“Sorry, Janet…”

20 07 2014

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Not a bad sleep last night.  I toss and turned this morning and finally managed to get up around 9:00.  I called Janel and she invited me to come on over for breakfast (assuming I can find my way to her apartment – most of you know how awful I am at any sense of direction).

View looking down from my terrace

View looking down from my terrace

Janel's street

Janel’s street

Without too much hesitation I find Janel’s apartment on a nice, quiet street.  She already has breakfast in the works.  This is my first glance at her new place and I can see why she loves it.  It is really cute and she has it all to herself.

Living area (looking down from loft)

Living area (looking down from loft)

Loft bedroom (yes, that is a hammock!)

Loft bedroom (yes, that is a hammock!)

Breakfast is cooking!

Cooking breakfast

Cooking breakfast

Janel has fixed us an awesome breakfast and has set it up beautifully.  How did she learn to do this?  I am so happy to be dining with her this morning.



After a great meal I open the bag I have brought with all sorts of goodies for Janel.  Some things are items she had ordered and shipped to AZ and others are little presents from us. It’s always nice to have a few surprises.

Treasure Chest

Digging into the Treasure Chest

Our big plans for the day are to wander down towards the ocean and see what we might find along the way.  The day is already hot and humid, but as long as we remain in the shade there is a nice breeze and it isn’t too bad.

Since it is Sunday, many shops are closed but there are tons of people out and about – both locals and tourists alike.  I am always fascinated with the beautiful buildings in Spain and Barcelona certainly is no exception.

One of the famous Gaudi buildings in the background (Janet, do you remember seeing that one?)

One of the famous Gaudi buildings in the background (Janet, do you remember seeing that one?)


We start to get close to La Ramblas – tourist mecca street.  Take a look at this picture.  Can you see the throngs of people just ahead?  It is a wall of tourists!  We only stay here for a few moments and then duck onto some side streets.


The shady streets of the Gothic Quarter are a welcome relief from the full on Barcelona sun.  Strolling here is much less congested.  We wind our way out to Barcelonetta and the sea.



It is well after noon and time to sit and have a beer.  We have our eyes on a little spot that is right down on the sand. Janel manages to wrangle her way to a table where we sit, sip and people watch for a while. I think this was the first spot where we both said we wished Janet were here.  “Sorry, Janet.”


We are getting hungry and although the food coming out of here looks pretty good, Janel has another spot in mind for Sunday lunch (which, by the way is eaten around 4 pm!).  We leave our seaside perch and wind our way back into town ending up at a busy place called Bitacora. We wanted to sit outside so Janel gave the bartender her name to put on the board. The name “Janel” doesn’t exist in Spanish and the “J” sound is sometimes difficult for Spaniards.  Janel explains it is “just like Chanel #5…”IMG_2791

We finally got our seat on the patio and had an awesome lunch of Pan con Tomate (crusty bread smeared with fresh tomato), Tuna belly with tomatoes:

Tuna belly

Tuna belly

and the most exquisite little sardines I have ever eaten.  “Sorry, Janet.”

Oh yes - you just eat the whole thing

Oh yes – you just eat the whole thing

Perfect Sunday lunch.  I forgot how much I love Spanish food.

A bit of walking around is in order and we pop into a little boutique that sells headbands and hats.  Janel tries on a couple of cute headbands and a couple of purchases are made.


It is so nice to walk around here.  You come across beautiful things everywhere if you take the time to stop and look:


Caffeine cravings begin and are satisfied:


Since we have walked fairly far from home we treat ourselves to a quick taxi ride back.  We both intend on catching a little siesta and we both are successful. We get ourselves together and reconoiter for Cava Time.  Janel knows a swanky hotel very close by that has a beautiful lounge – perfect for sipping cava.  Casa Fuster Hotel is waiting. The lounge is gorgeous and we spend a while here sipping and people watching. “Sorry, Janet.”


Time for a little tapa and Janel knows just the place – la Xula (Chula).


