Barcelona, August 23, 2012

This is the first of a series of emails that were sent to friends and family describing our recent trip to Spain to walk parts of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. Jim, Anthea and I started in Anchorage on August 22, 2012 and arrived in Barcelona the next evening. These are copied directly from the emails, without alterations.

[For the record, it looks as if the author is “Chicken Lady,” another blog that I post on sometimes with my sister’s writings about her poultry farm. Really, it’s all Teri Carns.]

Hello all — We are at Hostal Central Barcelona — three floors up, not the room that we thought we reserved, and the power went out, just as we logged in and got connected. But we are at the Hostal Central in Barcelona, and we arrived here with relatively few delays and mishaps. It’s hot — 82 degrees, and since the power went out, so did the air conditioning. Luckily we have a small  balcony that opens out onto the street, so we might get a breeze if one comes up.

We do feel somewhat pilgrimesque, just leaving Anchorage. Regina very kindly came out to the Seattle airport to entertain us during our long layover there, bringing huckleberries that she and Deke picked last weekend on Mt. St. Helen. British Airways served us actual food for dinner and we got several hours of sleep before arriving at Heathrow for another long layover. There was no Internet available (at any price) so I wandered around the duty-free shops. It became apparent that one reason people were toting bags full of large bars of Toblerone was that most of the duty-free items only came in Costco-sized quantities. I managed to score a couple of small bars of chocolate to sustain us for the next leg of the trip to Barcelona, and a book to read.
This evening, after a somewhat lengthy discussion about the room we thought we reserved and the one we got (all very gracious) we set out to find dinner. A large crescent moon rode just above the plane (sycamore) and palm trees that line the streets. Everything seemed familiar, but we couldn’t find anyplace that we’d eaten before — I think this wasn’t a great neighborhood for restaurants. In the end, we went with a hole in the wall pizza place run by an Asian couple, eating an out-of-a-box pizza margarita, and toasting “Buen Camino” with Fanta and Diet Coke. It’s a start.
Tomorrow we’ll get SIM cards for Anthea’s and my phones, figure out the Saturday trains to Pamplona, and then see the sights — La Sagrada Familia (Gaudi’s master work cathedral), Las Ramblas (the pedestrian street, a paved-over river), La Bouqueria (the big market), Escriba (on Las Ramblas, the best chocolate shop), and the beach.
We are delighted to be here. Anthea and Jim are already long since asleep (it’s 11:15), and I will be soon. We’ll do better tomorrow, with photos and travel accounts. For now, Ultreya (means “onward,” a familiar Camino saying) –
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