Multi-Dimensional Barcelona

 

Looking upward toward the stone, Neo-Gothic Sagrada Familia cathedral. The foreground shows elaborate statuary within the structure.

Barcelona, the old and still vibrant Spanish city on the Mediterranean. We wondered why we even booked a cruise leaving from there, as Spain had not been high on our bucket list. It just felt like the right place at the right time. It was, indeed! Barcelona is a sensory experience like no other. Here is an experience of sights, of course, but also of touch, listen, smell, and taste. And kindness.

The Gothic Quarter

Having arrived tired in the late afternoon, we ventured out onto La Rambla and found a very busy eatery, La Poma Pizzeria. For our first experience in Spain we had spaghetti bolognese. What can I say?

After a good night’s sleep we thought we’d explore La Rambla to get a feel for where we were. About a block down, we encountered a busy walkway off to our left with a triangular or V-shaped building. A busy pedestrian walkway. A V-shaped building separates 2 narrow walkways. On the right are the pedestrian Walk signal and the store Mango.Walkways went on each side. “Which way?” “I don’t know. Left I guess.” We followed a narrow passageway with some stores along each side. The sounds echoed softly as my wheelchair tires bumped across 500 year old cobbles.  Then came a steep incline that took both Sandy and me to get my chair up. At the top, a busy plaza and beyond that the Cathedral of Barcelona. Built largely in the 1300’s, it is is a magnificent example of Gothic architecture. The Gothic cathedral is almost in silhouette against a sky of deep blue with white clouds. Toward the left rise the main spire and several smaller ones. Toward the right is the stone structure that makes up the rest of the building.From its rough, stone walls that beg to be touched to the young man filling the square with his opera (not amplified) you can feel the vibrancy.

La Rambla

Just a few pushes of the wheelchair rims from the entrance of the Hotel 1898 is La Rambla. This is a wide pedestrian walkway running north and south from the circle in the north to the port and statue of Christopher Columbus at the south. Unlike the cobbles of the oldest part of the Gothic Quarter, La Rambla is a a wavy surface of rectangular tiles. My expectations were that they would ride rough, but the reality was that riding on them was a bit of a massage. Wide, tree lined pedestrian walkway. Buildings along each side. The surface is rippled and made of rectangular tiles.

Along the sides of the walkway are shops selling souvenirs, gelato, and fresh flowers. Near the south end these give way to tables where tourists enjoy tapas and sangria.2 large glasses or red sangria with fruit floating and colorful straws. They are sitting on a table with a white tablecloth. La Rambla is about tactile and sound. Mostly couples speaking softly in Spanish, English, French, and some Chinese create a blend that seemed almost musical. I’m sure this got “livelier” late in the evening, but this guy is seldom out late. This sensory delight is a full day’s experience if taken slowly.

 

La Sagrada Familia

Towering above a newer part of Barcelona is la Sagrada Familia. Still under construction, I wonder if it will ever be finished. The architect Antoni Gaudi spent the last 40 years of his life working on it full time, and he died in 1926. He is buried in the crypts. The lines were excruciatingly long. Learning about an area in advance often pays off. We went to the back side of the cathedral where there is an entrance for people with disabilities. Parts of the cathedral are not accessible, and some had a rather steep ramp. There is plenty to experience, anyway. Multiple stone columns soar upward in the cathedral. In the background and on the right side are the magnificent stained glass windows filling the space with light.

Towering pillars support a ceiling that is far up. With the stone walls and floor, stained glass windows, and columns sounds echo and reverberate gently creating a sense of awe that I’m afraid most visitors might not notice amidst the marvelous statuary and windows.

A word about accessibility

Barcelona is old, but much effort has been put into making it accessible to everyone. There are curb cuts with tactile warnings, designated pedestrian crossings on La Rambla, and a genuine effort. Buses are accessible. We took the big red on and off tour bus. All of its busses have low floors and ramps that flip out. Everyone was eager to flip the ramp, no hassles.

As I write this the day before Thanksgiving in the U.S., please be mindful that each of us has much for which to be thankful. Family and friends mean more than anything we can imagine. And when things seem overwhelming, remember the simple flip up ramps and the people eager to help. No one can do it all; try to be thankful for what we can do and build upon our strengths.

Next up, day stops at Cartagena and Malaga. Each of these had its unique charms. Thank you so much for stopping by. I appreciate all of you. Please comment and let me know what interests you and what questions you have for me. Be forewarned, I might answer them!

