All right, so there we were in Barcelona with no planes flying and our little getaway looking less and less appealing.
Let me address Barcelona first. If flights started to take off again we would be departing as planned however we still needed a Plan B incase things did not resume quickly – I am a very big fan of Plan B. So we would make alternate plans and carry on as originally planned. I have to admit that Barcelona was losing the initial glow that it had for me and it was even beginning to look a bit menacing. In my vision of Barcelona as a handsome Spaniard I was beginning
to notice that his sexy laugh lines were really just crow’s feet, he smelled of cigarettes and he was also kind of short.
As I have already written my feelings towards God have taken an unexpected turn over the past couple of years but without a doubt I identify myself as Jewish. It is my history and I am proud of it. So, when you are Jewish and you are in Europe over the Sabbath it is very natural to want to check out the old Jewish Quarter and to see if you can find a synagogue to visit. We decided that we would spend some time walking around, find the Jewish Quarter and synagogue and then go for a nice dinner. We pulled out the Blackberry did a little search to figure out where were going. Hmm. No old Jewish Quarter, in fact no Jewish presence in Barcelona (or Catalan as a whole) for 700 years. Suddenly Barcelona felt a little chillier. O.K. there was one street and there were some remnants of a synagogue that had been discovered. My husband is phenomenal with a map. While I was still trying to figure out how to open it up he had plotted the course we would walk. Off we went, a small adventure. We walked and we walked and we searched and we searched, we almost gave up. We noticed another man who appeared to be searching just like we were. He looked at us, smiled and said “They don’t make it easy, do they?” We walked up and down streets that felt more and more like lane ways than streets. The sun was beginning to disappear and the dark was looming. We had found the street, but no sign of anything Jewish. I closely inspected the bricks on the buildings until I found one with some writing on it. That was it, the sum total of Barcelona”s Jewish history. I felt sad. We just wanted to head back to the hotel.
On the weekend we did manage to go to the Gaudi park and it was wonderful. We did a tour around the city, saw the Sagrada Familia church, designed by Gaudi that has been under construction for 100 years. I said to Papa Bear, “Wow, that Sagrada Familia must be outrageously wealthy, I wonder who they were and what they did.” Hee hee hee. I got home and checked out the family name. Quickly wacked my forehead with my palm. Sagrada is Spanish for sacred. Did I really pass grade 13 Spanish? Si, I did.
There was still the problem of getting home. I called my big sister and asked for an update. Brilliant woman that she is, she advised that we head to Portugal as all was well there. We booked two tickets out of Lisbon, confirmed that our flight was still not leaving Spain and headed to the train station to book tickets to get us to Madrid and then to Lisbon. We were afraid that the trains would be booked solid. We got tickets, no problem. So the day we should have been flying home we started our journey to Lisbon. First we got to take a bullet train from Barcelona to Madrid. Uber cool. Once we reached the Madrid station we decided to check out exactly where we would board the overnight train to Lisbon. Hah, its at a different station. Not hard to get there and not far just unexpected. We decided to walk around Madrid a little because we had many hours to kill between trains. Now, I am sure that Madrid is a wonderful city, just not so much around the train station. We saw two police men standing on a street corner holding machine guns. It felt like time to go back to the train station. It was not a bullet train, but it was overnight so we slept on and off, much more than I thought we would. We were very grateful that the kids were not with us. This was an adventure for the two of us, but it would have been a small nightmare for the 6 of us. Skipping meals, racing to trains, sleeping fitfully this is all too hard on kids. Anyway we woke up in Lisbon. I stepped on to the train platform and what was the first thing that I saw? A vending machine selling books! How do you not love a country that has books on philosophy available on train platforms? Can you see that it does not take much to win me over? Toilet bowls and vending machines, oy am I a cheap date or what? I won’t even talk about how little alcohol it takes to get me tipsy.
We made our way to our hotel, I was thrilled to see that it was even more beautiful than I had expected. We walked around the city – beautiful wide open cobbled streets, buildings covered in lovely mosaics. It felt so spacious. Charming, old world and yet spacious. We took a double decker tour of the city, saw about 6 museums that would have been nice to visit if there was the time but, oh well. We saw a plane flying overhead and we got very excited. The only negative thing that I have to say about Lisbon is, what is that stuff that they call coffee? It scares me. Spain for sure wins the best coffee everywhere award. We had a light dinner in our hotel. I only wanted to eat vegetables because I was petrified of getting sick and having a problem getting on the flight the next day.
No problem, we boarded our plane for the Azores where we would have a stopover and then head back home to Canada. We heard some amazing stories in the airport from people who had been through so much more than we had. It all went so smoothly that it was hard to believe that we had been so nervous about getting home. We added two days and one country to our trip but it was an adventure. However, I have decided that I prefer at this point in time to only travel to places that are road accessible if my kids are not with me. Our next trip without the kids is New York, planes, trains, buses and automobiles so many possibilities if you get stranded.