Tuesday, 26 March 2019

My boat is launched!

Monday 25th
My nautical life has not been very distinguished! I have owned 3 boats in total. The first two were crazy and I wrote about number 2 in my "life blog". The first.... let us draw a veil over that! It was called a Mini-sail and I used to tow it down to the south coast (the UK, that is!) and float around Poole Harbour and various estuaries. Basically, it was a glorified surf-board with a sail. On account of not having a jib, I could never get close to the wind and often ended up "in irons" with the tiller pulled up hard against my chest. As I said, let's not talk about the Mini-sail, I wanted to tell you about my latest attempt at walking and floating to Medinyà.
While the plans for my bridge are being finalised (I wish that was true, it is still a fantasy), I decided that I would cross the mighty River Ter by water, so I bought an inflatable boat from Amazon for €35 and I also bought a life-jacket because I reckoned that maybe I would be alone in the event of needing a rescue. The life-jacket was about the same price as the boat!
Yesterday, I went to church at Madremanya, tonight I have my regular meeting with the PSC, the political group which I mentioned previously. And tomorrow and Wednesday, I want to watch the Volta Catalunya which comes through Celrà on Wednesday. That left a convenient window of opportunity to try out my boat! So I packed everything onto the smaller of my two sack-trolleys and headed off to the river. 

The weather has been more like summer during the past few days and today was sunny with a clear blue sky.
When I reached the river at the end of a long drive-way (you can see it in the second of the 2 photos above), I stopped and chatted with three guys who were clearing trees which were encroaching on power cables crossing the river. The river was barely flowing at all, the scene was balmy. I had joked earlier with a friend that maybe I should have launched it with a bottle of Cava (taking care not to break the bottle!) But it was 11am so a little too early for alcohol!
Two of the men came down to the river edge and helped me launch the boat and I jumped in! It is not a very stable form of transport but as soon as I remembered that I had to face the opposite direction (!), I started to row. This was chaotic! Every missed stroke caused the boat to swivel violently in that direction, it had no momentum of its own. I nearly lost one of the oars because it was screwed in the centre and that was coming loose. Maybe that explained why sometimes the oar was not catching the water.
I made it across to the river to a convenient little beach about 50m up-stream but that was not where I wanted to be. Because I had already been in the woods on the opposite side, I knew that the ideal landing spot was directly across the river but the bank was too steep to land. From the beach, I headed up through the undergrowth but it was thick with nettles and I was wearing plastic waterproof shoes and shorts. I grabbed a large stick and set about making a path up to the top of the incline, hoping that, at the top, I would break out into the path which I knew was there. It was not to be. As soon as I reached the top, I could see a further 5m of undergrowth and, in any case, this was not something I felt that I should clear. I headed back down to my boat and paddled across the river. It was idyllic! I will go further next time, this was just a trial run.
The shame is that, on the Medinyà side, there is no access to the river, so in the longer term, maybe I can talk to the Town Hall. The obvious place to cross is by the power pylons because the undergrowth is kept clear all the time and there is easy access to the path, but the bank on the Medinyà side is too steep to land.
The last photo shows where I dream of having a bridge, I have to go out now but tomorrow, I will draw the bridge in Photoshop and also add a Spanish commentary.

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Dangerous (Peligroso - version español abajo)

This is a pedestrian crossing by the railway station in Girona. It crosses Carretera de Barcelona which is a long, straight road with two lanes of fast traffic in each direction. It is potentially dangerous because, when the traffic is stopped in one direction, it continues to flow in the other direction (from right to left in the photo) in order to let traffic turn left. This fools some people who, seeing the traffic waiting despite the little man being red, think it is OK to cross. This is not wise. The traffic is rapid. I will come back to the crossing in a moment....

This morning I went to Decathlon which is at the far end of Carretera de Barcelona in the south of the city, together with Bauhaus and MediaMarkt. I was looking for an inflatable dinghy with which to cross the Rio Ter (where ultimately my bridge will be built.... I hope!) The current flow is very slow at the moment so it would be an easy crossing and a typical dinghy is only about 4kg in weight. I have already seen many example in Amamzon.es but I thought I would find one in Decathlon. Unfortunately all they had was an inflatable canoe, much too big and heavy for me. What I had in mind was something like a coracle!

Right next to Decathlon is a McDonald's Cafe and I had a coffee and cookie there. I read a free copy of La Vanguardia and then headed back towards the centre of Girona. I was following the buses on my phone, which shows estimated arrival times so I arrived at the bus-stop in plenty of time.

At the bus-stop was a woman with a small wheelie suitcase in a state of panic. I think she had someone else with her, I'm not sure. The other person headed up the road, apparently looking for a bus stop. The woman was Brazilian and she asked in great anxiety about the bus, was it number 2? Yes, the bus-stop said number 2. I told her it was due to arrive in 4 minutes but it soon became apparent why she was panicking. She said she had to catch a train to Sevilla at 12.55 and I could see that time would be very short. I kept on reassuring her about the bus until it finally arrived... and passed directly by on the roundabout. It did not pass the bus-stop. Shock! She headed off down Carretera de Barcelona in panic in the same direction as the bus.

At this point I saw next to the bus times in the kiosk, a small map saying that, because the road was closed (not evident from where I was), the bus-stop had been moved and it showed the modified position 200m in the direction away from the city centre. I could see that the next bus was due in about 10 minutes, so I went and found the new bus-stop. Three kilometres into the city, we met up with my friend who was running frantically to catch the bus... "my" bus. I asked the driver to wait.

I could see by now that she had no chance of catching the train. She said it was to Barcelona but I thought, to get to Sevilla, one had to go to Madrid. She was in quite a state and I could see what was coming next. As we got off at the bus-stop for the station (to the left of the photo and on the other side of the road), I tried to get close to her to restrain her but she was too quick for me. She dashed up the road, crossed one carriageway diagonally, stopped in the middle with traffic passing in both directions and ran across to the other side. I was very shocked, that was so dangerous. Better to miss a train and not lose your life. Anyway, she was already too late.

