Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Jeff & Lindsley in Barcelona!

I have to say that visiting with family and friends in Europe is one of the things I love the most about living in France. It’s the combination of people we love in a place that we love . . . who could ask for better? Not to mention that it’s absolutely surreal.

“I spent the weekend in Barcelona with my uncle and aunt, so we could see Jeff perform in a world-famous play.”

Seriously – does that sound surreal or not? Does that sound as far removed from my life in Santa Cruz as you could ever possibly imagine . . . or is it even beyond imagining?! I know it is for me! Three years ago, I never would have believed those words would pass through my lips. Now – we are living it!!

Okay – you probably tuned in to hear more than me waxing poetic about my current dream life. LOL

We had an absolutely fantastic weekend with Jeff & Linds!! The only disappointment was how short our visit was. We spent a fleeting 27 hours with them, but it was amazing!

We arrived at Le Meridien hotel on La Rambla in Barcelona around 1:45pm. We were 45 minutes late due to navigational difficulties (story of our lives abroad, right?!). Luckily, VJ & Linds are patient and didn’t give up on us. Yay! After lots of hugs and kisses, our Master Guide of Barcelona – Jeff – led us through the streets to the famous restaurant 4 Gats. Apparently, this restaurant is famous due to its patronage of old . . . Gaudi, politicians, etc., and it has been featured in movies.

Allow me to digress into a sidebar here. My uncle Jeff, screen name VJ, is an actor. Yay! You have seen him in such films as Million Dollar Baby, Indiana Jones 4, Flags of Our Fathers, to name a few, and such TV shows as The Shield, 24, Cold Case, etc.

Jeff is also a stage performer, and he is a member of The Actors’ Gang. The Actors’ Gang has toured amazing places performing “1984” (yes, based on the George Orwell book) and “Embedded”. Currently, they are performing in Spain. They started in Madrid, moved on to Barcelona, and then to Bilbao. In past years, they have been to Hong Kong, Beijing, Australia, London, New York, Greece . . . As I said – amazing places!! Jeff said that they always have sold out shows abroad because of the international interest in the story of “1984”. It’s absolutely fantastic! More about the play in a moment . . .

Here’s a link to some V.J. Foster factoids . . . and more great pictures!


As we sat in 4 Gats, enjoying the terrific ambience and the company, it was so cool to listen to Jeff and Lindsley. Apparently, the night before, after the performance, everyone had planned to go to dinner at 4 Gats – reservations were made, everyone was looking forward to it, etc. However . . . (drum roll for those of us not initiated to the “Hollywood” experience), their director, Tim Robbins, did not want to eat at a “touristy” restaurant. Jeff and Linds just call him Tim, since they are friends. For me and Mike, it’s cool to hear Jeff & Linds be so blasé.

So, anyway, Tim Robbins recently won a major acting award for a Spanish film he starred in, and everywhere he goes in Spain, people recognize him and flock around with cameras, etc. Thus, Tim did not want to eat at 4 Gats. His loss was our gain because it was very entertaining! And, no, we did not see Tim Robbins. He had flown home the day before for Susan’s birthday. Who is Susan, you ask? That would be Susan Sarandon, famous actress and wife of Tim Robbins.

Unfortunately, I did not have my camera!! Can you believe that? Remember I said that we were 45 minutes late due to navigational difficulties (my nice way of saying we were lost!)? Well, I left my camera in the car about 30 minutes walk from the hotel. When we finally found Jeff & Linds, I was not going to walk back to the darned car. I will have to get some pictures from Linds – she took a lot!

Here is a photo from the web . . .

Here’s a link to the restaurant's super-cool website: http://www.4gats.com/

We all enjoyed a great lunch, along with a delicious wine ordered by Mike, who loves to sample yummy regional wines. It was a nice way to begin the visit!

After lunch, our Barcelona Guide (aka Jeff), led us to the Roman wall in the heart of the old town and a beautiful old church. Jeff was great! He and Linds had been in Barcelona for 5 days already, and he was armed with a map, and he led us perfectly from one site to another. I wish I had that talent!! You would think that by now, I would be good at navigating.

