Wednesday, September 29, 2010


After an evening of laundry, resorting our suitcases, and tucking some warm layers at the front of the storage unit, we made our way to the airport to head to Mexico. Sean had found our condo online through Home Away, so we had somewhere to land for one month, and if we liked it after seeing it, we could reserve it for the following month.

I had purchased a Fodor's Puerto Vallarta 2010 Guide to read on the plane and prior to arrival. It warned about all the shyster cabbies and difficulty in not getting reamed on your way into town. True to form, it was an epic deal getting a cab to take us to our condo for the posted rate, but we did get there. It was the principal of the thing. The condo immediately won points for it's beautiful grounds and POOL. Our apartment had tile floors, fresh flowers set out, and an amazing balcony. OK! Sean immediately set about figuring out the wireless, and we settled in.

Sidebar: I'm writing this two months after our arrival, and the day before our departure.

Sean, as it turns out, was all het up about the internet connection because he had secret plans. While I was in Michigan, Sean had bumped into Kyriell at the It's Tops diner in San Francisco. It turns out Kyriell & Eric were going to be on vacation while we were there. So Sean gets all mysterious with the 'get dressed, we're going out' bit, and I think he's done something romantic or made reservations for us to eat somewhere, but no. No it was BETTER. We got a cab to Hotel Mercurio, walk inside, and Sean asks if they have a bar. There are some obvious places my mind has gone at this point. However, as we walk through the lobby and into the courtyard pool/bar area, Sean, with much glee, says "hey, that looks a lot like Kyriell!" And of course it was. JOY! We had some cocktails and headed out for dinner. SO GOOD to see them both, somewhere warm and stormy and odd. We went to the beach together, and Kyriell, Erik & I had a wonderful bus expedition to the Botanical Gardens, and the four of us went to Yelapa (complete with donkey rides w/Erik and a gigantor storm on the ride home), and all in all it was a spectacular start to our southern, sweat filled sojourn. We even had them over for cocktails at our pad before they left town.

Next up was my dilemma as a wife with a husband about to turn 40 in a town with no friends. Solution?? "Hey...let's learn how to SCUBA dive so we can spend your birthday under water!" And so we did. We walked down to Banderas Scuba Republic, met Cesar, and got ourselves properly signed up for our Open Water Diver Certifications. Our instructor, Marc Pearsey, was hilarious, solid, safe, and very very patient. We did our pool session and our online courses, and then we were off for our two days of open water diving!! Getting certified was less hard and much more fun than I think either of us anticipated. It was a good reminder about how barriers are larger in your mind than in reality.

For Sean's actual birthday, Marc, Captain Carlos, and Dutch Eddie and the two of us went to Chimo for some spectacular diving. Once we were home from the deep we cleaned up and went out to Cafe Olla for some delicious food and well-earned margaritas!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Interlude in the States (part 3)


In addition to Sean's play, a major reason we swung through California was to be present at the marriage of our dear friends. Mason and Melissa, in addition to being superlative people that we adore, put in some critical effort and assistance in making our San Francisco Wedding Party a success. I couldn't have done it without them. LITERALLY. It was a sadness for me not to have been available to help them prepare for their party, but flying back from Spain I think let them know how much we back their plans.

We rented a car and drove from San Francisco up to Oakhurst and checked into our hotel and then found the gang at the Paradise Springs Hotel for an evening BBQ and karaoke party.

It was wonderful to see so many of our friends gathered for such a happy occasion...and one where we weren't the center of attention. There is nothing so lovely as someone else's wedding after you've survived your own. :-] Sean was looking particularly space-pirate hot on Friday, too.

Unfortunately, the hotel we were staying at was FILLED with dust and cat hair and Sean woke up Saturday in rough shape. I was on my meds and nasal spray and was doing OK. Despite being handicapped by the Zyrtec Rage and various allergy miseries, it was a perfectly beautiful day for the wedding and everyone looked AMAZING. Noona lent me a dress that looked much better under my corset than my worn black travel dress (yay! thanks!), and the tux pants and tails Sean had found at a resale shop were a very comfy 'late night' outfit, too. The ceremony was beautiful, Melissa's train was...a cardboard train!, and the meal under the stars was perfection. It was a magical night.

