Casa Mila aka La Pedrera


When we arrived in Barcelona we took a train from the airport and then the metro to the Passeig de Gracia stop. We emerged, got our bearings and started walking toward our hotel. I knew that we turned left one block after La Pedrera. So as I was looking for it, I was disappointed to see that it was undergoing a major renovation. Oh well, what can you do? We could see tourists on the roof, so we knew they were still open for business, we just weren’t going to get any cool pictures of the facade.


When you first enter La Pedrera, you are at the center light-well/courtyard. From what I understand, these light-wells sound like a great idea for having natural light in an apartment. From the audio guide, I understood that people still live in La Pedrera. For the tour, one takes an elevator to the roof. Then one takes some stairs to the attic, where there are informational displays about Gaudi and his architecture. Then one goes to the apartment that is furnished in the style of the time of Gaudi. And lastly,  one ends in the gift shop.

Rooftop, La Pedrera

The rooftop is one of the highlights of La Pedrera. The distinctive chimneys and view of Barcelona make it very captivating. As we walked around, my sister asked me how comfortable I’d be without the fencing and to imagine it as it was before tourists. The fencing does take away from the beauty, but I’d be extremely uncomfortable without it.

Chimneys, La Pedrera

The attic was cool, literally and figuratively. There were films and models explaining Gaudi’s architecture. As a math teacher, I’ll be looking up the catenary curve to learn about the mathematics of it. The arches in Gaudi’s work are made up of them. Think of holding the two ends of a piece of string. When you turn that curve upside down, you get your catenary curve – something like that.

Arches, La Pedrera

The apartment was next. The attention to detail is quite extraordinary. Straight lines were definitely not Gaudi’s thing. Look at the doorways and fixtures…



After the apartment you make your way through a couple of gift shops. As with all of the Gaudi sites, the admission fee is steep. With an audio guide you’re spending just over 20 euro per ticket. But the work of Antoni Gaudi is one of the main attractions of Barcelona and what makes it such a cool city. My recommendation is to allow for the sites in your travel budget.


Barcelona Logistics – Avoiding Lines


On a very hot day, we figured out which metro stop to reach and navigated successfully UP the hill/mountain (whatever) to get to Parc Guell. By the way, the Rick Steves’ guide suggests splurging on a taxi to get here. Take the advice. It’s quite the hike. And did I already mention it’s up hill the entire way?

We arrived to find a ticket line. There are ticket lines at all of the tourist sites. This was only day 2 in Barcelona, so we were just learning that you could buy your ticket, but your entry time might not be until a few hours later. It doesn’t make for easy planning. Certainly being spontaneous isn’t in the cards. At Parc Guell we walked around the free portion of the park, took some photos near the entrance/pay portion from the outside, and made our way downhill. We angled over to La Sagrada Familia so we could check out what we were getting into for the next day.


Once again, at La Sagrada Familia we encountered long ticket lines. But we had also been looking at online tickets for that site. After scoping out the lines and asking a few questions of the helpful people in the red shirts, we decided that we’d go back to the hotel and buy online. This was the best decision!

We had decided to do a Gaudi day. We thought we’d do La Sagrada Familia in the morning. But when we went online, we wanted an admission ticket that included going up in a tower. The tower times are “sold” separately from your entrance time. The only arrangement that made sense was entry at 5pm and tower ticket at 6:30pm. So much for our morning idea. Once that was settled, we checked out the other two biggies.


La Pedrera had an opening for 11am. We took it. We also got the audio guides with all of our tours. Casa Batllo (link has music) was a ticket that was good for the next 365 days. You could buy a “fast lane” type of pass for 5 euro each. We decided to just wing it with the fast lane and not purchase it.


In all of these cases, an email was sent to my phone and that was our ticket in. As long as I had downloaded the mail to my phone, we were set. I will say that T-Mobile’s International perks have been great in both India and Spain. At La Pedrera I found a worker and asked where I should go if I got my ticket online. We were immediately led to get our audio guides and started our self-guided tour. At Casa Batllo, I asked the same thing. I was glad we didn’t purchase the fast lane thing because we were once again, led right in.

I realize that you do need to do some planning ahead when you do this. But trust me, your time is worth it. They are beautiful sites and you don’t want to spend your time waiting in lines and then waiting again for your entrance time. A little prior planning can save you time and keep you sane in a sea of tourists!


It’s here!


My carpet arrived! While I was in Colorado, my neighbors intercepted the delivery at my door!

