throwback a-vo-dee-oh-doe

This was taken in the summer of 2000:

winchester lovebirds

In 1966, the song “Winchester Cathedral” was a worldwide smash, selling 3 million records. The artist’s name on the label was The New Vaudeville Band, which didn’t really exist, although one was formed for touring purposes after the record became a surprise hit. In the U.S. it hit #1, supplanting “You Keep Me Hanging On” by The Supremes. It hung around the top spot during the month of December of ‘66, taking #1 on the 3rd, relinquishing the spot to “Good Vibrations” for a week, then regaining the top for two weeks before finally being knocked out for good on the last day of 1966 by The Monkees with “I’m a Believer”.

When the Grammy Awards were given out for 1966, a year of Revolver and “Monday Monday”, the award for the Best Contemporary Rock & Roll Recording went to “Winchester Cathedral”. You can see why Robin and I had to take that picture.

if it's thursday, this must be rosas

This is from the summer of 1984:

postcard from rosas 1984

It was our first trip to Europe … we stayed and traveled with Robin’s sister Tami and her soon-to-be husband Peter, who lived in England. The first night we were in Spain, we stayed in Rosas, on the Costa Brava. My memory is we arrived at night, and it wasn’t until the next day, looking out the balcony of our hostel, that I realized Rosas was next to the water. From there, we went to the house of Peter’s sister in Castelldefels (I think), a suburb of Barcelona. This would have been around June 13, 1984 … a week or so later, I spent the best birthday of my life in France.

The “Hermanos” were Geoff and David, who must have been living together in Portland at that time. The Giants game I referred to took place on June 11, which also narrows down the time frame. On June 12, the 1984 European Championships began in France, my first taste of the power soccer had over entire nations. As I recall, we ate in one French place that was more like a house than a restaurant, with a TV in the next room that kept the workers occupied. It was the tournament that gave me my first soccer hero, Michel Platini, who scored nine goals overall, including one in the final vs. Spain.

like i'm still on vacation

I’m not posting here, I’m sleeping odd hours … it’s like I never returned. Here are a few photos to fill space. Paella at Ayo’s:

I forget what this was called on the menu. It was enormous (the plate in this picture is about the same size as the plate in the previous picture):

chris' giant bagel thingie

Robin’s favorite place in all of Nerja:

albi ice cream

cross-cultural alphabet

Let’s see, what can I dump into this catchall post featuring “highlights” from our time in Nerja?

Language is always interesting in Spain. I don’t know why … it’s not like I practice speaking Spanish between visits, and it had been four years this time around … but I’m mostly comfortable speaking now, comfortable with my mistakes, and thus far more fluid than I used to be. Sometimes one of my family would ask me about a specific word, and I would usually fail to be of assistance, but when I was talking, words just flowed without my actually thinking about them. It wasn’t perfect … I spoke to the immortal Ayo, told him my wife had been on Spanish TV with him in 2009, and said she was “famoso”. “Famosa”, he corrected. More often, problems would arise when the two parts of my brain got in each other’s way. As long as I was locked into Spanish, things were fine, but when my American roots showed, anything could happen. Once, I stopped in a tourist assistance office, looking for a pharmacy. “¿Dónde está la farmacia cerca de aquí?”, I asked, and was told “Calle Pintada”. I replied, “Oh yeah, we just passed it.” (The pharmacy was interesting, as well. I was looking for chewable Pepto Bismol, and had brought a couple along as samples. I wasn’t getting anywhere with “para el estómago” or “para la diarrea”, but then I said, “como Immodium”, and that turned out to be the magic word. “¡Immodium, sí!, and off she went to get the medicine.)

We didn’t have wi-fi at our apartment in Nerja, and maybe it was the regular posts I’d made the week before from Ronda, where we did have net access, but people seemed to be unaware that I’d be checking online sporadically, at best. I’d get online for five minutes at a café, check for important emails, maybe leave a quickie message on Google+ or Facebook, and people would ask where I’d been, as if I’d disappeared forever.

