Monday, June 11, 2012

Creepy Crawly...

So I have a fun story of what happened to me today. Quite the.... experience! 

Well basically I woke up at like 1:30 and lazed in bed for a bit before i moved much. when i got up i was a little dizzy but i didnt really think anything of it. so i moved around my room and i heard that sound that is kind of like when water is moving around in your ear, so i shook it like i was gonna get the water out. Then it started moving around in there and i didnt believe it at first. After about 2 minutes, plugging my ear and still hearing the sound i realized it was in there. So i looked online where i could go and started walking. First I went to the police station and the line was too long (I was going to ask them where I could go) then I walked to the hospital with the freakin thing crawling around on my eardrum. It was pretty close, i thought, and it only took me about 20 minuted to get to the first one. I got there and explained my situation and they said i have to go to the next window. So i went 2 doors down to the next window and waited for about 5 minutes before being told i had to go to a different hospital. 
Aye... So i walked over there and 15 min later and talked to the front desk person who said i had to go to a different hospital. Another one up the street. So I walked over there and tried to find the entrance for about 15 min. Once i found it, i went inside and explained m situation and the lady basically laughed at me. She asked if i saw it go in my ear.. yea because i have eyes in m ear, right? No, i said i was asleep and I can feel it right now. She got someone who spoke english because she didnt like my spanish and i explained it AGAIN to her and she didnt believe me either. She said that sometimes your ear does things like that. She said she can take me in but there was a 200€ base on top of whatever my bill charged up. So with all that filled out, she asked for my credit card and thats when I called Tawnya and Jenna because I didnt bring mine. She didnt have a card for me to use so they said i could come back later and that i needed to hand this form to the doctor and see how long the wait will be so i could go get the money while i was waiting. So i handed the form to the doc and he took me in right away. 
He asked me a few questions and then grabbed the thing to look in my ear and confirmed that I wasnt crazy and there was really a bug in there. So he took me into another room and told me he was going to pour alcohol in my ear to kill the bug so they can take it out otherwise it might try to hold on and hurt something. So he did that and left to call the ear doc. She came in about 10 min later and sucked the alcohol out of my ear with a vacuum thingy then sat me up. She said she was going to try to flush it out with some water. So she literally took a syringe and filled it with water, then shot it in my ear. Apparently the bug came out and she showed me this little tiny black bug no bigger than the head of a pin. Crazy how annoying something so small can be. So i went out front and they asked me what the real problem was. I told them I was right and there was a bug in there. (HA Take that freaking receptionists) So she told me that the doctors fee plus the base fee would come to a total of €250.95. AAAHHHHHH So i came home, got it, and came back. so today i spend, unwillingly, €255 because of the annoying atm fee too.

Aye, que asco! What an adventure i had today, after that was done, I stayed home and made me some dinner, talked to Alex for a while and now I'm sitting here typing and talking to my Awesome sister Hannah Garrison and trying to teach spanish to nicole...

Ok thats all for now! Talk to you soon

Hasta luego

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Fun times in Barcelona =]

I’m eating a Chirimoya as I write this (it’s an exotic fruit, well, exotic to the US, has a taste similar to yogurt with a gritty and slimy texture. Its good, though it doesn’t sound like it.) So yesterday (4/31) we woke up at about 12 and we met at Café Zuric in Plaza Catalunya to be on our way down Las Ramblas for the girls and Francesca. As Francesca and I got there, we were on the other side of the plaza so we had to walk around to the other side. We made it on time and managed to find them after about 10 minutes and started on our way. First they dragged me along to a shop that Christina had to exchange a jacket that was slightly too big. After that, we walked shop to shop to shop and looked at all kinds of girly things. Yay. But we were walking around in El Gotic which is the gothic quarter of Barcelona, so it was really cool! All the architecture there is so very old and amazing looking. One point of interest I want to say before I move out of the Gothic center is that we stopped at a store (I had stopped going inside at that point haha) that had a pad for girls that you insert in the back of your pants that gives you more butt, for those of you who lack it. It was the funniest thing hanging there in the window! It literally looked like a butt xD Here’s a picture! 

