Arizona, Minnesota, Arizona

Fast forward four days, and I was again boarding a plane, this time to Minnesota to take my mom’s ashes to her childhood summer home in Crosslake. I did not want to leave again—I was weary from travelling. Several people advised me not to go to Minnesota, that I needed recovery, that I was not ready to put my mom to rest, that I should not rush it. I can understand that advice. When I returned from Vegas I was so sad, I lacked energy, and I lacked interest in anything I once liked to do.

Even making my syllabi, which usually gives me geeky joy, felt more like emptying a bowl of 10,000 marbles one at a time. I could donate only 2 or so hours to the computer every morning. After that, I just needed some time alone.

But this trip to Minnesota had been planned many months before my mom even passed away, because it would allow me to celebrate Aunt Lynn’s 80th birthday. And Minnesota winters are cold. There is only so much time before the lake freezes. I did not want to wait another year to grant my mom her last wish. So I was boarding a plane again, steeling myself for a little sorrow.

Although John and I got to the Phoenix airport at 2:15 pm, we did not reach the cabin in Crosslake until about . . . 2 am, I think? I can’t remember. There were flight delays, then torrential rain on the 3 hour drive from Minneapolis, plus a daunting few miles of driving through a frog migration with little white amphibia hurling themselves at our car in the darkness. But finally we arrived, and Uncle Rick was there to greet us with hugs, love, and a room where we could rest our heads.

The next morning we had some coffee and started a long and therapeutic chat with Uncle Rick. His insights helped me remove myself from some of the guilt I have had about my mom my entire life. I always thought I should have been able to save her from her mental illness. I always felt like a failure because I could not. Rick and I talked about the stages of my mom’s psychosis that each of us had witnessed—me, her suicide attempts, and him, her “little green men are in the room.” I used to admonish myself by saying that if my mother had been sick with cancer, I never would have turned my back.

At the cabin with Uncle Rick, as we talked about the depths of her psychosis, I was learning to extend the cancer metaphor a few steps. If my mother had been sick with cancer and had refused professional treatment, it would have been as devastating for me as when she refused treatment for her mental illness. If my mother had been sick with cancer, I would have been as helpless to cure it as I was at curing her mental illness.  She would not have expected me, at 15, to treat her cancer, so how could she expect a 15 year old to treat her suicidal thoughts?

Soon Aunt Lynn and Cousin Kathy arrived, and we greeted them with big hugs and love, and we caught up after a year of absence. We did some more chatting in the living room, with the lake a gray sheet in my peripheral vision. The day had decided to be what some might call cliché for the occasion—drizzle and clouds. I was feeling weak. I was wondering when we would start. Finally, I said, “So how do we do this?”

My mother, throughout her life, gave me valuable gifts: an interest in literature, music, history, politics, travel. Now with her hand-written will she left one last gift. She asked Uncle Rick to spread her ashes at the cabin, not me. That little blessing turned into a large one, since I was aware I would not be able to do it myself.

We started by walking out to the dock. We put some ashes in the water, and Cousin Kathy reminded me of the time Mom went water skiing in a ballgown, and didn’t get a drop of water on it. Then we took some up to the birch tree where grandma Ewing’s ashes are. Then we took some to the fir trees that grandpa Ewing planted, and we added mom’s ashes to his among their roots.

As I watched mom rejoin her parents, I thought about all those years mom was estranged from her family and her cabin home. I felt such great peace to have her back where she belonged. The cabin is the Ewing family Camelot. Her separation from it was a constant source of sadness to me—the contrast of all that we had when we were there, versus all that we lost when we weren’t.

John said later it was as if a great weight had been lifted from my shoulders, and he was right. I sobbed. Then I felt better. We went inside and drank a glass of red wine to mom, which would have pleased her. We decompressed a little, then John and I and Kathy and Lynn drove to Gull Lake, where we would celebrate Lynn’s birthday the following day.

If the weather on Cross Lake had been cliché, the weather on Gull Lake the next day might have been too. The sun came out in spades for Lynn’s 80th birthday. Our gathering was a bonus celebration, since Lynn’s entire family, all 33 children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren had come for her party in July. Lynn said she forgave me for being in Europe at the time of her party. I really wanted to be with Lynn, in the flesh, on her birthday.

We went and had a lovely dinner, then we came home and played a game at the dining room table, then we had some ice cream cake. While the day before had brought me some sorrow, and then some closure, it was fitting that the day celebrating Lynn’s birthday brought me joy.

