Archive for July, 2010

Barcelona Travel Log — Day 4 — And that’s when I got molested…

No Comments

Today started like any other, who knew by the end of the day, one of us would be less innocent than he was when the day began. They always say life changing events happen on otherwise normal days and today was no different.

To make up for a heavy day of walking the day before, we decided to sleep in a bit today and catch breakfast just before it closed up. Despite the late rise, we were still moving pretty slow and didn’t end up leaving the hotel until well after 11.

Cue the dramatics.

We decided today would be our “History Day,” comprised of museums and art galleries important to Barcelona’s history and subsequent future. The first stop was the Barcelona History Museum, focusing on the early days of Barcelona, which required a quick jaunt through the La Rambla Catalunya. Up until this point, we had not set foot in La Rambla and were a bit tentative to do so given the large crowds and apparent “Please pick-pocket me” vibe the place gave off. For a cool museum though, we decided to be brave.

Just as Jeff stepped off the bus, we discovered he had a date with destiny. As he began to make his way off the bus ramp, an older woman of unknown origin and ethnicity started walking toward him, reaching out. At first, Jeff thought she was going to try and grab the joystick on his chair and when she instead grabbed his arm, he was relieved. This relief would quickly turn to horror, as she began stroking his arm seductively before grabbing his head and planting a huge wet kiss on his cheek. After sharing this beautiful moment, she walked away, disappearing into the crowd without saying a single word. Asked later, Jeff explained the only thought going through his head was “Well, this is happening, I can’t stop it, let’s hope it’s over soon.” Clara and Melody had a much different reaction, barely stifling their laughter until we got to an alley way where they burst out laughing for a solid 5 minutes. Jeff thinks they peed their pants a little. Jeff also wishes he could blame it on his raw animal magnitism or how great he is with the ladies, but frankly, it was creepy, weird and beyond words.

Wait, what if she put a curse on him?!?! Do Spanish women do the kiss of death?? Beso de la meurte??

Jeff and Clara navigating the narrow alleys of the Gothic Quarter

The kissing woman was surely hiding in every dark alley

After gathering our composure and making sure we hadn’t been robbed in the process, we were onward to the history museum. As it turns out, all of the museums we decided to visit today were in the Gothic Quarter, presenting us with something a bit more like “Europe” that we see in movies; narrow pathways, cobble-stone roads, and a ton of little shops offering both awesome and terrible merchandise. This was also our first experience with really, really dense crowds (composed mostly of tourists), which was interesting.

As stated earlier, our first stop of the day was the  Barcelona History Museum, which featured some of the original ruins of Barcino, the city modern day Barcelona was literally built upon. It was neat seeing the foundations of the old city and hearing about the ancient culture. We learned that all the people of Barcino did was make garum, some sort of paste out of fish guts, and drink a ton of wine. All in all, an admirable existence. Following this historical look, the museum was also showing a very cool exhibit about the modernization of Barcelona in the 1890s, which the city-planner in Jeff found extremely interesting. Loser.

We spent an extremely long time at the museum, because there was so much to see, that we decided to have a late lunch before heading over to the Picasso Museum. After wandering around the narrow roads of the Gothic Quarter, we finally found a cute little tapas bar that featured an unplanned and unintentionally hilarious Segway exhibition before the tourists heading out on a tour around the Gothic Quarter. Nothing says “mug me!!” in Barcelona like riding around on a Segway.

If yesterday was the day of inaccessibility, today was the day of giving thanks to the disabled gods. Much like the Sagrada, the Picasso Museum offered Jeff free admission and reduced rates for both Clara and Melody and they let us skip the line. Good, because Jeff doesn’t do lines. The museum was quite interesting, although there were some cringe-worthy moments when Jeff and Clara snickered at some of the lewd drawings. Melody is much more mature than we are.

Clara wrote "www.cripz.ca" on the wallpaper in the Design Hub

Hola to our friends at the Design Hub.

If Picasso wasn’t enough, we decided to finish out the day with a trip to the Disseny Hub, which featured some very cool exhibits on design work being done in Barcelona. One such exhibit was on the evolution of wallpaper, which despite how it might sound, was quite engaging. Our favourite part was the “interactive” section, which Clara branded for us nicely.

Alas, the day was finally beginning to catch up with Clara and Melody and it was time to pack it in. After strolling through the Placa Catalunya and struggling to find a bus home, we finally made it back in time for a quick bite from a local bar and head back to our room to relax and plan tomorrow.

