It’s All About the People

September 21, 2011 Category :Christian's Rant 2

Once again, the last handful of days have been this crazy, somewhat foggy whirlwind of a ride.  It’s funny how this place has grasped (might be the first time I’ve ever used that word) both of us so firmly.

Before we came out to Barcelona, a friend of mine asked me a simple question, ‘can you tell me what is it about Barcelona that makes it such an amazing city for you?’  He had just come back from a Mediterranean cruise.  I thought he was questioning my decision to pick Barcelona as our home for the coming years.  What he was saying was that he simply couldn’t quite put his finger on what it was that made him feel so good about the place.

Since then, I have been constantly asking myself that question.  It has really gotten in my head.  He’s right, there is no one single thing, like the weather, or the food, or the beach, or the women.  I have been wanting to say it’s all those things and a bunch more piled up into a ball.  But it seems like more than that.

Halle has been making plenty of friends at school and seems a bit aloof about getting some of them together for social events.  The, ‘I forgot to get her phone number!’ line has been spewing out of her mouth a lot.  I think she has been used to me handling the initial contact in the past and now it’s all up to her.  Spoon feeding the growing up process has turned to a fire hose around here. And despite regular miscues, she’s shoveling as much as she can in and asking for more.  Despite having a few wonderful sets of friends back home, of which she had the opportunity to video chat with on Sunday, she is working on a great set here as well.  It was just a matter of time.

I do think though that her positive exterior is showing a tiny bit of wear and that I would be lying if I didn’t think she missed things a bit.  As I run around here, trying to build our life, seemingly ignoring her at every turn, I am constantly checking her for the slightest signs.  It’s hard to tell whether she is just sometimes tired from the lack of sleep, or whether there is a bit of home sickness going on.  Probably both, if I’m being honest.

But if I really put the thought to it, she is probably just a little sick of having to have a 45 year old dad as her almost sole interaction.  Once she gets her friends cycling through her life and into her lifestyle, I will be long forgotten.  Here’s to that day.

For me, every day is an adjustment towards the new way.  I was running early in the morning a few days ago and realized the comment from a bunch of my friends that nobody wakes until 10AM around here was a blatant lie.  This place is more like Vegas than Maui.  This city never sleeps – and 8AM is no exception.  From our location at the beach, I can beeline my way directly away from the beach and end up in the hills in about 5 miles.  It is relatively flat and gradually increases to a steep trail climb.  But, I have to get through traffic to get there, and I mean tons of it.  There’s no sleeping with anyone.  They are all up and either in their cars, scooters, or on foot, heading to wherever it is they seem to be going.  Once again, with one real thing missing; anger.  Just a million ants sent to task, each playing a part in a greater good, and determined to play their part without pissing anyone off.

Ohhh, and the cafes.  Every third store is a cafe.  Seriously.  When people say the food is great, I have figured out why that is so.  I have the answer.  Ready?  Competition.  That’s it.  There are so many damn people making food and drink, it has to be good if they want to stay in business.  If not, I’ll simply go next door, or the next door, and the one after that.  But, once again, most of the good cafes have one basic component, good people.

My real weakness in coming here had to be the language.  I have always been weak in language.  Somehow, through my travels, I have been able to get by without having to really sink my teeth into the language.  That’s the primary reason we picked two years or more for our stay.  No escaping it now.

I’ve figured out one thing in learning the language.  People here to serve are really tolerant of my crappy mix of Spanish and Catalan. If you didn’t know, both Spanish and a freakish border hopping language called Catalan are spoken freely and exclusively around here.  English is around, but more rare than you would think being such a large tourist spot.  I’m not sure if this is a good thing, but as I am essentially learning both at the same time, I can’t really tell the difference.  I have a feeling that when I come back…let me re-phrase that, IF I come back (sorry Cara), people are going to give me a dog’s twisted head look when I speak Spanish to them.  And they’ll all say the same thing to themselves, ‘what the hell did he just say?’

Oh yeah, the people that are not here to serve (ie. government type folks, and those that couldn’t care less whether I exist or not) are NOT really tolerant of my language skills.  As such, I have found the need for advisors, translators, and agents.  I have found a couple of people that in and of themselves are wonderful people.  But, as I have designated them with the sole purpose of helping me communicate, I am reserving more personal experiences for later, when I get a few things done.

Sergio has acted as my ‘oh shit! I can’t understand a word this guy’s saying!  Quick! Call Sergio!’ guy.  And he has taken to the role quite kindly.  Despite being a super cool guy, I must admit, it’s all business right now.

Mireia is that wonderful lawyer I met recently who is helping, no, guiding me through the legal process around here.  As I try to figure out how exactly to stay here, rent an apartment, buy a scooter, buy a car, etc, there are certain steps you must go through to have the necessary paperwork, ID numbers, official stamps, bar codes, and so on.  I figured I was just a dumbass and didn’t read the instruction manual.  It turns out, nobody has it.  If fact, I don’t know that anyone has ever written one.  But people like Mireia, and there are very few like her on this earth, instinctually know how to navigate their way through the constantly changing process.  But she has one special quality that makes her better than anyone; she truly loves what she does – and it shows.

She is one of those people I want to just give a big hug to the second I see her.  I figure I am just going to owe her one any minute now and that’s usually the case.

OK, so I’m the master, frugal, over-thinking, gotta get the best deal shopper around, right?  Most know that.  Imagine me starting over in a foreign country with all new stuff to buy.  I left nearly everything behind.  Liberating, but now time consuming.  Ouch, the brain cramps I get these days are gnarly.  Turns out, what I think is the best scooter for the price out there may be different from the next guy, but I’m happy.  The Aprilia SportCity One 125.  Italian made, not Japanese reliability, but style for days, a personality, and plenty of pony-like pep.  The place I attempted to buy it from yesterday – they didn’t speak one DAMN word of English.  Dude, not one.  Pain and frustration was forced out and patience and effort was in if I wanted this ‘moto’ as they call it.

Cash always works too.  There we were in a Mexican standoff.  ‘OK,’ I say.  ‘Me gusta, OK?’  ‘Si,’ he says. And we stare.  I’m screaming to myself, ‘now what?!?’  He’s screaming to himself, ‘now what?!?’  I know, call Sergio.  So I do.  I fill Sergio in on my plight, he offers to help me close the deal over the phone.  Trust me, the formalities and paperwork are going to be scary.  Before Sergio gets to talk with him, the guy decides he’s given up and moves on to someone else.  OK, patience.  That’s what this experience has been all about.  I decided to wait it out.  I have no other choice.  I headed to the bank and got CASH.  Like I said, cash works.  By the time I got back, I was armed with a cell phone of a Spanish/Catalan speaker in one hand, and a serious wad of cash in the other hand.

Done.  I am the proud owner of a brand new Aprilia moto complete with two brand new helmets and a bunch of cool addons.  Now the complication.  He keeps barking about me needing an ‘oficial direccion’.  WTF is that?  Sergio doesn’t know either.  Either way, it’s going to take a few days to get all the paperwork complete, so I have a day to figure it out.  Hah!  Mireia.

She just finished getting me my NIE today, and as I am walking out of the moto dealer, I get an email saying she just picked up my NIE and has it in her hand.  By the way, that’s an ID card you need to buy anything of significance.  Not so easy to come by if you are an English only gringo like myself.  Unless you have Mireia in your corner.  Then, instead of getting one (IF you get one) in 3-5 weeks, you get yours in THREE days.  Yeah baby.

So, fresh off the NIE victory with her, I asked her about an ‘oficial direccion’.  She says in an email, ‘meet me at the town hall’ at such ‘n such address tomorrow morning and ‘I will register your apartment with you so you are then officially registered with an address.  That’s what he’s asking for,’ she claims.  I guess I didn’t read that one in the manual either.

Either way, problem solved.  Moto owned.  Only with great, great people in my corner am I able to get this done.  I am fortunate in that, without them, we would certainly have been sent packing.  Instead, with my increased confidence, I am going to take on buying a car today.  This place rules.  By the time Halle’s mom and my buddies Jeff and Mike come next week, we’ll be completely hooked up.  Yeehaw.