I guess it took me about 2 hours to recover. I was shaking, as if I had just had a violent argument with someone. I spilt Coke on the table while having my lunch. I would have liked something stronger to calm my nerves but I have a meeting later today. 

I just sent this painting to my friend Marta in Ukraine!

On the subject of dangerous roads, this is my quickest route by road to the other side of the River Ter. Otherwise I have to go almost into Girona at Saría de Ter. Will I be riding down there? Nooo! In one direction, much of the traffic has just come off the autoroute. There is no escape and the shadows would obscure me. I didn't even start to think about going there, don't worry!

Esto es la ruta mas corta desde Celrà y otro lado del rio. Pero mucho demasiado peligroso para ir por la bici.

I just bought a boat! €35 including oars and the pump. So I can cross the river now, before my bridge is built. Because I will be on my own, I bought a life-jacket too. It was about the same price as the boat! It is very light and small when deflated, about 4kg, so it will be very easy to transport to the river.

Ahora en español

En la foto es un paso de peatones cerca de la estación de tren de Girona. Atraviesa la Carretera de Barcelona, ​​que es una carretera larga y recta con dos carriles de tráfico rápido en cada dirección. Es potencialmente peligroso porque, cuando el tráfico se detiene en una dirección, continúa fluyendo en la otra dirección (de derecha a izquierda en la foto) para permitir que el tráfico gire a la izquierda. Esto engaña a algunas personas que, al ver el tráfico esperando a pesar de que el hombrecito es rojo, piensan que está bien cruzar. Esto no es sabio. El tráfico es rápido. Regresaré al cruce en un momento ....

Esta mañana fui a Decathlon, que está al final de la Carretera de Barcelona, ​​junto con Bauhaus y MediaMarkt. Estaba buscando un barca inflable para cruzar el río Ter (donde finalmente se construirá mi puente ... ¡Espero!) El flujo de corriente es muy lento en este momento, por lo que sería un cruce fácil y una barca típico solo se trata de 4kg de peso. Ya he visto muchos ejemplos en Amamzon.es pero pensé que vería uno en Decathlon. Desafortunadamente, todo lo que tenían era una canoa inflable, demasiado grande y pesada para mí.

Justo al lado de Decathlon hay un McDonald's Café y yo tomé un café y una galleta allí. Leí una copia gratuita de La Vanguardia y luego volví hacia el centro de Girona. Estaba siguiendo los autobuses en mi teléfono, que muestra los tiempos de llegada estimados, así que llegué a la parada del autobús con suficiente antelación.

En la parada del autobús había una mujer con una pequeña maleta con ruedas en estado de pánico. Creo que ella tenía a alguien más con ella, no estoy seguro. La otra persona se dirigió a la calle, aparentemente buscando una parada de autobús. La mujer era brasileña y preguntó con gran ansiedad sobre el autobús, ¿era el número 2? Sí, la parada de autobús dijo el número 2. Le dije que debía llegar en 4 minutos, pero pronto se hizo evidente por qué estaba entrando en pánico. Ella dijo que tenía que tomar un tren a Sevilla a las 12.55 y pude ver que el tiempo sería muy corto. Seguí tranquilizándola sobre el autobús hasta que finalmente llegó ... y pasé directamente por la rotonda. No pasó la parada del autobús. ¡Choque! Ella bajó en pánico por la Carratera de Barcelona en la misma dirección que el autobús.

En este momento, vi junto a los horarios de los autobuses en el quiosco, un pequeño mapa que decía que, debido a que la carretera estaba cerrada (
No es evidente desde donde estaba), la parada de autobús se había movido y mostraba la posición modificada a 200m del centro de la ciudad. Pude ver que el próximo autobús saldría en unos 10 minutos, así que fui y encontré la nueva parada de autobús. A tres kilómetros de la ciudad, nos encontramos con mi amigo que corría frenéticamente para tomar el autobús ... "mi" autobús. Yo pedí al conductor que esperara.

Ya podía ver que ella no tenía oportunidad de tomar el tren. Dijo que era a Barcelona, ​​pero pensé que para llegar a Sevilla había que ir a Madrid. Estaba en mal estado y pude ver lo que venía a pasar cuando ella salio del bus. Cuando nos bajamos en la parada de autobús de la estación (a la izquierda de la foto y al otro lado de la carretera), traté de acercarme a ella para detenerla, pero ella fue demasiado rápida para mí. Corrió por la carretera, cruzó una calzada en diagonal, se detuvo en el medio con el tráfico pasando en ambas direcciones y corrió hacia el otro lado. Yo estaba en choque, era muy muy peligroso. Mejor perder un tren y no perder la vida. De todos modos, ella ya era demasiado tarde por su tren.

Faltaba unas 2 horas para recuperarme. Estaba temblando, como si acabara de tener una discusión violenta con alguien. Derramé mi bebida Cola sobre la mesa mientras almorzaba. Queria cerveza para calmarme per tengo un reunion mas tarde.

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Elecciones ... y un sueño sobre un puente.

See the previous post for the version in English!

Una actualización.

Cuando regresé de Dubai y Kiev, decidí no irme por un tiempo, principalmente por razones económicas! ¡Pero con la primavera en el aire, no hay mejor lugar para estar que Girona! Y ciertamente, durante el verano, muy rara vez me voy. Durante muchos años, la Costa Brava fue el destino de ensueño para nosotros, los británicos, y ahora puedo ir a la playa en bicicleta! Pero mi plan a largo plazo es ir a algún lugar cálido en el invierno, como Colombia, pero eso está muy lejos en tiempo. Hay un verano para disfrutar primero.

Si estás aburrido de la política, puedes saltar a la sección sobre la construcción de un puente!!