Sean with the Newlyweds
Groomsmen toasting & roasting
Amazing centerpieces by Lora Martens, and beautiful company!

We had to skip the Sunday brunch lakeside (tempting as that sounded) to skedaddle back to the City in order to get organized for our Monday morning flight to...PUERTO VALLARTA! Mexico, here we come!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Interlude in the States (part 2)

On July 23 I flew to San Francisco, and Sean picked me up from the airport (reunited and it felt soooo good!)and whisked me back to our glorious digs in Pete & Sarah Goldie's basement. It was surreal being back in SF. Everything seemed fresh, peeled back, exposed. And so damn pretty. I think complaining is San Francisco's official sport. Ridiculous. One of the most amazing things about travel is how it feels to come home. Sean had been back for longer than I, so he'd glazed over a bit, but it was still odd for both of us. I was exhausted, and I think I just collapsed after a good dinner. I don't actually remember. What I DO remember is how brilliant his play was the next night. The actors did a beautiful job at the reading. I only wish they could have had more than one night. I took some blurry pictures that don't do it any justice but here are a few:

We both had a lot to pack in before leaving town on Friday for The Big Wedding in The Mountains (Mason Carroll & Melissa Craven!). I squeezed in visits with friends, a trip to my old office to say hi to Randy & Mei Ling, and even two book club meetings! The lovely ladies of landscape as well as the Irish Wine Club, er, book club.

Sean & I joined Tiffani & Jason for a bowling fiesta in honor of Tiffani's birthday (Yay!),

and I had the divine luck of being in town the same time as my dear friend Rebs (who lives in D.C. but her parents live here in SF) so I got to meet her new little girl Kami. TREAT! We also got some D&D time in at ye olde Chez Poulet:

But Love Called! And we hopped into our rental car and headed for the mountains to see our friend tie the knot. It was a beautiful weekend, a beautiful couple, and a beautiful ceremony. Next post: wedding pix and departure for Mexico!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Interlude in the States (part 1)

On July 15th we flew from Barcelona to New York City. Well, actually we left Barcelona, and about 20 minutes later had to turn back due to a medical emergency. So we returned to BCN for some quality time on the runway. May that never be me. Seizures alone are bad enough but doing it in public on a plane? Oy. We were worried about our connection in Dublin, but we made it. I would personally like to thank the fantastic staff of Aer Lingus in the Dublin airport who sorted out the utter disaster the Barcelona staff had made of our luggage and tickets. Next flight Dublin to New York. All was well until immigration, whereupon Sean was hauled off for a nice long questioning session to make sure he wasn't the Sean Kelly with warrants out for his arrest in New York State. There are many times where having a unique name seems like a major blessing, and this was one of the them. I did not like being separated from Sean by uniformed bureaucrats. It all ended well, but we left the airport much later than anticipated.

We grabbed a cab, madly texted with our friends, checked into our bizarre and cheap hotel near La Guardia, rinsed our faces, and hopped back into a cab to meet our pals in the east village for beers and hopefully food. It was turning into a very long day(s). But! It was so lovely to see everyone! My hands were all shaky and I wasn't doing a very good job of taking photos. I did a much better job of drinking cider and eating the Belgian Fries Lori magically produced. Viva Scott & Lori!
Mr. Duncan Watts in the house!
Melissa Dana and her beau!

We eventually piled back into a cab and headed for the hotel as we both had early morning flights headed back to visit family before landing in CA. Showers and a two hour nap and we were off to the airport again.

