Well, we are home, safe and sound, and I am procrastinating catching up on my workload to write this post…
This trip could not have been more different from my previous trip to Barcelona… in the best way possible.
For one thing, I was very well-fed. 😉 (A full post on keeping kosher while traveling in Catalonia and in general is on its way!) For another, while I wouldn’t exactly say I felt at home there, it felt, to a degree, like somewhere I belong. Having you there to pick us up at the airport and serve as our personal chauffeur and tour guide was a big part of that. Another was the familiarity of hearing Spanish and Catalan spoken around me, which I’m actually finding myself missing now! And yet another was the presence of the political symbols of this conflict I’ve been following so carefully for the past year–all the esteladas and yellow ribbons versus the Spanish and Tabarnia flags. I got a big kick out of being able to read and understand the political graffiti lining the roads in the countryside.
You know, I wrote an article about my experience exploring the Call de Barcelona in the newspaper we produced at the conference twelve years ago. A quote: “I followed the map to the Plaça Sant Jaume and dove into the alleyways branching off from the square. A steady flow of people streamed in and out of the alleys, visiting small shops and cafés that were built into the ancient stone. It took me a while to realize that this is the place I had read about. History has not been particularly respectful to the Call.”
Well, it was a relief to see that there is much better signage now.
Last time I was there, I had no concept of how close the sea was to this place, so it was cool to walk down to the port and the beach and see what your side of the Mediterranean Sea looks like.
We spent a quiet evening at the hotel after you dropped us off–picked up a few supplies from the store you pointed out, and then went to bed as the rain started really coming down. The next day we walked over to the kosher store and café for breakfast and to stock up, then we checked out of the hotel, picked up our rental car, and headed for Girona.
We settled into our rented apartment and then Leah (my friend and founder of the Moving Stones project, for those who haven’t been following) came over to welcome us, and proceeded give us a personal tour of the Call de Girona.
Toward afternoon we went back to the apartment to eat (or in my case, force down a sandwich; I lose my appetite when I’m nervous!) and get ready for our event. I was glad you were able to come early and we had a little time to hang out before setting off for the bookstore.
During the event itself I felt flustered and tongue-tied and very focused on trying to make it through this thing without forgetting anything significant or sounding like an idiot. It was frustrating because this was totally a dream come true and I didn’t feel able to really be in the moment and enjoy it for what it was. Afterwards I felt tired and overwhelmed and sad about our brief and yes, hug-less goodbye, but in the morning I felt a little better. Eitan and I ate breakfast and then headed to the Jewish museum, which we hadn’t seen the day before, and Leah met us there. It was hard to say goodbye to her too, and I felt sad about leaving Girona. I’ve grown rather attached to the place through my connection with Leah. And goodbyes are always so hard for me.
We spent the next two days up in the mountains; I don’t think I told you anything about this part! When I first envisioned our mountain getaway, I wanted it to be somewhere way out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nature, preferably with flowing water nearby. That’s exactly what this place was. It’s this funky self-sustaining off-the-grid eco-home tucked into a valley in the pre-Pyrenees, right by Riera de Sant Aniol, a stream that feeds into the Llierca River in the upper Garrotxa region. It was so close to the stream that we could see it through the living room window and hear the rushing water from anywhere in the house. Like the sound machines I used to put on to soothe myself and/or my kids to sleep. But in real life.
It was so beautiful there (and the drive to get there so rugged) that we decided not to try and go anywhere else, but rather stay and enjoy the river, the forest, and the mountains. And so we did. We woke up the next morning to the sound of the river rushing and the birds singing… and nothing else. It was paradise.
So no, we didn’t end up stopping in Besalú or getting to La Fageda d’en Jordà or anywhere else in La Garrotxa, but we were very happy where we were, and we fed ourselves well, too 😉 More details on that in the monstrosity of a blog post coming soon to an inbox near you…
You know how I whined to you on our way out that I didn’t remember the airport being this annoying? Well, aside from the layout, which I found obnoxious (the way they make you walk through the duty-free stores to get anywhere)… maybe it was just the weather that day, but it was extremely dim and gloomy at the terminal. During the security check they asked me to remove my headscarf; they were totally respectful about it when I told them I couldn’t, they just had a woman security guard pat down my head (?), but it still made me kind of uncomfortable. That happened to me only once before, in an airport in Florida, and it was because I was wearing a metal clip in my hair under my hat, which I wasn’t this time.
I was a little on edge about flying home through Istanbul because of the tense diplomatic relations between Israel and Turkey these days, but the trip was uneventful.
It’s good to be home, though going back to routine after a trip like that is always hard. While I was feeling down about the goodbyes, I remembered a conversation I had with my son recently upon his return from an amazing summer with his grandparents–a conversation I recounted in a Times of Israel post–and what I said to him then: “Yes, it hurts, it hurts so much, but isn’t it wonderful that we have people who love us that much, and who we love that much, that leaving them is so very difficult? Isn’t it wonderful that [you] had the opportunity to have all those amazing experiences and create those memories?”
Yes. Yes. How very wonderful. And this is certainly a memory I will cherish forever.
Thank you once again for everything you did to make our stay more comfortable and for everything you do to support me and my writing. It means a great deal to me. I hope we will have many more opportunities for real-life time together in the future–on your side of the Mediterranean or on mine!