Catacurian – Day 1: Arrival and settling in

August 29, 2010

Fernando  dropped me off at the airport at the hair-raising hour of 4:25am. Nary a café was open, which was probably fine, since at that time, I don’t think I would have managed to choke down a cup of coffee anyway.

I must say, it has been a rather eventful morning so far. In the couple of hours I’ve been here already:

  • I have discovered there is a women’s fitness magazine named “Glutes, ” dedicated to providing tips on sculpting your sexiest backside.
  • I have seen two Euro-dudes dressed like cowboys, complete with jaunty neck kerchief. I actually smelled them before I saw them, as they both had evidently taken a bath in Drakkar Noir before arriving at the airport. Gah.
  • I have seen one burly tattooed guy displaying the teeniest black lace thong – clearly visible over the waistband of his ultra low-rise jeans when he bent over in his chair to get something out of his bag.

And it isn’t even 6am yet!

This, of course, must mean that things bode well for the rest of the journey   Surely Glutes Magazine, Euro cowboys, and manly lace thong underwear must be good luck symbols, right?

<later, Friday>

Well (now post SEA-JFK), things unfortunately weren’t that fun. I had the middle seat in the second-to-last row on the airplane. And that was the best part of the trip. The guy to my left was friendly enough without being irritating, and we said our hellos like normal people. Then, a lady got on with her super cute probably-around-9-months-old little daughter in tow – they would be sharing a seat. Right next to me. For six hours.

The little girl and I made friends, and I willed her in my own way to fall asleep quickly or to at least stay cute and innocent during the flight. Mom was tickled that we were making nice, and she told me cryptically: “I just want to warn you that she might get kind of noisy after while.” I pooh-poohed her concerns, mistakenly equating “noisy” with “fussy during takeoff” – a condition I surely could handle.

To my horror, I quickly realized that when Mom said “noisy,” she actually meant, “banshee-level screaming.” This poor little girl, deprived of her own seat in the plane, was full of tons of snot and was miserable. So she let us know it. For 3 hours straight. That’s right, a child screaming at 100% lung power in the seat next to me. For hours. Ayyyy, de mííí…

Fortunately, the little kiddo fell asleep and gave us all a couple hours of respite. But GEEZ was that a long flight!

I’m waiting now for the flight to Barcelona – here’s hoping my helpful and generous nature with said little screamer will translate into a tranquil trans-Atlantic flight – would it be too much for me to wish to have the whole row to myself?

After this, I enjoyed two well-deserved glasses of wine with my lunch/dinner. Now, it’s nearly midnight in Spain, nearly 3pm in Seattle, which makes it around 6pm in New York I guess. Flight leaves at 7pm, maybe a nap could be in my immediate future?

See you on the other side of the pond, kids!

<later, Friday 26 August>

So, JFK to Barcelona was uneventful, and when I made it off the plane and down the stairs to the baggage claim, there were Jessica, Joyce, and Meg waiting! Woo! We are really here, and very excited! The wait for my suitcase seemed eternal, and then once we retrieved it, I was very surprised to see there was no Customs stop – we could have smuggled anything in!

I decided to pop over to the ATM machine and withdraw Euros, but my card didn’t work. I tried twice, but was afraid the machine would swallow my card if it didn’t work a third time. Eek! Meg took care of the cost of the taxi to our meeting place, the Catalonia Hotel in Plaza Espanya. Initial impressions of the countryside was that it was wide-open, and it looked dry. The sun was ablaze, and the temperature was higher than I’d expected. We arrived at our designated meeting place, and waited.

Jessica reasoned that there must be a perfectly good ladies’ room tucked inside the hotel, and asked if I would accompany her to find it. We headed in, and spied the ladies’ room straightaway. Immediately, a security guard near the door clucked his teeth at us and, after some initial confusion, asked us if we were guests at the hotel. I said no, that we were waiting on someone to pick us up, but that we had hoped to find a bar or restaurant to drink something cold. He directed me to a completely different area of the hotel, so I told Jessica I would walk over to where the guard said and pretend to check out the menu while she, now suddenly more legitimate, made a run for the bathroom. This actually worked really well, and in just a few more minutes, the owner of our cooking school, Alicia, arrived.

We introduced ourselves, and also met Alicia’s assistant, Maite. She doesn’t speak much English, but we all are able to more or less communicate well. We also met our new classmate, Michael, who also speaks Spanish. We 5 comprise the class at the cooking school.

The drive from Barcelona to El Masroig, in Tarragona province, takes about 1.5 hours. We 4 were loopy from the long flights and lack of sleep, but even this didn’t prevent us from appreciating the landscape all around us. We went just along the coast for about half the journey before turning a bit farther inland, and in short order we arrived in El Masroig. “Mas” for “house” and “roig” for “red” – the 400-person town was originally named for a great red house which stood there. The house in which we are staying is a very old house which belonged to Alicia’s grandfather. She and her husband bought the house and spent a great deal of time and money to renovate it, and it is stunning. They conserved the rustic look and nature of the house, but included all the bells and whistles to make it an extremely comfortable place to be.

When you walk into the house, there is the dining room and kitchen, and a bar area to the right that was a donkey stable in the old days. Alicia told us that her grandfather’s donkey was named Serafina, and that as a young girl, she rode Serafina around. A glorious wine cellar is downstairs, and upstairs are the bedrooms. Time to freshen up and settle in!

Front door!

Puerta principal

Bar/Ex-Donkey Stable

Cocina

Dining room

Guest suite

View from room, with a monkey

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2 Responses to “Catacurian – Day 1: Arrival and settling in”

  1. Heather Says:

    How lovely!! I have always wanted to go to Spain. Keep the trip details coming!


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