Farewell Good Friend

I had to come home from Spain specifically for today. I had a hair cut appointment . It was not just any appointment, but the last day with my beloved hairdresser, Kathy Jacobs. After at least a dozen years of her doing my hair Kathy is retiring from hairdressing to move to a farm in Georgia.
Kathy has been my hairdresser longer than anyone else I have ever gone to. I have loved her not just for doing my hair, but as a sharerer of recipes, story teller, and friend.  
I am a well documented bad doer of my own hair. I grew up in the Marcia Brady era of straight hair parted down the middle. I have no skills when it comes to styling, being a spaz when it comes to folding a hair dryer and a brush at the same time. Don’t even get me started on the dangers of a curling iron.
Kathy appreciated all these things about me. She was able to cut my hair in a way that it could do itself when I got out of the shower. She never made me feel bad bout being a hair moron as well as never pushing me to do hair treatments, like coloring my hair. I am mousey brown and she was fine with that. Yes, color enhancement could do something for me, but Kathy understood I had little tolerance for sitting in the chair longer than an hour a month.
When Carter broke her leg and had a cast from her toe to her hip for six weeks it was Kathy who came to the rescue. She washed Carter’s adolescent hair every other day for those six weeks and saved my relationship with my daughter. For that and so many other reasons I am eternally indebted to her.
I know that she will go on to do great things, but I am going to miss her, not just for my hair, but for my friend. Good luck raising blueberries and restoring your old farm, Kathy. Just know that if you tire of the green aces life, the city and all your beloved customers will still be here missing you, with me at the front of the line.


Re-entry

It was an easy flight from BCN to JFK. Carter and Russ sat with each other in their introvert section and I sat across the aisle with a cute 85 year old mother of 10 and her number seven son who just toured Paris, Rome and Barcelona with his three college aged kids. She had a lot to tell me so it was good we were sitting in that configuration.
BCN is the first world airport compared to JFK. Customs and Immigration was fine thanks to global entry, but moving from terminal four to terminal two was a a third world experience. First you have to take the air train a very short distance, but then you take a tiny elevator to the ground level and walk a thousand yards across two streets and into a building that has no escalator and one elevator the size of a pack n’ play to get up to departures. 
For some reason Carter and I did not have seats so we have to check in again at the kiosk to get a boarding pass to get through security. The machine did not put pre-check on our boarding passes so we had to wait in the cattle line. None of this is good when it is eleven at night your body time.
Since we had a couple of hours we went to get dinner. Breaking ourselves of our Spanish orientation was hard. As our food was placed in front of me I said “gracias” to our server. Carter looked up at the wall behind me and in her jet lagged-used to being in a highly Catholic country-read the posted sign as “resurrection kit” rather than “resuscitation kit.”
I’m not sure how long Spain will stay with us, but I suspect I will be making Gazpacho tomorrow.


Last Vacation Day Chill

We awoke early in Seville after staying up late, late, late with our friend Shireen last night. We had gone to Contendor, a very cool restaurant in the Macarena district for the second time since it was the best food we ate in Spain. It was sad to be leaving Shireen after our two day reunion, but we had to get back to Barcelona where our flight takes off from and she has the rest of the world to conquer. 
The high speed train rushed up across the whole country and back to the very cosmopolitan city. I picked a different place to stay in for our last night so we could have a taste of another area. Our first accommodations in BCN was an apartment in the swanky Eixample neighborhood, in Seville we stayed in a tiny property right in to idle of the historic district with a terrace over looking the Cathedral.  


For our last night I picked a hip place called the Casa Camper right in the thick of the old city. I did not realize that it was a hotel run by the cool, Camper shoe company. I chose it because it had a suite where Carter could have her own room with a hammock as well as a bed, but I did not have to spring for a whole second room.


We arrived and they gave us a tour of the hotel. The 24 hour free food, the roof terrace, the snooker room, the Heath club. Since we had already done the city we decided to chill and do the hotel. We went to the food room and pick out our some lunch, salmon wraps, goat cheese salad, hazel nuts, cheese, watermelon and sweets, got drinks and took our trays up to the roof terrace where we were all alone to relax.


After our late lunch Carter chilled in her hammock and Russ and I walked the neighborhood. Now back for a shower in the fabulous multi he’d shower and out to dinner. A little rest before home. We have loved Spain. The people are chill, the food is yummy, the history is interesting, the weather is good. We are going to have to come back, but I might like to just come back to the Casa Camper and hang in the hotel. It is a real vacation.