We wandered the streets for a while, taking pictures of awesome garage art, painters and people doing random street performances. As we continued on in our path, we wondered through a cathedral that I can’t seem to remember the name of at the moment, but I probably will later. Anyway, this cathedral was just like the other one I described, amazing stained glass, fantastic craftsmanship, and lots of holy people. I brought Fra through the church with Ele and they were in awe. As this was not my first one, I was not in such awe, but it was still amazing work. After we were finished with that, we went back out and walked around some more, went in some more stores and ended up splitting off with the group and Fra and I went to La Bocaria so she could see it in all its glory: and it was pretty awesome still. As we walked by the first station, I saw the tempting dragon fruits and needed to pick one up. So we did just that and also bought a chirimoya (the one I am eating at the moment) and a coconut! Let’s see if I can crack this thing and get to the goods inside haha. Anyway, we got some good pictures and here are a few of them:
After going to La Bocaria (which is like the Saturday market, for those of you who don’t know what that is either: it’s a like an open air warehouse that houses sellers with all kinds of goods but this one is mostly food) we went back home and got ready for our next adventure: paella. We made our way over to the stop Drassanus (dr-as-uh-nus) and waited there while the others traveled there. As we were waiting, I watched the Packies trying to sell their things to the passers-by and with no avail, they kept playing with their toys and tried to sell it to the next person. Their toys at night are these (really cool actually) things that they launch up in the air with a rubber band and they light up as they helicopter back down to the ground.
So they finally arrived and we went over to the restaurant and waited in line for our turn. I took a couple pictures of the lights and markets that were open on the street because it was just too good of an opportunity to pass up. We (Ele and I) went back to the line because our friends got a table and we ordered. Paella is only available for two people or more, but at 8 bucks, it’s really not that bad of a price, especially for paella in a fancy, sit-down restaurant. We all order the paella and it arrives about 20 minutes later. It was the most interesting looking dish I can say I have eaten before. I thought it was awesome looking though:
Yes that “shrimp” in the middle is gigantic. It’s probably about 8 inches long! The shrimp here are not prepared in any for eating (other than cooking of course). You have to de-shell, de-head, de-leg, and finally de-poop the things! That’s a lot of work for someone who just wants to pop it and eat it. Oh well, the huge one too much longer to do too. Overall though, I thought that paella was very good tasting! Also, I was able to try a dish that I had not expected to be trying that night: squid ink. It was interesting; they had me mix it with a spicy garlic butter which pretty-well masked the flavor of the ink. It was tasty enough though. After we all get about done, all of the sudden we hear Sara (sitting closest to the wall) scream and the whole line of people gets smashed towards each other. Everyone looks to what she is screaming about and there is a huge cockroach on the wall! All the rest of the girls scream and yell for me to come kill it. I laughed and watched them squirm for a bit while it crawled around on the wall. We waved a waitress over because she was closest; she took one look and did a 180 heel-turn and ran to get a waiter. He sauntered over and took one look and turned and high-tailed it outta there. They all kept telling me to “Get it, Get it!” so finally I got on the floor and started crawling after it! I took with me a napkin and my agent and my fist as a weapon. I first blinded it by throwing the napkin on it (a nice cloth napkin) and tried to smash it with a fist, but to no avail because it out smarted me and ran out from the napkin. I saw this and re-tried my tactic of blind-and-smash. This time it was a success because I managed to get the back-end of it and it was still crawling around. At that point all the girls were freaking out and moving away from the table as I walked around to the other side to get my prize. I bent down to get it and it was still trying to crawl away! Oh my goodness, the resilience of the cockroach. I decided it had had enough for a night and just picked it up in the napkin and gave it to the 4th waiter who came by to take it for the next day’s “Menu del Día”. After I hand over my prey to the chef, I get a round of applause from the whole restaurant, to my surprise. We finished eating and they didn’t offer us any sort of consolation (to everyone’s surprise) and we walked out with over a €100 bill.
Next on our list of things we did was to head over to a place called El gato negro which is a sports bar that happened to be PACKED. So packed, in fact, it was hard to get to the bathroom. We hung out there for a while and I tried a drink that was from Italy that was a lemon flavor. It was pretty tasty. After that we made our way to a different bar that was definitely a “native” bar. This one you had to ring the big city apartment style bell to get in, and go up to the 3rd floor to get in. Once you got in, it was such an experience! They had low lighting, and all over the walls they had pipes from different ages. They had the whole history of the pipe on their walls, pipes included! The whole place was such an experience to talk about. It was just a whole different feel than that of the regular bar.
When we finished there, we went to Apollo (now about 1 or 2 am) and stood in line for a good ten minutes before getting in. The guys who check the bags at the door pulled my water bottle out of Francessa’s bag and asked what this was. She said it was just water, and he threw the water out anyway. I thought it was funny. So we get inside and dance around for the whole rest of the night, until about 5:45 and take off. (That’s when the metros open up again).
Well I think I will sign off for this one, I hope this experience was an interesting one! Haha I sure thought it was. It’s such a different life that I am living here. I think it is definitely an experience to remember! OK, until next time!

