Shannon’s Super Sexy Blog. Music. Travel. Randomness. And a Lot of Wine.

Archive for October, 2009

Hobbits and Saints

Friday, October 9th, 2009

Our trip is winding down.  I am in that depressed state I always get into a couple of days before departure date.  It will get better but right now, I really don’t want to leave Spain.

Girona is a breathtakingly beautiful city.  The heart of the city is divided by the Onyar river, and there are a bunch of bridges across.  Every time you cross a bridge there is a cool street, nice cafes, and lots of shops.  Every time I cross a bridge, I have to stop in the middle of it, because it is all so beautiful.

Right by our apartment there is a forest with these little ancient stone bridges, and I swear there are hobbits and fairies in there.  You can feel them.  There is something very otherworldly back there, another reality existing alongside our reality.  Like Avalon.  A few meters away and you are walking in an amazingly well preserved medieval village.  With one of the largest cathedrals in Europe on the hill.

There are trees and greenery and cafes everywhere.  I didn’t think, after Tarragona, I could be so blown away by Girona, but I am.  This has got to be one of the most liveable cities I’ve ever been to.  Of course, with all the cafes it would be difficult to get any work done.  But for an artist, or a writer, or a trustifarian – perfect.  It is perfect for me.  But my mother asked me what I would do if I were here a few more days, and she is right – what would I do?  Just don’t make me seperate the dream from the reality yet, por favor.

We had a lot of plans for daytrips from Girona, but unfortunately we both got sick.  Tuesday, we both had scratchy throats and hoped it would not progress.  But Wednesday we woke up feeling really crappy.  My brother and his band came through that day, so we weren’t going anywhere thankfully except to meet them for a little while.  Yesterday, again, no energy, coughing fits, no voices… I have never been sick like this on vacation, and let me tell you, it SUCKS.  But I made myself drive to Besalu and then, to France where we ate toast with tomato, ham and cheese and it was awesome.  I keep trying to push myself because I am already sad I have to leave, like REALLY sad.  So I don’t want to be sick, too. 

Anyway this has put a major damper on our siteseeing excursions.  I just walked 15 minutes to get to this bar with internet (which I just found out about from the tourist office, this morning) and it pretty much wiped me out.  The white wine is helping with the depression and this nasty bug.  Mom even went to the pharmacy this morning and spent 9 euros on mystery pills.  I am scared to take prescription drugs when I know what they are, so I’ll stick to wine, I think.

It was really fun to see my brother and his band here.  Our apartment is right down the street from the church of Sant Feliu, which has a funny spire (due to a lightning strike) and also, two cafes right below it.  So, since I have got here I have been wanting to stay “meet me in the cafe in the shadow of Sant Feliu.”  Weird, I know, but I am weird.  I admit it completely.  I didn’t say this exactly to my brother but I did tell him to look for the spire and then park and we would be at the cafe.  Whoo hoo!  Someday I will say it exactly like it will be in my head, forever – at least I have promised myself that this will happen. 

I guess I should mention the saints.  They are everywhere.  On the bridges, in the tiny dark streets, in the chirping of the crickets that I listen to every night in our apartment.  The nights here are sultry, and every 20 minutes a train goes by on the elevated track 20 feet away from us.  I love the trains and the crickets, too.  We went to Dali’s house on Tuesday, and in his bedroom he had a cage for canaries, and a tiny cage for a cricket, because he loved the sound they make.   So, there is the hobbit dimension, the saint dimension, our dimension, and then Dali’s dimension.  All existing side by side in this unbelievable place called Catalonia.

It has started to rain and I am once again fighting tears because I have to leave.  I hope we are better by tomorrow, because we will be in Barcelona and we will need some energy to deal with that.  Home Sunday, and I am lucky, cold and tears and all – I am simply trading one beautiful place for another.  It could be a lot, lot worse.


Pork Dreams

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

I’m feeling a little emotional… maybe it is the amazing lunch we just had here in Vic, an absolutely beautiful, clean and interesting city.  But let me go back a little.

We left Tarragona yesterday and I had a hard time leaving.  It is just so…. BEAUTIFUL there.  Tuesday we went to Montserrat and to be honest, we didn’t enjoy it too much.  Mostly it was a lot of tourists taking pictures and videos of some really special things and experiences (like, for instance, the black Madonna which is the patron saint of Catalonia. Click, click.)  Somehow I thought it would be a little more mysterious there, but all the gift shops, cafeterias, che ching che ching (that means $$$$$ in Shannon speak) sort of took any mystery or spirituality away, for us, at least.