Sé que he escrito sobre eso antes, pero creo que la incertidumbre sobre el Brexit y la situación política aquí me hace un poco estresado. Brexit es tan loco ahora que las palabras me fallan. Los parlamentarios abandonan sus partidos, todavía no hay acuerdo y los productos se envían al Lejano Oriente, que llegará después del salido de la UE. Eso es asumiendo que Brexit no se retrasa. ¿Y cuál es el punto de hacer eso? Si no pueden encontrar una solución ahora, ¿qué diferencia harán otros 6 meses? David Cameron (el prime minister quien comenzó el proces), tienes mucho por lo que responder.
Aquí, tenemos elecciones locales en mayo para coincidir con las elecciones para el Parlamento Europeo y una elección general en abril. Y en la mente de todos, está el juicio de los 12 políticos en Madrid que abarcarán ambas elecciones y sin duda influirán en el resultado.
Para mí, el conflicto aquí se reduce a "El derecho de autodeterminación". ¿Existe para Catalunya o no? En cierto modo, el juicio trata de este principio. En mi opinión, si todas las regiones de Europa tuvieran el derecho de autodeterminación, tendríamos países pequeños (o ciudades) apareciendo de repente por todas partes. A menudo se cita una carta de las Naciones Unidas, pero eso se aplica a las regiones que están bajo opresión. Y aunque a menudo esto se plantea como el caso aquí, simplemente no es la verdad. Catalunya tiene mucha autonomía.
Mi problema con la independencia es simplemente pragmático; no veo cómo podría funcionar en términos económicos o logísticos. Si la frontera entre Irlanda e Irlanda del Norte es un gran problema, eche un vistazo a la frontera entre el resto de España y Catalunya... y Francia. La mayor parte del transporte español por carretera y ferrocarril con el resto de Europa pasa a través de Catalunya, por la frontera en Le Perthus. Si Catalunya lograra la independencia, se dice la Constitución de la EU, sería automáticamente fuera de la Unión Europea y tendría que volver a solicitar la membresía. Creo que Quim Torra, el actual presidente de Cataluña lo reconoce porque recientemente habló de un acuerdo comercial similar al de Canadá. Sería enormemente complicado. ¿No sería mejor encontrar algún consenso por evitar una división total?

Es gracioso, después de toda una vida de ser un verdadero "Tory" azul en el Reino Unido, ahora formo parte del equipo del PSC que promueve a Manel Roqueta como nuestro nuevo alcalde. PSC, Partido Socialista de Catalunya. De hecho, en el mundo en su conjunto, soy "socialista". Creo en compartir los recursos naturales. Cuando Escocia tuvo su referéndum para la independencia, se habló mucho sobre el valor del petróleo crudo en el Mar del Norte. Pero sentí que no era "su" petróleo. De todos modos, eso es agua abajo el puente. Pensé que era una locura ofrecer a Escocia la oportunidad de romper con el Reino Unido, de la misma manera que Catalunya decidía su propio destino. En cualquier caso, no sería seguro que un referéndum legal aquí resulte en el deseo de independencia. Y las personas como yo que no tenemos un pasaporte español, a pesar de ser residentes aquí, no pueden votar de todos modos.
Aunque formo parte del equipo, no voy estar consejal. Disfruto mucho el verano y no quiero estar sentado en un despacho soñando con la piscina municipal que está al lado!
Por lo que entiendo, todavía tendré un voto en las elecciones locales a pesar de no ser ciudadano europeo en mayo. Hubo un tratado firmado recientemente entre el Reino Unido y España llamado el "Tratado de Derechos de Votación" que lo permite. Supongo que todavía es válido en caso de un Brexit sin acuerdo.

Una pasarela para el Río Ter.

Durante mucho tiempo he sentido frustrado por la falta de un puente que cruza el Río Ter en pie, donde vivo en Celrà. El cruce más cercano está más allá de Flaçà o Saria de Ter, que es casi parte de Girona. Para poder explorar el otro lado del río, tuve que tomar un autobús hacia Girona y luego otro autobús hasta St Julià de Ramis. La primera vez que hice esto, tomé el autobús equivocado y, aunque la parada se llamaba "St Juilà de Ramis", estaba a kilómetros de donde quería ir. La segunda vez, fui mucho más sabio.

Hay una nueva atracción en Sant Julia, la Fortalesa. Durante muchos años hubo un fortaleza abandonado en una colina que domina el valle del río de regreso a Girona. Conduje hasta allí hace muchos años. Luego, durante aproximadamente 5 años, había dos grúas operando en el sitio y ahora todos podemos ver el resultado. Hay un museo de joyas, un restaurante y un hotel y restaurante de lujo. Hay un camino fácil desde el Ajuntament de Sant Julià en la NIIa hasta la Fortalesa.
Aqui hay algunas fotos.

En mi segunda visita al otro lado del río, estaba buscando un posible sitio para un pasarela, pero tal vez no haya suficiente demanda para justificar el costo. La ubicación obvia es una carretera de hormigón que se detiene abruptamente en el río en el lado de Celrà. Oh, la frustración, a pocos metros de distancia es Medinyá. Bueno, no es el pueblo más hermoso del mundo, pero justo enfrente de mi puente, hay un camino que, de una manera, lleva a Figueres y la otra a Sant Julià de Ramis y Sarria de Ter.

el camino de hormigon desde el lado de Medinyà (A)

otra vista de (A) desde el lado de Medinyà

en la mapa... (B)
 Tomé la última ruta y fue maravilloso. Sigue terrenos abiertos cerca del río y junto a la autopista AP7. Luego hay un puente sobre el pequeño río Terri y luego un paseo señalizado por el río, con una serie de señales que muestran la vida silvestre típica de la región. Seguí el camino hasta la esquina que está muy cerca del ferrocarril y la carretera C66 entre Girona y Celrà. Frustración en revers! Luego seguí el río de regreso al Ayuntamiento de Sant Julià de Ramis, donde llegué a tiempo para tomar un autobús de regreso a Girona.

