Saturday, November 08, 2008

Mary Lou and Me

ML and I have been friends since we met in a travel chatroom back around the year 2000.

She first flew to visit with me when I was married and we went for a big drive through my South Island of New Zealand leaving from my home-base in Dunedin.

The second time, I think I was divorced but it seems like so long ago now and anyway, we drove the rest of the South Island, laughing often, as was our way.

I moved to Istanbul in 2003 and Mary Lou flew in as bombs were literally going off in the city. Passengers on her flight were given the option of turning back but not Mary Lou, she just kept on flying into a new and uncertain destination.

We took off to Gallipoli that time and generally had an excellent rest of the time wandering my beloved Istanbul city. We still laugh about the time she disappeared into the darkness of an Istanbul night with the carpet-selling guys who had taken us to a nargile cafe in an ancient cemetery. They were good people who looked after us so well but telling the story of it all still amuses us.

I moved to Belgium and she flew in, bringing her new partner to meet me while I introduced my Belgian to her and road trips through Europe followed over the next two years.

Today I finally made the decision to search out a cheap flight to Barcelona and an affordable guesthouse and voila, I'm flying off and again in 10 days.

Mary Lou and Al leave their cruise on November 21 and I'm flying in to Barcelona to meet with them. It seems crazy but true. Crazy because, if you're a kiwi then any place like Barcelona, Rome or Genova means at least 23 hours in the air and more than a 1000euro. Here I am, for the price of a taxi fare really, flying across Europe to destinations I never imagined reaching so easily.

It turns out that, like Rome and Genova, Barcelona is less than 2 hours by plane and the return trip will cost me under 60euro. Sure, I'm flying a cheap carrier and there will be trains and buses but it stuns me that I can fly to these amazing places so quickly and so cheaply ... stuns and delights me.

So now to revamp a section of website for work, write out my Genova stories, dance a small dance of delight over the idea that my new website is being uploaded as I type, prepare for Simon, Paola and family coming for lunch tomorrow and write to the people I met in France and wanted to interview ... and then there's the planning for 3 days and night in Barcelona.

All tips and any advice on Barcelona is so welcome.

Hasta la vista!


paris parfait said...

You will LOVE Barcelona! Do you have a place to stay? I can recommend a place that's centrally located and within walking distance of the Cathedral and two Gaudi houses. Also, the metro is amazingly easy to maneuver. Most shopkeepers speak English (unlike in Sevilla) and they are used to tourists. I'm thinking with this development, we'll have to postpone our trip to see you until later in Dec. (after we return from Philadelphia and New York)? xo

paris parfait said...

P.S. If you're there on a Thursday afternoon, you must, must, must go to the open-air market next to the Cathedral. And Antoni Gaudi's Sagrada de Familia is another must - you can get there via metro.

Di Mackey said...

I loved Salamanca but I have to confess that the idea of staying in a Spanish city with English is privately appealing because I'm so incredibly linguistically inept.

I'll email you about the trip. I should find out when the Christmas Market sets up in Antwerpen ... I'll ask Gert to find out. It's a bit magical, especially when you add it to everything else you have planned for this Flemish city of mine.

Oh, I fly in on Wednesday and I just know that Mary Lou will love the idea of a market, even if it's on our only full day together. Thank you for that info and as for Gaudi's de Familia ... I must research it again but I'm sure there's a NZer working on it's completion. xo

V-Grrrl said...

Oh what a delight that you and Mary Lou have shared so many fine adventures. I love your spirit!

furiousBall said...

what a sweet couple they are. wait... is that a hooka?

Lydia said...

I envy you going to Barcelona! It's one of the top cities on my list since becoming blogging friends with Carlos at Barcelona Daily Photo

I think I'll pop over to his blog and let him know about your upcoming visit.

You are SO lucky to live the wonderful way you do, lucky and I'm sure deserving. See Barcelona through my eyes also, ok?

Lydia said...

p.s. Interesting shot of two friends and a hooka!

Manictastic said...

Park Guell is stunning, but everything about Barcelona is. The city is ancient, modern and half fantasy (Gaudi's buildings). It's huge, yet cozy. You can get around with English perfectly well. Just be weary about pick pocketers.

