Nurturing…It’s an art form…A year ago…Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain…

These new photos posted yesterday, today, and tomorrow are from Wednesday’s unsuccessful search for insect repellent. When posting repeated photos, we always mention that they’re repeated. It isn’t often we are able to take a photo of a horse and buggy when many of the owners request money for photos.  We never pay for photos, other than for entrance into specific sightseeing venues.

Nurturing. It’s what we do for those we love. If they’ll accept it. When they’re sick or upset. Lost or unsure. We attempt it. If they refuse, we try again, hoping the end result will be different after the same behavior. Which isn’t usually how life works.

In the case of nurturing, a persistent caregiver will eventually win as will the recipient of the care who eventually sighs in grateful resignation allowing us to offer that loving helping hand. And suddenly, we get to work in an almost enthusiastic frenzy to be of assistance, dashing to and fro in endless tasks to reap the fruits of our good intentions: That the recipient is feeling better.

The Big Square was less busy with tourists than usual.

Without question, I am a nurturer. Can’t help it. As many of you read this, you see yourself. It’s sad when a loved one is ill. We’re anxious to help them get better.

The secret to being a good nurturer is not to hover. After the imminent tasks are completed it is imperative to sit back quietly busying oneself in other tasks evident to the recipient. Thus, the recipient becomes open to asking for more assistance as needed or as gently offered on obvious occasions.

It was odd to see less activities and vendors in the Big Square.

This is Tom and I when he is sick. More worried about my well being than his own. I’m not sick. Yet, anyway.  How many days does it take for the nurturer to catch the illness? Not sure. I tried to look it up online but the answers were vague.

Tom must be quite ill in order to allow me to nurture. He has his own nurturing tendencies but often lacks the skills to exercise them with ease, not unusual in the male populations.

A hotel in the Big Square.

Yesterday, the challenge was clear. His frequent rounds of snorting, wheezing, coughing as well as persistent sniffing pushed my irritation buttons. At times, I thought, ‘If that was me, I’d go hide away in the bedroom rather than subject him to such obvious suffering.” But then again, I’m kind of shy about gross bodily sounds.

Rather than comment about the constant noises, gently I provided fluids, aspirin, antihistamines and tender loving care, remaining across the room of course, at his beacon call. Careful to avoid touching him or his stuff, he held out his open mug for me to pour in the beverages and ice. I dropped the pills into his open hand. Again, I slept alone, finally getting a good night’s sleep with no new no-see-um bites. A miracle, indeed.

Vendors of discounted clothing often place their stock on a blanket on the ground, hoping takers will stop by for further negotiations.

However, nurturing wasn’t reserved exclusively for me. Midday, Madame Zahra, after a little concerned hovering of her own, grabbed a fluffy down comforter, a sheet, and pillows and made up a bed for him on the sofa in the far end of the salon.  He was far enough from me to avoid the spray of his fits of coughing and sneezing, close enough to know when I was needed.

When Madame and Oumaima arrived in the morning the language barrier presented an issue when I tried to describe that Tom was sick and slept in the yellow room. With flying hand signals coupled with my choppy French, I was able to explain that they shouldn’t clean the yellow room for several days to avoid getting sick themselves. Somehow they understood appreciating my efforts to explain. We appreciate them. More than we can say.

Tee shirts and women’s tops hanging in a shop in a souk.

Madame made us a perfect dinner, as always. We chose to eat at 5:30 instead of 6:30. We both needed to eat, after 24 hours without a morsel, not an uncommon occurrence without access to cooking our own meals.

Oh, I know protests are rampant at this mention about not eating more often. We only eat when we’re hungry. Period. It’s called, “Intermittent Fasting” which we’ve been doing since the beginning of our travels, except when cruising when we eat breakfast and dinner. Eating this way is not appropriate for everyone. It works for us. 

Stickers and signs for sale.

Email me if you’d like the names of reputable books quoting numerous studies of the benefits of eating less often, eating only when the body signals. If we’re hungry, we eat more often. The cavewoman/caveman didn’t have a fully stocked refrigerator of goodies. The human race was perpetuated. See, it all worked out. 

In any case, Tom appears to be feeling a little better today. He changed his shirt. He’s sitting up listening to his radio show from Minnesota, Garage Logic.

Perhaps, in one more day we’ll be able to go out again. I’m getting “riad” fever.

Photo from one year ago today, May 2, 2013:

A year ago today, we spent the day in Barcelona. Our first sight to see was the Sagrada Familia, the church that remains unfinished although the construction continues after over 100 years for which Antonio Gaudi is credited.