En Internet, encontré un sitio web que describía cómo construir un puente colgante. Me puse en contacto con el hombre que lo construyó (está en Seattle) y compré su libro. Pero cuando me senté en el cruce del río donde termina la carretera, pensé que sería mejor como un puente atirantado. Sería asimétrico obtener la mayor parte de su fuerza desde el hormigón.
(A) pasarela.... es obvio!

Esto es mi sueño, construir este pasarela. Yo usaría comerciantes locales. Incluso hay una fuente de cable porque hay mucho de eso en los cables catenarias del ferrocarril abandonado al polígono industrial. El resto es madera. Tal vez esperaré hasta que tengamos nuestro nuevo Ajuntament, ¡tal vez Manel sea alcalde! En este momento, el partido gobernante es la CUP de extrema izquierda. Nosotros en el equipo queremos un pueblo para todos. Hablamos español en nuestras reuniones, lo que es genial para mí porque no hablo catalán. Lo entiendo razonablemente bien, pero no sé cómo construir un frase.

Ahora Ad Mundi en el estación de RENFE en Girona vende mis tarjetas postales!

Elections ..... and dreaming of a bridge (English version)

An update.

When I came back from Dubai and Kyiv, I decided not to go away for a while, mainly for economic reasons! But with spring in the air, there is no better place to be than Girona! And certainly, during the summer, I very rarely go away. For many years, the Costa Brava was the dream destination for us Brits and now I can go to the beach on my bike! But my long-term plan is to go somewhere warm in the winter such as Colombia but that is a long way off. There is the summer to enjoy first.

If you are bored with politics, you can skip to the section about building a bridge! Where all the photos are!!

I know I have written about it before but I think that the uncertainty about Brexit and the political situation here are making me a little stressed. Brexit is just so crazy now that words fail me. MPs are abandoning their parties, there is still no agreement and goods are being shipped to the Far East which will arrive after the UK leaves the EU. That is assuming Brexit is not delayed. And what is the point in doing that? If they can't find a solution now, what difference will another 6 months make? David Cameron, you have a lot to answer for.
Here, we have local elections in May to coincide with elections for the European Parliament  and a general election in April. And in everyone's mind, there is the trial of the 12 politicians in Madrid which will span both elections and undoubtedly influence the result.

To me, the conflict here comes down to, "The right of self-determination". Does it exist for Catalunya or not? In a way, the trial is about this one principle. In my opinion, if every region in Europe had the right of self-determination, we would have small countries (or cities!) popping up all over the place. A United Nations charter is often quoted but that applies to regions which are under oppression and have no freedom. And although this is often raised as being the case here, it is simply not true. Catalunya has a great deal of autonomy and freedom.
My objection to independence is simply pragmatic; I don't see how it could work in economic or logistical terms. If the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland is a huge problem, have a look at the border between the rest of Spain and Catalunya. Most of Spanish road and rail transport with the rest of Europe passes through Catalunya, through the border at Perthus. If Catalunya achieved independence, according to the Constitution, it would automatically be outside the European Union and would have to re-apply for membership. I believe than even Quim Torra, the current President of Catalunya recognises that because recently he was talking about a trade agreement similar to that of Canada. It would be enormously complicated. Would it not be better to find some consensus short of a total split?
It is funny, after a lifetime of being a true-blue Tory in the UK, I am now part of the PSC team promoting Manel Roqueta as our new mayor. PSC, Partido Socialista de Catalunya. In fact, in the world as a whole, I am "socialist". I believe in sharing natural resources. When Scotland had its referendum for independence, much was said about the value of crude oil in the North Sea. But I felt that it was not "their" oil. Anyway, that is all water under the bridge. I thought is was madness to offer Scotland the opportunity to break away from the UK, in the same way as Catalunya deciding its own fate. In any case, it would not be certain that a legal referendum here would result in the wish for independence. And people like me who do not have a Spanish passport, despite being resident here, cannot vote anyway.
Although I am part of the team, I will not be standing as a councillor. I enjoy the summer too much to be sitting in an office dreaming about the municipal swimming pool next door.
From what I understand, I will still have a vote in the local elections despite no longer being a European citizen in May. There was a treaty signed recently between the UK and Spain called the Voting Rights Treaty which allows this. I assume it is still valid in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

A bridge over the River Ter

I have long been frustrated by the lack of a foot crossing over the River Ter where I live in Celrà. The nearest crossing is either just beyond Flaçà or Saria de Ter which is almost part of Girona. In order to explore the other side of the river, I had to take a bus into Girona and then another bus out to St Julià de Ramis. The first time I did this, I took the wrong bus and, although the stop was called, "St Juilà de Ramis", it was miles away from where I wanted to go. The second time, I was much wiser.

There is a new attraction at Sant Julia, la Fortalesa. For many years there was an abandoned fort on a hill overlooking the river valley back to Girona. I drove up there many years ago. Then for about 5 years, there were two cranes operating on the site and now we can all see the result. There is a museum of jewellery, a restaurant and a luxury hotel and restaurant. It is an easy walk up from the Ajuntament of Sant Julià on the NIIa to la Fortalesa. 

On my second visit to the other side of the river, I was looking for a possible site for a bridge but maybe there is not sufficient demand to justify the cost. The obvious location is a concrete roadway which stops abruptly at the river on the side of Celrà. Oh, the frustration, a few metres away is Medinyá. Well, it is not the most beautiful town in the world but directly opposite my bridge "site" is a path which, one way, leads to Figueres and the other direction to Sant Julià de Ramis and Sarria de Ter. I took the latter route and it was wonderful. It follows open land close to the river and next to the AP7 autoroute. Then there is a bridge over the River Terri and then a signposted walk by the river, with a number of signs showing typical wild-life in the region. I followed the path right down to the corner which is very close to the railway and the C66 road between Girona and Celrà. Then I followed the river back to the Ajuntament of Sant Julià de Ramis where I arrived in good time for a bus back to Girona.

the concrete roadway, from the Medinyà side (A)

another view of (A)

This is where I normally visit...(B) but from the Sant Julià side!

