Barcelona: the first 24 hours

I’m back in lovely Barcelona, this time not for Mobile World Congress, but for Cisco Live, a trade show I haven’t done before. I usually joke before a show, “what could possibly go wrong?”, knowing from experience that everything can, in fact, go wrong.

This show is no exception. Turns out the boxes that my colleague and I carefully delivered to the UPS store in Palo Alto never made it here. I don’t know why…I have tracking numbers that are turning up a “status not available” error message, a 1-800 number that is apparently closed on Sundays, and of course, the UPS location where we shipped from doesn’t open for another few hours. It’s now Sunday night here, and our booth will open tomorrow with no brochures and no giveaways, unless I can pull off a minor miracle tomorrow morning. Wish me luck.

On a happier note, this city is always gorgeous. I’m actually surprised I even made it here, considering that I got a text from the airline on Thursday afternoon saying that my flight on Friday (yes, the very next day) had been cancelled. After an hour on hold with the airline “hotline,” they rebooked me through LAX, which lengthened the journey, but it was manageable. I was a bit skeptical about traveling on “Norwegian Air Shuttle,” but other than serving frisee and a strawberry for breakfast (oh, and cancelling my flight), they really didn’t do anything wrong.

Today I have already walked 6.5 miles, and I see another few in my future before I turn in for the night. I really wanted to do some shopping, but almost everything is closed here on Sundays. I did manage to buy a cute knock-off Burberry belt for $15 from a street vendor, and had some terrific tapas with one of my co-workers.

Baby eels on toast.
Baby eels look suspiciously like worms on toast.

The hotel, Catalonia Eixample 1864, is cute, although I’m pretty sure it wasn’t built in 1864. My room is on the top floor and has a sunny little patio. The view as of an hour ago, during sunset, looked like this:

A room with a view. The white van looks out of place, though…probably a crime in progress.

While walking around earlier, I stopped to enjoy the moment on a park bench at Plaça de Catalunya. Yes, the fountains were glittering and spectacular in the sunlight, and I kind of hate to admit that the reason I walked over there is because the desk clerk at my hotel had handed me a tourist brochure, the back page of which advertised the “biggest Sephora store in Europe” at Plaça de Catalunya. Alas, since all retail here is closed on Sunday, I had to settle for the fountains.

My Sephora substitute.

My goal is to chronicle my adventures this week, so check back here for an update, or subscribe to email updates if you’re really interested. What could possibly go wrong? 🙂

Beer. It’s so easy, even a woman can make it.

Last Friday at work, the office hosted a potluck to celebrate Diwali. I brought naan. Homemade naan, no less, crafted by me that same morning out of yeast, flour, water, yogurt, and salt. I cooked it on a super-hot cast iron skillet, and I must say, it turned out pretty well. So well that two people independently asked me, “Did you make the naan, or did your husband make it?”

It’s a little hard not to find that insulting. Fair credit: my husband Ted is a genius baker who runs Batch 58, a local catering company that specializes in scones, lemon curd, quiche, and other tasty baked treats. But STILL. Their question brought back memories of Easter at my sister-in-law’s house a few years ago. 

Background: I’ve been brewing beer since 2001, with pretty good results. Sometimes terrific results, and occasionally less so (like the carboy that exploded when the babysitter was here), but overall, I like to brew and I definitely like to drink beer…it’s my hobby. It’s a fun science project in the kitchen. Somehow I manage to be female as well.

Clearly this guy was a dick. Although, honestly, I might say the same thing.

A couple of years ago, we were invited to a family Easter celebration. My husband’s sister’s husband’s sister’s husband (for real), who happens to be a network administrator at a large company whose name rhymes with “E-Kay”, was poking around the big iced beer tub on the kitchen counter. We’ll call him Jeff, because that is his name.

I happened to be standing nearby while he perused the available bottles, and came to the large brown one with no label.

Jeff: “Do you know what this is?”

Me: “Oh, I brought that. It’s one of my home brews.”

Awkward pause.

Jeff, tilting down chin and using the tone one uses with a fibbing 3-year-old: “Lisa. Did YOU brew the beer, or did TED brew the beer?”

Me (in my head): “F**k you. F**k you and your outdated assumptions, and your freakishly blond family. Yes, women can brew beer, and vote, and build websites, and run companies. Didn’t you ever watch ‘Free to Be, You & Me?’ And by the way, no one else has worn a pager since 1997. The network will survive without you.” (It’s possible that I was a teeny bit fired up.) 

Me (out loud): “Yes, Jeff. I made the beer.”

But since then, despite being exceptionally irritated at the time, I’ve gotten so much mileage out of telling that story that it was totally worth it. Apologies to my sister-in-law if she reads this…it was a lovely event.