Clara and Melody are probably beginning to wish they too had wheelchairs.

– Jeff and Clara

Travel Log - Barcelona

Today started like any other, who knew by the end of the day, one of us would be less innocent than he was when the day began. They always say life changing events happen on otherwise normal days and today was no different. To make up for a heavy day of walking the day before, […]

Read More

Potty Mouth

No Comments
Potty Mouth

Click to enlarge

Ever notice how people act totally different once a wheelchair shows up? I’ve seen it all, everything from people talking loudly and slowly so my simple little brain can understand what they’re saying to people who stop swearing around me to protect my precious virgin ears.

In that vein, this episode is dedicated to anyone with a disability whose avoided a serious ass-whopping because they’re disabled.

Perhaps, it’s also dedicated to those who still beat the crap out of someone, even though they were disabled.

Ever notice how people act totally different once a wheelchair shows up? I’ve seen it all, everything from people talking loudly and slowly so my simple little brain can understand what they’re saying to people who stop swearing around me to protect my precious virgin ears. In that vein, this episode is dedicated to anyone […]

Read More

Barcelona Travel Log — Day 3 — This Gaudi guy is pretty good

No Comments

Ugh. It was tough getting up this morning. Today marks the first (and hopefully last) day where we almost missed breakfast. Jeff was moving at a glacial pace this morning after our late arrive to the hotel and his tossing and turning most of the night. Hey jet lag, bugger off!

In the end, we got a bit of good news–a fully charged chair! Yep, the charger is still operation, so for the record, Air Canada didn’t smash the charger, just the fuse that connects the charger port to the battery. Bill is in the mail, jerks.

Rear entrance of the Sagrada Familia, under construction

Sagrada Familia. Hopefully completed before the second coming of Christ.

Today’s plan was to drop off the borrowed charger, try and hit the Sagrada again and then venture off to some other Gaudi masterpieces. The line wasn’t quite as bad for the Sagrada this morning, but still over an hour, and Jeff doesn’t wait in line for NOBODY. First lesson of travel to Barcelona–Learn Catalin! Through Clara’s amazing catalin abilities, we managed to jump the line, get Jeff in free and somehow only pay 6 euro for Clara and Melody combined. We know, the math doesn’t make sense to us either, but who are we to complain? The Sagrada was absolutely overwhelming and picture don’t even begin to do the structure justice. Think of it this way, this massive structure was first designed in the early 1900s with construction beginning shortly there after: as of right now, they’re probably not even 75% finished construction. It’s just that big and that elaborate. Despite the absurdly long waits, this was a definite “must see” of the trip, if only for the sheer enormity of the experience. Westminster Abbey, eat your heart out.

After a lot of jaw dropping and several necessary picture takings, we decided to head over to another Gaudi mainstay in Barcelona, the Parc Guell. Although a bit of a trek from where we were staying (about an hour by bus), this giant park was definitely worth the trip. Much like the Sagrada, the park was filled with intricate and beautiful structures that pictures simply cannot do justice. The fusion of modern architecture and natural design was absolutely astonishing to look at. A quick note though, throughout the park were a series of street vendors, offering both cool souvenir and absolute trash, all for a nominal fee. Several of these vendors have perfected the art of chirping like birds…really, really annoying birds. Some of them even talk using these ridiculously high-pitched tones, urging people to come see their wares. After walking around the park and being passed by a police car, one of these vendors was gone. We can only hope he’s in a Barcelona prison right now being tortured mercilessly. They do that here, right? If you’re not in America, you’re in the third world. U-S-A! U-S-A!

Some amazing sites at Parc Guell

Gaudi makes your back yard look like a joke, suckah.

This was, unfortunately, were we began to have our first accessibility problems. Although there were parts of the Park and the Sagrada that Jeff could visit, most of these attractions were unaccessible, with either stairs at the entrance or doorways that were simply too small to access.

After dinner, we tried to visit Casa Batllo, only to find Jeff’s chair wouldn’t fit in the elevator. If your wheelchair is any wider than 26″ and is a standard North American adult electric wheelchair, you will not get very far in many of these Gaudi venues, despite them being listed as “adapted.” Having said that, Jeff had a great time sipping a pint outside and marveling at the exterior of the buildings while Clara ventured inside for a closer look.