Food … I could write all day about the food. Lots of pork, nightly ice cream cones, Fanta Limón (it was hard to find Fanta Limón Zero, but I did come across Fanta Limón sin gas, which I didn’t try). I discovered a new-to-me tapa, masita de chorizo, little chorizo burgers, which were yummy, but I only saw them in Ronda.

We walked around a lot, which we always do, but this time, we had my sister, who was wearing something that counted her steps. She informed us that we walked 14,000 steps one day.

I made a note to myself to say something about “Johnson”, but now I can’t remember what that refers to.

I’ll finish with probably my two favorite stories from Nerja. One afternoon, we went to Cochran’s for drinks. It’s an Irish pub with a gorgeous view … I get the feeling it’s popular with the British ex-pats. We’re sipping our beverages of choice, looking at the Mediterranean, while piped in music played fairly softly in the background. I heard a song I recognized, although it threw me off for a bit, since it sounded like a remix rather than the original. It was Cee Lo Green’s hit, the one that had been edited for radio and TV as “Forget You”, but which before the editing was the much more emphatic “Fuck You”. Remix or not, it was “Fuck You” that we were hearing. The word “incongruous” comes to mind … sitting in an Irish pub on the Spanish Costa del Sol, hearing “Fuck You” as we drank.

But my favorite of all moments on this trip came when we were at El Pulguilla, which was a tapas bar in the front and a restaurant in a huge outdoor eating patio in the back. Our waiter was quite charming … and here I should stop to note that whenever the whole bunch of us was together, there would be a mélange of halfway-decent Spanish, English-with-a-couple-of-Spanish-words, and the occasional effective use of pointing at the menu from our crowd, while the waiters generally had enough English to get by. This waiter’s English was pretty good, perhaps better than he realized, although, as would be seen, he also took some pride in his English. We asked for the wi-fi password, and he said something that sounded like “bah-tee-cah-no”. I told everyone it was spelled B-A-T-I-C-A-N-O, and we went to work, but no one could get connected. He repeated the password, but still nothing. So he wrote it down … and in Spanish, the letter “v” is pronounced very much like a “b”. The password he wrote was “vaticano”.

Now everyone was connected, and we all had a laugh at our expense. At which point he smiled, and proceeded to recite the alphabet to us in English: “ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ!”

It was delightful. We enjoyed our meal, and later, when he stopped to check on us, I said, “un momento”. And then I added: “a, b, c, ch, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, ll, m, n, ñ, o, p, q, r, rr, s, t, u, v, w, x, y, z!”

The waiter and I then congratulated each other for doing our part to improve international relations.

Here we all are at the end of the meal, photo taken by our waiter:

seven at la pulguilla

i have to start somewhere

The last time I posted “live” was two weeks ago, two weeks in which we had our usual fine time in Nerja, but went without Internet access for most of that time. So there will be a few vacation-related posts, and a handful of photos, and then back to normal. I posted several times from Ronda, so these will stick to the two weeks in Nerja.

We stayed in an apartment on the Mediterranean with my sister and brother-in-law, Sue and Paul. My sister and sister-in-law, Chris and Karen, were also in Nerja but stayed at a different place, and my brother Geoff, who was staying in Sevilla, visited us for a couple of days. Here is the view from the balcony of our apartment (Geoff took the original):

More later …

ta luego a ronda

About to go to bed after our last night in Ronda. We leave tomorrow for Nerja, where we will meet up with my sisters and their husbands and/or wives. 

We bought a few gifts, ate at a few different places, read (I'm reading Cato's 4th book about LBJ, Robin is reading a Lincoln Rhyme mystery), rested, and finished with one last meal at Bodega San Francisco. 

I told José Maria that we might come visit for a day with the family, and he said if we did, he'd make something yummy. 

Now I'll go to sleep while listening to the Giants game. It is very possible I'll be posting much less frequently in Nerja, since we don't have Wi-Fi where we are staying. 

I think I'll finish by describing where we ate dinner tonight. There are several restaurants on the small plaza near our room, and as we eat, families hang out, kids ride bikes and kick balls, teenagers goof around, and stray cats look for food at the feet of the diners. We sit on the plaza, but the restaurants are across the street, so there is a constant flow of waiters rushing across the street, avoiding cars and carrying food. Here's a photo: