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liverno

We arrived on day three at the port of Liverno, Italy.  At this port, people had the choice of going either to Florence or Pisa.  Since we had been to the lovely city of Florence a few years back, we decided to go see something we hadn’t seen before, Pisa and of course The Leaning Tower.  Our tour was scheduled for early afternoon, which was fine.  What wasn’t so fine was the news we received the day before concerning our tour in Pisa.  After the horribly disappointing NON-stop in Cannes, we were then told that part of the tour of Pisa was cancelled.  We were supposed to do a tour down the “scenic Arno River”, but apparently the tour boat was broken.  No, there was not a replacement boat, we were just out of luck.  What can you do?  Grin and bear it, I guess.

We rode a bus from the port to Pisa.  It was about a half hour ride through some pretty unimpressive countryside.  Upon arriving in Pisa, we transferred to a trolley for our tour around the city:

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Everywhere we went, we were literally surrounded by fellows (and sometimes ladies) like the guy in the center of this photo, holding the umbrella.  They were selling umbrellas/parasols, bags, postcards, you name it!  I found that I could be polite and say “no, thank you”, they would walk away approaching someone else…. and then, two minutes later, they’d be back, practically begging us to buy whatever it was they had to sell.  I do understand that people need to make a living, but it was a bit annoying.  I never felt threatened or anything like that, however.   We rode the trolley through the small town of Pisa and ended up at the “Field of Miracles” where the Leaning Tower stands.

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Doesn’t look like it’s leaning too much in this shot.  No worries, it’s just the angle we were viewing it from.  It’s still leaning, for sure.  No surprise, we decided NOT to climb to the top.  We still got some pretty good views from below.

Ahhh yes, here’s the Leaning Tower, actually leaning!

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Also in the Field of Miracles is the cathedral and the Baptistry.  We did go into the cathedral and here are a couple shots.

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I had to take a close up of this one.  You so often see the crypts of important dead people in these old churches, but it’s rare to come across a see-through crypt.  Creepy.

Before long, our short tour of Pisa was done.  Next thing we knew, we were back aboard the ship, headed out to the Mediterranean once again.  I couldn’t resist snapping this shot of another cruise ship, leaving Liverno.

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As the sun begins to set, we have a bite of dinner (John had lamb chops and I had spaghetti bolognese) and then begin to look forwards to our next stop: Rome.  For the first and only time, hubby and I would be doing separate tours.  He signed up for the 10.5 hour tour while I did the less strenuous 5 hour tour.  This turned out to be a very smart idea.  For now, goodnight from somewhere near Liverno!

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Monday morning arrived and were we ever excited!  Today was the day we got to board the beautiful “Serenade of the Seas” for twelve glorious nights and untold adventure to many new places.  Check in was a breeze, they seemed to be very very organized with the whole process.  Before we knew it, we were on the ship, enjoying some lunch.  It was there that we reconnected with our neighbors, Brian & Paul.  They had just taken a redeye flight from Seattle to New York to Barcelona – and were understandably fatigued… but not for long!  There’s just something about finally getting on your ship that invigorates a person :)

After lunch we decided to check out our stateroom.  Here are a few photos:  (Please remember you can click on any photo to enlarge)

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Yes, it’s small, but was perfectly adequate for all our needs.  There was plenty of storage for all our stuff, and we unpacked everything in no time.  Our bed was a bit firm, but still quite comfortable.  You might notice the doorway shown in the mirror below.  That door connects to the adjoining cabin – but we weren’t traveling with the folks next door, so we kept it locked.

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Okay, so here’s the obligatory shot of the mini bathroom.  Again, it was indeed tiny, but was always kept spotlessly clean by our wonderful room attendant/cabin steward, Gobin.

Next photo is of our lovely little balcony… or verandah as they say in the cruise ship business.  Plenty of room for two to enjoy the sights and sounds of the ocean and the ports of call.

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Here’s a photo of the port of Barcelona.  We were told that other than Florida, Barcelona has the most cruise ship traffic in the world!  You can see many vessels out in the ocean.  Apparently it’s a busy port for more than just cruise ships.