We had two more lovely days in Minnesota, which we spent enjoying the lake, the cool temps, and the loving embrace of Uncle Rick, Aunt Lynn, and Cousin Kathy. I came home feeling, for once, like I had done the right thing.


Arizona, Nevada, Arizona

I suffered a severe bout of post-party depression after our trip to Europe. I didn’t want to come home, first off, but also I was dreading getting right back on a plane for Nevada to take care of my mother’s affairs. The probate hearing was scheduled for August 14th at the Clark County family court. The hearing was number one on a long checklist of things I needed to do.

Las Vegas is not my favorite place, and I had managed to avoid going there at all until mom moved there in 2001. To have to go back, and to have to go back to confront not only her estate but also the end of her life, well, the whole idea put me in a funk. I went from over to under achiever in a matter of a few months.

My bare minimum goals for Vegas were to attend the court hearing and pick up mom’s ashes. Beyond that, what I really needed to do was sell her car, sort her mail, settle her accounts, clean out her condo, fix up her condo, meet with a real estate agent to try to rent out her condo, etc. Every time I thought I had exhausted the list of things I needed to do, another item came up. I was also still just very sad. So my ability to confront the list was touch and go.

There was a moment in Vegas when I pondered why we have wedding planners but not death planners? A happy person has the strength to make arrangements. But a sad person? It’s much harder. I really wished I could have called one person and said, “Fix it!” I guess to my brother I am that person. I have to fix it, and I really have no idea how.

I called four different estate liquidators. Mom was a Marxist, so though she had some items, they were of little value. One auctioneer came and said it was not worth his time. Another came and said that I should just try to yard sale what I could and give the rest to charity. Picture me floundering, wondering exactly how I’m supposed to sell anything in a city like this one, and how I can possibly sort through everything in her place in a matter of hours before my flight.

Organizing

Enter Raymond and Joseph, my mom’s neighbors. They came to the condo at 6 am on Saturday, placed signs throughout the neighborhood, helped me price items, negotiated sales, carried heavy items to cars, cleaned patios, and translated for Spanish-speaking customers.

IMG_0009

At one point Joseph moved a dresser he had sold, revealing a picture of me and John that had fallen between it and the wall. I picked up the photo and ran to the other room sobbing. Raymond came and hugged me, assuring me, “She had the photo out so she could see you. It just fell and she couldn’t reach it. She loved you very much.” He held me until I felt strong enough to push on.

We managed to clear out much of mom’s laminate furniture, a few kitchen items, some of her clothing and some knick-knacks. By 4 pm, we looked around the condo and knew it was the best that we could do. Then Raymond and Joseph took me to the airport, assuring me they would continue working so that I could rent out the condo in time to cover mom’s mortgage and HOA fees before the small sum in her bank account ran out.

I wanted to question why this couple, strangers to me, rallied to help. It is in my nature to question. Was my sorrow a strong enough reason? Or did they want something in return? Or did they care deeply for my mom?  Or is that simply what people do? The last thing I needed was more unknown territory, and I struggled to just accept the help. I’m not good at letting people help me.  When Raymond called me at the airport to make sure I was okay I just cried and cried. Perhaps this was one last lesson from a mother who never stopped teaching me: when you need help, ask. When help comes, accept it.

In dealing with my mother’s death I keep bumping up against the irony that her body is gone and her things are left. It’s a cruel turn of events for a Marxist. And despite our troubled relationship, I find myself missing her at the most inopportune times. Above all, I miss her skin, her voice, her laugh.

I miss the tangible Mommy–the undeniable physical presence of the woman who brought me into the world. Her departure leaves me desperately alone. But at the same time I come alive with the realization that I am who I am because of her.


500 pictures

If you’re brave you can view our photos. Warning: do not view when hungry!

Click here to view these pictures larger


Reflecting and Accounting

Reflecting

A seasoned traveler once told me that recovering from jetlag takes one day for every time zone crossed. In Europe we were 9 hours ahead of Phoenix time, so that means we should have recovered from jet lag in 9 days: August 11 from our August 2 return date. John and I both felt like we had a mild “flu” for several days after we got home, and we attribute that to jet lag. It took me more like two full weeks to feel back to normal, but that might have been half jet lag half sadness that I had to come home. I think we’re back on schedule now, though it did seem we needed to lounge a lot after our trip. I’m thinking now about what I would and would not change for next year’s “New Country” adventure.