Back in April, I wrote this post about our visit to Jaipur Handicrafts and my sort of surprise purchase of a carpet. I wasn’t thinking about purchasing one, but loved the design of this particular rug and knew I couldn’t beat the price when it was made in pashmina wool. They told me that it would take about 3 months and would arrive in July. Knowing what it takes to make these gems had me surprised that it could be done that quickly. But lo and behold, it is now here.

After coming back from Spain, I was in Colorado for my annual trip last week. Hopefully I can get back to doing some writing in the next few weeks before I had back to school.

Hidden Gem of Barcelona


One of my favorite tours was of the Palau de la Musica Catalana in Barcelona. It is a privately funded concert hall for the Orfeo Catala. The Orfeo Catala is a choir. The concert hall is amazingly beautiful. In order to see it, you need to take a tour or go to a concert. We took the tour. We contemplated going to a concert, but it didn’t fit into our schedule.

I had seen some photos in guide books of the concert hall. As I was doing my pre-trip research it was recommended that you get your tickets in advance for this tour. It was hard to know which day to choose, so I selected day 2 of our Barcelona portion. It was also a day in which there was a concert in the evening if we decided to attend. The building was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997. If you would like to read about the Art Nouveau architecture, click here. It is a truly amazing structure, in a city that is full of them.

The central skylight in the auditorium is incredible. There is so much detail in the other parts of the building that it’s hard to know where to start to describe it all. So I might just leave it to pictures. I highly recommend checking it out as well as the surrounding neighborhood!






Sisters, Traveling

Sisters, traveling.

It has been a long day. The alarm went off in Barcelona at 3:30am so we could catch our cab to the airport at 4am. We made it all the way back home. I’m waiting for my luggage to be delivered. It didn’t make the connection in Amsterdam, even though I did.

We spent 3 days in Madrid and 5 in Barcelona. The two cities were both lovely and had a very different feel to them. Hopefully I’ll be able to write a few posts about the trip in the next few weeks. We walked all over both cities, averaging about 10 miles per day. Getting to 10,000 steps was a breeze. We went to several museums and churches, saw lots of unique architecture, enjoyed lots of tapas and local wine. I’ll be sorting through photos and stories and sharing soon.

Hello again…

It has been 2 months since I’ve posted anything. I think that’s the longest I’ve gone without writing. I’ve thought a lot about it. I just haven’t done it. Are there topics to write about? Sure! But at the end of the school year, sometimes I just don’t have the energy to get ramped up about some of them.

There have been some poor court cases lately that will affect all of us: Teacher Tenure in California, the Hobby Lobby debacle. The attacks on teachers and the teaching profession are horrible, yet right now I lack the energy to write about them. Women’s issues and women’s rights are a huge issue for me. But I haven’t organized my thoughts and don’t know all of the details well enough to write about them.

I’ve done my usual strawberry picking and made jam in June. One clarifier though, my jam was made from berries that I had from the last round of picking. I needed to make room in my freezer for new fruit. I’ll be trying some other combinations in the future.

I’ve made my yearly trip to Motown and back. I’ve got two more trips lined up for the remainder of the summer – Spain and Colorado.

I suppose I usually have a class where I’m supposed to be journaling and I post about those adventures. Alas, I didn’t take a class this summer, so that’s not happening.

Do I have an excuse? Not really. I’m doing what every other teacher in the country does after school is out. Recovering. My stress levels are lower, I’m eating healthy and exercising. I’ve read lots of books, taken naps, cleaned my house, etc. Living life at a slower pace is nice for a change.

Teacher Appreciation Week


This last week has been Teacher Appreciation Week. There’s not really much that happens. At our faculty meeting we had ice cream treats. Then we heard about the current status of our budget cuts. Thanks for doing a great job. By the way, we have to cut 10 of you. The budget is a long story and hopefully it doesn’t amount to that big of a cut at my school.

On Thursday we had parent teacher conferences. The Hmong Club invited us to the library where they had punch and cookies for us. We were all given a thank you card with our treats. We were also treated to some delicious sandwiches from a local deli in the auditorium foyer. I’m not clear who organized that one. But it was nice, all the same.

Honestly, I don’t expect anything during this week. Teaching is a profession where the appreciation pops up in unexpected places. You don’t count on it, therefore, when it does occur, it’s a really nice surprise. After my 4th hour Pre Calculus class, one of my students gave me a little gift. She said “Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!” and was then on her way. It was a very nice surprise. She’s a fantastic student. I don’t know a whole lot of personal information about her, so I was surprised to get a lovely card thanking me for teaching her so much.

This is definitely a profession of surprises and non-material rewards. Finding out the impact you’ve made on a student doesn’t just make your day, it makes your year.