Friday 11 November
Coming into Barcelona at a little after 6:30 AM, we’re approaching in the dark, the city sparkling along the broad curve of the harbor. We’ve come into the Mediterrancean, had a day in Malaga, and a windy, bright day in Alicante, both cities on that SE coast of Spain, ports with big Marinas, shore-side esplanades, parks with ancient fig and banyan trees between the palms. The Phoenicians were here and everybody since. Now the Castillo sits above the modern city, and in Barcelona the ridge above the port is terraced with Cedars of Lebanon marking the levels like bars on a ribbon, old fortification walls silhouetted at the top.
We should all go revisit those wonderful Yves Montand films, “La Gloire de Mon Père” and “Le Château de Ma Mère.” Even though they take place in France, the “garrigue” is much the same: scrubby, dusty, and hot, not even enough water for rosemary or thyme. We’re right along the coast from France, just down from Catalonia. Tom and I, when we came up and over through the Pyrenees at Andorra, and down to Valencia, remember cloaking our slight concern about being safe (or not) while camping by referring to them as possible “banditti.” We may have confused it with Italian opera, but we slept safe nonetheless.
We do treasure the memory of looking out over Spain as the sun was setting and watching a group of rooks playing, circling higher and higher on the air currents until they were almost invisible.
Now two hours later, we’ve communicated with Dexter who is working on some film editing with his students in a film studio in Barcelona, had lunch in the Rotterdam Lido at the Dock, rented a wheelchair for the rest of the trip from the ship front-office, and had a nice afternoon in Barcelona, came back and had beer over free wifi in the terminal before reboarding. It took Tom a long time to consent to the wheelchair idea, but it makes ALL the difference. These glistening modern terminals are interminable, and then you add just walking along sidewalks, and he’d be done in.
On to Livorno (Sunday 13 November)
Went ashore today in Livorno, the town full of strolling families, bundled up, as it was cold, Sunday, not much open. But the two things we needed–suspenders and a black tie–we found in the distinguished little shop right off the square. Though I can say lots of things in Italian (as long as they occur in opera, and that’s not always very useful) I bought a pair of handsome, conservative suspenders, adjustable for buttons or clips, and a black silk pre-tied bow tie in a combination of Spanish, French and English, all in bits. The lovely blond young woman who was running the shop intermittently helped an aged man tie his just-bought shoes. And we were on our way.