Things I would not change:

I really love the opportunity to travel with friends, so I would not change the fact that we chose our destination to meet up with people we love. In fact, we’re taking rendez-vous ideas for next summer if any of you are planning trips abroad.

I would not change the way we planned the details of the trip. Reading blogs and travel articles has always been productive for us, and it led us to some of our best activities and meals.

I love the 2 bag system of backpack and 22” rolling carry-on. That worked so well and we moved from city to city, hotel to hotel easily with our light bags. Especially on a trip with lots of stops I live by the rule that if I can’t carry it myself I should not bring it.

My packing run-through produced great results. I used everything I packed except for my sun hat and my work-out bikini, but that had more to do with bad weather than bad choices.

Things I would change:

We did not buy maps, and I would do that for our next trip rather than relying completely on the GPS while driving.

I will always make sure my car doors are locked.

I will be willing to pay a little more for lodging. I have rented private properties through VRBO all over the world, but I really was not happy with how that turned out this time. I tried to cut costs on 3 nights of lodging by choosing a budget rental. While that has worked in the past, I now feel like it is worth it for security and simple enjoyment to spend the extra money.

Before we left on our trip I took out 2 of the 8 sundresses I had packed, and in the future I would be sure to load up on dresses. On about day 15 I was so tired of wearing the same outfits, and every other woman seemed to have on a beautiful dress so I was green with envy. But then again, my mother always did call me a “clothes horse.”

Accounting

So what about the budget? Our spending on travel has averaged $7000/year for the past five years. We knew this trip was going to take all of that, so we started depositing $800/month into a special savings account last November. When I ran the budget for the trip before we left, it looked like we would spend $7203.48. I have now sorted through all the expenditures, including all of the 12 Euro churches and 12 Euro bridges, and we came in $1000 under budget.

 

Budgeted

Actual

Activities

 $         370.00

 $        129.20

Airfare 

 $         346.00

 $        346.00

Car Fuel

 $         226.96

 $        227.17

Car Parking

 $           59.22

 $          51.05

Car Rental

 $       1,000.00

 $     1,209.07

Car Tolls

 $         143.30

 $        102.40

Lodging

 $       2,188.00

 $     2,481.09

Meals

 $       2,370.00

 $     1,752.91

Petsitter

 $         500.00

 $               –  

Total 

 $       7,203.48

 $     6,298.89

Cost per day

 $         400.19

 $        349.94

 

For activities and meals I budgeted a flat rate per day, so it’s not surprising that we were under budget there, since we skipped a few activities and a few meals. We went over budget on the car rental because there was a scratch on the bumper when we returned it and they charged us $200. I want to highlight that John did not do it—someone must have nicked us, but we were still responsible to pay for it. We went over budget on lodging because we didn’t feel safe in the vrbo rental and had to pay for a hotel.  Our dogsitters Jeff and Autumn refused to take the $500 we budgeted because they insisted that Penny and Rooster were a pleasure to live with. John and I are blessed to have friends who are so kind.

I’m so ready to go again. I can’t wait for our next “New Country” adventure. We don’t have any ideas or plans yet, but I’m sure something will crop up soon.


Day 18 Traveling Home

Please don’t make us leave! Maybe I should stay and get a job at the Mercat Santa Catarina with the boy who sits on his Facebook page all day. Our flight left the Barcelona airport at 7 am, so we had to be there at 5, which means our car came at 4:45, which means we got up at 4. This is where being a triathlete comes in handy—I am pretty good at jerking awake, grabbing all my stuff, dragging myself to the start line, and slogging through a long race.  

Once we got to the airport and dealt with the uber-cluster that is Lufthansa, we settled into our first of 3 airplanes for the day. The 22 hour journey home gave me a long time to reflect on our trip.

Favorite Activity: canoeing the Dordogne, seeing the Tour de France

Favorite Meal: La Recreation in Les Arques with the Hinckley family

Favorite City: tie between Cadaques, Spain and Beynac, France

Favorite Hotel: Hotel Casanova in Barcelona

Favorite Purchase: a necklace with handmade ceramic beads

Funniest Moment: I said (in Spanish) to the hotel maid in Cadaques, “I have trouble understanding your Spanish.” She said (in Spanish) “That’s because I’m speaking Catalan.” Then she said (in Spanish with great enthusiasm), “How’s Obama?”

Favorite Museum: Dali museum in Figueres was my favorite museum, but the Cezanne Picasso exhibit in Aix-en-Provence was my favorite exhibit.