My favorite part was just being with them, chatting, eating gelato, experiencing Barcelona! As we wandered back to the hotel, we again crossed La Rambla. For my Santa Cruz native friends, La Rambla is like the Pacific Garden Mall before the earthquake . . . but on steroids!! It is a pedestrian strip that spans at least a mile, and it is lined on both sides with street vendors (on the sidewalk) and restaurants, hotels, and stores on both sides of the street. The street vendors sell everything from jewelry to touristy junk to roosters and chickens and parakeets to flowers and plants. There are also lots of human statues . . . people in ornate costumes and makeup who only move when someone places money in their donation hat. Some of them are really cool! La Rambla is a great place to stroll. It is also thronged with people speaking in every language you can imagine. It is spectacular! And, it was right outside our hotel. Wow!

By now, it was time for Jeff to prepare for the performance. He had two in a row, so it was going to be a busy night for him. We would see him next on stage. I was so excited that I felt like a little kid waiting to go to Disneyland!

Because 1984 is so intense, Lindsley was kind enough to volunteer to hang out with Max and Josey while Mike and I watched the play. They were off to shop, eat more ice cream, and do in-room manicures.

Mike and I entered the theater (which was literally right around the corner from the hotel, right on La Rambla), and I was impressed immediately by the size of the venue. It was huge! We settled into our great seats (row 8, right in the center of the row), and started speculating on how all of these “foreigners” were going to understand the dialog in the play! Turns out that they project the subtitles above the stage set, and it works very well.

The play was spectacular, dark – but spectacular! The cast consists of only 6 actors, and it has a very strong impact. I could ramble on and on about the play, but really, the best part for me was watching Jeff on stage. He was amazing – really. That is not family loyalty speaking. The whole cast was incredible . . . I left with my skin crawling, looking around for cameras controlled by Big Brother, and now my innate suspicion and distrust of government is even stronger!!

For those of you who want a real review:


And here is a link to a 1984 program with lots of cool information:


After the performance, we got to hang out with Jeff outside the theater for a few minutes – before he had to prepare for the second show. Lindsley & the kids met up with us, then we were off for dinner . . . at almost 10:00pm!

Important reminder (to myself and anyone else who needs to know): Never eat at a restaurant on the main strip, unless you have received a personal recommendation from someone you know and trust.

The next morning, we started off wandering the artisan fair next to the hotel and looking for a café for breakfast. Our family was up much earlier than Jeff & Linds, so we had some time to kill. The kids were fascinated by the blacksmith and the glass blower. I found a woman spinning yarn, but unfortunately, her sale yarn was not very exciting.

When we met up with Jeff & Linds, we decided to go to Tibidabo park. Wow – that was amazing, too! Tibidabo is an amusement park on the side of a mountain overlooking Barcelona. The setting is beautiful!

We started off with a delicious picnic, compliments of Sophie. Yay, Sophie! You are wonderful! She brought us 5 different French cheeses, a local French wine, and a local French dessert cracker to share with Jeff, Linds, and company. We sat in a little café and sipped wine while snacking on cheese and break and crackers with an amazing cathedral as our backdrop.

After lunch, we were off to the rides. Jeff, Dado, and the kids had a great time. Linds and I stayed on the ground and watched.

Check out Jeff’s expression here! He and Josey were together in this basket, which was “as tall as Jesus” according to Jeff. That means that they were as high up in the air as the Jesus statue on the church. LOL Apparently, when the basket rocked, it was a little unnerving. (Yes, that’s one of the reasons Linds and I stayed on the ground!)

Okay . . . after uploading this picture, you really can't see Jeff's expression! For better pics, see my Flickr acct:


Dado and I snuck off to see the cathedral while Jeff, Linds and the kids waited in a line. Wow, wow, wow! I know that Spanish art uses mosaics. However, I have never seen such exquisite beauty in a mosaic before this. The detail in these is simply awe-inspiring! I was so impressed by these mosaic pictures that it made me think of the Bernini statues we saw in Rome – obviously a different media, but just as beautiful and incredible. Way better than Dali!

Like I said in the beginning of this ridiculously long blog entry, our visit with Jeff and Linds was only 27 hours long. Wah! We had to head back home since it was a school night, and Jeff had an early performance followed by a flight to Bilbao.

We had such a great time!! Jeff & Lindsley, we love you! Thanks so much for being so entertaining! We hope there is some way you can make it back for another visit.

Love to all!

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