After that we went back to Tarragona and bought fresh swordfish and veggies and cooked at home.  At 5 the next morning, I woke up and stayed up for the next two hours because this CRAZY storm blew in… constant lightning and thunder, for TWO HOURS.  And not just thunder, but an eight ton steel drum being pushed off El Capitan.  The house shook!  I am not kidding.  It SHOOK. I watched out my window as bolt after bolt of lightning hit the water.  I was, I admit, kind of scared.  Finally I laid back down and tried to sleep but even then I could see the lightning go sideways across the sky.  WIth eyes closed, it was like trying to sleep with a black and white TV on in the room.

I mentioned the storm to the woman at my favorite wine shop in Tarragona and she said, “we don’t have a lot of storms here but when we do, you had better run!”  Hehe.

Anyhow, that is not all of the rest of our time in Tarragona but I do want to get to yesterday, and to today, and to our lunch.

Yesterday we headed northwest to Vic, by way of Cardona because we wanted to see the parador there.  When we went to Montserrat we went down to Barcelona and then inland, so we did not see the mountain range from afar – we sort of just arrived and drove up.  Yesterday, we drove past it froma distance and it is truly amazing seen from a distance – a mass of otherworldly rocks sticking up straight out of the earth.  One can only imagine pilgrims headed there, they must have been completely blown away by the sight of it. 

It was a beautiful drive though, it seems to take longer to get THROUGH a city than it does to get TO a city at times. 

We are staying at the parador some 15 kilometers out of Vic.  It is very nice and has a view of some  craggy cliffs and a lake.  Today we came down pretty early, and walked around this awesome town… there is a Roman temple here plus a lot of really great modernistic and Gaudiesque architecture.  We had a tasty coffee, and looked in a lot of charcuterie shop windows (they are known for their sausages and other meat products here.)

In our walking, I had noticed this place called “El Merlot” that had a bunch of wine barrels in a long hallway in the front, and then a rustic looking dining room in the back.  It looked kind of cool, and we were up for an adventure (the menus are in Catalan not Spanish, so basically… forget understanding too much, even with my food dictionary I printed off the internet.)  So, we went back there for lunch.  We walked in and a woman greeted us.  OK, so I had heard that Catalans were reserved and distant. Uh, not this woman.  She said she could speak French or Spanish, and we mentioned English and she said “yeah, my English is PERFECT.”  This was with total humor and warmth.  She brought us into the dining room where an older woman (probably Mama) was grilling meats (pork, also lamb) and sausages (several pork kinds) over a wood fired antique iron grill.  Then there was a table with beans (with pork,)  fideos (noodles) with meat sauce (pork), potato salad, lentils, green salad, rice salad, pasta salad….  and a big bowl of potato chips. Basically you just help yourself to whatever you want, as much as you want.  Our jolly server brought over a carafe of white and one of red, the kind of carafe with a little pour on one side for direct in-the-mouth pours and a larger pour on the other for the glass. Our server demonstrated for us, the direct pour.  She was so awesome.

The food was fantastic.  Now, I can barely breath because my pants are so tight but it was oh so worth it.  Later in our meal, our server took, to a table of five guys next to us, four candy bars and a bottle of some amber liquid.  I was like, what is she going to do with that candy and alcohol? 

Mama came over from the wood fired grill, with two long pieces of grilled bread on a big platter.  Then she unwrapped the candy, and put it on the bread and made a sandwich.  A chocolate sandwich.  But that’s not all.  After she covered the chocolate with the bread, she took the palm of her hand and THWACK! hit the bread, smashing it down.  Several more hits (THWACK! THWACK! THWACK!) followed.  I pity the mugger who tries to rob this woman.  She practically broke the table, to the total delight of all in the room.  Then she cut up the sandwich with scissors and gave it to the men.

We just had a flan.  I totally wanted some of the chocolate sandwich but I was scared to have her make it at our table.  Well not really, but you know what I mean. 

The lunch cost us less than ten euros each.  On Saturdays they raise the price to 16 euros. I want to come back for that someday.

Off to relax at the parador… Girona tomorrow.