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Finally it was time for “sail away”.  Some folks (probably many folks) like to go up to the poolside deck and take part in the “Sail Away Party”.  We decided to forego that party for our own.  Courtesy of Royal Caribbean, we had a bottle of champagne on ice waiting for us in the cabin.  We held off popping the cork until we were finally underway.  CHEERS!

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Here’s a view looking back towards Barcelona, before we got too far out.  Bye-bye, Barcelona.  See you in 12 days!

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Soon we were saying goodbye to the sun on our first evening on board.  There’s just something about sunsets, when you’re on a cruise ship. :)

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We were signed up for late dining (8:30pm) and joined our friends/neighbors Brian & Paul.  We were all seated at a table for eight, and that first night there were indeed 8 of us.  A very fun couple from Calgary Canada, Don & Deanna — and — two pleasant single girls from Puerto Rico who would not return to join us another evening.  We found out that they were hoping to be seated at a Spanish speaking table.  Oh well.  Our table for six had a lively time every evening!  This was one of a few nights that I failed to take photos of our dinner.  After dinner we decided to retire and get ready for the next day, our eagerly awaited port of call in Cannes, France.  We would be doing an excursion to Monte Carlo!

Okay, I realize this next picture is not great quality, but it’s all I have of the disappointing day that was Day Two on our cruise. Because of very high winds, the captain made the decision to NOT tender at Cannes.  We do understand that it could have been a serious safety issue.  The logic in our minds did not assuage the pain of having to miss Monte Carlo.  Heck, we’d watched “To Catch a Thief” – the 1955 movie starring Princess Grace and Cary Grant, set in Monte Carlo.  We’d planned to enter the grand Casino.  Hubby was very interested in seeing the streets where the famed Grand Prix car race is held.  Alas, it was not to be.

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Instead, we got an extra “sea day” which was okay I guess, but honestly it was a huge disappointment for us.  I had to refer to my daily diary to remember what we did that day.  “We lay by the pool on loungers and read… I took a couple of naps” was one entry. “We went to the Crown & Castle Pub and very nearly won the general knowledge trivia contest” was another entry. When dinner rolled around it was our first “formal night”.  Of course I’ve failed to get any photos of us together, but I did get one of John, trying his luck at the “self-adjusting” pool tables in the Safari Lounge.

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I was wearing a kind of cute pink and white polka dot dress that evening… oh well.  I believe B & P took some photos of us with their camera, so at some point I will get a copy.  Just for the record, my husband HATES dressing up.  He was a good sport for the cruise and jazzed up a bit for each of the the three formal nights.

For dinner I had Prime Rib (pictured below) and John had scallops.  Guess I didn’t take a shot of John’s dinner as I see no scallops in my photo library!

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It was quite tasty, and then for dessert I had what appears to be strawberry cheesecake.  If my memory serves me right, this was one of the best desserts all trip. Yum!

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John, who is not a dessert lover, had the “cheese plate”. Okay, Whatever. I guess the cheese for dessert is a bit of a Brit thing.

Soon, we were headed back to our cabin for a good night’s sleep.  Tomorrow would be our amended FIRST port of call.  Pisa. Time to finally see the Leaning Tower!  We were greeted by this towel bunny when we arrived back at #8054.

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Would the tower still be leaning?  How would the excursion go?  How would the “bad leg” hold up?  Stay tuned!!

It was Sunday, and we decided to sleep in a bit and catch up on our rest.  I was pretty sure I’d heard thunder during the night, and when we woke, it was raining.  Oh well, can’t let that get us down.  After a snack at the hotel, the three of us decided we’d see what we could do to get to the inside of Sagrada Familia.  We knew there were “ways” to get a ticket – as our guide Christian had informed us the day before.  We just had to go to a certain bank machine – a special one that sold event tickets – and voila!  We would have our tickets without having to wait in line.   We hopped in a taxi, went to the Basilica and returned to the special ATM that we were shown the day before.  Wouldn’t you know it, the darn thing was not working (for the ticket part, anyway).  We then considered waiting in the regular line to get the tickets, but  it was raining and the line up went around the block, literally.   SO, we had to be happy with again viewing the outside of this amazing structure.  David snapped this photo of us in front of the church.

