Yeah, you. My reader. It’s been more than 7 years, 2 domains and a divorce since DelSo was born. Over the years I’ve shared a lot of my life and self here, in print. You, as a reader, have come to know me on some level from my words. What makes you return here (assuming you’re not new around these parts) and read what I write? Let me remind you of some of what I’ve related to you in the hope that you might feel inclined to share with me – who you are, reader? Why are you here?
There have been so many miles – more plane rides than I could have ever imagined, along with runs and races and road trips. I’ve explored cities with my boys and my girlfriends and solo. My feet have run in a half dozen different countries and probably about the same number of states.
My home has evolved from a house with two full-time parents to one of three part-time children. There have been physical improvements, rooms repurposed and painted, new rugs and furniture rearranged. It feels different. After a refinance or two, I know it’s mine.
I’ve written about books I’ve read and movies and concerts I’ve seen. Increasingly, politics and my dismay with our current leadership have been topics I’ve felt compelled to write about.
My children and the challenges of being a parent frequently provide fodder for posts. While the joys outweigh the frustrations, parenthood remains a roller coaster ride that keeps me on the edge of my seat with a scream threatening to escape. It’s a heart racing ride.
Sometimes I cook or bake and post recipes and photos of the fruits of my labors. Food and wine are a big part of my life and I’ve happily shared my experiences with you. Oh – and there’s that wine bar that I own.
There have been times when I wrote with sadness or anger, but I think I mostly write from a place of understanding and acceptance. Balance and moderation are woven throughout much of what I write.
Health and wellness have been covered and the miracle of menopause has been mentioned. The heartbreak of addiction and the threat of cancer have been present. I’ve learned to ski and have found bliss in pigeon pose in a room heated to 100+ degrees.
It’s all here – my life. Not perfect, not necessarily what I ever imagined it to be, but a life that I feel grateful for in a city that I have come to love.
Will you tell me why you visit my life?
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Last week while I was in Barcelona I ran four consecutive days, including the very day we arrived. The leisurely pace of our vacation and the magnetic pull of the Mediterranean made taking a run an impulse that I could not deny. It was a gift I gave to myself, almost a souvenir that took up space in my memory and not my luggage. It was wonderful.
I’ve been running on and off for more than 25 years, with the last 5 or 6 years being my most prolific. I now run distances I never imagined in earlier years – 10 miles? Sign me up! A half marathon? Where and when? I’m in! My favorite way to spend a Sunday afternoon, my only day off each week, is to take a long run, with the lunar B*tches or solo. It gives me an opportunity to process the preceding week and get ready mentally for the upcoming week – an undeniable two-fer.
I enjoy running in a way that transcends the physical discomfort that can accompany this hard on the body activity. Truthfully, my mind needs it even more than my body does most days. At this point in my running career, my body knows what to do in terms of breathing and exertion levels so my focus often turns inward and I find myself simultaneously working out problems and working out physically. Don’t believe me? Read this.
I ran yesterday for the first time since I was in Spain and honestly, I wasn’t really psyched about it. It was a grey day and the skies were spitting a bit and I was tired because I still had a little jet lag and I knew Jeter was going to get dirty and need to be cleaned up and my house really hadn’t received any attention since before my trip and did I mention I was tired from a busy night at the restaurant??? You see how scary easy it is to allow the reasons not to run to snowball?
One of my running partners and some sidewalk love.
But, I reached for my running clothes, cued up my recently created Barcelona running playlist and tied up my laces and headed out. Like always, it was exactly what I needed. The music was great and my legs and lungs welcomed the stretch. The air smelled like lilacs and the rain was the lightest of sprinkles on my face. My fatigue lifted along with my spirits and I found myself smiling knowing the truth in this statement: The only bad run is the one we do not take.
Maybe I’ve gotten a little too blasé about traveling. What was once approached with actual penned lists, which were meticulously cross checked, has become a much more casual affair. I select a few favorite items of clothing and then flesh out my travel wardrobe while trying to remain committed to a color scheme. Navy blue has been my go to palette one last couple of trips. I toss in toiletries and any necessary electronic gadgets or chargers and go. Simple.
Getting out of town for my most trip was complicated by home and business responsibilities. There were some banking tasks that would need to be accomplished in my absence so I went through my wallet to leave ATM cards for those taking care of business while I vacationed. It seems I should have paid more attention to what I was doing…
We arrived in Barcelona Saturday morning after what had been a long day of work and travel. I approached an ATM in the airport and fumbled for my bank card to make a withdrawal…and it wasn’t there. I checked again, looking in compartments and pockets where I knew it wasn’t going to be and tried not to panic. Hmmm. Somehow I had left all of my ATM cards at home. How was I going to solve this problem?
I had 80 euros in my wallet from last year’s trip to France and both a Visa and an American Express card. On a European vacation many years ago my ATM card wouldn’t work at most of the bank machines I encountered and I resorted to taking cash advances on my credit card. I’d just do that again. I’d get dinged for some bank fees, but whatever. Simple.
