Sunday, December 31, 2006

L'auberge Espagnole

Updates will likely be skimpy for the coming week. It took me a couple of days to locate an internet cafe with wireless, as I'm not prone to sitting on shitty pay terminals with coin slots, and our flat here doesn't have internet access.

Our first night was mellow. After arriving from Malaga, we checked into our beautiful apartment in the Barri Gotíc and called beds and rooms, followed by the customary trip to the market to stock up on jamón and cheese. And bread. Ok, and a few other staples. Like wine.

Although it was a short flight, we were beat. So we kept things simple and stayed within a five block radius of the flat. Fortunately, there's almost everything within reach. Elena wanted new Adidas for her weary feet. Boom - Adidas store just up our street. J wanted to dig into some authentic Spanish paella. No problema - fantastic freakin' food around the corner. The restaurant happened to be near one of my favorite bars in Barcelona, Nooba, which has recently gone smoke-free, quite a revelation for a bar around here. However, my new favorite bar, is super smokey. And expensive. Sure, it lacks any sort of Spanish authenticity. It's called Manchester Bar, and they specialize in Britpop. Score!

Sarah and Spencer arrived on Saturday, and I went off to meet Jean-Michel from my company's Barcelona office for a couple of drinks. It was great to catch up with him, considering like most of my foreign counterparts, I only see them once a year. I met up with him at the market on the sea side of the gigantic Christopher Columbus statue at the end of the Ramblas. "Do you ride?" He handed me a helmet, I hopped on the back of his scooter, and had the quintessential ride through a short stretch of Barcelona. Now this is the way to get around town! Narrow streets? No problem. Gnarled traffic? What traffic?

"You might be cold on the bike..." I was wearing jeans, a shirt, and a suit jacket. Cold? By San Francisco standards, 50º heat is downright balmy! In fact, everyone around Barcelona looks at us like we're freaks. J, Elena and I have been walking around with nothing more than a couple of layers of shirts, while the locals are wearing winter coats, gloves, and ginormous scarves. I even saw one guy in ear muffs. Hell, even Sarah and Spencer, being from Los Angeles, are looking skimpy in regular autumn wear. Our heavy coats will come in handy when we get to Amsterdam, though, for sure.

In the meantime, we still have Barcelona to enjoy. It's early in the day on New Year's Eve. For the second day in a row, I've made an endive, goat cheese, and pistachio salad. I left it on the table for everyone to enjoy when they wake up, as I've stepped out to loacte this internet cafe.

Today will either involve shopping or doing touristy stuff. Shopping here is good. It isn't cheap, but there's all sorts of stuff you'll never see in the US. So I don't feel too bad about the €140 I blew on a pair of funky jeans. What I do feel bad about is that I forgot to notify my bank that I'm going overseas, and they've put a freeze on my account. I can't take out money, and it costs me a dollar a minute to call home and be on hold for hours and hours... So so far, I haven't unfrozen my account. This truly sucks.


  1. Find a locutorio (you can get a much better deal on calling home) and (if you only have 1-800 numbers for the bank) call home and have a relative threeway the bank.

    I was usually able to call home for 10 euro cents a minute.

    Sevilla is impressive, my favorite areas are Barrio Santa Cruz, the Alcazar/Cathedral area, and Plaza de Espana (<- that was in Star Wars)

    --Joey (tpunk)

  2. Thanks! I ended up finding a pay phone and called my bank collect ;) Unfortunately, all the locutorios were closed on Sunday.