Most Annoying American: At one point in France it was John. I was getting a little tired of translating. We were outside a restaurant and I was describing every item on the menu to him: rabbit with mushrooms, roast chicken, grilled calamari, etc. It went on and on and I was so tired of reading menus to him every time we ate. Finally I finshed and he said, “Thanks! It’s in English right over here, but you did a really good job!”   

So all in all, a great trip. The flights home were fine. John and I are both gifted with being able to sleep on the plane. I usually fall asleep as soon as the plane starts its taxi to the runway.

It was a little hard getting off our 8.5 hour flight and onto a 5.5 hour flight. But that’s what it was. I called Autumn from DC, and she offered to bring the dogs and dinner to the house. Cindy and Larry offered to bring a 6 pack. So we got home, and there were our kitty, our dogs, our friends, some food, and some refreshment. I can’t tell you how happy that made me. Perhaps the most meaningful part of a trip is coming home to people you love.


Day 17 Barcelona

When we woke up this morning we were moving pretty slowly. Is it possible to have too much fun, food, and festivities on a vacation? If so, I think we were butting up against the limits. So we took it slow getting ready for our day—our LAST day of touring. Day 18 would be one long day of travelling.

One pressing thought was presents. Did we buy enough? There were lots of people who helped us make this trip happen, and we wanted to make sure to bring a little something back for them. So we decided we would take the subway to the waterfront to look at the Mediterranean one more time, then walk up through El Riberia for some good gift shopping.

Years ago the waterfront had been one of the seedier areas of Barcelona, but the city soaked a lot of money in it for the Olympics, and we were really impressed with the infrastructure there at the beach—a huge boardwalk with lots of restaurants. Waterfront

We were also pleased that the population at the beach was so varied. There were lots of seniors sunning and playing games in the sand.  An example of this was the four 70-something men in speedos playing some type of racquet-less tennis game.  It was about ten AM, so we figured the kids were all still in bed.

After touring the waterfront, we walked towards the Mercat Santa Caterina, where we were told by our Cinc Sentits waiter we would find a gourmet foods store where we could buy some ******** to take home for some friends. Sorry, can’t tell you what it is until the presents are delivered!  As you know, I have never met a market I did not like. And though this was much smaller than the Boqueria, I got that same “market” thrill I always do. Maybe I should work in a market some day? They really make me happy, probably because of my interest in whole foods/local foods movements.

Mercat

So we found the gourmet foods store, and as we walked in I noticed that the young clerk was reading his Facebook page. I thought that was pretty funny. Then a really loud, really big American man came in like a dust storm and started demanding (in English) to taste a bajillion different olive oils to find the one $10 bottle he would take back home with him, all the while exclaiming that California has the best olive oil in the world. This was one of those moments I was glad that everyone we met in France and Spain thought John was Scottish and I was Norwegian. Despite the drama, we found what we came for, then realized all this shopping was making us hungry.

There was a Tapas place nearby that was in the blogs and guidebooks, but hadn’t made our top list of “must-go” meals. But it was close, so he headed to Taller de Tapas. The prices were good, so we ordered a lot of food. Let’s see. Potatoes with eggs and chorizo, paella, grilled squid, tomato and anchovy salad with beans, and salt cod fritters since we had not tried them yet. The food was good, but I think we had been very spoiled throughout the trip so it was not a “wow” meal for us.

I Heart Anchovies

We went back to the hotel for a little rest, then headed back out to complete our shopping. That night we had our tasting dinner that was included with the package. It was at Mexiterranean, which was a fusion restaurant combining Mexican and Mediterranean flavors. John commented that it was a good “gateway” meal to get us back home. We started with drinks in the bar (also part of the package) and I told the bartender “make something fun.” That he did! We had strawberry mojitos, which were so refreshing and had a nice level of sweet and fruity taste.

Trish aftea Berr yMojito

The rest of the dinner went like this: tapas trio with ceviche, bruschetta, and chicken torta; sea bass with guacamole; Iberian pork with ancho chile; and gasp! a brownie with ice cream. The waiter was nice enough to bring me Tiramisu instead because my second least favorite food behind lima beans is brownies. I hate brownies. The tiramisu was good though. So this was a fun dinner, and a good way to end the trip since we could walk upstairs and go straight to sleep.