I have a million other things to talk about, but this has already gone on way too long.  I got on a roll, sorry.  Tonight maybe I’ll write more.  There are more people to add to the list that are helping me through this maze; my next door neighbor Anna, the bar owners Dennis, Rimbo, and Eric, Halle’s busmate’s parents, and many more – each with great stories.  Some other time.

Pictures next time.  Sorry.

 

Our First Futbol Game (at home)

September 13, 2011 Category :Christian's Rant 12

It has been several days since my last post.  The last five days have been nearly without Internet and primary mobile phones.  Wow, how painful.  Last Thursday, we moved from our hotel to our new apartment.  We settled on location, location, location.  To get it out of the way, here are a few views from our front patio.

The inside of the apartment ain’t bad either.  We really did score.  I have to say though that it was NOT easy.  And it still isn’t.  The constant struggle with my horrible Spanish up against horrible English has led me down many wrong paths.  But, somehow we always seem to end up on the right one.

After moving into the apartment, we started with question #1, “now what?”.  Furniture.  IKEA.  Thursday night, we had nothing. We headed there 15 minutes before closing, found a couple of pads, two blankets, and a couple pillows.  We were determined to sleep in our very own apartment.  So we did.  I am passing over the horrible experience we had at a local electronics store other than to say that we spent hours there, headed to the counter to pay, then were stopped because I didn’t have my passport.  Damn.

But, Friday after a four hour night’s sleep, Halle’s off to school with some joke of a makeshift lunch and I’m left to try to figure out what’s next.  No Internet, an expired prepaid mobile phone, and the keys to our apartment.  Ouch.  I headed back to the electronics store to haggle out the disaster from the night before.  This time I brought cash.  You don’t need a friggin’ passport for that.  It’s always a pleasure to bust out a Fred Flinstone wad of cash out of your pocket to pay for an entire apartment’s worth of electronics; fridge, washer/dryer, laser printer, 50″ plasma, computer components, phones, speakers, and much more.  Somehow, I managed to get them to deliver it all on Saturday morning.  Problem solved.

Off to IKEA for a quick recon, then back to the apartment to size more up.  Amongst other things, Friday night was dedicated to figuring out the non-functioning water heater (cold showers suck) and a bunch more in preparation for what will be a marathon Saturday.

OK, so IKEA is friggin’ gnarly on a weekday in Barcelona.  We chose Saturday at 10:30AM to do our big huge day – not the brightest maneuver.  But, I can say cattle going to slaughter are way less crowded and way more comfortable than we were.  It was complete and uncensored anxiety.  SEVEN hours later, we are standing at the transport section with seven full carts piled high with furniture.  Three bedrooms, two bathrooms, kitchen, office, and living room all accounted for.  We managed to get them to deliver same day.  Yeehaw.  The only catch (there’s always a catch), if we wanted the furniture today, there would be no installation.  Yep, myself and Swedish IKEA manuals are going to have a good time together over the next few days.

But nothing can replace the first night in your brand new bed complete with starched out unwashed sheets, no headboard (yet), nor any other furniture in the room.  But it sure was nice.  As this entire trip has been a bit more winging it than I had planned, but kind of knew it would end up like, the little things that normally go unnoticed become magnified.  But, sometimes I don’t notice what a gem of a child I have as my copilot.

A few words about Halle.  It’s really hard to explain what a teammate she is in all of this.  No matter how stressed out I become, no matter how impatient I am, no matter how I am constantly trying to prove to her that she is only 11 years old, she just keeps on coming.  She simply helps, works, grinds, studies, eats whatever garbage I force on her, takes her lumps and says “thanks”.  Seriously, it’s one of those choke-me-up moments.  She honestly truly seems to simply LOVE being here.  And last night, as I’m cranking out another IKEA special, I’m looking across the living room out my french doors to the patio giggling and saying, “why would I ever want to leave here?”  She seems to feel exactly the same way.

We have definitely made the right choice.