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This was taken with one of the newer facades in the background.  I really like this side, as it has a timeline of sorts, in sculpture, showing the last days of Christ.

Here’s a photo of two things of interest.  First you’ll see the two men embracing.  This depicts Judas kissing and betraying Jesus.  Next to that is the “Sudoku-like” set of numbers.  If you add the numbers up in any column, any direction, even diagonal or zigzag, it always adds up to the number 33.  The age of Jesus when he was crucified.  John was very impressed and made sure I got a close up of it.

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Well, the rain continued to fall and we were a bit disappointed that we couldn’t get tickets to go inside.  We grabbed another taxi and returned to the hotel.  David needed to be at the airport by mid afternoon for his return flight to London.  We just hung out in the hotel lobby and visited until it was time for him to catch a ride to the airport.  It’s never fun to say goodbye, but this time it wasn’t quite as painful.  We knew we’d be seeing David again soon, sometime around Christmas.

After he left, the rain stopped and John asked me what I’d like to do.  I replied that all I really wanted to do was to somehow get inside Sagrada Familia!!  He too knew that it was today or never…. so, we decided to attempt to buy tickets online.  The hotel manager was ever so helpful, and before long we were printing those tickets!  Back in the taxi for a return trip the the Basilica!  Since we already had tickets, we were able to bypass the (still) very long line.

The inside was sure worth the trouble of printing out the tickets and making a return trip!!  Apparently, Gaudi had a huge love of nature and the columns inside were made to look like stalks of a plant.  SO unique and interesting!!

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I loved how the light poured in through the window near the ceiling.

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All I can say is that this place was amazing.  It really grabbed us both with it’s unusual beauty and design.  If you look near the bottom of this next photo, in the center, you’ll see a round object, all lit up.  Believe it or not, this is Jesus, hanging over the altar.  The following photo will be a close up of just that.

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As mentioned before, the church is not completed on the outside, but the inside is complete.  They do not yet hold regular services in this part of the church, but they DO have them in a basement area.   Here’s one last look at the outside…

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After our wonderful visit to Sagrada Familia, we returned to the hotel, with plans to meander across the street that evening to “Patagoinia” for dinner.  They didn’t even open till 8pm!  Like I said, Europeans like to consume their evening meal quite late!   We enjoyed a leisurely steak dinner, knowing the next day we’d be boarding the long awaited cruise ship.

Barcelona – Day TWO

columbusWe woke to a bright and sunny day in beautiful Barcelona.  Our tour was set to start at 9 am sharp, and we needed to meet the tour group at the old Post Office, so we easily grabbed a taxi right out front of the hotel.  After a bit of a wait, we met our mini-bus and our tour guide, Christian.  We can’t say enough good things about Barcelona Day Tours and our wonderful guide.   The photo to the left shows the Columbus Column, pointing out to sea.  He left Barcelona in 1492… and sailed the ocean blue…. and discovered…. Puerto Rico!  Anyway, we boarded the bus and headed through the city and then up towards the monastery, Montserrat.

Please remember that you can click on any of the photos to enlarge them!

Before leaving  Barcelona, we drove up onto a hill where we could look over the entire city.

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David snapped a picture of us, high on the hill…

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And then it was off to Montserrat.  As I recall, Montserrat is an important area for Catalonians for three reasons.  1. Religion  2. Recreation  3. Mushroom hunting.  Okay, number 3 may not be totally correct, but our guide did say that he used to come up here with his family in search of the elusive and apparently delicious wild mushroom – or was it “magic” mushroom?  :)  Looking back into my diary, it was an hour and a half drive from the city, high up into the mountains outside of Barcelona.