On the internet, I found a website which described how to build a suspension bridge. I contacted the guy who built it (he is in Seattle) and I bought his book. But when I sat down by the river crossing where the roadway ends, I though that it would be better as a cable-stayed bridge. It would be asymetrical getting most of its strength from the concrete.

it is crying out for a bridge!

This is my dream, to build this footbridge. I would use local tradesmen. There is even a source of cable because there is plenty of that in the overhead wires of the abandoned railway into the industrial estate. Maybe I will wait until we have our new Ajuntament, maybe Manel will be mayor! At the moment, the ruling party is the far-left CUP. We in the team want a village for everyone. We speak Spanish at our meetings which is great for me because I don't speak Catalan. I understand it reasonably well but I would have no idea how to construct a sentence.

Oh, I nearly forgot. Ad Mundi in the railway station in Girona has started selling my cards again!

Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Ukraine Part 2

I hope you are keeping up with this! At 8am on Wednesday 19th December, I arrived back  at Kyiv Airport after a 6 hour flight from Dubai desperate for a bed. Ligena Hotel to the rescue! I had booked a room during the day because I had decided to visit Marina in Kharkiv, then return to see Marta before returning to Spain. The hotel shuttle soon arrived and after breakfast I crashed into bed and slept about 2 hours, but very deeply. So, by the time I was ready to catch my flight to Kharkiv at 3pm, I felt fine. 
The actual flight time is about 40 minutes, Marina was working so I took an airport taxi to Hotel19 which is where I always stay when in Kharkiv. Marina came to see me later and we had a meal in the restaurant. Although part of the same organisation, the restaurant operates separately. Unfortunately, Marina left a plastic bag with her school books in the restaurant (she also teaches English) and we had a very difficult time getting it back. Next morning Marina asked if they had found it. Reply: no. On the morning of my departure next day, having checked with a taxi driver that she didn't leave it in his car, she asked again whether they had found her bag. The answer again was no. She left her phone number in case they found it. In the taxi going back to the airport, she received a phone call. Someone had taken it up to the hotel reception, not telling anyone. Obviously they realised whose bag it was because I was resident in the hotel. I never though to ask reception in the hotel as they are quite separate. To add insult to injury, two chocolate bars which were in the bag were missing. Marina gave them a hard time, I think. She takes these insults personally, as would I. Their security guy thought, "Hey, what good fortune, a reward for picking up the bag". I think I will not be staying at Hotel19 again.

Marina at Karavan Shopping Mall

I got ahead of myself because I spent the whole of Thursday in Kharkiv. We visited Karavan shopping mall (haha, yet another shopping mall), had some food and Marina headed off to give a private lesson. We met up again in the evening for a really nice meal here. There was a singer on the stage with a delicate voice, at first I thought it was Karaoke.

Next morning, Friday, at 11.30, I headed back to Kyiv. Marina stayed with me at the airport until I had to go through to check-in. At 1pm, I was back in Kyiv and this time, I took the train to the city centre. I had a light meal in the Ibis but did not check in, I was heading back to Nizhyn at 5pm. 
Marta met me at the station with Toli and we went back to the apartment via a supermarket where I paid for food and drink. Marta proudly showed me her new sofa-bed. So, no sleeping on the floor this time.
There is not much to tell you about my second weekend in Nizhyn, Marta offered an excursion back to Chernohiv but I was happy doing nothing, we cleaned the windows, just ordinary weekend jobs. Before I left, we fitted a large wall clock, where the numerals are fixed separately to the wall. On Saturday night, Marta and I went to a really nice restaurant about 10 minutes walk from her apartment. We got a little bit drunk on a bottle of wine and she instigated a snowball fight on the way back. I laughed so much that it hurt. What is more, I was so much in stitches that she clearly won the fight, I was unable to return her fire.

"I won!"
(Maybe you have guessed.... these photos were taken after the real event. I would not have risked my phone!)

On Sunday, we went for a light meal in another restaurant and I took this photo which I really like, partly due to the colours. 

So, I have almost come to the end of my Ukraine and Dubai story. I took the train back to Kyiv but I have already written about my journey back to Spain in my post, "A new Adventure".

Dubai again... but this time via Kyiv!

I have been to Dubai very many times in connection with my work in the UK. I had a client there, a large shopping mall with apartments above. That ended in 2000 when they rennovated the place and added a large extension. My 20 year old system was replaced too, it served them well. And at about that time, I retired anyway so I was not sad.
But this time, faced with a long cold December in Kyiv, I decided to go back yet another time. It was not expensive and the flight was 6 hours.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I arrived back from Nizhyn on Sunday evening and my flight to Dubai was at 7pm on Tuesday so I spent 2 pleasant nights in the Ibis Hotel by the railway station and, after a paid-for late checkout, took the Skybus to the airport. I arrived in Dubai at around 2.30am local time, took a taxi to the Ibis at World Trade Centre and crashed out. When I was installing my building management system in the shopping mall around 1980, we all stayed in "digs" very close to the World Trade Centre which is a white tower out towards Jebel Ali. Now it is dwarfed by all the new buildings along the (6 carriageway) road to Dubai Marina and onward to Abu Dhabi. One of the two Metro lines also follows the same route. And I chose World Trade Centre because it is mid-way between Deira which is where I stayed previously and the new shopping malls along the highway. I spent a lot of time travelling on the Metro, it was perfect.