Monday night came Internet access.  Ohhhh, what a treasure that is.  I have my life of communication back and with that I can start the first days of the rest of our lives.  I relentlessly reminded Halle of this day as I hoped it would approach.  As we still have a ton of work to do, the simple act of being “connected” brings immeasurable relief.  OK, whatever, nerd.  Let’s talk about the location again.

Halle and I discovered on Friday night and Saturday night where exactly we now live.  Dead center in the club zone.  Actually, we are away from the absolute craziness of it all, but we are right there.  We took a leisurely stroll along the strip at about 11PM-ish and, whoa.  I made a comment to Halle that a couple of my friends might not actually survive one night.  She laughed loudly and proceeded to nail the two guys I was thinking about.  Classic.

Oh yeah, to protect our future here, I must be a little vague about this next bit, but after meeting with our *second* lawyer to help us navigate all of the legal, social, and economic requirements of simply packing the hell up, bailing a perfectly good city, and plopping our gringo asses onto a foreign beach, tonight, we finally feel really really good about our future here.  Basically put, things don’t always go as planned, especially when it’s my plan.  My ability to navigate my way through the self-inflicted chaos I create is what I consider one thing that separates me from most.  And, I seriously succeeded in busting out a gnarly can of chaos this time.

But, things are looking really good and I can’t wait to host a few of you at a time over the next couple of years.  You will arrive and leave with a huge smile.  Halle and I tote ours around everywhere with us now.

I don’t want to bust out any pictures of the pad just yet as it is not done being IKEAified, but we were squeezing in a very quick dinner in one of the million outdoor eateries within two feet of our apartment so we could get back to our first night at the TV to watch our first FC Barcelona Futbol match LIVE on TV.  Everywhere in the city, TV sets have the game on, but we wanted this one in our new living room.  So, we did.  AWESOME.  Really.  I don’t know what it is…

 

I Suck at Spanish

September 6, 2011 Category :Christian's Rant 3

OK, it’s not THAT bad.  The last couple of days, as I navigate my way through the myriad of complicated policies and procedures, have only been made tougher with my self imposed language gap.  To top that, I am really trying to insist on not using too much English.  To be honest though, most people respond when I say “mi Espanol es muy malo” with “mi English es equalmente”.  In other words, their English sucks as bad as my Spanish.  I appreciate that despite the fact that I am in their country, they treat it as though we are all in this together.

Halle has had a couple of days of totally new discovery as she started school on Monday.  I am totally relieved that she loves the school, has made a bunch of new friends, and is even confident enough to test the dress code a little.  Short-shorts aren’t just for Americans.  She’s not alone in testing the “arm straight down on your side…your shorts or skirt should be at the tip of your finger” rule.

She is also equally as excited about taking the bus for the first time tomorrow.  Day 3, not bad.  A friend she met gets on the bus as the same stop, the end of the line by the way.  That’s what we get for wanting to be in Vila Olimpica.  It’s nice to know though that she has friends on similar paths.

My life has been complete craziness the last two days.  I feel like I am this blindingly bright ball of plasma barreling down every street juggling shiny orbs of complicated tasks as I try to conquer everything all at the exact same time.  Used car, used scooters, used bikes, apartment rental, rental car, hotel room, VoIP phones, Internet access, US-based ultra expensive mobile phones, Barcelona mobile phones, IKEA, resident VISAs, driving to and from school, taxes due on the 15th, and last but not least – training for the toughest ultramarathon I have ever run.  Yes, my running is suffering a bit, but I ‘m trying to line up errands and then run the course, popping in and out of the locations with increasingly sweaty clothes and what I’m sure is increasingly stinky B.O.

If I were writing a book, I could dedicate nearly a chapter to each task.  But, this is a (friggin’) blog.  I don’t have to.  I just give the highlights.

Apartment hunting on Monday went OK – not as planned.  I am looking for 3 bedrooms/2 bathrooms or more.  The first one was very nice, ultra modern.  Too small.  We just couldn’t handle it.  By the way, Halle has had a very important voice in the decision making.  Apartment two, great location, plenty of space, but very tired inside.  I felt like I was renting an apartment for college or something.  I feel like I have earned better if you know what I mean. 