Hasta Luego!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Classes, Glasses, and Masses

Hello again!
I have a lot to catch up on, as of right now I’m about a month behind, but that’s what happens when you are going out almost every night!  It’s hard to find time to just stop and write, but I know how much you all appreciate it. I have been doing a better job of keeping track of what I have been doing recently (it’s now may as I am talking about the end of April and beginning of May) So basically what I am going to do here is put a couple of the good highlights in of April, and then next I’ll move on to May. Honestly, I don’t remember a lot of what happened in April, so I will be doing a lot of referring to my pictures and Facebook to remind myself haha!
                To start off with where I left off, I had just found a place to live and was very happy about it. I love the location, I’m about a 30 min walk from the beach, or a 20 min metro,  5 minute walk from my school, I have a huge shopping center 5 minute walk from my house, and the metro is a 3 min walk from my house. Yea, I’m pretty well connected. Anyway class was starting on that coming Wednesday and we also had orientation on that Tuesday. As I was waiting for orientation day to arrive, I decided I wanted to go to the beach. None of my friends who came from Portland, Tawnya, Karina, Jenna, or Tonja, wanted to go so I decided I would just go by myself. So I did, and it was a lot of fun! I walked to the beach by myself, because I can, and took some good pictures of some work by Gaudi (who you all have looked up by now, yes? =D) along the way, and a few things I saw while I was there. Over all, it was a good trip, even though I was alone.
A few days later, I decided to go back to the beach by myself again. While I was there this time, I didn’t bring my camera or anything, I wish I had, but there was a lot of wind that day. The area of the beach that I was at is right next to a public harbor where they launch their private boats. So I mention the wind again because these boats are sail boats in Barcelona. They also have a very… inopportune set of rocks near the area where the boats leave the harbor. Some of you can see where this is going. This mid-sized boat comes floating out of the harbor and starts to put its sail up. As it does so, it immediately gets blown towards the direction of the rocks. They see this and promptly put it away, but the damage was already done. Their boat was moving, although slowly, towards the rocks. A lot of the people on the beach saw what was about to happen and stood up to watch. The people in the boat did everything they could to get their course off that of the rocks, but in the end, the water brought it right where it wanted it to go. It stayed there getting pulled away, and smashed back on the rocks for a good 10 minutes before shore safety came out in their rubber rafts to try to pull it off the rocks. They did their best, but at times it still wasn’t good enough as they were using only ropes. The wind pulled the main boat back to the rocks quickly at times and other times slowly. But about 20 minutes later, and about 20 crashes back onto the rocks, the safety crew finally got the boat off the rocks and pulled it limping into the harbor. Someone’s day was ruined. So after that I wanted to have a little fun. I looked around behind me and I found a bunch of guys who were playing volleyball and I walked over and asked if I could play, they said of course and I ended up playing volleyball with them for about 2 hours, then soccer for another hour before they had to go. I made some good friends who I need to go back to the beach with that day! We got the fb info and I went home.