La Xula is tiny and perfect.  Janel has been in here before and she is recognized immediately.  Our server is very friendly and I immediately feel comfortable here.  The menu is absolutely enticing and it is difficult to make a choice.  In the end we decided on the Bikini Sandwich (classic grilled ham/cheese sandwich – this one has shaved truffle):

You can't even imagine how great this is

You can’t even imagine how great this is

We also go for the Tuna Tataki:


Our final choice of the night was a standout – Carpaccio of Pig’s Foot.  I know.  I know.  It was the hands down favorite.  “Sorry, Janet” Janel says it is “photographically challenged” because it really does not look all that interesting so no pics.  Trust me – you want this.  We washed it all down with a glass of a beautiful, soft red from Cadiz.  Does it get any better?

My first full day in Barcelona certainly was full.  I loved spending the day with Janel and wandering wherever our feet took us.  Tomorrow I am invited to see her workplace and have lunch with some of her co-workers.  Sounds like a plan to me.






The Saga Begins

19 07 2014

Friday July 18 and Saturday July 19

After all day packing and finishing up last minute tasks the time finally arrives for me evening flight to Heathrow.  Rich drives me to the airport and drops me off (he will be joining us in a week or so).

Rich claims I have forgotten how to travel light

Rich claims I have forgotten how to travel light

One of these bags is for Janel. I AM traveling light!

One of these bags is for Janel. I AM traveling light!

Fortunately we have garnered enough airline points to fly British Airways First Class.  It is a real treat and a luxury to take this flight.  I enjoy the process and I hope Rich will, too when he makes his way across the pond.

before takeoff

before takeoff

I can deal with this.

I can deal with this.

Lobster starter for sure!

Lobster starter for sure!

We take off without a fuss.  Dinner is ordered and I settle in to watch a movie – “Her.”  It’s pretty good and I know Rich will choose it when he flies because he has been wanting to see it.

I go for a glass of Tattinger Rose Champagne pre-dinner and then have the Lobster starter. It is delicious.  Wish I could say the same about the Beef entree, but it was overcooked.  No dessert for me – I am ready to crash.  My seat is flattened into a bed and a fresh duvet and sheets are all set up.  Nighty-night.

I awoke to the sounds of breakfast being served and realize that I had a solid 4 hours of sleep.  Nice. I am not hungry so choose a cappuccino and some fruit just to tide me over.

We soon land in Heathrow and I easily make my way through customs and immigration then locate the Concorde Room (the dedicated First Class Lounge).  From me previous visit last year I already knew to pre-book a massage and I am evening trying a “cabana” this time.

Everyone at the bar is watching the British Open golf

Everyone at the bar is watching the British Open golf

The massage was good, but too short.  I decided to order a bite so that I won’t be starving when I get to Barcelona.  There is a great menu and you can be served food in many areas of the lounge.  I chose the Potted Prawns and two kinds of cheeses to go along with my new fav Tattinger Rose.


The layover in Heathrow is pretty long – about 5 hours.  I have a cabana reserved for about an hour and 45 minutes just before I need to go to the gate.  The concierge finds me and tells me my cabana is ready.  It is really a little private “hotel room” with a tv, chaise lounge (for sleeping), toilet and shower.  Just perfect.  There is also a call button in case you want to order in food or drinks.  Kinda reminds me of our time in Thailand at Layana where I was so enthralled with the call buttons.

Hmmm, should I?

Hmmm, should I?

I resist the urge to push the button.  Instead I dim the lights, set my alarm for an hour and basically pass out.

ignore the dude on the tv!

ignore the dude on the tv!

When my alarm goes off I manage to get up and take a nice shower before I head out to catch my final plane.  The cabana is definitely a plus and I reserve one for Rich on my way out.

The flight to Barcelona is an uneventful 2 hours.  Dinner is provided, but I want to wait and catch a bite with Janel.  I will be landing at 9:30 and can’t wait to see her. It seemingly takes forever for the bags to appear at the BCN baggage claim.  Janel and I are texting back and forth trying to pass the time before I can grab my bags and meet her.