He estado en Dubai muchas veces en relación con mi trabajo en el Reino Unido. Tenía un cliente allí, un gran centro comercial con apartamentos arriba. Eso terminó en el 2000 cuando renovaron el lugar y agregaron una gran extensión. Mi sistema de 20 años también fue reemplazado, les sirvió bien. Y en ese momento, me retiré de todos modos, así que no estaba triste.
Pero esta vez, ante un largo y frío mes de diciembre en Kiev, decidí volver otra vez. No fue caro y el vuelo fue de 6 horas.
Como mencioné en mi publicación anterior, regresé de Nizhyn el domingo por la noche y mi vuelo a Dubai fue a las 7 pm del martes, así que pasé 2 noches agradables en el Hotel Ibis junto a la estación de trenes y, después de un pago para salir tarde, Tomé el Skybus al aeropuerto. Llegué a Dubai a las 2.30 am hora local, tomé un taxi hasta el Ibis en el World Trade Center y fui directamente a cama! Cuando instalé mi sistema de administración de edificios en el centro comercial alrededor de 1980, todos los ingenieros quedamos en cuartos muy cerca del World Trade Center, que es una torre blanca hacia Jebel Ali. Ahora está empequeñecido por todos los edificios nuevos a lo largo de la carretera (6 de la calzada) a Dubai Marina y luego a Abu Dhabi. Una de las dos líneas de Metro también sigue la misma ruta. Y elegí el World Trade Center porque está a medio camino entre Deira, que es donde me alojé anteriormente y los nuevos centros comerciales a lo largo de la carretera. Pasé mucho tiempo viajando en el metro, estaba perfecto!

World Trade Centre district
I woke at 9am, had some breakfast and headed out to explore. I took the Metro to Deira and bought a SIM for my phone. I visited a shopping mall, bought some food for the fridge in Carrefour (very big in Dubai!) I can't remember what I did for the rest of the day but it was great to be back in my old haunts. Deira hasn't changed very much, all the big changes are along the highway and Metro line.
I discovered the hotel pool which was actually shared with the Novotel just down the road. I often took a walk down there. On one occasion, there were three girls speaking either Russian or Ukrainian but one was wearing a tanga which even made me blush. Effectively nothing at the rear, maybe there was a kind of string but I couldn't see it. I looked very hard (actually this is a joke, I found it ugly and decided to move). Maybe someone should have pointed out that Dubai etiquette extends to hotel pools also. I was embarrassed on account of the location, at the free beach where I go during the summer, she would have been overdressed and I would have had no problem with it!
The hotel bar had a Cuban theme and the three girls working there were Cuban so I could chat with them in Spanish. The price for a large beer during happy hour was about €5 but was double that after 8pm. There were dance classes which I loved, particularly Salsa on my last night (in fact I went directly to the airport afterwards). This video is of the teacher dancing Kizomba with a friend of his, she was a singer. Kizomba originates in Angola but is popular in Latin America.

Me desperté a las 9 am, desayuné y salí para explorar. Tomé el metro hasta Deira y compré una tarjeta SIM para mi teléfono. Visité un centro comercial, compré algo de comida para la nevera en Carrefour (¡muy grande en Dubai!) No puedo recordar lo que hice durante el resto del día, pero fue genial volver a mis viejos lugares. Deira no ha cambiado mucho, todos los grandes cambios se producen a lo largo de la carretera y la línea de metro.

Descubrí la piscina del hotel, que en realidad fue compartida con el Novotel justo al final de la calle. A menudo salía a caminar por allí. En una ocasión, tres chicas hablaban ruso o ucraniano, pero una llevaba un tanga que incluso me hizo sonrojar. Efectivamente nada en la parte trasera, tal vez había una especie de cuerda pero no podía verla. Miré muy duro (en realidad esto es una broma, lo encontré feo y decidí moverme). Tal vez alguien debería haber señalado que la etiqueta de Dubai también se extiende a las piscinas de los hoteles. Me sentí avergonzada por la ubicación, en la playa "libre" a la que voy durante el verano, ella habría llevado puesto demasiado (inglés: over-dressed) y yo no habría tenido ningún problema con eso!

El bar del hotel tenía una temática cubana y las tres chicas que trabajaban allí eran cubanas, por lo que pude conversar con ellas en español. El precio de una cerveza grande durante la hora feliz fue de aproximadamente 5 €, pero fue el doble después de las 8 pm. Hubo clases de baile que me encantaron, especialmente Salsa en mi última noche (de hecho, fui directamente al aeropuerto después). Este video es de la maestra bailando Kizomba con un amigo suyo, ella era una cantante. Kizomba se origina en Angola, pero es popular en América Latina.

Generally Dubai is very expensive if one wants to maintain the alcohol habit because that means eating and drinking in the hotels, but go dry and it is not expensive. There are lots of cheap places to eat in Deira.

En general, Dubai es muy costoso si uno quiere mantener el hábito del alcohol porque eso significa comer y beber en los hoteles, pero secarse (no tomar alcohol!) y Dubai no es caro. Hay muchos lugares baratos para comer en Deira.

Kite Beach.
If you look closely, right in the centre is the gleaming spire of Burj Khalifa

my last night in Dubai

I visited Jumeira Beach near Dubai Marina and on my last day, took the hotel shuttle to Kite Beach. I spent lots of time in shopping malls so I didn't return with a sun tan. In any case, although the temperature was around 28c, the sun is not very strong at this time of year.

Visité la playa de Jumeira cerca del puerto deportivo de Dubai y, en mi último día, tomé el servicio de traslado del hotel a Kite Beach. Pasé mucho tiempo en centros comerciales, así que no regresé con un bronceado. En cualquier caso, aunque la temperatura era de alrededor de 28 ° C, el sol no es muy fuerte en esta época del año.
Jumeira Beach
 I went up Burj Khalifa!

Some people were putting their phones up against the open slot which you can see in the photo to get a clear picture. I asked one of the attendants if anyone had ever dropped their phone through the slot. It is a very long way down, death for the phone and also for anyone under it! I definitely do not have a head for heights, I was glad to get down. The glass is very thick but it does nothing to prevent that very odd feeling of wanting to jump out into space!

