Barcelona, Day 1.
Had to switch hotels this morning. Yesterday it was super crowded in the city, you could barely walk down La Rambla, and of course, the hotels were overbooked--took me two hours to finally find a small place in Barrio Gotico, but although clean the place was on the 4th floor (what a pain to carry the bike upstairs I tell you! The hotel dude didn't even offer to help and even made really stupid jokes like: "Oh, you have a bike? Don't you have a dog also?" which were really not funny after 100 kms of fast biking and 2 hours of searching for hotel plus the 4 flights of stairs), the place had some rather bad feng shui and gave me very depressing vibes.
The switch was good though. Ended up in a place called "Holstal Fernando", centrally located in a nice street with lots of cafes, with with 2 women roomies, Dorothee, from France, and Mieko, from Japan, and we are all very close in age (which means no late-night inconsiderate drunken arrivals in the room making as much noise as you can!). So after locating a decent internet (it is curious, but the larger the city, the more the internet cafes suck: they restrict things better, they do not allow you to hook up USB devices to them, and of course downloading things or even accessing DOS or ftp is blocked. The trick is to therefore try to find a small side-street "mom and pop" internet cafe--in this case I finally found one owned by Indian immigrants after 3 hours of circling the city, where I guess they bank on their users not knowing how to do damage to their computers or be smart enough to download software from the web---which in most cases, that I've seen, at least, in both Spain and Portugal, is quite correct for the average internet cafe user), mail locate, laundromat and taking care of laundry, Dorothee, Miyeko and I headed out for dinner/drinks in the evening.
It was great! We found a great tapas place in upscale Passeig de Gracia, the see and be seen place of Barcelona, got tipsy on some delicious sparkling wine Sangria, and talked about life, the universe...and boys, of course. :) Dorothee is a really cool biochemist, whip smart and lots of fun to talk to, and Miyeko is kind of entertaining to hang out with, because as soon as she found out that I was from Sunnyvale, I became extraordinarily interesting to her, for her last boyfriend was from there (long distance relationship, and long story), and she wondered whether I knew any nice American gentlemen that would like to meet a nice Japanese woman to marry.
So boys (you know who you are), if you want to marry a nice Japanese girl, let me know, and I'll send you her contact info. ;)