Saturday, February 27, 2016

Remarkable London experiences

Today, I was fortunate enough to have two wonderful experiences.

The first was a matinee of the musical, Mrs. Henderson Presents.  Alternately funny and moving, the play focused tightly on the story of a single theater, The Windmill.  At the same time, in so doing it delivered a meditation on the importance of theater, and by implication, all art, for all of us.  I left the Noel Coward Theatre still processing it, and now, late at night, I have yet to fully absorb it.

The other was an astonishing dinner at The Araki.  Chef Mitsuhiro Araki and his team produced not only the best (by far) sushi dinner that I have ever eaten, but also one of the more memorable dinners of any type that I've been privileged to enjoy.  The meal is insanely expensive, and the restaurant holds only ten people, but if you can afford it, I recommend it highly.

It's cold and overcast here, but I don't care.  It's great to be in London.

Friday, February 26, 2016

On to London

I flew from Barcelona to London today, thus making a one-hour shift closer to home time.  I'm here just to enjoy myself, which I intend to do--along with sleeping a very great deal.  As it turns out, working a show floor and keeping up with regular work, all while six hours ahead in time, is a rather demanding challenge.  I'm beyond tuckered.

When I wasn't traveling today, I was working, save for one meal--a fancy tea--and one incredibly fun play, Guys and Dolls.  The cast members were uniformly strong, and the actors who played Sky Masterson and Sister Sarah Brown were superb.  The staging was excellent, the dance numbers exuberant--this show was a winner from top to bottom.  If you're in London, I recommend it highly.

I then worked until late into the night, but now I'm crashing.

Hello, London!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Renewing acquaintances

Mobile World Congress wrapped up today, so though I spent some time there, I also took advantage of being in Barcelona to renew a few acquaintances.

For lunch, I strolled through the Boqueria Market, a treat for anyone who likes food.

Click an image to see a larger version.

In the course of my brief tour of the market, I passed by the stand where Scott once bought more gummi products than I knew existed.

Across the street from the market is a place I did not visit, an "erotic museum."  The only aspect of it externally visible was rather more sad than erotic:  a woman tasked with the unenviable job of portraying Marilyn Monroe while standing on a balcony and entreating passersby to enter the shop.

I kept my distance and felt only sad for her.

From the profane I now take us to the sacred, one of my all-time favorite churches, Gaudi's Sagrada Familia.  The exterior is breathtaking and mesmerizing, weirder and yet more powerful the longer you study it.

They've finished a great deal more of it since I was last here, and supposedly they are on track to complete the construction by 2026.  I do hope to see it then, and I encourage you to visit it at any time.

The inside is grand, humbling, and holy, a feeling that I could not escape as I sat in the quiet area today and contemplated the things that are troubling me.

When I was finished in the cathedral, I indulged in further sentiment and stopped at Farggi, a shop across the street where Scott and I had grabbed a snack during our visit here.

Dinner gave me a chance to renew my acquaintance with the food of the Adria brothers, Alber and his far more famous brother, Ferran, at their Mexican restaurant, Nino Viejo.  The setting was amazingly informal,

but the food was as fantastic as you'd expect from these two.  My pork and pineapple taco, for example, tasted rich and tangy and was entirely delicious.

Tomorrow, I head to London.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Another MWC day

Get up.  Work.  Shower.  Grab lunch.  Cab to MWC.  Walk the show floor, talking to companies when possible.  Cab back to the hotel.  Work.  Walk somewhere for dinner.  Eat.  Walk back to the hotel.  Work.  Sleep.

That's my entire rhythm right now, days built around the show, whose last day is tomorrow.

I hope to break the rhythm tomorrow and see a bit of the city, ideally La Sagrada Familia, but we shall see what tomorrow brings.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

I made it three days in Europe

without having gelato, but today my will caved, and I had a small cup after walking the Mobile World Congress show floor.