A night in Barcelona….Hotel Grums…

With our camera packed away, we won’t have photos until tomorrow. Thanks for stopping by!

Last night was our first night in a hotel since arriving in Scottsdale, Arizona over six months ago.  Booking the hotel on Expedia with four star reviews put our minds at ease that it would not only be close to the Port of Barcelona but also acceptable by our relatively picky standards.

At $169 a night for a “standard deluxe” room for last night chose to select this hotel for last night and again on June 3, 2013.  We wanted to ensure we’d like the hotel to avoid the need of cancelling an prepaid reservation.  Thus, we were willing to pay a little more for that luxury.  For this, we weren’t disappointed.

The room was modern, clean and comfortable with plush king bed with comfy covers, a spacious seating area with sofa, lots of storage (which we didn’t need since we didn’t unpack), a flat screen TV with one English speaking channel, (BBC news) and alas, our first experience with 220 electrical outlets, with which neither our computers or smart phones could be charged.

We did bring a litany of adapters and converters befitting travel anywhere in the world.  Unfortunately, they were tightly packed away in our “not to be opened” luggage, now consisting of two large suitcases, two carry on bags, two duffel bags, two computer bags and a couple of peripheral hand carry bags. 

As mentioned earlier, our goal is to ditch all but the two large suitcases, two carry on bags, two computer bags and my handbag by the time we leave Dubai to fly back to Barcelona for the remaining one night at the same Hotel Grums. The next day, on June 4th, we’ll be boarding yet another cruise on the Norwegian Spirit through the Mediterranean Sea for 15 nights.  (We’ll post the itinerary for that cruise at that time).

Back to the electrical issues.  Without easy access to our adapters and converters, (we try to remember every detail but some do fall through the cracks), we asked the front desk if they had the necessary adapters/converters for recharging our US 110 equipment. 

“No, problemo,” stated the handsome young man at the desk, as he began rummaging through a box of 50 various plug-ins.  After a few minutes, he enthusiastically pulled out what he believed to be the correct adapter.

Wary of plugging our digital equipment directly into the plug into which could potentially “blow out” our phones or laptops, we tried it using the only other electrical item we’d be willing to part with if something went wrong…the oldest of three surge protectors we had in our possession.

Poof!  Yes, poof!  It blew the power out in our room and fried our surge protector. We tossed it in the garbage. For some odd reason, we both had suspected it wouldn’t work although it was indicated as a US converter. 

Getting back on the elevator, I went back to the desk requesting an adapter that would work.  Again, the cutie dug through the box finally pulling out a much more elaborated plug.  I told him our power in the room was out asking if he’d send someone to flip the circuit breaker. 

No one in the hotel seemed to know where the breaker box was located in our room, after six attempts to find it by one person and then three attempts by a second person.  Finally, a third person appeared and found the box hidden behind a false wall.  Once the power was back on, Tom held up the new adapter again asking, “Will this work for US plugs?”

The employee emphatically stated it would work.  Finally an hour later, Tom spending much time as the power continued going out, he managed to get everything working to ensure we wouldn’t fry our laptops or smart phones.  At this point, all of our equipment was deader than a doornail.

By the time everything was charging, we were anxious to find a great restaurant to head out for dinner.  Oh, no such luck.  All the nearby restaurants in Barcelona are closed on Sunday except, the fine dining restaurant in the hotel.

With little English spoken in the hotel, I went online and found this gluten free chef card in Spanish to which I added, handwritten in Spanish, after researching Google Translate:  sugar free, low carb, starch free, grain free, no beans, rice,  or soy.

Handing this to the waiter at dinner resulted in his giving it to the chef for a perfect meal of salad with fresh greens, blue cheese, tomatoes, onions, olives and no less than eight giant prawns sautéed in olive oil  (with heads, guts, brains included) with a freshly made olive oil dressing that was absolutely delicious.  I will continue to print these Chef Cards in various languages to use as we travel from country to country.

I hadn’t had that good of a meal since the night we dined in the specialty restaurant on the Carnival Liberty almost three weeks ago.  Tom opted for a bun-less veal burger topped with veggies, cheese and a fried egg.

Exhausted, we slept through the night bolting out of bed at 6 am this morning  to get ready for the day and down to the restaurant for coffee.  As typical “cruisers” we decided to wait to eat until we were aboard Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas for the “free food.”

