Sunday, February 11, 2007

News from here

It’s been a long gap since the last blog so here’s a quick catch up.

Despite the Al Gore like temperatures and the lack of snow, Sarah and I snuck off to Masella for a couple of days of skiing. The Gods of artificial snow had laid down enough of the white stuff for blue runners like us to use and we got enough of the buzz, scenery and mountain air that we could have wished for.

Ben meanwhile went off on ski week with his school to Andorra, came back having a brilliant time having jumped over moguls and skied reds backwards.

We had our first night at the Barcelona opera at the stunning Liceu. Not just any run of the mill work but Verdi’s epic Don Carlos which runs to five hours in its full five acts. That meant the performance started at 8pm – almost a matinee by Barcelona standards – and finished as the clock struck one.

There was some weak singing – especially Don Carlos – but the staging of the (Vienna State Opera) production was amazing. It switched between original and modern settings including a surreal interlude in a 1960s suburban house which had the Catalan audience booing.

Even more extraordinary was the royal gala party which was stages as a modern televised event with the guests arriving through the theatre’s main entrance, up the stairs, through the magnificent hall of mirrors and on into the auditorium where the guest of honour were marched up the central aisle and on to the minimalist set where a black tie cocktail party was in full swing. That the audience did love.

The incredible spring like weather has returned – 18C and above. Sadly, Sarah and Ben were in rainy London but Bex and I had a great time; a long walk on Saturday morning through the nicest and quietest streets of the old city.

We found a beautiful doll’s house shop where the miniature details extended down to tiny newspapers and racks and miniscule umbrellas and cakes. We then dropped in at our favourite cheese shop (run by Scotswoman Katherine McLoughlin) and meandered down for lunch at Txakolin, which remains our tapas venue of choice.

It was also a good weekend for old and new. Old staples - Boadas for cocktails and Jamboree for live music (last night was Cuban rumba singer Xiomara Laugart, for a measly 12 euros) - and new finds - Dostrece in the Raval for late night copas and Arroseria Xativa, 10 mins walk from where we live, for the best paellas/rice dishes in town.

And tonight? Eto’o and Messi are back for Barca at the Camp Nou.

It doesn’t get much better than that …

UPDATE: just back from the game. they won 2-0 and looked pretty sharp indeed. Messi ran around for 20 mins and started to look the business. no eto'o yet.

biggest cheer of the night was for Barca's basketball team beating Real Madrid in the Spanish cup final in Malaga. Basketball is the second most important component of Barca bu it's fair to say that there would have been a smilar cheer had victory been chalked up in any other club sport such as indoor football, hockey or baseball, or indeed in any event where there is a winner and loser eg tiddlywinks, donut eating ...

'Madrid, cabrón, saluda al campeón ... ' as folk round here like to say ...

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