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Uncle Markie out and about.

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Nov '18

Trip Report: Birthday In Barcelona – The City

Day one in Barcelona, found RayA making us a late lunch snack…

Simple but wonderful! Afterwards, I headed to bed for a two-hour nap, while RayA had a French lesson, and then went to the gym. It was a nice way to ease into the city.

I was fine just hanging out at his place, no desire to use the provided keys and explore the neighborhood – with an apartment like this, why leave:

And my bedroom, complete with its own small deck…

Not as big as the deck off the living room!

Speaking of the deck, great place to hang out and have a cocktail…or grill some lamb, which was dinner:

And a great bottle of Greek red wine!

It was a VERY late evening of catching up and doing major damage to the bottle of Woodford Reserve I brought.

Even a simple breakfast with RayA is a classy affair….

I could get used to this.

The afternoon found us on a walk through the city. Yes, 5 Guys has invaded Barcelona, only a block or two from RayA’s flat!

But there is also a centuries old market with any kind of foodstuff you need:

This this was walking distance from MY HOUSE.

The final destination was to help a friend of RayA that owns a bar/restaurant (Gilda by Belgious.):

It was time for a deep clean and organization of the bar – brought on by RayA doing a guest stint as bartender a couple of weeks ago:

A deep clean and standardizing all the glassware, tossing out a good third of it.

We celebrated with a FINE bottle of Cava when we were done:

Here are some random tourist shots from our walk to and from:

It’s times like these that I wished I’d booked more time here.

More sightseeing in the evening, in RayA’s vintage Mercedes 230SL ragtop:

We did a circle around the Gaudi Church (Sagrada Família), still in construction after 120 years, and due to be completed in 2026 – and the finally got their construction permit!

Apparently, it’s hard to get a ticket to the interior without reservations months in advance. Maybe next trip.

Hunger called, and off to a tapas place we went.

Food was great, Raya commented that it should have been cheaper if it weren’t so close to the church.

I close with a final shot of the car….

The ride back to his turned exciting when the transmission stopped transmitting power…we limped home in second, only to find once we were in the garage, there was no reverse either. Time to push it into the spot:

As we were pushing – I noticed large amounts of red fluid on the floor – as in ATF (auto transmission fluid). On the bright side, I didn’t see any metallic flecks in it, meaning he just blew a seal (and not a Navy Seal).

My last full day in Barcelona was notably low key – went out for lunch (at 2:30pm) to a new place around the corner that his concierge gave him a coupon for. Desayunos was the name. Still tracking down a link as the restaurant as it seems to have new owners.

The first bottle of wine (included with the price) was undrinkable, like they’d “married” open bottles of the wine and served it a day later.

The second bottle was freshly opened, and much nicer.

Guessing that this wasn’t what they usually provided, but we happily finished it. Food was good and plentiful, but the service was not. They were out of several items on the menu, couldn’t get AMEX (even though they had table tents advertising they took AMEX) to run after it took us forever to get the check.

We stayed for an additional round of cocktails when we noticed this outside:

It was DUMPING rain outside. Even though we were just around the corner from his flat…drinking sounded like a drier idea.

RayA had rum (below), I had a gin and tonic, which the Spaniards serve in a balloon glass.

We headed back to the house, where we both took a little siesta…

It was a quiet evening at home, which was good, because I needed to pack and get out of the house at 5am. Oi.

Think I’ll be back now that I know TWO friends who at least live in the city part time.

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Trip Report: Birthday In Barcelona – Getting There

A birthday in Barcelona, though not mine. Thank would be RayA. It was just an excuse to catch up with him as he turns 55. Ah, youth.

Used 120,000 United mile and less than a hundred dollars in fees to get Business Class tickets – with the exception of the Frankfort-Barcelona leg. Here is what the routing looks like:

Some might say that’s a lot of travel for just three nights. It’s doable if you are up front. FYI, it was 14,118 flight miles. And you start in the lounge. I get access to the United lounge when I’m on international itineraries with Star Alliance because of my lifetime Gold Premier status (United Million Miler).

Then to another comfortable seat….1D

This is an Air Canada flight, and look at the amazing Steve, my flight attendant!

He brought me a lovely meal after a round of drinks:

Had just enough time in Toronto (we were running a little late) to grab a bottle of Woodford Reserve from Duty Free and get to my gate for my Frankfurt flight…and the digs are MUCH nicer on this long haul:

Yep, a little more room on this 777-300ER. Sadly though, no Steve, but bubbles before we take off:

Followed by nuts and cocktails:

The salad course:

The main course:

The cheese course:

And finally, dessert:

Watched The Royal Tenenbaums on this flight (I watched Love Is Strange on the way to Toronto) and grabbed a couple of hours of sleep in the lay-flat bed, and awoke to this:

Looks suspiciously like my breakfast on the flight to Toronto, though in true Canadian fashion, added a Caesar (that’s a Bloody Mary made with Clamato), while keeping track of the flight:

Arrived in Frankfurt for a longer layover, and immediately headed to the lounge for a refreshing shower!

And the lounge was CROWDED with early morning fliers. Notice the Air Canada pin Steve gave me?