Except, it was the weekend and there weren’t any banks open. Not a big deal, we’d just wait it out until Monday, right? My credit cards should cover us, I thought, as we grabbed a cab to get us to our accommodations. No problem. I was so confident that come Monday we’d be able to access cash via a cash advance which I could pay off immediately electronically, that I went ahead and spent 40 euros cash on the cab when the driver balked at my Visa card. It’s all good, except…
Monday came along and none of the banks I went into (there were 4 attempts on my part) would perform a cash advance transaction. My only option was to use an ATM, but I had never bothered to set up a pin, which once again left me high and dry. Now, though, I had even less cash. We were down to my last 20 after an indulgent cab ride home on Saturday night. Yes, we had spent 60 of our 80 euros on cab rides.
What did we do? We basically charged everything, which was fine because I had expressly obtained my Visa card because it came without fees for international transactions. As a matter of fact, I was earning cash back on my purchases. Not having cash definitely was a crimp in my style, but by no means was it the end of the world. We figured it out and ultimately a lack of cash didn’t translate at all to a lack of fun. Lesson learned. It won’t happen again.
Have you ever listened to this album by Miles Davis? It’s one of my favorites and sets the mood for so many things – a romantic dinner, a quiet conversation, time alone with your special someone. Add it to your playlist and thank me later, ok?
Now that you’ve got that going, let me share some of my impressions of Spain, or more accurately, Barcelona.
- The dogs here are rarely on leashes, although their owners always seem to have one slung over their shoulders. The dogs are very well behaved and never run into the street or approach strangers even when a stranger is missing their own dog and more than willing to give a pat.
- Fashion observations: women wear tights and stockings far more than at home. They also rock tight, little leather jackets, while people of all ages have those super light down jackets in a rainbow of colors. Happily, I haven’t seen a single pair of Uggs.
- Far too many people smoke cigarettes, just like in Paris. The only other unpleasant aroma has been a vague sewer smell that wafts around in a mild, yet noticeable way.
- Speaking of smells, it’s weird – the Mediterranean doesn’t have that briny smell that announces its presence like the Atlantic. There’s no “sea air” that I could discern.
- Children seem to be very well loved here. Parents are affectionate and attentive without resorting to that helicopter approach which is so prevalent in the U.S.
- Everyone has either a scooter, a bike or a soccer ball.
- Scarves are oversize and wound repeatedly around the necks of both men and women.
- Running seems to be a pretty big activity here and I got lucky with a boardwalk of sorts and parks super close to our apartment. I ran every day.
- Chefs use a generous amount of salt and pastry is far more delicate than I imagined.
- I’d like to come back here again.
It’s been amazing how quickly I’ve adjusted to Barcelona’s late night schedule. I can only explain it as a magical alignment of being an early person and having the advantage of a six hour time difference. Whatever the reason, it’s working for me and I haven’t struggled at all with this temporary life of sleeping until 10:00 a.m. and beginning dinner at 11:00 p.m.
We’ve been doing our best to try new things and eat as much traditional food as possible. For Griffin this translates to jamon, while I’m more inclined to sample as much seafood as I can get in my mouth. Here are few particularly tasty items we’ve enjoyed – and one we determined was not for us.
After spending my first day in Barcelona, I can say I understand exactly what Antonio’s talking about. This place just stimulates the desire for languid pleasure and beautiful people and food are everywhere.
With blue skies above our heads and cobblestones below our feet we wandered around quite a bit yesterday. When it came time to eat, we approached the task of finding a restaurant with an attitude of nonchalance. It all looked pretty good and we were willing to try something new. For Griffin, it was a plate of meat for a late breakfast. He shared a bite of the brightly colored and flavored sausage, but gobbled the rest, saying that the tiny ribs were his favorite but everything on the plate was delicious and cooked perfectly.
For dinner, which we began eating at 11 p.m., we wandered into a neighborhood spot that contained only 6 tables, although it appeared that the large table filled with either regulars or family, may have been a couple of small tables pushed together. Not being able to read Spanish wasn’t really a problem because we wanted traditional fare – jamon and paella.
The ham was phenomenal and buried any other ham I’ve ever had. It was sliced beautifully thin with the perfect meat to fat ratio. It was tender, yet firm and had an overwhelming rich flavor of butter. Fantastic. The paella was exactly what I’ve always imagined paella to be – presented in a beautiful low pan and served to us at the table, it was an eye pleasing medley of shrimp, langoustine, mussels, slivers of squid with rice and small bites of red pepper. The fish was mind blowingly fresh and the shells on the shrimp were incredibly tender as we picked them up with our hands to suck every single morsel of deliciousness out.
Good food was had and the wine I sampled – an intense rose in the afternoon and a simple white of unknown origin with dinner, was pretty damn good, too. From what I observed as we walked around, it seems that romance and sensuality is very much present with young and old couples showing affection and passion freely. Good sex seemed a distinct possibility. As for me, there was good sleep in the form of an hour long nap and a longer overnight rest. Antonio Banderas, and Spanish people in general, are on to something. Viva Espana!
- I will take a funicular ride to these trails and take a run – hopefully twice!
- There will be wine with lunch…followed by late afternoon naps.
- I will spend hours outdoors walking around to see as many of Gaudi’s buildings as possible.
- Should there be rain, I will check out the Picasso museum.
- I will take in my first professional soccer match with my soccer playing son.
- The beach will be our front yard.
- I will take pictures -lots of pictures!
- Jamon will be a major part of my diet.
- I will soak in the experience of being in a city and country which are new to me.
- My appreciation of all the good things in my life will radiate.