Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Flight from Barcelona to Estocolmo

Wednesday, 29 June, 2016:

I was up early re-packing my carry-on bag as I opted to jettison a few older items for Barcelona's needy fat people.

It went quickly, so I went for one last early morning, uncrowded walk on Las Ramblas and the Barri Gòtic neighborhood before people were yet awake.

Barcelona's abstract artist
Joan Miró's mosaic on Las Ramblas

Just a nice looking building
also on Las Ramblas

 La Boqueria was just waking up too

After a cafe con leche with Don Juan at La Boqueria's Pinotxo Bar, I was off to the Barri Gòtic.

Don Juan was only serving cafe and croissants at this early hour as the cooks were still just getting started setting up the grill and preparing the food.

 Which do you like better
Noir or . . .

 . . . Real Colors?

I really like all of Barcelona's interesting street signs and mosaics.

 Kings and Stars

I wonder who the "symbolic neighbor"
is on Calle Higuera in Camarillo?

Not me, I'm sure.

Goats for Mike Contreras
and Brian FitzGerald 

Night Watchman?

Quite a story here

A Dancer and
a Balcony

Defender of Culture and the Arts

Looks like the Basilica
Santa Maria del Pi to me

 Wet pavement and . . .

. . . the Noir filter work for me 

This churros and hot chocolate
shop was still closed

So was this one 


The real Basilica Santa
Maria del Pi

Complete with a dozing homeless man.

 Art in the El Raval neighborhood

 Finally, one last cafe con leche
and tortilla Española before I go

The ride from Plaça Catalunya to the airport on Barcelona's Aerobus system was smooth and inexpensive unlike the trip into the city on the Metro last Wednesday.

My next issue

Once at the airport, it was both hot and humid, not a good combination for a fat guy.

Fortunately the airport's air-conditioning was good, more on this soon.

A Barça Store in the Airport

No actually, there were two.

 Lots of great but expensive
souvenirs for FCB fans

It was finally time to board the Vueling Airlines 1:00 p.m. flight bound for Estocolmo, a.k.a., Stockholm.

First problem, we took off an hour late.

Second problem, we spent the last 45 minutes of the hour delay sitting on the plane with no air-conditioning.

Third problem, the last two people on the plane were in the two formerly empty seats next to me. These two arrived about ten minutes before takeoff and were both drop dead gorgeous Swedish model types checking in at a lean, but slightly inebriated, 5'11" and about 115 lbs.

They both started to loudly complaining about dying a slow, painful death due to the lack of AC. Being a fat guy, I felt no sympathy for them.

It's a good thing that they were both braless and scantily clad or I would definitely have given them a piece of my mind!

About an hour into the flight but at least a bit more sober, they started complaining that the AC was too cold.

Again, they were braless, so I did not complain.

The things that you must endure on these international flights . . .

Fourth problem . . .

. . . lack of leg room

When I finally arrived at Stockholm's Arlanda Airport, U11 Vikings coach Dan Pettersson was there to give me a ride to Aiki Parts home where I will spend the next two nights before flying back to California on Friday morning.

Aiki made another one of her great dinners for me, oh how this Estonian woman can cook!

I was also able to use Aiki's washing machine to cleanse my sweat encrusted clothing from my time in steamy Barcelona. 

Otherwise I would have to have burned them.

Final Thoughts on Barcelona

First, the French.

Ever since I first saw the movie Casablanca, I have believed that the French National Anthem is best one I know.

Sorry, Francis Scott Key.

In the middle of last Friday's French National Rugby match, the assembled crowd of 99,124 people spontaneously started to sing their beloved anthem as loud as they could. It was amazing.

I night or two later when I met Danny Page at an Irish Bar in Barcelona to watch the Croatia-Portugal Euro Cup 2016 match, the place was packed with Frenchmen who were making it an agreeable three day weekend affair in the Catalonian Capital. Again, in the middle of the action, in a much smaller venue, they started seeing Les Marseilles again shaking the bar to its foundation and sending the proverbial shivers down my spine.


Next, forty-ish British ladies on holiday can become loud and obnoxious if they drink too much on a hot day on the beach at Barcoleneta.

They can face plant too while running towards the Med.

More than once.

Finally, it truly is a small world.

