Monday, April 24, 2017

Home in Freiburg im Breisgau

Our trip Sevilla to Frankfurt went the best we’ve ever had. Still no consistency in how they handle Bruce’s wheels, but it worked out. He was able to keep his chair to the gate, it was brought to the gate in Frankfurt with a lovely woman who took us all the way to the shuttle bus area for hotels.

Frankfurt airport has been under construction for at least the last two times we’ve been there making it difficult to find where to go. It seems done now, at least the functions we need of it, flying through at least twice a year. The support staff are wonderful though, last year we had a lady track down Bruce’s chair, they always seem to lose it. And they don’t go away until you are at your destination bus stop. 

Bruce had to use the bathroom in the main terminal and left his man purse in it with his wallet. I walked boldly into the Men’s washroom and was lucky both had finished peeing, stalls empty and no purse. Damn, didn’t I have a “good” time running over the airport to find it, but I did with much help from staff. We need to edit the id he carries.

So we’re at our usual hotel in Frankfurt, the Intercity, they have a ramp on the bus, accept pets and allow smoking in the rooms, and have the greatest chicken wings at the bar, and Happy Hour, drinks half off. Later, I go to the bar and pay for a bottle of wine, which I decant into a water bottle for going home. That is a trick we use every time we travel, decant liquor into plastic bottles, they weigh a whole lot less than glass.

Next day and it’s a two hour train ride home Frankfurt to Freiburg. Bruce’s help at the platform the fellow said he didn’t have scheduled, we’d have to take a later train by two hours, not That big a deal but still. Then he found us in the smoking area and said with a very big pleased smile on his face we could take the originally scheduled train. He was so pleased as we were, but I think he was even more pleased than us! He said “DBahn (train company) isn’t too bad for us today”. He loaded Bruce and I gave him an extra wave and thank you before boarding. I do a small shop for tonight and Easter Monday at the station, it’s cold here for us! 

Here comes the bride! Actually she's looking for birdies, you can't see me this way!
What a dumb move of me to schedule travel over Easter but it was okay because we travelled between the big travel days of Friday and Monday and it wasn’t too crowded. Another thing I need to get better at is putting phone numbers for wheelchair ramp equipped taxis in my phone, doh, you’d think that is a given but we ended up taking the tram home today, again not a problem. This trip has been the smoothest one yet, only problem was Bruce leaving his man purse really, and since that got resolved we were lucky. 

So we arrive home and the place is really not that dusty, the blinds probably helped with that, being vacant since mid-March when Dawna and Erwin decided they needed to go back to Ottawa for major projects and family commitments. 

I’ve decided to do this A secret… drum roll… when taking the bedclothes off the bed I roll up the three under layers, into a long sausage like roll and then the duvets into their own roll, takes about five minutes to get the bed made again, so much easier than folding everything up individually. So we are home, safe and very grateful for that with all the craziness that happens. I don’t worry or think about it too much, because there is no point to worry, just adds stress.

We do get wonderful sunsets here.
Easter Monday and everything is closed as expected, Bruce is missing his milk and oranges for breakfast and there is no food in the house which has him panicked a bit. It is a cold, rainy and windy day and I had plans (which I didn’t tell him about!) to continue getting things organized in the flat. But he was antsy, how he gets some mornings and wanted to go out. I went with, with a somewhat bad attitude, which improved as we rode the tram downtown by seeing all the beautiful flowering trees. We gathered what was needed, I had a bite of lunch and came home, nasty out there and supposed to snow tomorrow, Egad! and it did for about ten minutes. 

Did a large shop the Tuesday after Easter, then visited the tobacco shop who also sells tram tickets, the mani/pedi place for an appointment, hair cut shop, eye glass shop, bank, then it’s lunch time so we got a pizza to bring home. Poor guy making it had to do it twice, he wasn’t having a good day but it final result was tasty.