Photos: Main photo is la Sagrada Familia, a large Neo-Gothic style, unfinished cathedral. Ornate carvings fill the facade. Second photo is a busy pedestrian walkway with a V-shaped building creating 2 narrow walkways. On the right are the pedestrian cross walk sign and the store Mango. Third picture is the Cathedral of Barcelona towering into a blue sky with white clouds. To the left are the main spire and several smaller ones. The right is the stone, Gothic  building. Fourth picture is La Rambla. A tree lined pedestrian walkway with buildings on either side. The surface is ripples made of rectangular tiles. Fifth picture is 2 large glasses of red sangria with fruit floating and colorful straws. Sixth picture is inside la Sagrada Familia. Stone column literally soar toward the ceiling. In the background and to the right are the magnificent stained glass windows that fill the area with light. 

Fall break, finally!

Version 2

I need a break – badly. It looks like that is going to happen. It has been very hot here all summer without any let up in the heat. In July I wrote about the Florida summer. ( it’s the humidity ) I am pleased to say that autumn is bringing a bit of relief. I’ve stayed inside with the overworked air conditioner,  but it and I are going to being spending less time together. When? Let’s try now!

The days are getting shorter, the light more slanted. It is time for me to just roll back and take a break. As we speak my camera battery is on the charger. More time with the old camera and less time with the computer. More time reading and less time stressing. The rest of October is mine. I’m claiming it for Sandy and myself.

I’m going to find a winding path, a city street, an old church. Something other than the daily grind. Look at the ocean, share some small plates. With my Kindle loaded, it is time for an adventure.

Please bear with me when I get behind again because I surely will. Please know that your comments and blogs will be read, just maybe not on schedule for a few days. Thank you for stopping by. I appreciate your comments – and your patience!

What is your favorite season? Do you love fall or dread it? There seems to be no in between.

Picture: A paved path winds through a park with grass and trees still wet after a rain. A mist hangs in the background. 

Stinky and Dirty

A swamp in shades of greed with long afternoon shadows. There is a central area of moss covered water with trees on both sides.

Stinky and Dirty… Am I describing this beautiful Florida swamp? I’m talking about the cartoon that is currently playing on our seldom used TV. Stinky is a brown garbage truck, whilst Dirty is a yellow backhoe loader. They are best friends and the heroes of the series. It’s one of my grandson’s favorite shows. Our family is visiting from Taiwan. It is an exciting and blessed time and one of the reasons I’ve been a bit absent.

A couple of weeks ago we met up in Asheville, North Carolina and spent five days with our little guy while Mom and Dad attended a class. Wow! Five year olds have more energy than I remembered from being a parent. Or is it that I’m considerably older? Can’t be that, can it?

The summer has been another hot one here in Florida. It seems like there is an appointment or something every morning, and then it storms in the afternoon. Pool time has been non-existent. I love the pool because I can move freely when gravity is removed. It’s liberating.

It is a gray, gloomy afternoon. Thunder is crashing around us as we speak. Matches my mood. It just hasn’t been a great day. Sometimes I think I paint a rosy picture when in fact there are not-so-good days, as well. Such is the nature of life and especially of life with Multiple Sclerosis. My lesions are almost entirely spinal cord, but I am still blessed with the usual myriad of symptoms.

So while stinky and dirty is how my day feels, Stinky and Dirty are a bright spot reminding me of the love and joy inside that little guy and the hope of all our futures. Wishing you a Stinky and Dirty kind of day!

Thank you for stopping by. As I warned in the Popping Wheelies premise, “…you are about to find out.” Life is good, the future is fine, and there will be some clouds and thunder.

Picture: Large picture of a Florida swamp. It is shades of green with long, late afternoon shadows. In the center is an area of moss-covered water. Trees are on both sides. 

 

Replanting and writing again

Portrait framed photo with newly planted, but large, crotons along the edge of a brick patio with a white, Greek type statue at the far end.I’ve been planting again, and hopefully writing will happen, too. In the post Winter solstice and the patio  I showed some crotons and dusty millers that we put out before Christmas to replace those that died in Hurricane Irma. All except the dusty miller froze out during the record cold that followed.

With the arrival of spring, we are not so pressed for time and have planted the beginnings of a hedge of rosemary. This friendly herb will grow tall, likes the sun, and be tolerant when I don’t get it watered. I hope.Foreground is a brick patio, raised above the lawn, that has planters with hand high rosemary plants. Receeding is an ornamental grass, and at the end a dusty miller plant.

In the front, Sandy and I have been trimming up a potted bush whose name I haven’t a clue. It is green with red blooms and flourishes in Central Florida. In front of it I replaced two red pentas that also died in the freeze. Tall, ornamental green plant with red blossoms in the shape of small trumpets hanging down. Very bottom shows 2 small pentas.