Sean flew to upstate New York and had a great visit with his folks at their new house before rolling to SF to work on the staging of his latest play, Ares, as part of the SF Olympians Festival.
I flew to Detroit Metro, picked up a rental car, and miraculously drove my jet-lagged and exhausted butt north to Higgins Lake where my family awaited my arrival. Nieces and Nephews are the bomb. The home my grandparents built on the shore of Higgins Lake is truly a sanctuary.
I have never been so happy for nice cold glass of well water, a shower, and good company. I forced myself to stay awake until 9pm. Lily and I made a deal that she would help keep me awake till then, but she would have to go to bed too. It worked! We did some fishing, some birthday celebrating, and swimming. I had a wonderful week 'up North'.

Eventually it was time (too soon!) to drive downstate behind my sister to her new home in Williamston. We had a lovely dinner with the kids at their favorite Japanese restaurant, and a good visit with my brother-in-law as he rolled home. It was just as the fireflies were coming out in the front yard that I had to kiss the babes goodbye and roll my rental car towards my hotel in Ann Arbor.

I had a nice, restful quiet night in A2. The next morning I got up and rolled to the Cook Household to meet the newest member and get to QT with my best pal Amy. It was a glorious day. Complete with a (very worrisome to Finn) tornado warning and rainstorm!

The mister cooks and their giant sunflower!

Next Stop: California! A reunion with Sean, theater!, and our friends wedding in the Sierra.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Barcelona, a Belated Fond Farewell

We are still in Puerto Vallarta, with our balcony over the Bay, watching iguanas and sweating like pros. I'm going to catch up on the Blog while Sean is at the gym. I got a little inspired and nostalgic today...we received an email asking for tips and beach directions from two of our friends who just landed in BCN. Even looking at the Google Maps for the recommendations made me a little nostalgic, and we only left six weeks ago. It's that kind of town.

When we landed back in Barcelona from our jaunt North to Oslo & Prague, it was a city transformed. Previously busy streets (like ours) were now just THICK with tourists. Summer Season was on, the buses were full, and the city was swarming like a hive. Bam!

Our friend Eliot came down from London with his pal Mark for a visit. It was lovely to see them, and have Eliot as a housemate for a few days. One major advantage of having your friends come visit is that they are a wonderful motivation to get out and see things in this new town you're living in. Eliot wanted to see the Mies van der Rohe Pavillion, so we finally paid homage on a blazing afternoon.

We took them up top of Montjuic to enjoy some cavagria (on my part) and beers (on theirs). The action highlight, of course, was the attempted purse snatch on Barcelonetta beach.
The three gentlemen just prior to The Incident
Attempted, because some locals started gesturing frantically and yelling, and being bright red, my purse was easy to spot bobbing away up the beach towards the city. I set off in hot pursuit (topless) and caught up with the thieves at the same time the undercover cops did. It all ended well, if a bit comically, and Sean took care of our guests while I spent the first part of the evening at the Police station filing the report. It was the first and only time we'll ever lounge on that beach. Sitges or the other side of the Port Olympic for me, thank you!

It was still a wonderful weekend. Our last days in Barcelona were packed and happy. We made a few trips to some favorite spots, and Sean came with me to see the Pedrera (I had done Batllo with Claire) and the Chocolate museum.

One of the displays
We even took a sea kayaking trip via TravelBar up north to the Costa Brava and had a hot beautiful day paddling and snorkeling! What a treat.
My only picture from the day - no dry bags = no camera

One of our last nights in town, we had an SF connection rock-n-roll treat! Friends of Friends Paula O'Rourke and Eric McFadden were performing mere blocks from our flat at the Monasterio club near the water. We had a great time meeting everyone and hearing some awesome music. Our buddy Mathias from the language school was even there! Good Times.

We finally had to say a sad farewell to our beloved language school and L'Ascensor bar, two places I think we spent a considerable amount of time! We were ready to head home for a bit, though, and escape the summer throngs - me back to Higgins Lake, and he to upstate New York for some mutual family time before regrouping in San Francisco.

I'll get some Mexican Posts up before we leave here, I swear.