Heathens Come to Town 


Sometimes we forget that these beautiful cathedrals we are visiting are churches. Today we went to the Cathedral of Seville which towers over our little eleven room hotel. We have been here three days and have enjoyed the glorious peeling of the bells multiple times. Of course they ring on the hour, and sometimes the half and every once in a while on the quarter, but they are a little fickle and sometimes they ring and ring and ring and it’s 7:20. We can’t figure them out, but they do work as an alarm for Carter to get up.


The Cathedral is a major money making operation. We waited in a long line today to get in at 9 euros a head. They would not give Carter the student rate since she did not have a student ID, there is no explaining that her school does not issue ID’s. As we were waiting in the snake of a line through the gift shop, Russ looks over at a shelves of books and asks, “Carter, who is that cartoon character over there?” She glances at the shelf with her young eyes and says in her most droll tone, “Jesus.”


This Cathedral is filled with fantastic works of art, mostly of Jesus and his mom, but some lesser known Popesand randomness nuns are also featured. One other famous person has his crypt in the Cathedral, Christopher Columbus, since this was the most powerful maritime location in Spain and the place Isabella and Ferdinand ruled from, sending Christopher Columbus off to the new world from this place 50 miles inland.
We walked all around the main floor of the Cathedral that has just a little seating for actual worship. As Russ passed by a four year old Asian girl, sitting on a pew, who was holding a giant I-phone 6 swiping wildly, he heard her muttering, “Wifi, wifi, why can’t I get any wifi?” Seems like the Catholic Church could charge an extra euro per head if they made the whole inside of the Cathedral a hotspot. Might also do something to get butts in the pews for services, but then again they might need more actual seats.


After finishing looking at the main floor we climbed the tower, known as “la Giralda” the 35 story minaret, that was built for the original Muslim mosque and was engulfed into the Cathedral when the Christians drove the Muslims out. The tower has ramps instead of stairs so the climbing is easier. It was built that way so that soldiers could ride up to the top on their horses. I can not imagine a horse making the turns on the narrow corners on the way up, let alone not slipping on the stone ramps on the way down.  


The climb to the top was worth it because we could see all of Seville and the surrounding countryside from that highest point in the city. Somehow we timed our visit perfectly because no bells rang while we were standing just feet below them.  
After the climb down we needed liquid refreshment so we went to a cafe with our friend Shireen and sat under the mist spraying umbrellas and did what has become our favorite afternoon activity in the heat of Seville, to talk and tell stories.  


Tonight is our last night in this beautiful town. We are going back to have dinner at our favorite restaurant, far from the tourist section of town. Hopefully the temperature will be below 100 when it is time to walk to dinner.


Surprise Spanish Reunion


Nineteen years ago I spent the best year of my working life going around the world making TV commercials with a fabulous group of people. One of my favorite people was my friend Shireen,my travel specialist, who is probably the happiest most easy going person I had ever met. We were quota pair, I was the hard ass and she was the magic fairy who always made everything good happen.  
Although we were working it was not bad to do it in South Africa, Bali, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Vancouver. The worst part about that assignment being over is that I did not get to work with Shireen again as I stayed in London and she went back to the states. Over the years we have kept in touch through the wonder of Facebook, but have not seen each other since she worked in LA.  


Fast forward to yesterday. Shireen quit her job and is two months into a year traveling around the world. When she saw we were coming to Seville she did too and we have had the best reunion. She arrived last night and we caught up at dinner where she got to meet Carter and see Russ, who she had only met when he came to two days of our Puerto Rico shoot. Carter took an instant liking to her, especially when Shireen told Carter that one of her best customer’s was Joe Jonas.  


Today we just folded Shireen into our family and did our touristy things. We started the day at the Real Alcazar. In this case “real” does not mean the opposite of fake, but instead means Royal. It is a palace of Seville that had once been an Islamic Palace, then a Christian Spanish one. After our great tour of Pompeii last year with a private guide I decided that we should do the same here since I did not know the history of this area very well. So we met Manuel at the Palace before it opened and had a wonderful tour where he explained all the complicated history of Seville to us.
After visiting the gardens Manuel walked us through the Jewish section abutting the Islamic palace and gave us the quick version of the inquisition. History is so much more memorable when you are walking in the place where it took place. 
Before parting with Manuel he pointed us in the direction of a non-touristy area for lunch. Full of gazpacho and tapas after lunch Carter left us to do her own thing and Shireen, Russ and I walked the city for hours. Exhausted and dirty we went to clean up before going to dinner at a most beautiful restaurant on the river that unfortunately had the worst food. The only good thing was the light was beautiful for pictures. We walked back to the area where we all were staying and said goodnight to Shireen with promises for our continued touring tomorrow. Russ and Carter said it was much more fun for me to have a friend on vacation with us and next year we should bring one for Carter too. Russ declined a friend. I’m just glad to spend time with my old friend.