There's my girl!

There’s my girl!

So great to see Janel!  She looks great, as usual and we grab a cab and head for “home.”  Janel has met with my Airbnb contact and has already received the keys for my apartment.  That makes it super convenient.  It is only about a 3 minute walk from her place.  She directs us to my place and we dump my things.

Very cute, very clean - I love it.

Very cute, very clean – I love it.

nice kitchen (3 bedrooms!)

nice kitchen (3 bedrooms!)

I really like my little apartment and the best thing is that it has A/C!  Janel even made sure it was working properly before my arrival.  It’s pretty warm in Barcelona and I am a wimp.  So there.

Janel has stocked us up on a little feast for tonight with Jamon, cheese, nuts, cherries, gazpacho and cava.  Wow! We decide to take a brief stroll around her neighborhood so that I can get a feel for it.  It is a beautiful evening and the neighborhood is lively with many people out and about.  I love the area – Gracia – super clean, nice bright streets and many restaurants, bars and plazas.  I can see already why she loves it here.


We are both a bit peckish so we head back to my place to sit on my little balcony to enjoy our little feast.  It is lovely.



We sit and chat until the wee hours.  We agree to hit the bed and call each other in the morning.  We have no huge plans for tomorrow (Sunday), but decide it will start with breakfast at Janel’s apartment.  I hope I will be able to! ignore any jet lag that may be lurking and get a good night’s sleep.  It is already great to be back in Spain with my girl









Hola de España!

18 07 2014

Just one little pic to show that I am HERE and found my girl!  Much, much more later…



20 06 2014

Friday, June 19, 2014

After a short drive from Laughlin (about 4 hours) we finally arrive in Arizona.  The heat is blinding since we have not had a chance to ease into it.  It feels pretty good to be home and especially good to see Johnny.

This trip was so fantastic that we are going to need a few months to digest it all.  No superlatives post here.  It is too difficult to choose the “best” in almost any category.  We do agree, however that the absolute BEST overall experience was kayaking on Dawe’s Glacier!

Thank you to our loyal readers for sticking this one out with us.  We will be taking a short break and then it is off to Spain…

How Lucky Are We?

19 06 2014

Thursday, June 19, 2014

We really do have to make an effort to head for home today. Since we changed our route and are going to spend the night in Laughin, NV we have a lot of miles today – over 500.  Our breakfast order was hung out on our door last night with a request to be delivered at 6:30am – yikes!


Nice fireside breakfast

A reluctant “goodbye” is said to Corde Valle.  We are going to keep our yardage guide and scorecards so that we can properly watch the 2016 Wolmen’s US Open (if we can remember where we put them).



Our drive today first takes us through a lot of farms and orchards in mid-California. Then we end up in the Mojave Desert where the landscape is barren.  The miles click by on the interstate and we arrive in Laughlin at the Tropicana Hotel/Casino before 5pm.  The Trop is an ok hotel, but the Ritz it ain’t.

Our "view"

Our “view”

The casino is calling and Rich once again indulges me and wanders around looking for my favorite “Crystal” machine. Yay! We found it and I play for a while, but am losing $.  He sits at the one beside me and immediately hits the bonus and wins $30. Of course he cashes out.

I am starving (and a bit frustrated that he won and I didn’t).  There is only one restaurant open.  I don’t care – I am Hungry! Dinner is an unremarkable Turkey Burger for me and Chicken Teriyaki for Rich (he gives his a “C-”).  Back to gaming.

We play a couple of machines together for a while until Rich is tired and goes up to the room.  I will join him in a bit (as soon as I am out of cash…Won’t take long). I play around for a bit even re-visiting his winning machine.  Finally, I am ready to cash it in.

On the way to the elevator I notice a $.25 machine that looks interesting.  I sit down and play a few rounds.  The credits on this machine are listed as “credits” not cash so I have to convert from $.25 to see how much I am winning.  I don’t like that.  I am a few dollars up and decide that I will stay as long as I am up.  A few pulls later:


In case you have trouble converting 20021 credits (.25 each) into $ like I did:



How lucky are we?