We headed home in the evening very distraught.  We were expecting to move into something by Wednesday and now we are back where we started.  Anxiety is filling our space, mostly generated by me through the dreaded swear words in nearly every sentence.  It could be just me describing my meal and a swear word would creep in.  I notice when I get filled with anxiety, the f-bombs and s-bombs come flying out at shorter intervals.  Halle has noticed and has started calling me on it. 

So, we got back to our tiny little hotel room and I started pounding away at the Internet opening up new doors with all of my new experience.  Voila!  A bunch more leads.  I attacked with a combination of Google Translate, my own Spanish, and occasionally blatant English sending out emails to four or five places.

Today, I followed up.  An appointment to see one tomorrow, check.  Saw one today.  If I saw it yesterday, I would have jumped all over it.  And to the agent, I did.  But in both mine and Halle’s minds, we are hoping for one of the leads I explored last night.  This place is at the top of the list.  Furnished, no less.  No trips to IKEA.  No agency, private owner.  But, there’s the caveat.  I emailed and I called.  She answered.  Uh-oh, her English doesn’t suck, it doesn’t exist!  Somehow we construct that she can speak to me in three hours and that she will call.  Yahoo!!!  It’s still available!  Three hours later, no call.  So I called back.  Maybe not a bright idea.  This time in pure high speed Spanish, I make out that she will call ME when SHE is ready.  Oops.  I send another email a few hours later, nothing.  Damn. 

My last resort is to either finally pull a lifeline and have someone who speaks Spanish call her or wait for her to contact me.  Maybe I make one final try to call her myself.  If it goes away, the one that we already like, we will be very happy with.  But, there will always be that “what if”.  I hate that.

So, the rest of the night was filled with the mad search for an Orange mobile phone store.  They seem to have gone Internet only but all the Google and Bing maps say otherwise.  As well, we had to negotiate an El Corte Ingles, Spain’s number one department store (by far),to get some more supplies for Halle.  Then get a quick dinner as we speed-walked the few miles back to the hotel with Halle clutching her side trying to keep up.  I’m sorry, my sweet understanding precious little girl, it will slow down, I promise.

And again here I am banging away at a pile of emails, projects, thirty thousand open browser windows, and the whole time Halle is passed out three feet from my chattering hands.  All the while, hoping that the “ding” of another email is the property owner up late finally getting to me.  Sorry, nope.

Tomorrow is another day…

P.S. Sorry, no pictures today.

The Calm Before the Storm

September 4, 2011 Category :Christian's Rant 3

Although frantic, Halle and I have been trying to treat this last weekend like the final vacation weekend before school starts.  Truth is, it’s really hard to treat this entire adventure like anything other than a vacation.  Barcelona is one great big tourist attraction unlike any other place in the world.  Wherever you look there is historical architecture staring you in the face.  Sorry, we were too lazy to take any cheezy pictures of us standing next to the Arc de Triumph or a million some-odd Gaudi acid-induced creations.  But, instead I finally took two seconds and took Halle’s picture on the beach in another of our quick afternoon sand and sea excursions.

8788

As it seems every day, the boardwalk was crowded with languages and customs from around the world, live music on a massive stage on one of the harbor inlets, and the wonderful smell of tasty food, suntan lotion, and salty sea flowing at our feet (ie. no waves, dammit).

The last couple of days were also filled with errands, lots of errands.  I read about the lack of stores open on Sundays, but when we needed more school supplies and living stuff, it was a shocker how stringent the policy was.  I mean not a SINGLE store that wasn’t dedicated to food and beverage sales was open.  Everything else – shut.  What seemed like millions of tourists, and all they could say to themselves was “All this walking around must be really nice when the stores are open!”  It was strange, but rules are rules, I guess.

