A humorous look at the little things in life

You might have noticed I didn’t add any new friends from Spain to my Facebook list. June 15, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — ashleyolsonrosen @ 1:47 pm
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Recommended wine for today’s entry: I looked for a suggestion of a good wine to pair with our summer favorite — grilled salmon. Ifound this in a recent Wall Street Journal’s Oenofile column. They recommend a 2009 Melville Pinot Noir Estate, citing “a nice fruit, a freshness and silky tannins which do not distract the wines too much.” And it’s a good domestic wine — and I’m a proud American!

I have FINALLY gotten caught up from our two-week trip that took me six weeks. Two weeks preparation, two weeks in Spain, and two weeks recovery — laundry, restocking the refrigerator, reassuring anxious pets, and putting away suitcases. Oh. I lied. Both daughters still have their suitcases open and filled with shoes and hair appliances, splayed out on their floors.

Except for tripping over the suitcases, though, the trip seems far in the past. Caring for a post-surgical Lab (torn ACL) and a cancer-laden 17-year-old cat who is committed to a hunger strike has taken over. So I decided to start a scrapbook from our trip in the time between medicating, walking and attempting to feed the ailing members of the menegerie.

It reminded me that I never told you all the other embarrassing moments of our trip:

1) Another restaurant debacle:  At the pizza restaurant on our street in Villanova, where we ordered a 15 Euro (like 20 dollar) salad for the four of us, very carefully explaining that two of us were vegetarians and we could have no meat and no fish … even saying no ham. Got a lot of nodding out of the little dwarf lady who never smiled. Or plucked her chin hairs, but that’s neither here nor there. No carne, no peces, no jamon. Si, si. She looked at us like we were idiots.

Then she brought out a separate plate bearing the anchovies that were apparently supposed to be served on the salad. Good for her. They were neatly arranged in a clever design that didn’t make them look any less dead, but did make us believe that she’d actually understood us.

Ahh…the salad. My daughter was giddy. Until we found out that “the sauce” — which we had assumed was salad dressing — was actually an oily can of tuna tumped over and touching every single lettuce leaf.

apparently tuna is not a fish in Spain


 Because the waitress 1) didn’t speak English; 2) disappeared; and 3) scared the bejesus out of us, we elected to just have the no-fish-eating daughter skip the salad. She held out for the pizza.

The rest of us risked our dental work on the pit-laden olives. In the meantime, we got a bottle of wine, which the mean and hairy waitress put on the table with one of those little freezer packs that wrap around the bottle’s shoulders like my grandma’s old fur “wrap.”

Well, it worked pretty well, and the wine was cold and tasty, until my husband lifted the bottle by its little shrug to gallantly refill glasses, but in a rebellious move, the wine pulled itself right out of the jacket and flung itself down — hard — on my husband’s dinner plate.

Yes, of course the plate broke and one large chunk of it, along with some gloppy remnants of greasy tuna “sauce”, skittered across the floor of the (formerly) quiet restaurant.

Stupid Americans. We ate our pizza quickly, preparing to make our second quick departure in two days (the first was the paella debacle). Then, trying to soothe everyone’s shattered nerves, I conceded to our waitress, telling her we were sorry, but we didn’t know much Spanish.

Which would have been nice if, right after I said “Lo siento. No sabes mucho,” both my daughter and the mean waitress didn’t gasp.

Because I guess I really do suck at Spanish since I said, “I’m sorry you don’t know much.”

Escape children! Run like the wind! Mommy’s done it again

2) Train and metro scenes. At the train station for a day trip to Sitges, we successfully found our way to Platform 6, where the train was supposed to arrive in about 3 minutes. But then they rattled off some announcement and people fled from our platform down the stairs, presumedly heading for a new departure location. Hmm.

I decided to ask a man who seemed to know what was going on. I asked him what number they had said. My Spanish-speaking daughter grabbed me by the shirt and hauled me away.

Apparently I asked him for his number.

You’ll be surprised to hear that he didn’t give it to me.

Then, getting onto the underground Metro for another excursion, we had one ticket that was loaded with 10 trips. You didn’t need to know the language to work it — you simply fed the ticket in the front, grabbed it after it spit out the top, then hand the ticket to the next family member and move on through the turnstile. Duh.

But in Barcelona, one of the turnstiles was broken. It wasn’t turning. So, time being of the essence, my husband told me to just go under the arm of the turnstile. In what can only be considered a bold and nimble move for a 50-year-old, I squatted and duck-walked right under the non-functioning machinery. As I (OK, a little slowly) rose back to full height on the other side, I heard a man over the loudspeaker. He was saying, “On the right! You go on the right! Look at the arrows!” And sure enough, there was a row of green arrows, flashing, pointing to the turnstile one over from the one the stupid Americans were using.

I started to add up the amount of money that has been spent educating the four family members combined and it made me weepy so I stopped.

3) Promenading. As I mentioned in another blog, the main drag in Villanova was called the Principal Rambla, and it was a lovely avenue, dotted with charming outdoor cafes and bustling with beautiful people. We were very aware that people noticed us — undoubtedly because there were very few people in town with our coloring.

That and I was wearing a tube top that, because of middle-aged sagging issues, was strategically placed almost around my waist.

No, not really. Gross. They just stared at us because my daughters are pretty and we were all blonde. So we worked it, my daughters and I parading down the Rambla, swinging our arms confidently like Charlie’s Angels. Go ahead and gawk, people, I thought as I lifted my chin so that the breeze could blow my hair back. Just like a supermodel…

…a supermodel who fell, with a solid thump, onto the lovely granite walkway. It wasn’t my fault. Someone had dropped a cherry to sabotage me. Yes, it was a teeny, tiny cherry, but it was squashed and at first I started to do a banana-slip, with my feet out in front of me, cycling in slow motion; then I caught myself (whew) and leaned forward … too far, falling to my knees and landing basically on all fours like a dog. 


The scene of the disaster.






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