Another Round of Corde Valle

18 06 2014

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The night was peacefully quiet.  The bed was soft and comfy.  We slept very well.

Room service breakfast is ordered: Egg White Basil Omelet with fruit for me and Brioche French Toast with a side Scrambled Egg for Rich.  We have a Keurig coffee maker fully loaded in our room. While we are waiting for the delivery, Rich finds a Yoga video instructor on his tablet and we engage in a short, beginner session.  Feels pretty good to stretch.

In-Room Dining sets up our breakfast on the patio because the weather is perfect.


Can you dig it?

Can you dig it?

We thoroughly enjoy our late breakfast whilst watching the “goobers” (golfers) on the course down below.

Rich plans out his shot for this hole while on our patio.

Rich plans out his shot for this hole while on our patio.

Tee time today was set for 10:48, but we called to have it pushed back to 11:48.  We did not want to be rushed and we certainly have no place to go this afternoon after golf.  Rich takes off for the reet himange while I finish getting ready.  I meet him at the range.  There is a new starter today and he is even nicer than the first,  He, too, wishes us Happy Anniversary and gives us special Corde Valle bag tags and yardage books.  Erik comes out to meet us and we are good to go.

Friends on the course

Friends on the course

It is interesting to play this course for the second time.  Supposedly, we should have more knowledge and pay better, but we’ll see.  Rich puts up a terrific front nine – he is on fire!  You can tell that Erik is feeling it, too and is happy for Rich.  I am just barely hanging on to my score from yesterday.

Since Erik has gotten to know us a little bit, he now encourages Rich to take some challenging shots.

Uh oh

Uh oh


This sand shot turned out great!

This sand shot turned out great!


We had another really fun round.  Once again, it was a real treat to play with a forecaddie.  A good forecaddie, like Erik, gives you encouragement and confidence.  Wish we could do this more often.

Post round

Post round

Great front Nine, Rich!

Great front Nine, Rich!

We went back to our bungalow to rest and relax before going back to the One Iron for dinner. The temps outside are still really nice so we choose to dine al fresco.


The same sweet server and bartender from last night are helping us tonight.  Our server had mentioned yesterday that her favorite appetizer was the Beef Tips Spiedini – beef skewers, roasted garlic, toasted bread and bleu cheese “fondue”.  It is immediately ordered.  It is immediately scarfed up.

Mash a piece of roasted garlic on the bread, place a few leaves of arugula and a couple chunks of beef - drizzle with blue cheese fondue...

Mash a piece of roasted garlic on the bread, place a few leaves of arugula and a couple chunks of beef – drizzle with blue cheese fondue…

We decided to “beef out” tonight and order the NY Strip and 6 Scampied Prawns to share.  Good thing we are sharing.  The 1/2 plates are huge.  Rich has a wonderful glass of Tiki Savignon from New Zealand and I go for the Justin Cabernet from CA.  We are set.


After a while, we are the only patrons on the patio and the bartender and server are fawning all over us.  “Shall we light the fire pit for you?”  What do you think?

Happy Anniversary

Happy Anniversary

What a great finish to our all too short time at Corde Valle.  I really hope we can return someday.  This is a very special place and we feel lucky to be able to spend a couple of nights here. Tomorrow we really do have to head for home.

A last minute decision has been made to cancel our reservation in Santa Monica and turn directly east.  We are going to make a stop in Laughlin, NV tomorrow night.  I will have a chance to lose my $ again!






Corde Valle – A Magical Place in Mid-California

17 06 2014

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Travel day today.  We only have a short way to go to meet our 12:48 tee time in San Martin (60 miles away) so we take our time leaving the Ritz.  I end up in the fitness room and try to slam a “Levi” workout.  Back to the room for shower and a last trip to the Club Lounge for breakfast before we hit the road.


Gonna miss this. All too soon it will be back to oatmeal and yogurt for me.