I just have to quickly comment on this mosquito I just mashed into the wall. It is still trying to move! I look over, it’s to the right of my head, and see it’s body squished into the wall, but its legs still trying to push itself off the wall. Oh the determination. xD
So a few more days go by and it’s the day before orientation and still we had no word on whether it was Monday or Tuesday, so 3 of us (Tawnya and Jenna and I) meet at the Poble Nou campus (5 min walk from my house) and check with security and they say that this campus is closed because it is a holiday. We talked for a few minutes and went back home and got ready for tomorrow. I believe it started it 9 am, so I got there at about 8:40 to be safe, and it was good that I did. I ended up meeting two awesome people, people I still go places with today, and got a good seat. As it started, I had not heard or seen anything from any of the others so I sat next to my new friend and watched the presentation that I gained nothing from. About 20 minutes in, Tawnya came in, and about a half an hour after that Karina came in. Tonja and Jenna never showed up. I gained a little from the orientation; they got my schedule laid out for me, I met two awesome people, and one more person who is the coordinator for the exchange students from the US. She gave us our UPF ID’s (Universatat Pompeu Fabra) and took us the long trek back to her office in Poble Nou campus (we took the Tram Via) and found the office in which we would go to ask questions regarding our ID or enrollment at the UPF and headed out for the day.
The next day was our first class and it was interesting to say the least. My translation class is run by a tiny man from England who has a very weird accent when speaking Spanish, but the thing is, he doesn’t speak Spanish unless he is talking about the translation. The class is in English. Which was hard for me to understand, but it is a slightly easy class. My culture class was immediately after my translation class and everyone shuffled down there to the classroom. We all sat in there for 45 minutes and no teacher showed up. One of the students finally went to check and see if anyone was coming and he came back and said that nobody was coming. So we all took off and met the rest of our group at the entrance of the school and finally met up with the other person who came from Portland, Jorge. Jenna or Tawnya didn’t show up all day that day either. As we were talking we all decided that we wanted to go to the beach and gathered a few people to do so.  We walked to the beach and a few of the people grabbed some drinks and glasses for the beach along the way, I grabbed a Fanta (which are actually made with like 12% fruit juice here) and we went to the beach. We hung out there for a while, until it started to thunder and rain so we went to a McDonalds and sat under their patio for about an hour talking about nothing really. After that, we walked back to the school and they wanted to go to a bar but I was hungry and wanted to go home. So we walked by my house and I told them all bye and started walking to my house, but that was the moment I realized that this was MY time here, and a short time it is at that.  I turned around and ran back to them and told them that I decided I wanted to go out with them after all. And oh my, what a crazy night it was.
Alexandra Lee

