Festa de la Musica!

It’s too bad we had to cancel the third rock-drawing tour in Portugal, because the weather looked pretty nice. But it did take twelve hours to drive to Barcelona, and we got there in time to have dinner which wouldn’t have happened otherwise. We arrived at our hotel, Hotel Bertran, which is a lovely little place whose rooms are actually apartments with small kitchens, not that we’re cooking. Its Internet access is cheap, but we’ve discovered someone else’s network in our room, so now it’s free.

On our drive we saw another truck hauling three windmill blades. And we saw hundreds of windmills on the drive. Europe, or Spain and Portugal, at least, is definitely moving very expeditiously to find alternative forms of energy, and this is very impressive. The part of Spain we drove through looked very much like California, and since we were listening to recordings of KFJC on my iPod, at times we almost thought we were in California.

The original concept for this entire trip was to meet some friends from LA in southern France to see Fete de la Musique, a Europe-wide day of free concerts in many cities. As it turned out, they couldn’t make it to France, and we ended up rescheduling the trip to be in Barcelona that day. They had a Festa de la Musica here. We ended up attending two events at a very nice symphony hall called Auditori: a half-hour concert for flute and piano with Messiaen and similar works by Catalan composers; and a 90-minute concert of a Catalan cobla band.

In-between the concerts we walked around the Museu de la Musica, which had a fascinating collection of musical instruments from all over the world, from several centuries. They just don’t make them like they used to.

The rest of the evening was spent with a friend from our previous visit to Barcelona 10 years earlier, who was at that time the Opcode distributor for Spain, and still is a partner in the primary distribution company for music software in the country. His company was celebrating its 20-year anniversary, and after a delicious meal of tapas, we went to the huge party in a large warehouse with a live band and a separate DJ, had a drink, and went home.

Up until yesterday, our original plan was to leave Barcelona today, and to spend two days in southern France to rendezvous with yet another friend staying in yet another house. But we were having so much fun in Barcelona, and our schedule in France entailed two separate hotels, so we decided to cancel the first French hotel, and stay here one more night. Today we took some paper souvenirs and guidebooks for places we’ve already been on this trip to our friend’s office to send home to ourselves, making room for some heavier souvenirs we bought (the port, for example) in our RyanAir baggage allowance. This office visit was preceded by going out for coffee, and followed by going out for a light lunch at a French restaurant: salads, cheese, and paté. After a few hours on our own seeing some art exhibits at a nearby museum, and walking around the main tourist area, we went to another French restaurant for a nice dinner. So even though we’re still here, it’s as if we went to France today anyway. Our friend here loves France, has several French friends here, and plans to go to Paris for his vacation this year.

I’m staying up pretty late writing all this — it’s 3 AM. I stayed up pretty late last night looking for a hotel in London for less than 400 dollars a night. Hopefully I found one: laterooms.com had a horrible bait and switch in which you use the Internet to search for available rooms but then have to actually book the reservation over the phone very slowly with people that can’t understand you. One theory is that their phone number is like a 900 number that charges you by the minute, so it’s to their advantage to ask for lots and lots of information, and to not hear you clearly. I didn’t see any confirmation e-mail, so I hope we don’t arrive in London with no place to stay.