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Montserrat is named for the serrated mountain tops that are visible in this photo.  We were also told by our guide that in honor of this special place, “many girls are named Montserrat here in Catalonia”.  I didn’t think it sounded very feminine, and sort of doubted him, but just last night we were watching a program on the Biography channel about Freddie Mercury.  You may or may not remember Freddie towards the end of his life, singing a song he wrote with an opera singer named “Montserrat”.  The song was titled, “BARCELONA”.

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Here we are, looking all happy and enjoying our surroundings.  This was before my near-death-experience which truly changed the course of this trip.  Shortly after this happy photo was taken, our guide gathered the 14 of us up and we began the hike up to the cathedral.  It was warm, and before long the scarf that appears in this photo was stuffed into my purse.   We passed many stalls of locals, selling handcrafted  cheeses, honey,  and other foods.  And then, suddenly the stairs loomed in front of me.   Hey, I’m not a wimp.  I live with pain every day of my life… but I was a bit vain and didn’t bring my cane along on this first tour.  There were about 40 stairs, quite steep…. and by the time I got to the top, I was so out of breath, my heart was pounding, and I was sweating like crazy.  I remember thinking, “this could be the big one”.  I had no chest pain or any thing like that, but I sure felt horrible.  After we climbed those nasty stairs, it was more uphill walking until we finally reached the cathedral.  I love old churches, but I was feeling so weak and weird and sweaty that I couldn’t enjoy this one as much as I wanted to.  I sat in one of the pews for a while and prayed for strength to go on!   It really was a beautiful place.

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I thought I might be croaking when I snapped this shot of the entrance to the cathedral.  Then we entered and were treated to this glorious sight.  As I said before, I was soon joining some of these folks having a rest and a prayer.

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We learned that many people come to Montserrat to give thanks to the “Black Madonna” for something she has done for them.  The line up was VERY long to file past the Black Madonna.  Next is a photo I took showing the Black Madonna holding the Baby Jesus.  You can see what appears to be a father and his small child going past the statue.  They (like every one else), touched the Madonna and thanked her for an answer to a prayer.  We were told that the line ups are longer on the weekends, and we were there on a Saturday.

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For more information on the Black Madonna of Montserrat, you can click here.   I was still feeling weak, sweaty, and just plain yucky as we left the church and made our way back down the stairs and past the open air stalls where people were selling food.  We bought bread at the bakery (yep, Montserrat has it’s own bakery!) and two types of cheese from the vendors.  After a good hearty drink of lemonade and some bread and cheese, I finally began to feel like I was going to live.  I honestly don’t know what happened to me.  Was it the heat?  The stairs?  Whatever it was, I never felt this way again – thankfully.    I now wish we had tried the national dessert of Catalonia – a type of cheese (sort of like cottage cheese we were told) covered in local honey.  Next time, I guess :)

Next stop was Parc Guell, a place originally designed as a housing district, but now is a park.  The creator was the famous Catalan architect, Antoni Gaudi.  Our guide suggested he would lead us on a 45 minute walk through the park.  I suggested to my husband that I’d be skipping that walk!  We did enter the park, and sat in the shade of an umbrella while sipping a cool drink.  I was just starting to feel human again and didn’t want to be out in that hot sun, so most of Parc Guell remains a mystery to me.  We did learn a lot about Gaudi, who is truly Barcelona’s most famous citizen.  He certainly left his “mark” all over the city… and his style – which is VERY odd unique — was one I grew to greatly admire.   Here’s David, getting us a drink at Parc Guell.

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Onward to the most famous site in all of Barcelona, La Sagrada Familia.  The Basilica of the Sacred Family, designed by Antoni Gaudi.  We’d heard and read quite a bit about this place, but to be honest, from all the photos I’d seen, I thought it was a really strange, strange piece of architecture.  The church from a distance —-

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Looks just like a brown, spiky mass of mud.  Not to be sacrilegious, but it sort of resembles a giant wasp or mud dauber nest.  And then.  And then you get closer and it begins to take shape, begins to make sense.

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The closer you get, the more amazing this building becomes.

