Archive for the ‘Switching Gears, Settling In – Chapter 2’ Category

26.09.10 – All of my “stuff” is tied up in storage right now because I haven’t found an apartment yet :( Max and I are big time gamers so it was great to find out there was a game fair called Games People Play being held on the weekend. EA and Nintendo were two of the big sponsors, so it sounded like fun.

The building and location of the event were interesting too. It was held at the Kaapelitehtaalla in the Ruoholahti neighborhood of Helsinki. Kaapelitehtaalla translates to The Cable Factory, is a beautiful old factory building which was acquired by the city of Helsinki and converted to a cultural center.

There were a number of demo stations so Max and I dove in. Unfortunately 90% of the consoles were running EA’s latest NHL game. Well, we are in Finland so I guess hockey dominates. Luckily Nintendo doesn’t have a serious hockey game so there were also some Mario games to test out. Max showed the Finns how to dominate Super Mario Galaxy!

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25.09.10 #2 – It was so nice to get back to Helsinki and make a beeline to Jaana’s place to see the kids. Unfortunately, my little girl Emma has become miss popularity since moving to Finland. Apparently, the night before she was at a sleepover and by the time I got home she had left to visit a friends summer-house.

Luckily my boy, Max, was ready and waiting. I hadn’t slept much the night before because my flight left at 0605. Max was ready to just chill with me so we rented two movies, The Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and Kick-Ass. We also picked up some candy at the movie rental place. I’m not sure if all movie rentals are like the one I’ve been going to but at this one they have bulk candy that you can create your own bag.

It was a great homecoming!

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25.09.10 – Time to head back home, Finland that is. We said our goodbyes at the airport. Never easy. Never easy.

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24.09.10 – Yep, “lost” full day in Barcelona.

We spent our last day in Spain comfortably lost in a city worth loosing yourself in. We wandered the narrow streets off Las Ramblas never knowing what would be around the corner and all the much better for it. I wish the day would have never ended.

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23.09.10 – We made our way back to Barcelona today and as planned, we stopped at the Dalí Museum in Figueres. One thing Anita and I learned while we visited Dalí’s home in Port Lligat was how he was involved in so many types of artistic expression. He drew, painted, sculpted, wrote books and screenplays. He even did some work with the Marx Brothers! The museum in Figureres was a comprehensive display of his drawing, paintings and sculptures. Most probably know Dalí as a bit of an oddball but when you get to see more of his work you get to see more of his “genius.” We saw a scope of work which spanned from the abstract to the more conservative and beautiful pieces. I’m no art critic so it’s hard to explain but I love his work. Sometimes it’s just fun.

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22.09.10 – I had my doubts about Cadaqués when we arrived but it’s turned out to be a great little stop. The first day it rained but we were able to avoid most of the moisture by ducking into little shops, cafes and one of the major tourist spots in the city, the Church of Saint Mary, at the top of the hill. We were even able to make a relatively dry 10 minute hike over to the neighboring village, Port Lligat, to see the home turned museum of Salvador Dalí.

The restaurant and cafe scene was questionable at first too but I think we overcame that issue. When we first arrived the waiters weren’t exactly friendly and some of the enclosed places reeked of smoke, so we bounced from a place to place looking for somewhere to eat. We finally found a place with outdoor seating and we ordered tapas. I ordered some chips, thinking I would get french fries, and got a bag of Lay’s potato chips! Ok, they were “Gourmet” chips but c’mon.

The hotel told us about a restaurant called La Cala which we’ve been to now three times in the last two days. Inexpensive and the food is simple yet amazing. The restaurant has a nice selection of meat and seafood. We’ve had the squid in three variations there, lightly coated little guys with eyes, breaded rings the size of silver dollars and the full on squid grilled and served with garlic butter. Great place!!!

We woke up today and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. After breakfast, I headed to the center of town to rent a scooter. I was back to pickup Anita and we headed for the coast. We took the road out-of-town, following the waterline, and made our way to the Cap de Creus peninsula. We were so close to the French border that my phone started getting texts from the French phone companies explaining their rates. The road ended up on a point with a lighthouse on it. I took some panoramic shots so expect an entry in the Collage page.

The night was even better as we walked along the beach in the moonlight.

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21.09.10 – Most of the day was spent either in transit or trying to get to “in transit.” It’s hard to ignore the thoughts of The Amazing Race when you’re staring at a metro map and then trying to follow icons and directions in the metro labyrinth looking for the RENFI connection.

We decided to head to Cadaqués, near the border of France on the Costa Brava. The two-hour train trip was relatively scenic but it was especially nice to catchup on some reading, For Whom the Bell Tolls, which seems appropriate. We took a train to Figueres and then a bus over the pass to the coast, dropping into Cadaqués. We arrived in Figueres, the location of the Dali museum, so we decided to stop at the museum on our return.

We found a nice hotel called Llane Petit and settled into a small but clean room with views of the water and the center of town. It was late so sleep was in order.

Lets see what tomorrow brings.

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20.09.10 – A short trip by train from Barcelona makes for the perfect day trip to the spiritual center of Catalonia, Montserrat. The train drops you off at the bottom of beautiful 1200 meter mountains topped with a massif of limestone pinnacles where you ride a funicular to the monastery above. A 12th century chapel built to house the La Moreneta, the Black Virgin, was our destination. We waited in line with a couple hundred other people to climb the narrow staircase and make our way to La Moreneta. I choked when I was finally in front of her and forgot to make my request. Bummer!

It’s a beautiful place to sit and take in the fresh air and beautiful scenery which was much more spiritual for me ;)

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19.09.10 – What a great day. We came up with a plan and we stuck to it. Anita and I decided to try to start with the Park Güell, a garden with complex architectural elements designed by Antoni Guadí, and then head over to the Fundació Joan Miró, a museum of the artists work.

The park was definitely my favorite. Anything Guadí blows me away. The level of detail and creativity is unlike anything I’ve been fortunate to experience. At the entrance to the park were amazing buildings which reminded me of gingerbread houses, and then a cave like structure you could walk into with doric columns and a ceiling with some of the most beautiful mosaics. As you walk through the park which is built on top of a hill overlooking Barcelona, you come across the most amazing roadway viaduct which was like walking through some dinosaur’s remains. It’s hard to describe! Simply amazing. The park luckily offers many places to sit and relax and take in the experience.

We caught a cab from the park to go to a museum of Joan Miró’s, the Fundació Joan Miró. It was great to see a cross-section of the artist’s life’s work. Miró is an artist I know by name and a couple of his works. The museum has a number of works, some familiar but most new to me. There were also a number of works by other artists, my favorite was the Mercury Fountain by Alexander Calder. My favorite by Miró was the Tapestry of the Foundation, a 750 x 500 cm tapestry as you first enter the main exhibit. Colors and textures. That’s all I can say.

Enough for now ;)

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18.09.10 – Without a doubt, Sagrada Familía, or Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, the official Catalan name, is the most amazing architectural site I have ever seen in my life. You can literally pick a random spot in the cathedral and “zoom in” to focus on the smallest section and you would be amazed at the level of detail. Metal sculptures outside and inside the cathedral, the stained glass windows illuminating the interior, the cast iron doors with embossed letters, the way the overall construction appears to be dripped candle wax, if everything wasn’t so unbelievably beautiful you would question the sanity.

When the church is finished it will have 18 towers: 12 dedicated to the apostles, 4 to the evangelists, one to Jesus and another to Mary. — Sagrada Familía website

If you ever get the chance to visit Barcelona, and I hope you do, you have to visit Sagrada Familía because words and pictures cannot describe the experience.

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