Tuesday on my own

Up and at ’em in time to taxi to the pick-up point with enough to spare to grab a breakfast sandwich and coffee. I can now order both in some mix of Catalan and Spanish. Did I mention the sandwich rolls are crusty on the outside and soft on the inside? Yum.

There were 14 on yesterday’s tour and today four times that number. I had an Irish seat-mate. We zipped right out of town and saw how the other half live … the 1.5+ million who can’t afford to live in the city center or don’t want to. We passed acres and acres of apartment buildings and were soon on the outskirts where fields and forests took over. Very pretty. The speed limit is 100 kilometers/60 MPH. The highways are clean and very well maintained. We headed north toward the Pyrenees Mountains and France.

All the guidebooks say to be extra vigilant of pickpockets here and sure enough a tour group member told us it happened to him on the subway…and he even had his $ in his front pocket. When he got to the police station to report it, there were loads of people there, mostly young people, for the same reason.

First stop: Girona, a city founded by the Romans waaaaaay back in the day. A great local guide showed us around and then we were free to explore. It was built around four rivers (two now dry) and is quaint, beautiful, and well restored. It is known for its Jewish sector and tall, thin townhouses that back up to the river a la Venice and Brugge. Ready for this? The town has an official insect …the fly… and an official animal, the lion. There is an old statue of a lion climbing a pole as you enter town with steps situated so that you can kiss its backside as a sort of guarantee that you will one day return. As if that is not enough local color, there is a mechanical acrobat suspended between two buildings downtown. It honors a guy who was good at cheering people up during the plague. Laughter is the best medicine and all that. Anyway, a few times a day a man comes out on a balcony and manipulates the mechanical acrobat so that it ‘performs’ a few tricks. My timing was perfect and I saw this all firsthand. The 60th annual flower show is next week and workers were all over town getting ready. Besides live plants, craftsmen were building huge floating (no doubt anchored) displays on the river. It must be amazing on opening day. I went in search of a pastry they are known for. I finally gave up and settled for their version of made-on-the-spot twisted mini-churros. A small order was six. I wolfed down three and found a bus driver sharing his meal with an elderly man and explained I had too much weight to lose before seeing Jane on Thursday and would they please take the other three off my hands. They clearly did not catch a word but agreed.

Second stop: Figueres, the birthplace of Salvador Dali, the weird and wacky surrealist artist. You will want to Google him just to see his mustache. All kids would love art if this was their introduction. We were in Figueres to visit the museum (in the restored theater where Dali had his first showing at age 14) he organized to showcase his work. One piece incorporates his Cadillac from his days in the U.S. For a Euro you can make it rain inside the car. What? A huge naked nymph is on top; she has chains leading to a boat atop a stack of tires. Seeing is believing in this case. Dali enjoyed science as well as art and experimented with pixels. One famous painting of a naked woman looking out a window looks like a woman when you look at it but when you photograph it, it looks like …wait for it… Abraham Lincoln. No kidding. Dali and his Russian born wife and muse, Gala, were among the first to use the press to market and brand themselves. Their goal in coming to the States, besides getting out of the conflict in their country, was to become rich and famous and they accomplished this rather quickly. Gala was painted in the nude a whole lot plus loads of other pieces were somewhere between lusty, vulgar and beautiful. Or as Emily likes to say, titillating. Once I had my fill of unusual, funky, freaky, eye catching art, I visited the small display of Dali’s amazing, unique pieces of jewelry. All one of a kind. Google ‘Dali theater museum’ to see the outside with all the Oscar statues and eggs on the roof.

I had about an hour free to roam the cute, small town. Besides enjoying coffee at a sidewalk cafe, I lit a candle for Josie’s beloved Aunt Geri, this time in Esglesia de Sant Pere. The candle was like no other I have seen. Once I put my money in a machine a small LED candle lit up. It will stay lit for the amount of time I purchased, which is a mystery to me. In a way I guess I rented a candle.

On the way back into town today we passed two former bull fighting rings that have been converted to other uses because bull fighting is outlawed in this region as well as the Canary Islands, but not the other regions of Spain. We also passed a guy riding an electric wheel. Think unicycle without the seat and no need to pedal. Wierd. A few adults were using scooters but not the electric ones I described before, these needed to be powered by one leg. There were also lots of bicycles with small wheels…like the ones clowns ride in the circus. These Spaniards seem open minded when it comes to modes of transportation.


5 thoughts on “Tuesday on my own

  1. Sounds like a great day again! I love that you lite a candle for Aunt Jerry.

    Matt Mongeon | Senior Business Analyst
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    Technology Team – Cox California
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