Chapter 05: A Little Old, A Little New, Nothing Blue

Uncle Jimmy!

Well, I walked this weekend. Quite a lot. Substantially more than ten miles on Saturday to start. Another ten plus on Sunday. Which may not sound horrendous, but they both involved a lot of up. Which led to a lot of down. And then a lot of “I really have to go back up?”.

There is a small mountain right next to the city called Montjuïc. On top of it, a very old castle. That was our destination Saturday morning. This isn’t a feudal lord sort of palace. Think more of an army-based fortress. Very big, and with a not so nice history to it. At least not until very recent times.

I learned a lot on that day, mostly about oppression. And how governments can use organized force and firepower from above to keep its citizens pushed down. The Castell de Montjuïc has such a history, starting back when it was built in 1640, and running well into modern times. As in, during yours and my lifetimes. But it’s now a cultural museum and a focal point for education, especially on the subject of progressive change.

Oh, and it also has an outstanding 360 degree sweeping view of all of the city below. I really enjoyed the opportunity to take everything in, even if it involved more leg muscle punishment.

And of course, in my never-ending quest to channel you here in the living world, this day also challenged my patience.

For a city that has such great transportation, getting to the castle was not to be an easy thing. I had bought tickets for the cable car that would soar us up, and we of course walked to the wrong cable car. Two employees at that wrong location couldn’t manage to tell us exactly why we were in the wrong place, only to “go over there”, pointing a couple of miles away. I looked it up and yep, we needed to find the funicular up to the cable car, exactly two miles distant. And after a really long walk that also involved refusals from rickshaw drivers to pedal us there, no working funicular. Conflicting stories as to why we couldn’t take it, but we finally learned it was just simply broken. Go take the bus, we were told twice. Of course, which bus to take proved a little more difficult to name. Finally, in a fit of typical-me frustration, I just hailed a cab … who also needed some serious hand-holding to get us to the damn cable car.

Sounds like a bad start, doesn’t it. And yea, it was. But like always, after my blood pressure settled, it just got added to the story. And I’m sure one day it might even seem funny. 🙂

Now the ironic thing is, at the end of the day we decided to just walk back. Skip the busted funicular and avoid the mystery bus. I thought it was surely going to be a difficult reverse transit ordeal, only foot-powered. But nope, we easily came straight down to our starting place, where the folks who couldn’t tell us where the bus stop was located were probably still scratching their collective heads as to how to get us up.

Oh well, adventures, right?

The weirdest thing that day was this smell. Everywhere up there on the mountain. I thought it was bread, like a bakery was on overdrive. Nikki thought it was minestrone soup, which at times it was. Then I realized, it was beer cooking, as in a brewery. But no breweries are near there. Very strange.

So all the way back home, through all those many miles walking back from the hill, I could still smell the minestrone bread. It was everywhere in the city … which actually seems to happen a lot here. Perhaps it’s just the way Barcelona is situated, like in a bowl, but sometimes a smell just gets stuck over the entirety of the landscape. I suppose I should be happy that it wasn’t the sewage system this time. 🙂

On Sunday, after I awoke to legs that didn’t want to be used, we took a 20 minute walk to get a tour bus that would take us to more walking. We headed north to a city called Girona and their flower festival.

Now, I need to describe Barcelona a little better before we get into all of that. With the exception of Saturday’s castle on the hill, the city is pretty flat. Stairs are really the only elevation change you need to handle. So my usual ten or twelve miles a day in Barcelona is just forward movement.

Girona ain’t that.

For some ungodly reason, they built the place on an undulating mountainside. There is no “flat’. I think even the floors in the buildings somehow warp, just so you don’t miss the extra muscle movement when you step through a doorway.

But, death march aside, it was a very pretty day. Rained, then sunned, then sprinkled some more. But there were over a hundred different huge floral displays all around the town, each worth the price of a little leg discomfort. Girona was beautiful.

And that brings me to my here and now. Muscles whimpering, yes, but still somehow pleased to be back in motion. And of course, writing to my favorite relative.

Next letter, a different continent. It might be a couple of weeks, but oh the stories I’m sure I’ll have to tell you. Until then …

Love, Rick

LETTERS TO A DEAD UNCLE

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