Finally, we stopped in RIGHT before closing time to see the museum of a local artist named Tapies and the exhibit was very, very cool. Everyone seems really helpful and willing to do everything they can to make the locations accessible, sometimes there’s just nothing they can do without massive renovation.

Hopefully we’ll have better luck in the next few days, as we begin hitting some of the bigger museums and art galleries.

Also, we’ve become great friends with a local cafe owner, who claimed his english was “perfecto” in catalan. Why say your english is good in a different language? Because your english is actually really weak. Oh well, he’s great fun and makes delicious coissants–what more could we want?

– Jeff and Clara

Travel Log - Barcelona

Ugh. It was tough getting up this morning. Today marks the first (and hopefully last) day where we almost missed breakfast. Jeff was moving at a glacial pace this morning after our late arrive to the hotel and his tossing and turning most of the night. Hey jet lag, bugger off! In the end, we […]

Read More

Barcelona Travel Log — Day 2 — “I can too beat jet la..zzzzzzzzz”

No Comments

Jeff here. Despite what everyone said, Jeff managed to sleep the whooooole night last night without any problem. Jeff was absolutely dead to the world.

After such a huge sleep, it was finally time to tackle the battery charger problem. Before coming to Barcelona, I found a website dedicated to accessibility here and included on that website was a link to a company called “Cosmo Scooters,” who rent accessible scooters to tourists. After playing a bit of phone tag, we finally connected with their staff and they confirmed they would have a scooter charger that should work with my wheelchair–great success!

Before heading to the scooter shop, we decided to head downstairs and have a delicious breakfast, courtesy of the hotel. Breakie was fantastic and, much like Jeff’s trip to Britain, is sure to become his favourite morning activity. With full bellies and heightened optimism, we decided it was time to face the world and find that battery charger. With Clara’s expert navigatory skills, we found the place without any problems and that’s when the real fun began. As it turns out, Jeff’s battery charger is fine, the real problem lies with the wheelchair. Remember when the staff at Pearson “figured it out”? It appears as though they removed the circuit breaker that connects the charging port to the battery, leaving the plug unable to accept a charge. Luckily, this chair has a second charger port on the controller, which uses a different breaker to give power to the batteries. The guy at Cosmo Scooter was extremely helpful and even let us borrow his charger for the night just to make sure we were good to go before renting one.

Because we were in the area, we decided it would be a good idea to go check out the Sagrada Familia, but unfortunately the line was way, way too long. And when we say too long, we mean nearly around the massive building twice. Instead, we found a cafe right beside the Sagrada and after some tapas and Fanta (a new favourite of Jeff’s) we decided to head back to the hotel to charge the chair, which was pretty close to dying at this point.

Jeff was feeling pretty tired at this point, so the obvious decision was to lay down for a quick nap. Said nap quickly became a full on sleep, proving that Jeff is, in fact, terrible at beating jet lag. Waking up around 8pm, we decided there wasn’t really time to do much of anything too educational, meaning it was time to go find a place to drink. Given that we’re from Canada, the place we decided to check out a bar called IceBarcelona, which is constructed wholly of ice and requires special jackets to sustain the -4 degrees temperature inside. The patio of the bar was accessible, which gave us hope, but after inquiring we were shown the 1-foot drop inside the front door.

The TV at IceBarcelona, showing video downloaded from the Internet

Yep, even bars love bittorrent. This version of "Life" had dutch subtitles. Interesting.

Arg. After a quick pow-wow with Melody, we decided to leave the electric wheelchair behind the bar and simply sit Jeff in a chair. Awesome. Ice bar, here we come! Turns out we’re the only ones stupid enough to enter a bar made of ice in the middle of summer, as we were the only people in the bar. Strangely, the next group of people to enter after us included another man in a wheelchair. Looks like Monday is “Handi-night” at IceBarcelona. All in all, the experience was pretty cool (no pun intended) and certainly something to check out, if only to see the pirated copies of National Geographic’s series “Life” or “Ice Age 3” playing on the TV (as per photographic evidence).

Clara and Jeff surrounded by ice at IceBarcelona

Greetings from Cana...lona?

After the bar, and a bathroom break at the hospital featuring accessible washrooms that we found down the block from the bar, we were off to find our way home on the “Night Busses” that run in Barcelona. As it turns out, the bus schedules are completely different at night, although it’s still fairly easy to get around. A note should be made that someone here goes around to ever bus stop and changes all of the paper schedules from the day busses to the night busses. Not seeing that type of commitment from you, LTC. It was a bit dicey and confusing, but we eventually arrived home safe and sound, ready for bed.