Day 16 Barcelona

This morning we decided to do the Barri Gotic walking tour from our book Barcelona day by day. We walked two blocks to the Universitat subway station, switched lines at Urquinaona, and got off at Jaume I. We headed straight to La Catedral, but we decided not to pay the 12 Euros to go in. It was very pretty from the outside, though, and I’m certain it was just as lovely inside.  I liked the Barri Gotic, more than La Rambla for sure. There were lots of tiny stone walkways lined with boutiques and restaurants, with a church, museum, or Roman ruin tucked here or there.

Remnants of walled city

But the real thrill for the day was our 2 pm reservation for lunch at Cinc Sentits, the restaurant that I really wanted to try. The reviews all said that the chef created cutting-edge fusion food, which happens to be my favorite. I was smart enough this time to ask for a copy of the menu so here goes:

TAPAS
five spiced “Marcona” almonds
cantabrian anchovy and fig batons
house-marinated gordal olives
maple syrup, chilled cream, cava sabayon and rock salt

maple syrup, chilled cream, cava sabayon, rock salt

WILD MUSHROOMS
porcini cream and micro greens

PAN SEARED SCALLOP
sunchoke puree, onion escalivada reduction

IBERIAN PORK JOWL
green apple risotto, rosemary, pistachios

 

Iberian Pork Jowl

MACKEREL
transparent gazpacho, fried bread

GALACIAN OXTAIL
36 hour sous vide, carrot, beet, parsnip

WATERMELON TEXTURES
pink peppercorn ice, pickled watermelon peel

APRICOTS FROM THE MARESME
chamomile ice cream, pistachio cake and streusel

My favorites from the tasting were the mushrooms and the pork jowl, but everything was delicious. In comparison to the meal at Hisop, I have to say I liked Hisop better because every single course was a hit. At Cinc, I was not a huge fan of the watermelon (though it could be said that was a “freebie” since it was really just a palate cleanser). I think the flavors at Hisop were just a little more supising too. I did love our meal at Cinc Sentits. The transparent gazpacho was so interesting because somehow the chef packed a lot of tomato flavor into a clear broth.

What would you do after a lunch like that? Siesta! We went back and had a nap, then got up to enjoy the cool evening with a walk around the posh shops along the Passieg de Gracia. We ended up at Velodromo, a new tapas bar that was recommended to us by our waiter at Cinc Sentits. Still full from lunch, we ordered 6 oysters and monkfish. I have to say that monkfish may have been the dark horse of the trip. I did not have high expectations because the place had a “bar” quality and I thought I would get “bar food.” But we asked the waitress what to order and she said monkfish and it was so tender and tasty.

Monkfish at Velodromo

We walked home in the beautiful cool air. Perhaps all of this wonderful food is curing me of my “attack reaction.” I felt happy and safe; even well cared for.


Day 15 Barcelona

Well, it looks like that’s it for the running. I feel guilty because my friend Christina ran every day while she was in Barcelona. But she’s a better woman than I am! We’re walking so much each day that my feet really hurt. I have a physical therapy session planned for August 4 to deal with my arch pain. So I need to lay off the AM jogs. I thought about wearing my GPS to log the miles we’re walking all day, but let’s just call them 5 milers. I think we’ll be okay.

We got up without an alarm (thank heavens) and went downstairs for the first of our breakfasts at the hotel. It was so nice to have a carafe of coffee after weeks of the café allongé we had in France, which is basically espresso but brewed with more water. We also had croissants, egg pie, and fruit.

Then we took our first adventure on the subway. Here I had my second “attack reaction” of the Barcelona trip, which I attributed to still being a little uptight over being attacked in Marseille. We were buying tickets at the machine when a man came up behind us and said “What is the problem?” I’m not sure where in my mind it made sense that he might rob us, but for a moment I was terrified. Soon I realized he was recommending that we buy a different type of ticket that would give us a discount. I decided to take this as a life lesson: always prepare yourself for kindness.

The first “attack reaction” had happened the day before when John stopped in a store just for a moment as I walked 2 blocks back to the hotel. At a stop light two men in front of me turned around abruptly and said, “Hablo anglais?” I clutched my purse and prepared to lie. I guess I nodded a little because one of the men said, “Oh thank goodness. We’re lost! Do you know where La Rambla is?” That’s when I realized they were two American college kids—not low profile pickpockets. I sure hope that after a few theft-free days in Barcelona I’ll be back to normal. I have traveled with composure in much more dangerous places.