After meeting with Larry Murnane for the first time after years of Facebook friendship on Sunday night, he posted a picture of the two of us on his Facebook page.

A response to his post from Maureen Reed read "Hey Larry, did George Contreras happen to play high school football at St. Francis High School in La Canada, CA?"

responded saying yes that was indeed me.

As it turns out Maureen is Colleen Kerrbrock's younger sister. Colleen was one of Laurie's roommates at the University of Washington and her first husband Tom Verti was one of my roommates at college as well.

As if that were not enough, Maureen's deceased husband Mike was two year's behind me at St. Francis.

Not done yet, Mike and Maureen's daughter is married to Larry's son.

Still not done yet, Joe Slavin was my J.V. football coach at St. Francis who then became the Head Coach at Paraclete H.S. in Lancaster, California. In 1967, Paraclete won the C.I.F. football championship with a two man Varsity coaching staff. 

The other coach? None other than Larry Murnane's Father and I believe that Larry also played for these two fine gentlemen at Paraclete as well, although I'm not sure of the years.

I think that all of this makes Larry and me third cousins, twice removed.

You CAN'T make this stuff up!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

My Last Full Day in Barcelona With an Old Friend

Tuesday, 28 June, 2016:

Today would be my last full day in Barcelona as I will be flying back to Upplands Väsby on Wednesday to pack up my belongings before flying home to California Friday morning.

Where to start . . .

Why breakfast at the Pinto Bar
in La Boqueria of course!

Time to meander, yet again . . .

These folks did not fare well in
this week's Spanish elections

 Detailed Street Sign
in Barri Gòtic

There's always room for churros
and chocolate, even in Catalan

And only 3.50 Euros too!

And oh so good for me too!

Laurie's three favorite Spanish words
El Corte Inglés

Nice Theater

Nice building in Example District

 Sherlock in a Spanish bookstore

 Modernista Buildings

A random building

Fishing can be fun!

Nice headline in a local newspaper
about the Italian National Team coach

After last night's 2-0 Italy win over Team España, he is now "el puto amo."

 Entrance to a Court of Justice Building

 Great European City's
MUST have statues

I stopped at the Bracaffé
for a midday Cafe con Leche

Soon after this coffee break I was joined by old friend Enrique Martín Alonso from Madrid who was in Barcelona on business.

We walked to a nearby restaurant called Joséphine that was a French style bistro with incredible, flavor filled dishes.

So good . . .

Enrique and that other guy

For many years Enrique has been the President of one of Spain's great American football clubs, Madrid's Osos Rivas.

We had a great time talking about EuroBall in general and the state of Spanish American football and the Osos in particular.

It has been so much fun seeing so many friends from all over the globe while visiting Barcelona this week.

Meanwhile, back to my meandering . . .

A really . . .

. . . really cool building

 And another

 As I said,
Great Cities = Great Sculptures
and . . .

. . . lots of statues of course

A new church

I did not go in for once.

7 de Julio?

Hey, that's my birthday!

I'll turn 69 years old in just a few days.

Lluís Compants

He was an important Republican leader in Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War.

Not a good thing since the Republican's lost.
 The Arc de Triomf

It was built as the main entrance for the 1888 Barcelona World Fair.

Triomf is the Catalan spelling of triumph.

 Cool bat in the lower left

Pathway towards Barcelona's
huge greenspace,
the Parc de Ciutadella

Love watching these ball
games in Spain and France too

Entry to Parc de Ciutadella

I'm cool . . .

 Jaume Garriga i Miquel

Died of battle wounds since the horse has a hoof off the ground.

Must have been a fierce warrior

Nice Crest

It mentions Alicante

This spot is 7.1 meters above the sea level in Alicante.

A great vacation spot on the Mediterranean near Murcia.

 Santa Maria del Mar

Santa Maria del Mar
empties into Barri Gòtic

Barri Gòtic streets

Barcelona is usually sunny

Art near the Cathedral

Love it!

"Get me to the church on time!"

A dragon to help sell
perfume . . . why not?

 Near a small street shrine

 Reminds me of walking
the Camino de Santiago in 2010

Our Camino Family member from Canada, Julie Ouellette, had this for breakfast almost every day.

Speaking of walking . . .

I trudged a bunch in steamy
Barcelona today