A Tip for Your Next Move

Should you find yourself moving across town, here is a helpful tip:

Try to hire a car that is NOT the smallest in the world. Say, one that fits more than a bag and a pair of sneakers in it.

This will save much driving back and forth between residences and avoid the multiple frustrations of one way streets and incomprehensible traffic signs that flow traffic in ever tighter circles around your destination, but that never lead to your destination.

It will also save 100 bicycle trips across town for the person who does not fit in the car.

Ah, Barcelona.

Barcelona, I really hate that you insist upon construction work dragging on every day until what most people consider to be nighttime. For example, it is now 8:30pm and there is some ridiculously loud drilling going on in the flat above mine. I suppose the hammering will follow next, as it did last night until after 9pm. Did I mention I work at night, from home?

But I am not going to turn this into a criticism session. Because for all your faults, there are so many things I really love about you.

First, let me tell you how much I appreciate your Greater Middle East area of Raval. You’re hosting some damn fine Indian, Pakistani, Afghani, Iranian and Armenian restaurants and bakeries. Fort super cheap, I might add.

I love the unexpected art I come across every day. I found these little gems when I walked out on a jetty to greet a fat puppy sniffing  around at the cats who live in the jetties.

Speaking of the beach, now that Spring is here, the Chiringuitos are all out on the sand, playing music and serving up drinks. Love. Them.

And though I may not be able to find cottage cheese anywhere within your city walls (except for Carrefour Express on La Ramble, but it’s horrible UK cottage cheese), anything resembling real Mexican food, or convenient food like pre-shredded chicken in bags that I am accustomed to preparing for myself like a good American, I do love the entertaining variety of foods I can find in the larger supermarkets.

Yes, those cookies are called “Nun Nipples” and that’s an awfully hoochie looking nun pictured on the box. And you being Catholic no less.

Which brings me to the naked people. God how I love seeing your naked citizens walking around, riding bikes, or otherwise remaining undisturbed in their nudity. I especially love seeing the British tourist and their children stop in their tracks to stare open mouthed, while your Catalunyan grandmothers pass by arm in arm without a break in their conversations.

But the thing I probably appreciate the most is your lack of airport security. I know, I know, I’ve said it before. But that fact that you don’t make me take off my sweatshirt, shoes or earrings and that you don’t blink when I put this in my carry on and pass it through security X-ray:

It just makes my life so much easier.

Oh and also when I misspell my own name on my boarding pass. Thanks for letting that slide, too.



Italian Minibike races

Last weekend, the second Italian minibike series in the season commenced. GP (that is the boyfriend) has a bike/rider in this series every year to hone his engine and chassis building, tuning and team management skills.  We went to support the new engine and to have some fun.

Minibike racing (50-80cc two stroke and 125cc fourstroke) is a big thing in Italy. It’s professional, very competitive and draws a big crowd. There is quite a bit of money involved, as in most racing, but not usually minibike racing. There is also just as much posturing as any other racing series, with photos and numbers of the pilots on the side of race rigs and campers. And of course a lot of guys who think they may as well be in the world championship just because they won a few races. They tend to wear their shades any time they are not on the track.

The bikes must all line up at the starting gate before the ten minute qualifying.

Lunch break is an hour and a half. People pull out the long tables and BBQs and tons of food. And wine, which everyone drinks including the pilots. This is normal for any lunch in Italy. Why should racing be an exception? Why indeed.

They also indulge in harder spirits before the races. For real.

The racing itself is pretty exciting, with lots of shouting and cheering from the sidelines and crowds. I don’t have any photos because they look like any other racing photos you have seen. Throughout, GP wrenched on his bikes. And yes, his rider won all his races.

Dinner in the little town was so stereotypically what Americans think of when they imagine Italy, it was almost embarrassing. Just look at this guy. Of course he is making pizza.

The pizza was delicious but it was the mustache that deserved an award.

Incidentally, this guy is probably from Southern Italy by the looks of him. Northerners generally hold a lot of resentment against the South. I even saw graffiti in this town that said Dio salve il Nord – God save the North. However the transplants who come to work in the North are respected, because unlike the rest of the South, they are working.

And that, my friends, is your cultural lesson for the day.