We went downtown on a cold but sunny day, Thursday, and I truly wished I’d packed my tam, but it’s in Sevilla. There is a story to this tam, to describe it, softest wool, teal green in colour and I had given it to my maternal Grandmother, a super lady, and I’ve always said “if I turn out half as good a person she was, I’ll be a good person”. She had thinning hair as I do now and needed a pretty hat to wear, she loved it, I love it. So when she passed away I got it back and wear it proudly. It has been said, don’t know by whom, "give a present that you would love to receive yourself", perhaps not always correct but in this case worked well. I survived without it, just bloody cold. 

Went downtown Saturday, demonstration for Earth Day held up all the trams and it was so very busy! I lost Bruce again and was about to head home when he found me. He bought a nice food dryer from Chafferer, a rather upmarket home wares store. This one won’t, or shouldn’t break and we can clean it in the dishwasher, something I especially appreciate. 

Met up with Christoph on Sunday and went to La Cicogna restaurant, which means The Stork. We have gone there many times and appreciated the meals and decent service. My and Christoph’s meals were good, Bruce’s was terrible, how can you screw up spaghetti bolognese? They did! Dry meat which tasted off somehow, maybe a mix of pork and beef, but still tasted weird. The way they handled the send back was not professional at all. The waiter said “that is the way we make it in Italy” with a snotty attitude. He didn’t take it away, he did ask if Bruce wanted sauce, but the meat didn’t taste right so throwing good after bad. Okay! we’ve eaten this dish many times in many places and coming home looked up recipes to validate. Very disappointing since we had really liked this place. They did not charge us for it, a good mark in their favour but I have to say it will be a while, and maybe not ever, going back. It’s more a matter of how the one person handled the situation than the food, he’s been there since we’ve been going there, he recognizes us. Perhaps he was having a bad day but to project that to his customers was not a good move on his part. 

Christoph’s last few months have been an “adventure”, not too much of a good one, no detail here because it’s highly personal but he is surviving and coming out of the challenges and frankly dramas, he’s faced with. As always it was great to catch up with him and start planning outings again. 

Pretty door in the Pub at the Hotel.
All for now, Cheers, Bx2 and the hiding Lexi Cat and it's warming up outside!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Semana Santa 2017 in Pictures

Our neighbourhood or barrio had three processions pass by Monday night. Here is the link I gave you last year it is old but does explain the entire process.

This is the link to last year's post, pictures are clearer.

This event has me gobsmacked, the hordes of people watching; the hordes of people participating; the elaborate procession statues; the unseen guys under the statues that carry it on their backs for kilometres and for hours. It is absolutely incredible! Here are a few pictures.

Good Start!

This one turned the corner, amazing work by the people underneath! They can't see anything, relying on knocks on the statue itself.
So that was our evening!

Cheers, Bx2 and Lexi Cat

Monday, April 10, 2017

Happy Easter!! with Flowers

We’ve been thinking about the summer, and planning and working on accommodations, albeit a bit late, but it was hard to decide for some reason this year. So we thought Geneva might be interesting, but didn’t feel quite right somehow. Close to Freiburg but neither of us was all that excited about the city, modern, financial hub, not too interesting we were thinking. 

Just looked again, on AirBnB and drum roll, but we may have found a lovely place in Paris on the Left Bank this time. Same city, new neighbourhood and that’s what we look for is neighbourhoods rather than touristy sites. This place we hope to get is close to the Luxembourg Gardens and looking at the size of them that will keep us wandering and having picnics for some time. 

How one’s taste or method of travel or just about anything changes over time. When we started traveling Europe together it was move often, we had a car, stayed in hotels only, saw as many of the highlights each city had to offer and that was wonderful and so grateful we have done it, many fond memories as tourists. Now, we have slowed down to a different type of travel where we enjoy the cultural differences and live in neighbourhoods the locals do. We live in a place rather than visit, staying a month or two rather than a few days to soak up the culture, and learn more Spanish, German, French. 

Going up the elevator to check for leaks, none, yeah, Juan’s work, but my thought was how many people have an elevator in their house? I wager not many outside the really rich and we certainly aren’t in that category, but it was important to make use of the top floor. Bruce is putting his train montage there and we can properly use the outside patio and BBQ. It’s like having another new space we hadn’t made use of before.

