Pass the cava

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Even though I’m in Barcelona now, AGMA’d love to tell you that I’m enjoying a cafe con leche and writing this post in a small cafe in the Gothic Quarter.

But I’m not.

As much as I want to dash off a post after our first few days in Spain to let everybody know how it’s going, AGMA is a realist. I’ve been through this too many times before. It ain’t happening.

So I’m in my favorite coffee shop in Atlanta. And I’m going to use that future post date function in WP.  I love that.

This trip is going to be really interesting.

Hubs is staying home taking care of the Princes of Casa AGMA, otherwise known as our cats, Max and Gus.

So I’m traveling with a dear friend who is getting ready to turn 77 in March. She’s young in mind and spirit, and is in great shape physically.  Plus she’s a voracious international traveler.

However, she’s hard of hearing (and won’t get a hearing aid) and I think she’s starting to have some memory issues.

And she has really fuzzy personal space boundaries.  This kinda makes me more crazy than I already am.

You know the type…physically, she moves really close to you whenever you interact. We spent 9 days in Paris 5 years ago and by the time AGMA got home, I wanted to move into a monastic hermitage and live alone the rest of my life. We would look at something in a store window and she was practically right on top of me. I may have gently thrown an elbow at her once or twice.

Don’t judge me.

It was a relief to be in a restaurant and have my own side of the table.

I think it might be related to her hearing loss?

So I’m looking for some suggestions as to how I might let her know in a sweet, kind, but firm way that she tends to get a bit to up close and personal. Anything?

Since I’m getting over the flu, I can use that for a few days.

“Don’t get to close to me Mary, I still have an active virus inside of me and could soon be a biter on the Walking Dead.”

Our trip is in 3 parts.

Part 1 – Barcelona. Cava, tapas/pintxo, paella, cava, crema catalana, bombas, cava, jamon ibericao, cava.

Can you see the pattern? AGMA loves me my sparking!

Since my last visit in Barcelona was so brief, I’m anxious to see what I missed the first time around.

Added bonus…AGMA has a former co-worker working on her masters in Barcelona so she’s going to hang with us on some of our adventures. Nothing beats having an insider show you the local scene!

Part 2 – ‘The Cruise’  THIS is going to be the true adventure. We are going on a 7 night Mediterranean cruise on a cruse line that gets terrible ratings on the all of the cruise bulletin boards. The ship itself is new and supposedly amazing, but everything else pretty much sucks according to the reviews. But it’s cheap – really cheap – and we’ll be seeing places we’ve never been (except Rome and you really can’t visit Rome too much…)

AGMA’s a firm believer of going into something like this with the lowest possible expectations. That way, if something is actually decent, it’s thrilling!

I’m planning on bringing lots of hand sanitizer and antiseptic wipes.

Part 3 – Porto, Portugal. Portugal is hot right now. Not with heat (although temps aren’t too bad) but as a tourist destination. In 2017, it was voted by the Word Travel Awards as the Best European Destination. Portugal actually took home 37 of the 123 awards.

Smokin’ hot.

Who knew?

AGMA visited Lisbon and the Algarve about 5 years ago. Since Mary abdicated all of the trip planning responsibilities to me, I decided that we’d go to Porto, home of Port wine. It’s supposed to be incredibly charming and a throw back to “old” Portugal (whatever that means…), and prices for food ‘n stuff are less than in Lisbon.

And after sharing a tiny interior cabin on the cruise for 7 nights with a person who has personal space boundary issues, I booked a 2 bedroom AirB&B in Porto.

Of course.

I’m hoping to be able to post while we’re on the cruise (or at a port with wifi) so you may actually get some real time AGMA updates from the road. Or water.

‘May’ being the operative word…

AGMA has to admit that I’m so looking forward to 2 1/2 weeks without hearing about the Massively Yuge Sh*thole Cheeto every minute of every day. Ignorance is definitely not bliss when it comes to the attempted destruction of our democracy, but a little respite now and then is good for the soul.

The only problem is that, when people find out we’re Americans, EVERYBODY (I know this from experience) will be asking us, “What the hell is going on with the US??”

I think my answer will be, courtesy of Molly Shannon’s horrible alter ego comedienne, Jeannie Darcy….

“Don’t get me started. Don’t even get me started.”

Pass the cava.

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!!