Writing again… I have a “new” writing table. Finding one hasn’t been quick, though I’ve wanted one for some time. My legs just barely fit under it, but how much clearance do I need? They fit. And the table fits the style of our home. It even fit the budget.

So things are happening slowly and, to be inaccurate, surely. Thank you for stopping by. I am always grateful that you did and love for you to make comments.

Off white, antique distressed table. It has 43 shallow drawers and turned wooden legs. On the table are a green desk lamp, writing pad with sharpie, reading glasses, laptop computer, large Donald Duck mug, antique looking magnifying glass, a coaster, and a tray for mail.

Here’s a little smile for those who managed to read this far. It’s a bloom on our magnolia tree, which is just off the patio in the back.

Dark green magnolia leaves surround a large, white bloom.

Top photo: Raised, brick patio with planters along the edge and a Greek style, white statue in the background. Planters contain new crotons, a tall grass, and some dusty millers. Second photo shows the same planters in close up with new, hand high rosemary plants, an ornamental grass, and a dusty miller that survived the freeze. Third photo is a large plant with long green leaves and red, trumpet-like blooms hanging down with 2 small pentas at the bottom. Fourth photo is a writing table, well worn off-white color, turned wooden legs, and 3 drawers. On the table are a writing lamp with green glass shade, writing tablet with Sharpie, reading glasses, laptop computer, large Donald Duck mug, antique style magnifying glass, and a tray for mail. 

Orange hat and sunglasses

George is sitting in front of lush vegetation with a waterfall. He is sidewalk in the wheelchair with the front foot on the ground. Wearing an orange hat, bright green shirt, jeans shorts, and flip flops.

It has been awhile, and I apologize. Things have not gone exactly smoothly. After reacting to a new medicine in October, one side effect led to another as I felt like I was on a downward spiral. My multiple sclerosis reared its ugly head, as well. A few weeks ago my doctor and I agreed that it was time to stop all new things and let my body clear itself. It has been slow, but I think we see progress.

I had hoped to be back in the gym and on my bike, but stretching and light exercise are as far as I’ve gotten so far. With spring suddenly here (remember I’m in Florida) I feel better, and the pool will soon be ready. Next week I’m going to get some sun, fresh air, and relaxation. I’ll have new books on my Kindle and audiobooks on my phone. I’m not going to stress over anything. This is it. Do it, George.

Sometimes things go badly. The point is to try and keep our heads clear and our spirits up. Sandy has been my guiding angel. Several of you have done much to help, too. Things are looking better, thank you.

By the way, I realize that clothing combination is not exactly “correct.” Sometimes it is good to simply have fun and disregard what someone else might think. There is a fun person inside all of us just wanting to be given the chance.

And thanks for stopping by. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to share with you. I appreciate your comments, too.

Picture shows George in front of lush foliage with a waterfall. He is wearing an orange hat, brown sunglasses, bright green shirt, jeans shorts, and flip flops. He is sideways in his wheelchair with one foot forward and on the ground.

Better times

It is an old photo that I’d found, taken in the 1950’s in London. This reminds me of a quieter time, people feeling safe. It also reminds me of a time in my life when I felt vulnerable, criticized. There is no utopia, neither now nor in the past. It is a reminder to accept our blessings and know that we have a future as individuals and together.

To those of you in the cold and snow, please continue to be vigilant and safe. I understand and care.

Thank you for reading as I ramble through life on wheels. As you can see, it’s not all about wheels, but more about life.

Picture is an old black and white street scene taken on a bridge in London. There are only a few people, walking on a snow packed sidewalk. There is a black car piled high with snow and a double decker bus in the background.

Ramblings on my paraversary

Converse1

New Converse were at the top of my Christmas wish list this year. Whilst my white ones remain pristine (remember they seldom even touch the ground), the blue ones are my absolute favorites. They are sun-faded and worn on the inside. I’ll pair the old ones with my old jeans!

Twenty-four years ago tomorrow came the dramatic words about never walking again – except they weren’t dramatic. In a room that I remember as quiet and private, the doctor simply explained. We talked of progress and wheelchairs and adapting as we go.

Change and adapt have been the bywords over the 24 years, and I see no end to that. We have moved, made new friends, helped some people, and have been helped by many we’ve met along the trail.

My world has been expanded so much after something that seemed so terrible. In the last few years there has been a tendency for people who have varying disabilities to become friends and work together for our common goals. Let’s keep that going.

Thanks to every one of you for your friendship, your support, and your kindness. Not just to me, but to each other. Another year will make a quarter century of living on wheels. I wonder what “adapt” will mean this year. I’ll let you know. Thank you again.

Picture: George’s feet in new blue and white Converse All-Star’s, loosely laced. They are on the footrest of his wheelchair. The pavement is brick.