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It’s NOT just a mass of brown mud.  There are amazing sculptures everywhere, all depicting a part of the life of Jesus Christ.  Gaudi was a devoted Catholic and began this Basilica in 1883.  At the time of his demise in 1926, it was only one quarter of the way done.  The goal is to have it completed by 2026, the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death.  I could go on and on about this place – there is SO much to look at on the outside.  Our tour did not include a visit to the inside of the church, that would have to wait until another day!   We concluded our day-long tour, said goodbye to our fabulous guide Christian, and returned again exhausted to the hotel.

That evening we went to a small, sort of out of the way restaurant not far from the hotel called “336″.  Here’s a photo I took of the English menu.

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The “menu of the day” turned out to be a great deal!  We got CAVA, bottled water, half a bottle of wine each, bread, an appetizer, an entree, and a dessert, all for around 20 Euro.  Not bad for a Saturday night in Barcelona!  Again I failed to snap a photo of the food, but we all had the Cod.  It was delicious.  The chef himself actually came out of the kitchen to ask us if it was prepared to our liking.  Very pleasant fellow!

We sat outside and enjoyed the wine, the food, but most of all, the company.

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That’s my CAVA, front and center above.  It’s a lot like champagne.  After dinner it was back to the hotel for another good rest in that amazingly comfortable bed.   The next day we would say goodbye to David, and have our own little adventure.

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Hello one and all!  I know I’ve not blogged in literally forever, but I’m back!!!  Since I last wrote I’ve retired from my job as a bedside RN in Neonatal Care after 35 years.  For a while, we hope to do some traveling, and my plan is to document it here.  In mid-September we did a 12 night Mediterranean cruise, embarking from Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.  We had cruised at least 5 times before, (Alaska, Mexico, New England, Panama Canal, Caribbean) so I felt like we were “seasoned cruisers”.  We booked this trip back in March and did LOTS of research about our ports of call prior to the big day.  Another exciting thing was that we cruised with our neighbors, Brian & Paul.  Here we are, pictured above with all our stuff (which I struggled to put into just two suitcases per person, one big and one carry-on) packed into Brian and Paul’s car.  We decided to take the shuttle down to SeaTac airport instead of driving and paying to park for 17 days.

It was a very long trip.  This is an understatement.  We knew it would be grueling and for a couple of “older folks”, it was.  If you consider the time getting to Seattle, the time waiting to catch our overnight flight to Amsterdam, the flight TO Amsterdam, and the flight from Amsterdam to Barcelona, the total travel time was about 21 hours. We arrived totally exhausted, but determined to stay awake until the normal local bedtime… which we succeeded in doing.

We arrived 3 days prior to our big cruise which was intentional.  We wanted some time not only to explore Barcelona, but also to visit with John’s son, David (who we hadn’t seen for over a year).  He lives/works in London UK. He arrived from London just minutes after we arrived from Amsterdam and we met up in the airport.  :)  It was so great to get to have a couple of fun days with David!  First stop was our hotel, Hotel Indigo Barcelona.  Now I cannot take credit for finding this gem of a hotel… hubby did the research on this and we were all very pleased.

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Here is our room…. absolutely LOVELY and modern.  The bed was honestly the most comfortable hotel bed I have EVER slept on…. could this be because I was one very weary traveler?  Possibly, but this really was one great bed!

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Here is a view from our little balcony, looking down onto the busy street below.  We were on Floor 2, which in Europe really means the third floor.  They count the ground floor as “floor 1″.  My apologies to all who already knew that little piece of info.  We read on Trip Advisor that some folks complained about the street noise, but we weren’t bothered by that since the windows are triple glazed and did a good job of blocking out the all day and all night traffic.

Our first order of business, after securing our rooms was to get something to eat.  David got a recommendation from the front desk clerk for a non-touristy place for Tapas.  It was only a few block walk… which would have been NOTHING for normal people, but we were SO tired and my bad leg was also SO tired, that it seemed further.  Just for the record, I’ll say right up front that my bad leg was literally a PAIN IN THE….. well, hip, the whole time.  I now will fully admit that I should have had the replacement surgery back in March when I wanted it – no matter WHAT kind of implant they wanted to put in!  Yet, one cannot go backwards, only forwards, so I did the best I could with what I had (a degenerated hip joint).