Arrived in after a leg in coach from Frankfurt to Barcelona, only to arrive at what is called a “Hard Stand”, which means you walk down stairs to the tarmac. Then into the terminal for a long snaking walk through the “shopping mall” to get to the far end of baggage claim to wait 45 minutes for your bags so you can catch the AeroBus which will take you to RayA’s place (next to last stop – 30 minutes).

Basically, 24 hours door (Seattle) to door (Barcelona) with only 2-hours of sleep the night before, and 3-4 hours during the rest of the trip. Time for a nap.

To be continued, my adventure in Barcelona.


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Sep '14

Trip Report: Birthday Ramble – SFO-SEA

Welcome to the Port of San Francisco’s NEW cruise terminal – it opened last Thursday (and today is Saturday):

Other than a long line customs/immigration was easy – and finding the Princess Airport Transfer bus as well. I was a tad concerned because I never got a printed voucher for the bus, but they didn’t ask for one, so who knows/who cares.

I’m excited to check out the new lounge Alaska is contracting with in the International Terminal where they relocated while their old terminal is being renovated… the lounge belongs to Cathy Pacific and I’m guessing the quality is going to be well above that of a standard Alaska Board Room which is above the standards for Delta’s Sky Club and American’s Admiral’s Lounges.

They did not disappoint:

Seems I was the second one in the lounge for the day as Cathay’s Hong Kong flight doesn’t leave until 1:45PM – so the lounge was VERY empty:

They offered a full pour-it-yourself bar, lots of snacks, and between 11 and 1 a selection of custom cooked noodle dishes:

Like a said, a notch up from the Alaska Board Room – unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of the “hot dish” table.

The meal in First Class on the way home was interesting – a kale and bacon dish which didn’t sound appetizing, but turns out it was:

Of course, that wasn’t enough to fill me up for the rest of the evening, so for dinner it was a pork, green pepper, and onion stir-fry since I was out of lettuce and needed some sort of vegetable…

And with that, we end the “Birthday Ramble“.

Night all.


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May '11

8 Hours At The Airport.

All For Reno.

Up at 4:30, even before my alarm. Considering how late I went to be, not pleasant.

By 6am I had the car parked at MasterPark, bags checked, through security and into the Board Room for my usual pre-trip nosh.

Got to the gate around 7 to find an offer I couldn’t refuse: take a later flight and get a $300 voucher. By the time it was all said and done, that also included 2000 extra frequent flier miles, and $16 in food vouchers.

Back to the Board Room went I, to take a two hour nap on the couch. I probably could have used another hour, but there were oysters on the half shell calling me (and a bowl of clam chowder) at Anthonys — how nice to be able to have fresh oysters while waiting for your plane. And the view from the restaurant is stunning.

Lots of time to kill, so I’ve been trying to finish (after USA Today, the Seattle Times, and the Wall Street Journal) Graham Greene’s The Quiet American. You could call it historical fiction (set in the early 50’s in Vietnam while the French were fighting and the Americans just starting to meddle) or a story of romance and betrayal. It’s twice (1958 and 2003) been made into movies should you want the easy version. My version is a British reprint from 1957 which interesting enough contains a broadsheet in the back for the upcoming book club offers for October 1957.

I think Jameson will enjoy it since there isn’t a lot of nightlife in Tahoe unless you count the casinos.

Amazingly, I managed to snag another bulkhead aisle seat similar to the one I gave up on the morning flight. Add a couple of glasses of complimentary white wine (Horizon offers complimentary beer and wine on their flights) and even the severe choppiness of the approach to Reno didn’t spoil the fun.

Bag number three off the carousel, used the time to do the paperwork for the rental car (a Chevy Aveo with 245 miles on it, and no plates, just a sticker in the front window).

One stop at WinCo for food and wine, a call to Jameson to grab whiskey, and by 7pm I was checking into the WorldMark Lake Tahoe, Jameson having arrived a few minutes before me.

Dinner was those little lamb t-bones, grilled asparagus, salad, roasted garlic bread, and a 2008 Bogle Petite Syrah.

After dinner entertainment, the hot tub.

Good thing I brought two suits! And a good thing there was a glass surround as the winds are peaking at 35mph which made the drive up the mountain in a tiny econo box (with crank windows) interesting.

Late into the night talking, I miss being in the same city as Jameson but I’m not ready to move to Tahoe where snow flurries are expected tomorrow (June 1st).


Feb '07

Work, and Fat Ladies Screaming.

Work on the house during the day, opera with Space Otter in the evening (Julius Caesar).

One of the things I need to do is get St. Rose of Lima out of the van. It is going to Jeff’s place, but, gee, since it’s Saint Rose, shouldn’t it stay at the Rose Street House? A dilemma. And she is stuck there since Jeff is at the Naraya.

Cleaning up the disaster from yesterday, maybe do a dump run just to clear the place out. But no time for that, just time to make a bigger mess. Photos below.

Tonight is Julius Caesar at the Seattle Opera…. not my usual seats, in theory better (certainly more expensive!) Normally I’m on the second tier front, tonight is front tier front, with Thai food before.