Saturday, May 10, 2003

10 May 2003

You are invited to a dinner party.

Where: Flat 1.1 18 Banys Vells, La Riberia, Barcelona
When: 8pm, Friday 9 May 2003
Attire: Clean if possible (hot water permitting)
Conversation Topics: Travel, the state of the nation, relationships...
Menu: A delicate vegetarian stir fry sprinkled with lightly sauteed bacon followed by strawberries fresh from the markets!

I was hesitant when Merilyn first suggested the dinner party. The invitation list, choosing the perfect menu, what wine to accompany it, the preparation time. In the end I weakened. We discussed setting for eight, but settled on four (taking into account the distance involved and lateness of the invitations).

I made myself a slave to the kitchen, dicing and slicing, stirring and sauteeing while Merilyn looked after wine choices, dinner setting and evening entertainment (Bewitched - the Spanish dub).

Dinner conversation flowed without pause. Light hearted anecdotes, serious discussion, religion, politics, relationships were all dissection across the table.

After dinner, we all retired to the balcony for after dinner cigarettes and some alley watching.

Our first Spanish dinner party!

Friday, May 09, 2003

9 May 2003 Barcelona

Imagine narrow alleys of old apartments, open squares surrounded by bars, restaurants and cafes, around this corner a medieval castle, the next to the left an ancient cathedral with soaring arches reaching to the heavens, and saints of evey persuasion lining the walls.

Our apartment lies just off one of the main squares near Santa Maria Cathedral in the old part of town. It is wonderfully spacious after 2 and a half weeks of twin rooms in pensions and simple hotels. It is also incredibly romantic.... candles all around... unfortunately the owner forgot to pay his most recent electricity bill - we have decided it simply adds to the atmosphere!

Last night we huddled in a smokey little wine bar drinking ┬┤cava┬┤ and eating cheese and bread dipped in tomato and olive oil. Today we visited the Picasso Museum and dropped in to light (yet another) candle in the Santa Maria Cathedral.

The PIcasso Museum was wonderful. Rooms of sketches, paintings, ceramics and sculptures produced from Picassos earliest beginnings at the age of 13 to his death. It was inspiring to see the influences that he had studied over the years to bring him to his own unique and best known styles. And humbling to be reminded that he started as a painter of potraits and still lifes before exploring other styles.

We are taking a slow pace today. I am slowed by an annoying fluey bug and Merilyn has a headache. This afternoon perhaps the Museum of Contemporary art and a stroll along La Rambla......

Thursday, May 08, 2003

5 - 7 May 2003 Milos

She stood by the wharf a holding a handwritten sign ' Room to let' it read in faded red texta. Around her hotel representatives and pension owners stood, holding bright colour brochures and standing beside courtesy vehicles. As the ferry came in and arrivals trickled out she stood in the midst of the the bargaining and haggling, an uncertain smile on her face and the sign held up like a plea.

She has two rooms in her house, which she lets in the off season for 20 Euro a night. Since September 2001 it's been the off season in the Islands.

She struggles with the stairs leading up from the harbour, away from the view, the nightlife and restaurants. If she can fill one room from the morning ferry, then maybe she can fill the second room from the evening ferry. The stairs will seem longer the second time around and the other room won't be any more full for the climb.

Her english is limited. She holds up a ringless finger - it's her final selling point. She is alone in the world. A room filled is income, and existance comprises of small steps, measured 20 Euro at a time. The room is filled and Bush hasn't yet won the war against tourism.

Sunday, May 04, 2003

4 May 2003 - Paros - Greek Islands

Yesterday we boarded a local bus to the other side of the Island. More white buildings with blue trim - and a ferry to the Islands 'best' beaches. We ended up at a beach (the name of which is something like Monstrati...) and found ourselves a sun lounge or two and a beach umbrella (I took the shady side).

It was very pretty - and wonderfully relaxing. With a Taverna right on the beach for when Melon's attention started to wander. We skipped lunch and ordered white wine and a backgammon board!

After backgammon (Susan 3 games to Melon 1) it was back to the beach umbrella. I went for a bit of a wade - but the water wasn't really warm enough for me to brave all in a made dive in.

Last night we went to the Pebbles Jazz Bar - overlooking Parikia Port (the town in which we are a and watched twilight fall across the water.

We have eaten out constantly over the last few weeks and we are promising ourselves a home cooked meal when we get to the flat in Barcelona! If you know Melon and my combined cooking skills you would realise just how desparate we are for home cooked meal!

Today we went to Anti Paros.... the Paros you have when you aren't having Paros... It's a small island just next to Paros and very pretty.

Tomorrow it will be back onto the ferry and off to the island of Milos. Famous for it's Venus of Milos (in a Museum in another country) and hot springs! I may even get to try out my new swimming costume with some snorkelling.