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We sat outside at this nice, busy, non-touristy restaurant.  The weather was divine!  About 75 degrees here in the early evening (about 7 pm or so).  Oh, at this point I will mention that Europeans – or at least folks in Barcelona – normally eat dinner quite late…. like 9 or 10 pm.  That may be why this place was not yet filled to the max.  Anyway, it was here that I had my first CAVA (Spanish sparkling wine, mostly produced right here in Catalonia) which was delightful.  It seemed that it was the tradition to start dinner with Cava everywhere we went.  We had Tapas (an assortment of interesting appetizers) but unfortunately I didn’t snap a photo of them.  You will see later on that I enjoyed taking photos of meals…. but I digress.   It was also here that I had my first real Spanish Sangria!  Yum!

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Here’s a nice shot of David, just chillin’ over the Tapas and wine :)

After dinner we began our walk back to Hotel Indigo.  On the way we came across a place that I HAD to document! What the heck??

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It’s the OBAMA British Africa Pub.  They apparently serve “Ales, Stouts, Gin, and Rhum”.  I know this is not a great photo, but I snapped it while walking across a busy street.  Looks like an interesting place, eh?  Then we saw “him”.  Mr Obama himself, just lounging outside the establishment….

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No surprise, hubby had to go sit with “him” for a while.  I can only imagine what John may have said to our President.  Hmmmm.

From here, we dragged our sorry behinds to the hotel for a good night’s sleep.  We would need it as the next day was an all day tour of Barcelona and Montserrat.  Montserrat was where I nearly kicked the proverbial bucket …. but more on that next time!

Looks like I’m doing two months worth of books this time.  Since I honestly don’t recall which one I read first, I’ll just put them in random order.  Up first:

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Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain.  I’m intrigued by books about being a chef.  Some days I think I could have been a proper chef and possibly missed my calling… but then I read this memoir.  Oh my goodness.  It became apparent that life behind the scenes in a restaurant would definitely NOT have suited me.  Still, I found it fun and interesting to read about the grind of daily life in the kitchen.  I may read more by this author.  This one was recommended to me by someone at work and I really did enjoy it.  I also recently DVR’d and watched Anthony Bourdain’s TV show – “The Taste”.  I imagined being one of the contestants on there and fully admit that the pressure would have done me in.  Fun to watch, however.

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One Thousand White Women, by Jim Fergus.  This was an audio book that seemed never-ending!  The premise of the book sounded interesting….  The U.S. government, back in the late 1800′s, in order to promote better relations with certain Indian tribes, collected 1000 white women from jails who were willing to try marriage and life with “Indian savages” and give birth to half-white children.  Unfortunately, it was done in “diary style” – which usually drives me nuts. Her long letters to her family members who disowned her were WAY over-verbose.  The book moved along much too slowly and because of that, I found myself wishing it were over!  Of course this novel was totally fictional.  Even though it received good reviews, I simply can’t recommend it.

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Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed.  Here was an audio book that I just about quit listening to after the first disc!  I’m glad I hung in there as I eventually found it captivating.  There was a time (when I was much younger and had two good legs instead of one) when I thought it would be amazing to hike at least a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail… so it’s no wonder that I re-checked out this library book twice, to make sure I read it.  What turned me off at the beginning was her liberal use of the “F” word (I simply can never imagine a time when repeated use of that word adds anything of benefit to a book – or movie – or song – or whatever). I also was rather shocked at her description of her illegal drug use (IV Heroin) and her affinity for sex with lots of different guys, even while married to a guy she “loved”.  I asked myself – why should I listen to a book about a foul mouthed drug and sex addict??  I answered by reminding myself that I really was curious about her experiences on the P.C.T.  I’m glad I got past the bad parts of her personality and ended up enjoying her story of hiking from Southern California, all the way to the Columbia River.  Just sorry she didn’t hike the PCT in Washington, as I’d have enjoyed reading about that too.  Believe it or not, this book has been sold to a movie production company and Reese Witherspoon will play the part of the author.