Rich thinks we have enough time to travel for a while down Hwy 1 along the coast before we head slighly inland to San Martin.  Great choice.  The scenery of the ocean with so many secluded beach areas is stunning.  You can’t really capture it from the car, but I tried.


When we get close to San Martin, I am not sure what we have gotten ourselves into.  This “resort” is way off the highway in what appears to be a farmland area.  Finally the Corde Valle Resort comes into view and it is gorgeous.  We are greeted warmly and check in at the front desk.  Since it is before check-in time and our room is not ready, they hold our bags and we go on up to the golf course.  I chose this resort because 1. It looked way cool and 2. With our Amex program we have a complimentary round of golf for two plus an upgrade and breakfast each morning.  You can’t beat that offer with a stick. We also later found out the the 2015 Women’s US Open Golf tournament will be held at this course!  Cool.

At the Corde Valle Golf Course the use of a forecaddie is mandatory.  You can either have a caddy carry your bags while you walk or you can choose to ride (bags on cart) and have a forecaddie who will go along with you to read yardages, rake bunkers, find balls, read greens, etc.  We chose the latter option.

Practicing putting

Practicing putting

The starter is a very friendly guy who wishes us “Happy Anniversary!”  He tells us to have fun, be relaxed and feel free to do whatever we like – hit two balls if we want.  Boy is that a different attitude than we have found at most courses! We are introduced to Erik – our forecaddie – and off we zoom.



The course is pretty hard and is unbelievably beautiful.  We keep trying to compare it so somewhere we have been and finally agree that the entire area looks like Tuscany, Italy.  There is even a vineyard on the hillside and a winery that you can visit (Clos du Chance).  It is hard to concentrate on the golf with this scenery every where you turn.

IMG_2686We both got lucky and parred the first two holes.  Erik probably thought he was working with some “real” golfers.  He soon found out who he was really working with!  We both had pretty good rounds and thoroughly enjoyed having Erik help us out.  He was an absolute pleasure to have along side us – laid back, helpful, considerate, friendly, etc. It took him all of about 2 holes to figure out how each of us played and which clubs/shots we should take.  We asked hi at the end of the round if he could determine our handicaps and he was correct on both! He is a true pro.


This was a great round of golf.  We enjoyed Erik so much that we asked for him to accompany us tomorrow.  He told us he really enjoyed us as well and thought we had a remarkable “attitude” when playing golf.  Little does he know…

After our round we got the first glimpse of our room.  Our luggage was all neatly stowed in the closet for us when we arrived.  The front desk informed us that we were upgraded to a Bungalow.  Yes.  When we opened the front door, we were blown away with the view.


View from our balcony

View from our balcony


Huge bathroom

Huge bathroom

The room is quite lovely and very warm and comfy.  Management has left us a nice anniversary note and a bottle of Clos du Chance Merlot. There is even a fireplace (although the temps outside are hovering around 88).  I think we will be very happy here for two nights.  It is getting late and we are getting hungry.  There is only one restaurant open during the week at this time of year so we make our way down to the One Iron Bar.  We are going to get a drink and maybe an appetizer before deciding what else to do for dinner.

The place is virtually empty and we choose to sit at the bar.  The bartender is really friendly and we engage him in conversation.  He has lived in nearby Gilroy all his life and tells us we must visit the “Garlic Capital of the World.”

Lobby at Corde Valle

Lobby at Corde Valle

An order of crab dip to share, a beer for Rich and a Rosemary Gin concoction for me leaves us very happy indeed.


The decision is made to go back to the room and order room service for tonight.  We want to enjoy our beautiful room.  Little do we realize it, but some “elves” have been busy sprinkling rose petals all over our bed and bathroom! So nice!


Our room service order is placed: two Caesar Salads and a half Roasted Chicken to share.  We have a bottle of white that we purchased in Victoria that is already sitting on ice.  Awesome.

Our tv

Our tv

Dinner by the fireplace

Dinner by the fireplace

This is a great start to our all too short stay at Corde Valle.  We are set to play golf again in the morning and then we will head East/South towards the homefront.


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