Another shocker was, despite the fact that I have been doing it all week, it is illegal to run without a shirt on.  OK, most that know me from running rarely see me with a shirt on when I run.  I headed out yesterday morning and a security guard at our hotel stops me and says that I will receive a ticket if I do not wear a shirt while running.  I was stunned.  I checked with the girls at the front desk and they verified, although they toned down the level of concern quite a bit.  It seems that the government considers shirtless and most likely smelly drunk dudes stumbling through the streets offensive.  So, runners and everyone without a shirts on not hanging out on the beach get lumped in with the true offenders.  Personally I would rather see the government ban smoking on the streets.  Talk about pollution. Regardless, I wore a damn shirt.  Time to go buy some good running shirts.

Tomorrow is a huge day with Halle’s first day of school and a “first day of the rest of my life” type of day myself.  Fortunately, the great kid that she is, she is absolutely thrilled about her first day.  For me, figuring out the used car situation, hitting up the Immigration office to get our long term VISA paperwork going, getting a long run in (prep for the Spartathlon at the end of the month), and most importantly, checking out a few apartments to live in should fill the majority of the day quite nicely.  To end the day, we’ll probably head over to IKEA to purchase most of our furniture.

Alright, down to the laundry facilities to fold away…

Nite.

PS. Oh yeah, we made HUGE progress on our communications arrangements.  Some of you have already been getting calls from us using US phone numbers and the such.  Within a few days, we should be fully connected with FREE phone communications (including video for those of you equipped) to all of our US friends and also to what should be plenty of Spanish and European friends.  We’ll keep you posted once things are working smoothly.

Today was a big day

September 3, 2011 Category :Christian's Rant 2

Last night, Halle and I had another late dinner, watched a little mindless foreign language tv and hit the hay.  We were to have a big day ahead of us starting with Halle’s orientation at 9:30AM at her new school. 

As it seems to be daily now, my confidence in the day quickly turns to panic and doubt as soon as the lights go out.  It has been happening for weeks now and certainly has been amplified since we arrived in Barcelona.  And I mean a wallop of thoughts like, “what was I thinking?!?”, “oh my god, what have I left?”, and “is it all going to work out?”  These are all big huge questions with an 11 year-old putting all of her trust in me.  And they are weighing big on my soul.  I offloaded a bunch of work onto my computer keyboard until about 5(ish)AM and took another crack at a couple of hours sleep.

I awoke with a quick look at my watch and screamed “F$$$$K!!!  Halle get up!  It’s 10:15!”  Uh oh.  The very first day at the first most important meeting for the next two years of Halle’s life and the meeting already started 45 minutes ago.  I really screwed this up.  “Get ready fast!”, I screamed.  We were out of the hotel in 5 minutes.  Into the rental car and racing through the streets of Barcelona we go.

To preface, the last couple of days has been a huge mind bender just trying to get used to the confusing signs, the myriad of one-way NARROW streets and freeways that just seem to make no sense.  Two days ago, a 20 minute drive home took almost 2 hours.  I swear, I must have made every single wrong turn and missed every interchange possible.  It was miserable.  To make sure I didn’t make us late to the orientation, we took a dry run drive to the school yesterday, and it too was filled with confusion and relative disaster.

But today, in the height of panic, it all went well.  Every turn precise, every decision the right one.  The 30 minute drive from our hotel took only 20 minutes.  I even improvised a little shortcut.  It’s funny how my brain really works well when the pressure is on.  I don’t have any excuses for the rest of the time.

As luck would have it, the first 90 minutes was all fluff and “get to know you” kind of stuff.  The real meat and potatoes started just as we arrived.  Those that cared, understood our plight and quickly got us up to speed.  WOW, what a great school.  It is hard to put into words that feeling you get when you know something is simply great.  Multiply that times 10 and you have this moment.

On a roll, we left the school at about 12 noon and headed into the city where we have targeted to live – Vila Olympica.  Look it up.  Awesome place.  Barcelona is broken up into a bunch of good sized barrios (suburbs) where most of what you see and hear about is piled up in the center – and I mean PILED.  The center (Born, Gotica, and Barceloneta) is tight, crowded, and chaotic.  The rest of the puzzle pieces become much more comfortable as you go further away. 

barrios

Don’t get me wrong, the center is where it all goes down, but we both agreed that it was better to be very close, but not dead center.  So Vila Olympica it is.  Of course it is named after the Barcelona Olympics that came through town many years ago.  It is for the most part very modern and busy.