Monday and we do a rather large shop, luckily dodging between downpours again, supposed to get better tomorrow and the rest of the week. Bruce and I couldn’t connect for at least half an hour in El Corte, he even went home and came back to find me. I was ready to go home when he appeared in the elevator. I asked him again to get a cell and this time he agreed. It’ll just be a basic phone but he doesn’t need more than me being able to call and ask where he is, he won’t text. We were both frustrated but didn’t bite into each other as, I mainly, have done in the past. I was just grateful to see him come off that elevator. When this happens I worry about him falling from the bike or being hit by a car, weather was lousy and makes for harder driving conditions, also making him less visible. So we actually got what we needed, no duplicates and as soon as we returned home rain came down in sheets again. Dodgin’ rain downpours is what we did that week, April showers is true. 

City crews are trimming the orange trees right now, even while they are still blossoming! Yesterday we caught the end of clean up, they just put all the branches in a dump truck but people pick them up for their homes, win-win, so we picked up some but didn’t get many blossoms. Today Bruce went to the other  El Corte leaving me to finish my coffee at Granado, that’s another story, be patient. I’d finished paying and came out to him riding up with a beautiful bouquet of orange blossoms! 

Now understand, we don’t buy flowers for each other, never have, but this was so romantic a gesture from him! This time he was able to get lots of blossoms and I can smell them clear into the dining room. I did give a sprig to Rocio since she was here and I’d brought them back to the flat to put in water before we continued our shopping. 

Okay, at Granado they are getting to know us a bit, I started towards the cafe and the waiter came out and said stop, repeated what we usually order and then delivered it, we go about once a week. Wow, that’s just great! Usually it’s self service there which I certainly don’t mind. They get so very busy in the mornings, small place, great bread, family owned, often there are up to four people behind the bar jumping about to fill orders.

We had a BBQ for Angela and Ryan, that wasn’t! Couldn’t get the damn thing to stay lit despite Angela’s long efforts. Went to Plan B and used the oven, not as tasty I don’t think but good anyway. Ryan did a trick with the asparagus of frying it with a bit of olive oil, butter, garlic, lemon, salt and pepper, SO good.

Sunday we turtled under the umbrella upstairs, I even wore shorts, felt like we were at the beach without the water!

We went to a tattoo studio, Ryan was getting his tattoo of Sevilla. A place I would have never gone to on my own, Bruce either, but we wanted to be there for Ryan and find out about the process and how it works. New opportunity to see something new to us. His, and some of Angela’s, tats are reminders of where they’ve been or some of them anyway. The studio is in a luxury space, murals on the ceiling, silver plated columns. 

Beautiful Space
Many pictures of tattoos on the walls. They are also a hair salon, nails, and carry mostly men’s clothing and sport shoes. We were there for the start of the process but it took hours so we came home. Saw it on him and very well done! Colourful too which apparently is what takes the time. If you aren’t familiar with modern day tattooing, think artwork on the skin, because it is.

Received a text from Ivan that the door for the closet upstairs will be installed. They brought so many tools, even an air compressor! So this is our last thing, another day of hurry up and wait. They used all the tools, mystery to both of us what they did with them but the door is installed. They did however spill some stain on the floor and it is called stain for a reason, efforts to clean it up didn’t very well. Accidents happen though and now I guess it’s just another story to tell. The floors are not in perfect shape anyway but we do keep them up as well as possible. 

Bruce took Lexi to the vet to get a pawdicure, she didn’t want to come out of her bag, probably recognizing the office. I did check her pet passport and the rabies shot is good for another year. 

Got you Dad!
That is something Angela and I agreed could easily be missed and then you are in BIG trouble if flying anywhere. European flights don’t typically check but if we went back to Canada they would. Lexi has travelled with us to eight countries! Too bad they don’t stamp her passport, well being in the Euro zone they don’t stamp ours either.

This has not been one of my/our better days. Bruce bought some blackberries, huh?, imagine “buying” blackberries while they grow wild on our property in Canada and all over the Coast. Really expensive too, 4.25 Euro per tiny box, even grown in Spain, but they had mould on them, disappointed! so with them costing so much I took them back to the store and got our money back. 

