And the word for the day is…charming

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Last week we left our heroine, AGMA, breathless after taking down a purse thief in Barcelona. Well, maybe I didn’t exactly take her down… But I sure showed her you can have good manners even if somebody is so rude to try to steal your purse.

Sophia, my Guardian Angel, was bracing herself for the next 10 days.

After two amazing days in Barcelona, we picked up a rental car in town and headed out on the open road. On the way out of town, we stopped to see the Sagrada Familia Basilica by Gaudi.

Crusty ol’ AGMA was floored. I had only seen pictures of the outside, never of the inside. I don’t think I’ve ever said “Wow!” so many times in my life. To say it was spectacular is an understatement.

We headed east to Provence. Neither one of us had ever been there and we wanted to see if it would live up to it’s hype.

Yup. Believe the hype.

We booked a room through Airb&b in Saint-Remy-de-Provence. It was all that you would want a charming French room in a charming French home in a charming French village to be…

What’s the word? Oh yes – charming.

And Jen, our hostess, greeted us with two glasses of French rose when we arrived. Even more charming. Jen and her husband were absolutely lovely and went ABCD (above and beyond the call of duty) as Airb&b hosts. They treated us like friends.

One evening, after we got home from a full day of sightseeing, they invited us to join them on their patio with a big group of their friends to watch the Euro Cup semi-finals. And drink French rose. Then the next night, they invited us over again to hang out with them and different friends who came over for a BBQ. And drink French rose. After we had had quite a bit of rose at dinner a couple of hours earlier in the charming village of L’isle-sur-la-Sorgue.

Do you sense a theme here…?

So it all sounds lovely right? It kinda sounds like AGAM’s Guardian Angel, Sophia, could have taken a break.

Nah baby nah.

I went on this trip taking large daily doses of prednisone to treat my “sausage pancreas”. It did all kinds of weird things to me. I was loopy (more than normal), sleep-deprived (more than normal), angry at nothing (more than normal) and had a very, very fuzzy brain (more than normal.)

But the best side effects were yet to come…

When I was in Provence – and AGMA knows this is TMI – I developed a nasty case of inflamed, swollen, bleeding gums. Ouch and gross. And got a cold sore above my upper lip. So attractive. And finally, started developing oral thrush. Yuck.

As Roseanne Roseannadanna used to say on SNL, “Mr Fader, you sound like a real delightful guy.”

AGMA was miserable in the middle of some of the most beautiful scenery, best wine and yumblyest food in the world.

Sophia to the rescue!

She sent me to a pharmacy in town. Pharmacies in Europe are quite different from pharmacies in the U.S. The pharmacists in Europe are a bit like our nurse practitioners (without the $$ they charge you.) They can assess your condition and dispense medications. No need to go to a doctor.

It was truly wonderful.

Ten minutes and 27 Euros later, we were on the road to Avignon and AGMA was on the road to recovery.

Thanks Sophia!

But between our delayed luggage, my Barcelona purse snatcher, the crazy drivers in Spain and France, and all that rose wine, I think she was already starting to get tired.

One more post to wrap the trip up.

Stay tuned…

Temporary help wanted: GA on R&R

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Sophia, my guardian angel, has been busy. Very busy. Like way too busy.

I think she’s ready to quit.

Can guardian angels quit? I hope not…

AGMA’s back! I really wanted to post something is weekend but it didn’t happen. It’s been a rough re-entry between jet lag and prednisone-induced insomnia.

But what a trip… Wow!

I normally don’t blog much about my travels, but this trip may be the exception. So many “interesting” things happened. A bit too interesting.

Our first stop was Barcelona. What a beautiful city. Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia – oh my – I don’t think I’ve ever said “Wow!” so much.  And the food and wine was yumbley.

But we spent the first 24 hours without our luggage. It decided to stay in Atlanta for an extra day. There is wisdom in packing an extra set of clothes and some basic toiletries in your backpack Grasshopper…

It was in our hotel room when we came in from sightseeing the next day. Miraculous!

Sophia was on duty.

And it wasn’t long before she was busy again.

Aside from it’s beauty and culture and beaches, Barcelona is notorious for it’s thieves and pickpockets.

Yup.

That second evening, we went on a tapas crawl booked through a local tour company. There were like 35 of us and we visited three tapas bars in different parts of the city. It was fun, but then it got “interesting.”

We struck up a conversation with a lovely young, honeymooning couple from Australia and ended up hanging out with them for most of the evening. Very fortuitous. Sophia’s doing I’m guessing.

Normally, I am very vigilant about my purse and wear it over my head across my body. It’s a special cut-proof travel purse with all kinds of latches and locks that I ordered online. However, all that is kind of worthless if the whole purse goes missing.

Yup.

At the second tapas bar we visited, in a moment of jet lagged, prednisone-induced insomnia fog, I set my purse down on the floor beside my chair. On the wrong side. Easy pickin’s for a couple of pros.

Two women walked by and bumped my chair. At that instant, Sophia stuck a pin in my rear and I shot to attention. I looked down at the now empty spot that my purse had recently occupied. AGMA knew immediately what happened.

The fog was gone, replaced by a huge shot of adrenaline. For Pete’s sake, it was only the second day of our trip…

“My purse! Those women took my purse!”

AGMA was wearing as skirt and flats. I’m a marathon runner, but I can do a decent sprint if I have to. Especially amped up on adrenaline.

I went flying out of the restaurant and down the block after them. I had no plan – I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do when I caught them. They were cool operators; they were just strolling down the block. This was not their first rodeo.

“Excuse me, but I think you have my purse and I want it back.” Excuse me??  AGMA’s Emily Post was showing.

They both walked up to me and assured me in calm voices they didn’t have my purse. They even opened up their purses to let me look inside. Smooth…

In the meantime, Trent, our new Aussie friend, followed me out of the restaurant. I guess he thought I needed back-up. I did.

All I remember is saying over and over, “You took my purse and I want it back. You have my purse, please give it back.” AGMA’s nothing if not exceedingly polite.

They were soooo concerned that I was soooo upset. They wanted me to go back into the restaurant to calm down. Sure they did.

Nah baby nah.

So while I was talking to them and keeping them occupied, Trent decided to do a little looking around. He went behind a parked car and, lo and behold, came walking back with…

MY PURSE!!!

At that point, the two women shrugged like “Oh wow – look what he found!”, turned and walked quickly away.  I shook my finger at them and said loudly, “You should be ashamed!”

Seriously? How incredibly lame. At that point AGMA had earned the right to drop numerous F bombs and do a variety of obscene hand gestures transcending any and all language barriers. But I just felt incredible relief…

A quick check back in the restaurant showed all contents present and intact. Whew.

If it wasn’t for Sophia giving me a kick in the butt activating my Spidey senses, it could have been a devastating evening and really ruined our trip. Very much a First World problem I realize, but I’m still incredibly thankful I didn’t have to deal with all the issues around a stolen purse.

Whew.

And this was just the second day of our trip.

Stay tuned for the further adventures of AGMA and Sophia in Europe…

P.S. It’s great to be back!!