So we took the subway, which was clean, efficient, and fun! I love trains. It was about the 100th thing on the trip that made me want to move to a new city. We got to the Sagrada Familia, where we paid 12 Euros to get in (I’d like to know who wrote the rule that everything in Europe costs 12 Euros). I am not even going to try to describe this to you. The best thing I can tell you is go pay your 12 Euros and see the thing. Gaudi was killed by a tram car before the building was finished, and then many of the plans were destroyed in the Spanish Civil War. But to visit this place is to live for a short moment in Gaudi’s brain, which is as strange and brilliant a place as I’ve ever been.

Sagrada Familia

We continued the Gaudi tour by walking down the Passeig de Gracia where he has several buildings, all the way down to the Boqueria. Have I told you lately how much I love markets? If I had only seen the Boqueria, my trip to Barcelona would have been worth it. Our first stop was at Pinoxto, a tapas bar teeming with people even at noon, which is well before most people eat lunch. We ordered two dishes: squid with white beans, and garbanzos and blood sausage. So delicious. Then we walked around the market some more. There’s nothing more exciting than the artisanal cheeses, the colorful fruits and vegetables, endless varieties of meat and fish. I don’t even need to buy anything to enjoy a market. It’s a gift to simply look. We made our way to the second recommended tapas bar in the market: El Quim. We ordered the seafood platter and thank heavens we did. This is certainly one we would love to recreate at home: razor clams, mussels, fish, shrimp, oysters.

Boqueria

Back at home it was time for a nap, and then massage appointments. I thought about asking Javier to spend all 45 minutes on my feet. I didn’t, and the massage went well anyway. Then John came in for his massage, and I sat outside in the courtyard listening to a person practicing the clarinet in a neighboring apartment as I lounged in a hammock staring at the blue sky.

That evening we went for dinner at a tapas bar John read about in the New York Times and was dying to try. We got there at 8, but we had to wait about 45 minutes to get a seat. It was so worth it. We had eggplant with molasses, olives, potatoes bravas, and olives with anchovies. We walked home and read for just a bit before falling asleep.

Inopia


Day 14 Girona-Barcelona

We woke up very tired in Girona. Since our room was quite nice, we decided to just have ourselves a rest instead of hurling ourselves into action. Our only agenda item was to drive to the Barcelona airport where a car was picking us up at 1 pm to take us to our hotel. We rested for a while, then got a coffee and a croissant, then checked out and hit the road.

Samantha was a bit of a pain on the route. We saw plenty of signs that said airport, but she always wanted us to go somewhere else. I have to admit I was really looking forward to packing Samantha away in the suitcase and dropping the Golf off at Avis for 4 refreshing car-free days in Barcelona. John did a great job driving, and Samantha did a great job directing us, but it was pretty tiring all that hopping around.

Soon we found the Airport and the Avis rental area and dropped off the car. Goodbye Golf! Goodbye Samantha! And Christian, our driver, was right there to meet us. He was very friendly and spoke perfect English and told us all about local trends in the economy and politics. I had a little bit of a hard time relaxing at first because I was so used to navigating that I kept feeling like I needed to tell Christian which roads to take. But in no time we were at the hotel, and Christian told us we made a good choice because the hotel was hip and close to everything—right near the University in the Eixample area.

We walked to the check-in, and were greeted by Carmen, the lovely receptionist who had been very helpful with our booking. We purchased this hotel package through www.luxurylink.com so it came with breakfasts, massages, free drinks, and a dinner. We have used the auction site before for reserving places in Costa Rico, St. Lucia, and Thailand. It has always been wonderful. We were anxious to see our new home for the next 4 nights, and Carmen walked us upstairs to the room.

It truly exceeded our expectations! It was a gorgeous suite with 2 bathrooms, a living room, and a huge bedroom with a King bed and floor to ceiling windows. We were so happy we decided to splurge for this relaxing last part of the trip. We took a few pictures, got freshened up, and went for a walk to get some Tapas!

IMG_0013

After a light snack of Tapas, we came back and had a quick nap. Then we walked to La Rambla—the crowded tree-lined pedestrian mall so famous with tourists. And tourists there were. A few too many for my taste. But we found a Desigual store and I bought two dresses and John bought a shirt, so the trip was a success.

IMG_0023

After shopping, we came back to the hotel and showered to get ready for our reservations at Hisop. We were really looking forward to the tasting menu at this innovative and hip restaurant. We ate an incredible 8 course meal that started with a gin and tonic oyster with horseradish foam, and ended with a special morel mushroom crème catalan with passion fruit ice cream. I think that was the best dessert I ever had. Loved it! We were full and tired, so we took a cab home and went to sleep!