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The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister.  I really enjoyed this Seattle author’s first book, The School of Essential Ingredients.  Yep, another cooking-baking-kitchen type book — or so I thought.  But this time around, it was more about interpersonal relationships, and little or no interspersion of cooking.  I was disappointed.  She brought back a few of the same characters from her previous book, but failed to develop their personalities much.  It was an “okay” book, not great, but enjoyable for the most part.

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The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe.  I first learned of this book from a great website where I find many new/interesting books – the Indie Next List.  It sounded compelling to me.  A true story, a son and his mother started their own personal two-person “book club” while she was battling pancreatic cancer.  He talks about the books they read, as well as how they bonded even closer as mother and son.  To be honest, there was a LOT of the book that was more of a memoir to his mother, touting her good works, impressive jobs, and political causes. I’ll admit I skipped over some of that, but in general, this was a very good book.  I can definitely recommend it.

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Home is the Sailor, by Patrick Taylor.  Even though this was a short story, it was by far my favorite read of the month.  I could read one book after another by Mr Taylor!!!  All set with the same delightful cast of characters in fictional Ballybucklebo Northern Ireland, this story was set shortly after the end of WWII when our favorite doctor, Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly returns from the Royal Navy and begins his solo GP practice in Ballybucklebo. I highly recommend all of the “Irish Doctor” series.  I also recommend listening to these books if you are so inclined.  I love the narrator (John Keating) and his way of denoting each character with a different – and very authentic – Irish voice.  LOVE LOVE LOVE these books, and I can’t get enough of them!! :)

As far as April reading, I have in my hot little hand – picked up today from our local library – the newest novel by Elizabeth Strout, author of one of my most favorite books, Olive Kitteridge. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this one will be another hit.  It’s titled: The Burgess Boys.  Stay tuned for my review!

Nine things about me

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Nine Random things about me.  I saw this on another blog and set out to see if I could think up nine random things about yours truly.  Well, nine random things that were blogworthy….or not…..

  1. I hate mustard.  With a purple passion.  My kids used to chase me around the house with a squeeze bottle of French’s.  Man, I hate that stuff… and not just the yellow French’s.  Grey Poupon, Inglehoffers, you name it, I hate it!
  2. I desperately wanted to be a “stay at home Mom” back in the day.  It wasn’t in the cards for me, but I’m so happy my daughter in law can be a stay at home Mom for her twins.
  3. There was a time when I thought I wanted to hike at least part of the Pacific Crest Trail.  Sorta sorry I never pursued it.
  4. I can walk right past cookies, chocolate, or cake… but a bag of Cheetos, Doritos, Fritos, Tostitos, or Lays…. I’m lost.  Salt is my weakness.
  5. I just hate talking on the phone.  Yeah, I’ll do it, but I don’t like it.  Yes, a phone conversation is necessary sometimes, but email, letters, or a text is better.  For me.  I don’t know why I feel that way, after all, back in Jr High and High School, I’d crawl under the covers, put the blankets over my head and talk incessantly on the phone :)
  6. I always wanted to live waaaay out in the country.  Again, that was not in the cards for me.  I still think about it sometimes, but in all practicality, it ain’t gonna happen.
  7. I try to read my Bible every day.  Well, nearly every day.  I even have it on my phone as an app, so it’s always with me.  As my mother and grandmother before me, I get great comfort from the scriptures – and inspiration, and direction.
  8. If I could, I’d have a house full of pets.  I mean a couple of dogs, two or three more cats, who knows what else?!  I just love animals.  Too bad hubby is not of the same persuasion… plus, he’s allergic.  Oh well.  I do dream of owning a rescue Greyhound someday.
  9. I’m trying to grow out my hair.  Once I believed old ladies shouldn’t have long hair.  But you know what?  I loved having long hair years ago.  There are lots of fun things you can do with your hair when it’s long.  So I’m growing it.  Despite the fact that I’m O.L.D.

Well, there they are, nine random things about me.  :-)

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