Now we just need to see what type of shinanigans we get into tomorrow. Adios!

– Jeff and Clara

Travel Log - Barcelona

Jeff here. Despite what everyone said, Jeff managed to sleep the whooooole night last night without any problem. Jeff was absolutely dead to the world. After such a huge sleep, it was finally time to tackle the battery charger problem. Before coming to Barcelona, I found a website dedicated to accessibility here and included on […]

Read More

Barcelona Travel Log — Day 1 — Jeff Sucks At Beating Jet Lag

No Comments

As we were sitting here watching a brutally attacked man reach for corks on a shelf on a television soap opera we don’t understand, we decided to write a little blog post about how our trip is so far.

Things got off to a bad start for Jefferoo when the flight attendant came to his seat and asked “how do we remove the motor from your wheelchair?” After Jeff nearly fainted, Melody (Jeff’s aid) was sent to the cockpit to encourage them to maybe not dismantle the poor chair. With some frantic negotiation, a cryptic message of “nevermind, we figured it out” was transmitted and Jeff was left to worry about what they could have possibly done to his mobility for the next two weeks.

Otherwise, the flight was fine, despite the fact that Jeff didn’t get to watch How To Train Your Dragon like Clara and her How To Train Your Dragon Fanboy Father (seriously, it was his favourite movie since Apocalypto also howbout that wife abuse/racism, Mel?)

By far the best part of the trip so far for Jeff was coming through security and seeing Clara come running to meet him.  (Honestly, I, Clara, didn’t even write that without his permission).  Jeff’s backup plan if Clara hadn’t been there was to pretend he was one of the people whose name was written on one of those signs cab drivers et al. carry at arrival gates, and hope for the best.  Who knows, maybe Jeff would be on his way to see the king right now.  Instead, he has some girlfriend who won’t let him sleep because goddamnit he won’t become accustomed to the time difference for DAYS at this rate.

Also, we should point out that while Air Canada did not remove the motor of Jeff’s chair they did manage to bend both armrests and the head rest, as well as apparently smash the battery charger.

That’s right folks, for those of you keeping track, Jeff is now 0 for 2 in European vacations and functional battery chargers.  So, much like in Britain two years ago, our first day together where Jeff actually gets out of bed will be spent hunting down a new charger or whatever.  Sigh.

Otherwise, the day has been quite lovely, and Jeff is blown away by how beautiful this city is.  Clara is blown away by how much Jeff can sleep (sigh).  The hotel is great, and we can’t wait to start actually leaving it.  However, Jeff will probably spend most of our time in the city asleep if today is any indication.

Anyway, peace out y’all and hope all is well in Internet-land. Cheers,

– Clara and Jeff

Travel Log - Barcelona

As we were sitting here watching a brutally attacked man reach for corks on a shelf on a television soap opera we don’t understand, we decided to write a little blog post about how our trip is so far. Things got off to a bad start for Jefferoo when the flight attendant came to his […]

Read More

Barcelona or bust

No Comments

Today’s the big day, my flight to Barcelona. The drive to the airport was quite interesting, as people kept honking at us and looking generally pissed off. After spending about an hour on the 401 thinking that everyone in Toronto was still a bit pissy about that whole G20 thing we discovered upon arrival that my right turn signal was burnt out. So, my apologies to all the helpful Torontonians who I mistook for a-holes.

After getting through security without any problems, except for spending some time explaining the giant pair of scissors my mom put in my carry-on (looks like you won’t be getting those back mom), Melody and I are now relaxing in the terminal, awaiting our flight. Also, I failed the 24h Clock challenge: my flight is at 6:00 and not 4:00. Oh well, less time in the plane and more time laughing at the $35 copy of the first Twilight book the better.

Next time you hear from us, I’ll be with Clara in Barcelona!

Adios 🙂

Today’s the big day, my flight to Barcelona. The drive to the airport was quite interesting, as people kept honking at us and looking generally pissed off. After spending about an hour on the 401 thinking that everyone in Toronto was still a bit pissy about that whole G20 thing we discovered upon arrival that […]

Read More

Celeb for a day

1 Comment

Today was the 15th annual Jeff Preston Celebrity Golf Tournament. Yea, I have a golf tournament named after me…it’s humbling, embarrassing, and brag-worthy all at the same time. For the third year in a row, the skies opened up and poured rain on the little community of Saugeen Shores the night before the tournament, only to treat us to near-perfect weather on the big day. Today wasn’t too hot, not very humid, and a nice breeze kept everything reasonable. I spent the day on the putting green, hanging out with Paralympian Josh Cassidy, Trish (my loving sister), Brenda (my god mother), and Mom. Not only did we officially leave the $1mil raised mark in the dust tonight, but this was also the very first year I’ve gone the entire day without a furious sun burn! Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, I’ll figure it out 14 years later and do something about it…for serious.