Seville Equals Spain

When I learned about Spain as a child this is what was taught to me — bull fights, Flamenco dancers, gazpacho, hot days, beautifully painted tiles, sangria, oranges, dark haired beauties. This is the Spain we have found in Seville. Well, everything but the bull fights. That is something our animal loving selves can skip.


The morning was beautiful, not too hot so we walked to the Plaza de Espana, the beautiful Renaissance revival style building built for the 1928 Iberio-American Exposition. Try explaining what expositions were to a millennial internet child. The idea that countries would gather in one spot for a year to display new inventions, foods, and the like and promote themselves seems totally foreign to Carter. When we explained that the Eiffel Tower was built for an exposition and since it was such a hit they kept it she began to understand.



After wandering the outside we stumbled upon a cool military museum inside. It would not have been something we would have sought out, but loved it. That is the best thing about slow traveling. We are in no rush to see all the “top spots” so if we find something interesting we just do it.


On the other hand, sometimes it makes Carter crazy when I stumble upon something. Like the white dove I found in the Plaza. I wanted to get a picture of it and we to wait patiently for it to fly by me. After getting a still photo I wanted a video. It was worth waiting to catch it in slow motion.


After a lunch of Gazpacho and a little rest we went to a Flamenco show. Wow! From our front row seats we were practically at eye level with the dancers feet. How in the world this woman could tap her feet at different speeds at the same time I will never know. Russ was concerned about stress fractures.


Tonight we are meeting up with an old friend of mine, Shireen, who is traveling around the world and we somehow made it to Seville at the same time. This is the best surprise of the trip. I love traveling!


BCN To Seville By Ground

It would have been a perfect day to take a nap, but somehow I was the only one who did not. We were up at the crack of dawn this morning to catch the early Renfe AVE, high speed train from Barcelona to Seville. It was five and a half hours and Carter made good use of that time to nap. I, on the other hand, watched out the window so I could take in the whole of Spain since we were transversing from one corner of the country to the other.


I should have slept. What did I see? A lot of olive trees, and other fruit trees which were unidentifiable at three hundred miles per hour. Mountains, hills, plains, wheat, dirt, red dirt, brown dirt, yellow dirt and sand. Throw in some rocks. Every once in a while we might have seen a village, but mostly some deserted stone buildings with holes in the roof. Obviously the high speed line was put in the places that would disturb the fewest people. So no people at all.  
The strangest thing is in the whole way across the country I did not see any live stock anywhere. Now I know that the famous hams come from Iberia, where acorns are grown to feed them so it made sense that I did not see pigs, but no chickens, no cows, no lambs, no meat on the hoof anywhere. Maybe the train is bad for animals.
After arriving in Seville were made our way to our little hotel that has a view of the cathedral. That meant we had to be dropped off at the cathedral and meander on foot with our rolling bags down alley ways to find our spot. Only one or two fights broke out during that part of the adventure, of course it did not help that it was 2:30 and we had not had lunch yet.


That remedy came quickly and we completely over ordered at a fab tapas bar. Ordering food to share is great, but we never know how big anything is going to be. We need to start ordering one thing at a time so we can pace ourselves to decided if we are actually hungry. After lunch Russ and Carter both took naps. What was wrong with me? It was almost 100 degrees out and I certainly was not going to going sightseeing in the hottest part of the day.


Eventually everyone got up and we meander through the tiny streets. Still full from lunch we went to a fancy restaurant for late dinner. It was the perfect time to go to an expensive meal because we hardly ordered anything. Russ and I had the best salads that really hit the spot. But I was fading fast, just as nap refreshed Russ and Carter were ready to go. It certainly was cooler in the night air than it had been at five in the afternoon. We are going to have to really start to see Seville tomorrow, after I have gotten some rest. Looking at all those olive trees flying by today really took it out of me.