This entire city is busy.  Halle and I were walking the streets yesterday and I stopped and said, “where the hell are all these people going?!?”  I mean, really, where?  They’re a billion little ants marching in perfect harmony.  No bitching, no aggression, no anger.  That’s what it turns out to be so amazing about this city and it is becoming very obvious.  People just doing their thing.  Smiling, being nice, and moving fast.  Scooters weaving in and out of blazing fast traffic.  Every car jumping the light.  No horns, no middle fingers, just a functioning city squeezing the most it can out of itself.

And there I was fitting right in.  Today I found the flow and so did Halle.  Two days in and the anxiety is being replaced by excitement.  The confusion is being replaced by bad techno blaring out our car windows as we both fist pump down the street.

Ok, back to the Vila Olimpica.  Finding a place to live is not easy.  Online is never the way to get exactly what you want.  I believe you have to find the place and troll for opportunity.  Yesterday we trolled Vila Olimpica.  We got out of our car in several spots and walked the area.  We stumbled upon a tiny agency exactly were we want to be.  I walked in and tried to bust out my horrible Spanish only to be met with even more horrible English.  This is not going to go well.  But we both tried.  I don’t know what happened but I managed to get a phone number of a “Carlos” that would be able to speak English but would not be available until Monday.  Halle and I walked outside and I figured “WTF, let’s call”.  A guy only speaking Spanish answered the phone.  I tried, failed, and hung up.  I turned and walked back in and found out that Carlos was the guy I was speaking to.  Oops, don’t I feel stupid.  I hope I didn’t blow that one.

So today, we headed back to the same spot.  I don’t want to wait until Monday.  I want to do this now, dammit (as he sticks his chest out).  We headed back into the same office and there is Carlos on the phone.  We waited patiently until he finished.  We managed to communicate that the guy that I wanted to talk to could be reached right away via phone.  He gives me the number, I thanked him, I walked outside, and called.

The guy on the phone is awesome.  We see eye-to-eye.  He knows what I want.  We arrange to view three bitchen 3 bedroom 2 bath flats on Monday afternoon.  The price for each is way better than what I was prepared to pay – with one drawback…no furniture.  Ouch.  I quickly did the math on my phone, set a budget based on what I expected to pay minus what I will have to pay times 24 months.  I have a pretty good budget for furniture.  At the end of our time, I might even get good money for the furniture.  Bonus!  We end the phone call with an agreement in principal and the terms pretty well set.  We will see flats on Monday, pick one, and move in on Wednesday.  Now the easy part; getting a bank account, getting a Spanish phone number, assessing furniture – by Monday afternoon.

OK, where does one look for furniture in such short notice and one place that I can furnish an entire 3 bedroom flat?  Of course, IKEA.  Yep, Barcelona has one and we are off to it.  10 minutes away.  Done.  Once we size up the place we want on Monday, we will head back over there, buy the furniture we saw today, have it delivered, and hire some poor Spanish schmuk to build it all.  Apparently there are no shortage of them.  Sucker.

Bank account, handled.  La Caixa, one on nearly every street corner.  They don’t mind my cash.  Done in 20 minutes.

Spanish phone number?  Oh yeah, handled before I left for Barcelona.  Velocity managed to get me a real Barcelona phone number attached to my VoIP phone.  All I have to do is figure out how to configure it all and I’m set.

We did a bunch more shopping for school supplies and other electronic needs and headed back to our hotel in Castelldefels.  An hour on the beach, out to dinner, back to the room and, dammit, I can’t sleep.  It’s 4:30am and I’m writing this stupid blog nobody’s gonna read.  I GOTTA get some sleep.

twintowers

See these twin towers?  That should be our view from our balcony on Wednesday.  Seriously STOKED!

Good night (well, morning).

Testing…

September 2, 2011 Category :Uncategorized 1

I will fill in prior day’s content later.