Algunas personas colocaron sus teléfonos en la ranura abierta que se puede ver en la foto para obtener una imagen clara. Le pregunté a uno de los asistentes si alguien había dejado caer su teléfono a través de la ranura. Es un largo camino hacia abajo, ¡la muerte para el teléfono y también para cualquier persona debajo de él! Definitivamente no tengo cabeza para las alturas, me alegré de bajar. El vidrio es muy grueso, pero no hace nada para evitar esa extraña sensación de querer saltar al espacio!

I visited the Gold Souk and bought presents for my friends. Most of the gold there is 18ct and I made a note of the price and weight of the pendants I bought. In Ukraine, only 14ct is sold as far as I could see, and it was more expensive per gram than 18ct in Dubai! 

Visité el Gold Souk y compré regalos para mis amigos. La mayor parte del oro allí es 18ct y tomé nota del precio y el peso de los colgantes que compré. En Ucrania, solo se vende 14ct por lo que pude ver, ¡y era más caro por gramo que 18ct en Dubai!

The Dubai Gold Souk

Starbucks? Nooo!

My final night in Dubai was Tuesday 18th with a Salsa class in the bar. I then went to the airport by Metro at about 10.30pm and used my Privilege card to check into the executive lounge. I had some food and wine and waited for my flight back to Kyiv at 3am. I felt very tired of course but after one day back in Ukraine, I was fine. I will tell you about Ukraine Part 2 in my next post!

Mi última noche en Dubai fue el martes 18 con una clase de salsa en el bar. Luego fui al aeropuerto en Metro alrededor de las 10.30 pm y usé mi tarjeta Privilege para ingresar al salón ejecutivo. Tomé algo de comida y vino y esperé mi vuelo de regreso a Kiev a las 3 am. Por supuesto, me sentí muy cansado, pero después de un día en Ucrania, estaba bien. ¡Te contaré sobre Ucrania Parte 2 en mi próximo post!

Ukraine Part 1

I wrote in my previous post about arriving back in Barcelona after about 3 weeks away. I left home on 7th December and arrived back on Christmas Eve but I felt as though I had been away for longer.
My journey to Kyiv on the 7th was uneventful and I have made the same journey many times! I catch a bus at 8.15am from my village and travel by high-speed train from Girona to Barcelona, then I take the airport train. The flight to Kyiv is at 1.30pm.
On arrival at Kyiv Boryspil Airport, I took the Sky Bus to the central station and checked into the Ibis hotel next to the station. I hope you are not getting bored!

 Escribí en mi publicación anterior sobre el regreso a Barcelona después de unas 3 semanas. Salí de casa el 7 de diciembre y regresé la Nochebuena, pero sentí como si hubiera estado lejos por más tiempo.

Mi viaje a Kiev el día 7 transcurrió sin incidentes y he hecho el mismo viaje muchas veces! Tomo un autobús a las 8.15am de mi pueblo y viajo en tren de alta velocidad de Girona a Barcelona, luego tomo el tren del aeropuerto. El vuelo a Kiev es a las 13:30 h.

Al llegar al aeropuerto de Kyiv Boryspil, tomé el Sky Bus hasta la estación central y me registré en el hotel Ibis al lado de la estación. Espero que no te aburras!

I had breakfast at Puzata Xata which is a chain of cafeterias in Ukraine. The breakfast was something in the order of €3. The confectionery shop, Roshen had a seasonal window display. Roshen which has a chain of shops is the company of Petro Poroshenko, the President of Ukraine.

Desayuné en Puzata Xata, que es una cadena de cafeterías en Ucrania. El desayuno era algo del orden de 3 €. La tienda de confitería, Roshen tenía un escaparate de temporada. Roshen, que tiene una cadena de tiendas, es la compañía de Petro Poroshenko, el presidente de Ucrania.

Next morning, I took a train at 10am to Nizhyn where my friend Marta lives. She has a new apartment and parts of it were still being finished (you can see that in the photo below!) She picked me up at the station with her friend Toli (Anotoli) in his car and we all went back to her apartment.

Por la mañana siguiente, tomé un tren a las 10 am a Nizhyn, donde vive mi amiga Marta. Ella tiene un apartamento nuevo y partes de él aún estaban siendo terminadas (puedes verlo en la foto de abajo). Me recogió en la estación con su amiga Toli (Anotoli) en su auto y todos regresamos a su apartamento.

Their plan was to go to Chernihiv (Чернігів) to choose a table for the kitchen but they had very little success, I was happy because I found a perfect warm jacket to replace the one I brought with me. When later I wrote to Marina to say where we had been, I got the name of the city wrong and she wrote back, "Chernobil??" It is not far away because the "Cher--" part is the name is the region.
The journey was about 100km which took us quite a long time by road so we arrived back early evening and Toli left us to go to work (he drives trucks, often during the night). Marta wanted to put me up in her apartment but she was still waiting delivery of a sofa-bed so we went to what to me seems to be the only hotel in town (I stayed there before). Unfortunately she had overlooked to book a room and they were full. As we walked out dejected, a large group of children arrived!
I had a look in Booking.com and found a hotel 20km out of town. "I will take a taxi, stay the night and come come next morning," I offered. This was not acceptable for Marta, she felt responsible for me and I was touched, of course. She phoned Toli who came back with his car and we drove around town looking without success for somewhere where I could stay. By now it was about 8pm and I didn't know where I would be spending the night. Marta and Toli chatted between themselves in Ukrainian (naturally) and she said something about sleeping on the floor. 
The next part was really strange. We drove up to steel doors and a guy opened them for Toli. We drove slowly past huge trucks in the gloom and I guessed this was his base. For a moment, I felt outside my comfort zone but it passed rapidly. We parked the car and Marta and Toli got out and left me there. After a few minutes, the rear door opened. I expected to hear, "Welcome Mr Bond, we have been expecting you." But instead, they threw in a load of bedding. Now I understood. This was for Marta who was to sleep on the floor, I was to have the luxury of her bed.
Our next stop was a supermarket where they left me in the car. They returned with fish and beer and wine. The evening was looking up! We had a super evening in the apartment with supper and then Toli left us to go back to work, I guess. Toli doesn't speak English but with Marta as interpreter and much sign-language and the inevitable.. "Mesi... Barça.. Tottenham.. " we had lots of fun.
So, that is how it ended up. Marta on the floor with bedding which we had desperately tried to dry out because it was rather damp, and me in her huge bed. She has underfloor heating so she said that she was very comfortable but I didn't believe her. 
On Sunday we went looking for tables in Nizhyn. We went to one store which was very dreary and one table they showed us was really wobbly. The sales guy tried to reassure us by leaning forward on his arms on the table to stabilise it. Then we went to another small shop without success until I discovered a room which they had never seen on previous visits. We found the perfect table and chairs, so I was the hero of the hour. Toli called up one of his friends (White van man, we say in English) and we were soon installing the table and chairs in the kitchen. And immediately we put them to use with some lunch!