I knew you needed another vacation soon :P

kompoStella said...

Barcelona! one of my top three favourite cities in the western world!
the positive tips: take some time to meander... the gothic quarters, the markets, the rambla... you & your camera will go crazy! the Mies van der Rohe pavillion is serene (but maybe too time consuming for a short visit) and offers a good view from above. and Gaudi... and tapas in tiny little bars...

the negative tip: take really good care of your stuff! Barcelona is the only place i've ever been robbed and i travelled a lot in my life. in Barcelona i was robbed twice!!! plus every single person i know who's been there had something stolen from them... even the ones who has lived there for years!

looking forward to see the pictures your magic will create in that magnificent city...

Di Mackey said...

She's pure delight V, I hope you guys get to meet one day. Maybe when I finally do that big American road trip ;)

Wait ... that is a hooka, Van :) or nargile pipe. It was just ummm banana flavoured tobacco stuff I think. I had bronchitis at the time.

Oh Lydia, thank you. I need to go check out his blog :)

I'll check it out for you Lydia. And thanks for the 'deserving' comment, I'm not so sure about that but I'll go anyway. xo

Dank u wel, Manic :) I have to look and there's usually nothing in my pockets to pick. I usually do the trips on a wish and prayer and not so much cash.

It seems like there will be so much to see, I'm curious to see what form this 'vacation' takes.

KompoStella hi! :) I'm going to make notes of what everyone said and do as much as I can and I suspect, I'll be returning.

Anonymous said...

I fly two hours in one direction every other day and the scenery looks much the same. Half you luck mate. Hey-must catch up soon. That means Iou mail actually.

Southern redneck

Peter said...

I'm convinced I'd love Mary Lou: she clearly is a real wanderer who truly enjoys new places and new challenges.

Wish I could give you advice on Barcelona, but I only took the "Barcelona highlights" bus tour
when I was staying in the charming
little town of Sitges nearby
(,_Barcelona )

Like Paris Parfait mentioned it's recommended to stay at a central location, given that the "Urban region of Barcelona" has 5.5 million inhabitants in a town that is really spread out.

You also picked the right moment:
I had problems with the extremely high summer temperatures,
but Nov is a perfect time of year.

Have fun!

Di Mackey said...

I do believe I'm looking forward to the email, Mr Southern Redneck. It's been quite some time.

Oh, I imagine you and Mary Lou would very much enjoy one another, Peter. At the moment I'm trying to work out what I have time for and how to do it :)

Mlle said...

oh my gosh Di! Good for you! Barcelona is so beautiful...

Simon said...

Lots of stuff to see, but you HAVE TO see Sagrada Familia.

Di Mackey said...

I'm looking forward to it, Shannon :)

And that's my big priority, Simon. Let's see how it goes (and if I can find it.)

Jacquie said...

Hey there Di!!! I am still reading your blog and admiring your pictures. Sorry I rarely comment...

I had to comment on this one though when I saw my friend (thanks to you) ML on here! What a cute picture of her and her S.o.!!

Thanks again for itro'ing us... with all the cool places you get to visit... maybe one day our little sleepy town will be on your agenda.

Take care!!!

Di Mackey said...

Hey Jacquie, it is truly lovely to find your comment here!

We have a friend in common ... isn't this internet world an odd one, odd in a good way :)

I hope to get to Madison next year but let's see how it goes. I prefer Obama over Bush and hopefully it will quickly be that much simpler to fly in. Looking forward to saying hi to you and yours xo

ML said...

Oh it was a magical trip and so fantastic to see Di agai!! We had a wonderful time, just talking and talking and laughing and laughing more.. We saw so many lovelythings and had such a great time together. Looking forward to meeting you Peter. and yes Jacquie she is coming to see US,, I will not let her cancel out!!
Thank you Di for coming and for the lovely write up!!

Pedro Gudino Jr. said...

You fruity Kiwi. It sounds like you are having a wonderful life to this crazy Yankee. I wish you happy travels. Ta.

womanwandering said...

Tis excellent, the proximity to everything in Europe. And it's surely fun, this road-tripping thing, even if we use planes and trains more often than not.