Wow, is that thing huge!  With eight halls, nine if you count halls 8.0 and 8.1 as separate, and about a quarter of a million attendees, this is by far the largest trade show I've ever attended.  I'm tweeting bits of the show via the PT Twitter feed, so head over there if you want to catch my take on it.

The six-hour time difference between here and home means I tend to work very late before going out for dinner, which fortunately works in Barcelona.  I was in the mood for pasta tonight, so I went walking up the street until I found a serviceable Italian restaurant.

I sat facing the front of the store and could see a bit of the entrance to the justly famous Boqueria market.

Click an image to see a larger version.

After a slightly too large Caesar salad, my rigatoni alla carbonara arrived.

Though it wasn't great, it was tasty, full of meat and warm sauce, and just the right thing on a cold Barcelona night.

I hope to get a bit more time this trip to see some of the city--beyond the conference, that is.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Might as well be Newark

My mission for this trip is both simple and daunting:  walk the enormous trade-show floor, stop at lots of booths, and try to have some conversations with marketing folks there.  The work is in a good cause, and some people do take the time to talk, but it's also exhausting.  Add to it the job of keeping up with my daily work, throw in a little sleep, and you have a more than full day.  That means that so far, I'm wasting the fact that I'm in Barcelona.

I honestly don't know if I'll be able to change that.  It will all depend on the work.

I do enjoy the bits I can:  the cab rides to and from the MWC venue, the different food, the ability to walk down the street and pick up a ham and cheese baguette for five euro, and so on.  Of course, last night that same sandwich, which I grabbed as a snack, ended up being dinner, and I never left my room once I returned to it after the show.

Normally, I would have planned to stay longer on one end or the other of this trip, but between TED prefacing it and my holiday in London following it, Barcelona is getting short shrift from me.

I know, pity me, for I have it so rough.  I know I don't, but the fact remains that I'm wasting Barcelona.

Perhaps tomorrow I will do better.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Sunday, sleepy Sunday

I finally fell asleep around two a.m. Barcelona time.  I got up in the mid-morning to try the hotel's breakfast, then slept until the early evening.  I clearly needed the rest.

After work and final unpacking and writing down expenses and so on, I showered and went walking in search of dinner.  Had I done this at ten-thirty local time in Raleigh, I would have been out of luck or seeking fast food.  In Barcelona, though, dinner is just getting into full swing at that hour.  I ended up at one of the restaurants on the square I can see from my hotel window, where I enjoyed jamon iberico and pan con tomate

Click an image for a larger version.

as starters (there's way less ham there than it appears, because they so thinly slice the meat) and a chicken paella as a main.

I ate all the ham, a third of the bread, and a third of the paella, but these were the smallest portions I could order.

Eating alone as a sixty-year-old man, I am practically invisible.  I thus was privy--whether I wanted to be or not--to intimate details from people at all the tables around me.  All spoke English, all were in town for Mobile World Congress (MWC, which is also the reason I am here), and all were discussing their various indiscretions or plans to commit indiscretions.  I was quite amazed at the amount of information people were willing to share, though I expect they also thought I did not speak English.

No one was discussing a fact that is likely to make all of our lives worse:  the metro and bus workers have chosen to strike during MWC.  Oh, boy.

MWC's effects have spread to my small hotel, where the bandwidth has gone from quite good as hotels go (yesterday) to positively painful (this evening).  I have no real choices here, but wow is my hotel overloaded.

Taking a brief stroll on La Rambla after dinner, I couldn't help but recall the night when Scott and I walked its length and then walked, at my insistence, all the way back to our hotel.  The journey proved to be way longer than I had thought, and we spent much of it joking about how long it was taking, even as we were both suffering a bit.  I worried that I never gave Scott enough time or enough love, and that now I won't have the chance to make it up to him--can we really ever make up anything to anyone?--and so I fell into a bit of melancholy.  I love my son very much, and I do miss him.  I hope we get the chance for many more good times together.

It's going on two a.m. here, so it's time for more sleep.  Tomorrow, I do work email and hit the show floor!


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