This helped brighten my day, it's in our building atrium
Same day, I opened the fridge to find milk dripping down the three lower shelves. Bruce had put it in horizontally and while he is aware to tighten the cap(s), this one wasn’t quite done. Well about half a large bottle of milk takes quite some clean up. Oh well, minor mishaps really, just all in one day, a bit much, having a glass of wine now…

Easter and Christmas are great times to stock up on wine, I saved a bundle Thursday before Holy Week, Semana Santa. Streets are crowded with teenagers today, I would guess they’re off school for Semana Santa. We did a large shop, for delivery, and we certainly weren’t the only ones. The processions or parades for Semana Santa you may remember from last year hold up any other movement in the streets, it’s rude to cross and the crowds are so dense it’s impossible anyway. We are very lucky and can see the action from our balcony rather than dodging the crowds. Since our lifestyle isn’t really a Spanish one we are not to badly affected. The city is buzzing right now, many tourists in town and while I’m sure the money is doing the city good, it is harder for Bruce to maneuver in the chair. 

Rocio dropped by with cheesecake! We had a bite of it and Wow, that woman can cook, light, tasty, no heavy crust, absolutely delicious. She suggested putting chocolate on it, no, would have taken over the delicate flavour. 

Just saw two men similarly dressed holding hands crossing the street, making an assumption they are gay, and felt pleased they could openly show their affection in the streets of Sevilla and in our neighbourhood which is a few blocks away from the truly open LGBT area. Sevilla was one of the first cities in Spain to welcome LGBT people, in a much machismo country. While again tattooing is not my thing, being gay isn’t either but I am happy to live where both are accepted, totally different examples of course, but show acceptance of lifestyles.

You have read this last year I’m sure, I haven’t looked at the blog when we left Sevilla last year, but current feelings are I am looking forward to working plumbing mostly! No, we don't have overflowing toilets but the hot water is variable. Wine corks that are really difficult to open sometimes, they mostly use screw cap in Germany. Also looking forward to spring flowers and the green spaces we have so much of in Freiburg. So it’s out of the busy city and onto the “farm land”. Both have  their benefits and minuses and we are so very lucky to get to experience both.

Semana Santa craziness has started, we went down to Plaza Duque heading to the used book store, traffic is closed off and bleachers are being erected and so many, many people. The slippery signs are out due to the candle wax that gets spilled. I saw two people wipe out, fall, walking, within seconds of each other, that part of the street must be super slippery. The recycle bins have been removed to make more room for the viewers (they were at least seven deep last year). Luckily we know our way around and could take side streets to avoid much of it. There are lineups outside the churches for people to see the statues in the church before they are paraded in the street. 

I took three books back to the Re-Read store, got four more and was charged 5 Euros for the four books. One I picked up for Bruce it’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” by Julia Child and Simone Beck, it’s a great read never mind a great cookbook.

Palm Sunday and most who are from Sevilla are really dressed up, marking the difference between tourists and locals even more so than usual. Tourists are dressed for the heat, shorts, sandals and locals are in semi-formal wear. The men’s suits and ties are so colourful, I saw an electric dark blue suit on a younger fellow that looked smashing. The women are wearing many styles of pant suits in silks and bright colours, lovely to see, it’s a fashion parade but different than for a wedding, no hats. Women’s styles have gone back to wide leg pants in flowing, colourful fabrics and I saw one woman who had the exact same style of pantsuit I enjoyed having thirty years ago. Children are dressed in their best “bib and tucker” where did that expression come from? well there you go. Little girls sport bows in their hair, boys wear miniature ties, shorts and blazers. Balconies are dressed in red cloth and the conical hatted people, nazarenos (they walk in the parade to do penance, the hats and face covering are to keep them anonymous) are starting to walk the streets.

People watching off our balcony and I think the City is busing people into the City. It seems like large groups are coming in at once. I/we are glad not to be spectators along with this crowd. Nope, not for us, crowds of people aren’t our thing at all, fine to watch like an eagle from above!

Okay, not the best picture but added to show you the crowds on this normally busy street for cars.

Happy Easter, next post will come to you from Freiburg!

Cheers, Bx2 and Lexi Cat