A la mañana siguiente, tomé un tren a las 10 am a Nizhyn, donde vive mi amiga Marta. Ella tiene un apartamento nuevo y partes de él aún estaban siendo terminadas (puedes verlo en la foto de abajo). Me recogió en la estación con su amiga Toli (Anotoli) en su auto y todos regresamos a su apartamento.

Su plan era ir a Chernihiv (ернігів) para elegir una mesa para la cocina pero tuvieron muy poco éxito, me sentí feliz porque encontré una chaqueta cálida perfecta para reemplazar la que traje conmigo. Cuando más tarde le escribí a Marina para decirle dónde habíamos estado, entendí mal el nombre de la ciudad y ella me contestó: "¿Chernobil?" No está lejos porque la parte "Cher--" es el nombre es la región.

El viaje fue de aproximadamente 100 km, lo que nos llevó bastante tiempo por carretera, así que llegamos temprano por la noche y Toli nos dejó para ir a trabajar (conduce camiones, a menudo durante la noche). Marta quería alojarme en su apartamento, pero seguía esperando la entrega de un sofá cama, así que fuimos a lo que, para mí, parece ser el único hotel de la ciudad (me alojé allí antes). Desafortunadamente ella había pasado por alto para reservar una habitación y estaban llenos. Cuando salimos abatidos, ¡llegó un gran grupo de niños!

Eché un vistazo en Booking.com y encontré un hotel a 20 km de la ciudad. "Tomaré un taxi, pasaré la noche y vendré a la mañana siguiente", le ofrecí. Esto no era aceptable para Marta, ella se sentía responsable de mí y me conmovió, por supuesto. Telefoneó a Toli, quien regresó con su auto, y manejamos por la ciudad en busca de un lugar donde pudiera quedarme. Ya eran las 8 de la tarde y no sabía dónde pasaría la noche. Marta y Toli conversaron entre ellas en ucraniano (naturalmente) y ella dijo algo sobre dormir en el suelo.

La siguiente parte fue realmente extraña. Condujimos hasta las puertas de acero y un chico las abrió para Toli. Pasamos lentamente por enormes camiones en la penumbra y supuse que esta era su base. Por un momento, me sentí fuera de mi zona de confort, pero pasó rápidamente. Aparcamos el coche y Marta y Toli salieron y me dejaron allí. Después de unos minutos, la puerta trasera se abrió. Esperaba escuchar: "Bienvenido, señor Bond, lo hemos estado esperando". Pero en cambio, tiraron en una carga de ropa de cama. Ahora entiendo. Esto era para Marta que iba a dormir en el piso, yo debía tener el lujo de su cama.

Nuestra siguiente parada fue en un supermercado donde me dejaron en el coche. Volvieron con pescado y cerveza y vino. La tarde estaba mirando hacia arriba! Tuvimos una noche estupenda en el apartamento con la cena y luego Toli nos dejó para volver al trabajo, supongo. Toli no habla inglés, pero con Marta como intérprete y mucho lenguaje de señas y lo inevitable ... "Mesi ... Barça ... Tottenham ..." nos divertimos mucho.

Entonces, así es como terminó. Marta en el suelo con la ropa de cama que habíamos intentado secar desesperadamente porque estaba bastante húmeda, y yo en su enorme cama. Ella tiene calefacción por suelo radiante, así que dijo que estaba muy cómoda, pero no le creí.

El domingo fuimos a buscar mesas en Nizhyn. Fuimos a una tienda que era muy triste y una mesa que nos mostraron era muy inestable. El vendedor trató de tranquilizarnos inclinándose sobre sus brazos sobre la mesa para estabilizarlo. Luego fuimos a otra pequeña tienda sin éxito hasta que descubrí una habitación que nunca habían visto en visitas anteriores. Encontramos la mesa y las sillas perfectas, así que fui el héroe de la hora. Toli llamó a uno de sus amigos (White van man, decimos en inglés) y pronto instalamos la mesa y las sillas en la cocina. ¡Y enseguida los ponemos en uso con algún almuerzo!

Marta likes black!

In the afternoon I went with Marta to get photocopies for her English class the next day. She teaches English in State and private schools. And then at 7pm I took the train back to Kyiv. I left my suitcase with her because my plan was to go to Dubai with cabin baggage only and come back again to see her a second time. This time, hopefully with a sofa-bed for me.

Por la tarde fui con Marta para obtener fotocopias para su clase de inglés al día siguiente. Ella enseña inglés en escuelas estatales y privadas. Y luego, a las 7 de la tarde, tomé el tren de regreso a Kiev. Dejé mi maleta con ella porque mi plan era ir solo a Dubai con el equipaje de la cabina y volver para verla por segunda vez. Esta vez, ojalá con un sofá cama para mí!

My next post is about Dubai!