the monsoon season. Sad though we were to depart paradise, it was time to Ramble On.


Most people simply drive up through the Keys to Miami. We took a Greyhound bus. Fans of Jack Reacher or the Allman Brothers know that this is the only soulful way for a Ramblin’ Man and his woman (and she is now informing me that she is my wife—whom I am lucky to have—not my woman) to get on down (or up) that lonesome road. Stops in Marathon, Islamorada, and Key Largo, plenty of time to take it all in.

 

When mention of our mode of transportation was met with raised eyebrows from our Key West drinking buddies, I told them that I planned to write a classic blues rock song on the bus; which seemed to satisfy them.

 

First verse:

Mama always told me to pull out of the Keys when the hard rain comes...

And the busman told me don’t use that old toilet in the back, except for number one...

 

Some work to do yet, but I think it will chart.

 

Bladder distress aside, I decided to hold it until Miami after seeing Lori return to our seats, still twitching a bit from her experience in there.

 

It was a pretty ride, except for the ugly bits (this is still Florida after all) and it largely passed without incident except when Lori had to take over the driving from all the way back in row 8B because she said you couldn’t see out the front windshield through the driving rain.


I used this opportunity to nap.

 

Espana


Daniel is traveling tonight on a plane

I can see the red taillights heading for Spain

-Bernie Taupin

 


On the night over water (our flight to Barcelona) I finally did the Barbenheimer, back-to-back, as it was meant to be done. Hot takes: One film was about a transformational figure who changed the world as we know it. The other was about a scientist during a war.

 

No matter how many times we travel across the pond, I’m duly impressed by just how exhausting and complex it all is, and how easily I forget that before the next time. The tally:


  1. Uber to the bus station

  2. Greyhound to the Miami Transportation Hub

  3. Airport train to the terminal

  4. TSA travails (non-trivial in this case)

  5. Flight to Lisbon

  6. Schengen Zone shuffle (Euro border control)

  7. Flight to Barcelona

  8. Bus from BCB Terminal 1 to Terminal 2 (and lest you assume this was a walkable distance and a short shuttle trip, it was a high-speed rollercoaster ride to what seemed like another airport entirely. Standing room only trying to prevent our way-too-large backpacks from rocketing back and forth into the sides of the cramped carriage as we held on for dear life).

  9. Train into Barcelona

  10. ¾ mile walk from the train station to the hotel with our ginormous backpacks


We were nearing total dehydration and Euro-collapse by this point. Normal people of our age would book a business-class seat on a non-stop flight and take a taxi from the airport. But we (well... I) still take a perverse pride in doing this thing old school; college student style.


Plus, I’m an idiot.

 

Holy Barcelona Batman!



The Sagrada de Familia (Sacred Family), is Gaudi’s masterpiece, nearing completion after 142 years of construction. Security to get into the church was tighter than the Tel Aviv airport. I somehow wound up going through the metal detector three times having failed to remove required items that I never bother to remove at airports anymore (belt, watch, foil-wrapped trouser cucumber, etc.). And in the process, I lost my hotel key and a few other items.



I had to shake that off and get re-awed by where I was—Antoni Gaudi’s temple of wonder. It’s not the 8th Wonder of the World, but it has to be in the top twenty. Pictures do not do it justice. It's just one of those places. So don't look at my pictures. Just go and check it out. But be forewarned: It's definitely a Sistine Chapel-type deal—jaw dropping awe at the creator's ability to turn an interior space into something magnificent and incomprehensible, combined with enough rugby-scrumming with your fellow pilgrims to swear you off being a tourist for life.


And finishing wonder-of-the-world churches doesn't come cheap. They charge a hefty tour price and then they pack 'em in, all day, every day. 18,000 of us bumping and grinding our way to get a glimpse. It's probably not the experience Gaudi envisioned for the faithful when he began. Barcelona was only a small city in those days and cheap flights to the Continent were still a few years in the future.


All that said, it is pretty cool. Gaudi sought to pay tribute to what he considered God's greatest creation—the natural world. The finished product will be the tallest church on the entire planet. The inside looks like a massive stone and glass forest filled with soaring trees, if you were on acid.


Gaudi was a very religious man, going to confession every day. His devotion apparently didn’t aid him when he was run over by a tram, on his way to confession. Fortunately, he had left all of his detailed plans and models for the church's completion in his workshop so that work could continue after his death. Then a fire set during the Spanish Civil War destroyed all of that. And here, one can’t help but wonder if, maybe, God just doesn’t want this thing built? I mean it is a bit "gaudy" if you will pardon the expression. Maybe the big guy isn't a fan?


But Gaudi's disciples carry on and hope to complete it by 2030.


I'm just not putting my money on it. God still has eight years to smote this thing. One good earthquake... Point being—if you want to check it out—I would get on it.


Gaudi wasn't the only avant garde in town. We also visited the Joan Miro museum.




this one spoke to me


Wango Tango



Old and dear friends Mark and Mary are here in Spain to celebrate a few significant birthdays this year. For fun, I signed our little group up for a Rooftop Tango lesson. Two reasons for that decision:

1. This advertising photo delivered to my email suckered me in.

2. Admission included free sangria.


Our Argentinian instructor, Claudia, began by explaining that the Tango is not a typical Latin dance. Not a lot of hips or suggestive movements (so far so good for this guy). The dance originated in Argentina and Uruguay among European refugees fleeing the First World War and the Spanish Civil War. These people had suffered and endured great hardships. The dance was created as an expression of two people offering simple comfort to one another through measured and beautiful movement.


A lovely sentiment. Okay, let's Tango Claudia. And as you can see, I crushed it.



And my partner wasn't bad either, though, as the leader, I was doing all the work. Having knocked back two Sangrias, my hips may have moved slightly more than was strictly necessary, but I took all that as a guideline.


Thank you for reading!


In the immortal words of Ernest Hemingway: The first draft of anything is shit.


Postscript:


One of the great things about being a rambler is all the friends and relatives you get to see all over the place. Here we are meeting up, pretty much at random, with cousin Janet and her friend Bonnie in Barcelona. Delightful.






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Betsy Wellings
Betsy Wellings
13. mai

A tree almost fell on me in Barcelona. I was about to head up a path and a gianormous evergreen fell across it. I decided not to go that way after all. I agree, Gaudi is gaudy, but La Sagrada Familia is impressive beyond words. I also recall the Piccasso museum. It shows the progression of his work from childhood drawings, to the classical blue period, to the cubism we are so familiar with. I am not a huge fan but still enjoyed it inmensely. Say hello to Lori for me! (You remember, your wife....!)

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