Rotary presenting Jeff and John Davidson with $10,000 chequeThe highlight of this year’s tournament, as always, was meeting up with old friends who have been coming out to this tournament every year since it began. It was pretty funny to look at some of the old pictures from tournaments past and notice how gray my dad’s hair has become and how not-cute I have become. Another high point for me was hanging out with John Davidson (of Jesse’s Journey fame) and Dr. Craig Campbell (of “curing everything” fame). When all was said and done, the tournament raised $10,000 for the Jesse’s Journey Foundation and $15,000 to support Dr. Campbell’s research into finding a cure. All in all, it was a hugely successful day.

Rotary presenting Jeff and Craig Campbell a $15,000 donationI just wanted to take this chance to thank, repeatedly, the staff of Saugeen Golf Course for yet another amazing year, the Rotarians who volunteer every year and make this thing happen, the organizing committee who ensured this year was another success, Fred Wallace for MCing the event and relentlessly attacking former-Mayor Mark Kramer, former-Mayor Mark Kramer for being a good sport and a great Rotary president, Duncan Hawthorne and Bruce Power for all of their support, Buzz Hargrove and the CAW for always coming to my rescue, all of the sponsors for the Silent and Live Auction, all of the celebrities for taking time out of their busy lives to be a part of this tournament, and all of the golfers that take time off work to hit the links for a good cause.

With your help, we will stop Muscular Dystrophy from taking the lives of more great Canadians like Jesse Davidson.

Today was the 15th annual Jeff Preston Celebrity Golf Tournament. Yea, I have a golf tournament named after me…it’s humbling, embarrassing, and brag-worthy all at the same time. For the third year in a row, the skies opened up and poured rain on the little community of Saugeen Shores the night before the tournament, only to […]

Read More

The Sickness

No Comments
The Sickness

Click to enlarge

Back with another comic, right on schedule! I’ve been busy preparing for my presentation tomorrow at Ignite London. Speaking of which, if you’re around tomorrow night you should come by Gigs Grillhouse on Talbot and see me speak! I’m up first, which will make my impending failure that much more spectacular.

Come watch the fireworks!

The Sickness

Back with another comic, right on schedule! I’ve been busy preparing for my presentation tomorrow at Ignite London. Speaking of which, if you’re around tomorrow night you should come by Gigs Grillhouse on Talbot and see me speak! I’m up first, which will make my impending failure that much more spectacular. Come watch the fireworks!

Read More

Go see “Time To Put My Socks On” or else!

No Comments

Just a heads up that a fabulous show starring disabled comedian Alan Shain is on TONIGHT in Ottawa at the Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre studio. The show is apparently fantastic, so says a savvy reviewer here. If you’re in Ottawa and looking for a gay ol’ night on the town, head over and see a professional at the top of his game.

Just a heads up that a fabulous show starring disabled comedian Alan Shain is on TONIGHT in Ottawa at the Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre studio. The show is apparently fantastic, so says a savvy reviewer here. If you’re in Ottawa and looking for a gay ol’ night on the town, head over and see a […]

Read More

Welcome to Flavour Country

No Comments
Welcome to Flavour Country

Click to enlarge

Howdy sports fans, it’s Jeff here flying solo. It’s almost been a week since Clara left and I miss her. Kurzweil misses her too, he keeps tugging to go to her house when we’re out on our nightly walks. Anyway, another week another comic. It seems like it’s been a long time since the last one, guess I’ve had a busy few days.

Today’s comic is dedicated to all the hard working teachers out there who don’t lose their cool (or their sanity) with all those brats they teach: you guys and gals are all saints in my books!

Welcome to Flavour Country

Howdy sports fans, it’s Jeff here flying solo. It’s almost been a week since Clara left and I miss her. Kurzweil misses her too, he keeps tugging to go to her house when we’re out on our nightly walks. Anyway, another week another comic. It seems like it’s been a long time since the last […]

Read More