So now at 2:00 PM, Barcelona time, we’re sitting at a comfy table in the Windjammer (buffet) Restaurant having had a rather perfect GF lunch with tender roast beef, grilled fish, egg salad and green beans. 

Our ship sails at 5:00 PM inspiring us to go online now while taking advantage of our MiFi working, although slowly, while we’re still in port.  Before the muster drill at 4:15, we’ll meander to the Internet Café to sign up for the ship’s WiFi, a necessity with many upcoming days out to sea.

Tomorrow, we’ll post our current itinerary for this cruise to Dubai along with photos of our “new home” for the next 15 days as we commence our journey through the Suez Canal along our way to the Middle East. 

Barcelona, Part 2…Photos of city….Sagrada Familia…

The Farmacia Bouyat where we purchased the contact lens solution. The pharmacist spoke no English, but pointed to a water bottle and my eyes made our request easy for her to understand. The two bottle pack cost roughly US $8, very reasonable.

Barcelona, a historic city steeped in rich history is cacophony of one massive architecturally interesting building after another. 

Since we’ll be returning to Barcelona for 24 hours after this four day second leg of this back-to-back cruise, we thought if we took the time to see at least one major historical attraction, we’d have more time when we return.

The outdoor café where we surprisingly found a table for two, ordering a drink while enjoying people watching.  This simple activity fulfilled a fantasy of mine to experience such an outdoor café in Europe.

Our choice for the day’s trip included two cab rides, one delightful stop for drinks at an outdoor café on the boulevard near the Sagrada Familia and the purchase of my contact lens solution for a total cost of $100. 

When we exited the ship we purchased Euros $136 with US $200. When we returned to the ship, we had spent half. Had we gone on an excursion, part of the time would have been spent at a shopping area for which we have no interest. The excursions ranged from $140 per couple to as much as $5500 per couple. 

Tom looks up at the Sagrada Familia as we sat in the outdoor café.

Much to our surprise, we’ve decided on an excursion today to see Marseilles France. As we sit in our favorite booth at the Garden Café, as I write this now, we are overlooking the alps of Marseilles, a sight to behold.  Tomorrow, we’ll share the photos of our group exploration, a first for us now on our 6th cruise since January 3, 2013.  The cost of this excursion is $150 per couple including a 21% tax. 

As it turns out there is a 21% VAT (valued added) tax on just about everything in the European Union, including alcohol, goods and services. It’s a tough pill to swallow. Unfortunately, I hadn’t budgeted for these taxes (live and learn). Thus, we’ll be tightening our belts too compensate.

The drive along the streets to Sagrada Familia.

So, off we went after a 20 minute cab drive through the traffic congested streets of Barcelona, horns blaring, cop whistles blowing as they shouted at drivers and pedestrians walking willy-nilly with little regard for their surroundings. Life in big cities everywhere has a distinct similarity.

Gaudi, the architect responsible for the design and building of  Sagrada Familia and many historical buildings throughout the city of Barcelona.

Our hope had been to enter the church, over 100 years in the making. Unfortunately, it was not open to individual tourists. Apparently, group bookings with two hour lines has superseded the opportunity for anyone else to enter. Had we signed up for a pricey excursion, we’d have been waiting in one of those “around the block” lines. 

Sagrada Familia

Alas, we weren’t disappointed, instead enjoying the exterior views from a number of vantage points in the general area, especially when seated at the outdoor café. The people watching was equally entertaining.

Its massive size made photo taking tricky, so enjoy these various shots.
More than 100 years in the making.

In the afternoon, we returned to the ship as we experienced the stressful security incident with the knife, as outlined in the post of yesterday.

The intricate details are breathtaking.
Notice the varying coloration.
It’s no wonder that it is taking so many years to build this intricate monstrosity.

As the Norwegian Epic has “reloaded” with a new batch of passengers while in Barcelona, we find at least 75% of the passengers are European, many not English speaking. 

We gasped observing the many aspects of this amazing structure.
Cranes were in place for many years at the towering structure is built.
The local buildings left us in awe as we drove through the city.

Since last night at dinner, we’ve met two lovely couples from the UK. The conversation has been enriching as they share their varied experiences of world travel, as we soak up every morsel of their suggestions.

The  Arch or Arc de Triomphe (not unlike the structure of the similar name in France)
A fountain shot we got while driving in the cab.
Tourist buses were everywhere packed to the rafters with tourists.

We’ll be back tomorrow with photos of our visit to Marseilles, France. Please stop by.