We will return to the short broadcast after this short interruption. Before I start off, I have been writing this for the past few days now, because I can’t seem to find the time anymore. So my short story of today (may 15th) is that we went to class, which Tonja was 30 minutes late to and Karina was 50 minutes late, met some of the students who are going to Portland in the fall and afterword went to the park. We stayed there for about 3 hours just talking and watching people. The sun started going past the trees and stopped giving us the warm feelings, so we decided to go home. I stayed up for a little bit but I can’t sit in my chair anymore because it makes my back hurt so I lie down on my bed and promptly fell asleep. At about 2:30 am, a mosquito buzzed in my ear and woke me up as I swatted it away. I checked my phone and saw I had a message from my awesome Australian and sent her one back thinking she would be away by now. A moment later I got another buzz and it was from her! I have been talking to Alexandra Lee, (see right) for the last 3 hours while writing this post. I met her from a random post on MyYearbook about 2 years ago and have been talking to her off and on since then. Kind of a cool story for me. Anyway, this girl is pretty fantastic, and crazy beautiful and I am hoping to get to see her while I am here in Europe! If not here, I will make her come to see me in the US, or I might go to Australia, I have always wanted to go there. I have started talking to her a lot lately and I have found that we have a lot in common, we like the same things, want to go to the same places, both want to backpack Europe, we have the same ideas about life and we can talk openly about anything. It’s a whole new experience to find a person I can connect so well with! If you are interested, I’ll give you more updates if anything happens. Anyway, enough about me, back to me!

 To start off, we all were in this bar that is very close to my house and we were watching a fútbal game, Barcelona vs Chelsea I believe. Tawny and Karina ordered a pizza to eat while Jorge ordered drinks, whiskey doubles on the rocks for him, and proceeded to talk to the bartender about how short his drink was. She then poured about another double in his glass and then came back to the table.  We sat and talked for a while and Jorge finished his drink and went up and got the same drink for everyone. So I sipped my JB for the rest of the night while he kept getting shots for everyone when they finished their drinks they took our glasses and gave him more. This all went on until about 11 (started at about 8) and I think a total of 4 2-shot drinks for Jorge alone, and about 6 shots of JB plus the 4 2-shot drinks he ordered in the beginning. He probably ordered about ¾ of that bottle! I bet you all want to know what he paid. He actually paid for everything, including the pizza and the other little shots the girls ordered, for a grand total of…. Wait for it… €40. Yep. I don’t know how he did it. It was incredible. Anyway, we didn’t find out how much it was until later. Then we went to another bar where we were supposed to meet a bunch of exchange students, but when we got there, there wasn’t anyone there. 
When we came in the bar, Jorge was… ahem… a little more than buzzed… so he  asked a guy where everyone was and the guy too it the wrong way. The guy started yelling at him and at that point Jorge just came and sat at the table with us. The bartender came over and asked us what the problem was and Jorge tried to explain the situation; we had expected to see a bunch of people here from the exchange, and the guy took it the wrong way.  Jorge stood up, all 5’6” of him, and was trying to just talk to the bartender on a normal level, very calm voice with no anger in it at all. Immediately the bartender tried to make him sit back down and took a step back, as if Jorge was trying to be aggressive. We all were watching in awe is this situation went downhill fast. Jorge never did anything to be aggressive, but they kept thinking he was. After about 5 minutes of explaining, they finally calmed down, ordered a few other drinks and we ended up meeting another exchange student who also thought the meeting was that night. We talked to her for a while and she ended up having a place for rent, and Karina needed one. After we were done with the bar, we walked over to her house to look at the room for rent. As we went into their house, the guy who lived there came to the door and let us all in. As we all came in, the girls all did their hellos and Jorge and I were a bit later, so we missed it. We both walked in (the door was open) and they start talking to us too. Jorge, drunk as he was, makes a drunk joke and says to the guy “Who the F%^K are you?” and the guy does not look impressed. But he did say it with a smile on his face and even laughed afterword. A few minutes go by and the guy starts talking to Jorge like he was angry too and tells everyone that the guys need to leave. I stood there still talking to the girl, and he literally pushes Jorge out of the house and comes over to me and elbows me out of the house. I was so surprised, that I didn’t know what to say or do, so we both just walked downstairs and hung outside talking about the night. I reassured Jorge that he didn’t do anything wrong in either bar, maybe he went a little far in the house, but it wasn’t as bad as that guy reacted to it. Either way, the girls came down and we started walking towards home.
As we were walking, it was about 3 am now, we realized that the metros were closed and Karina, at this point, lived far out of town. Both Jorge and I told them they were more than welcome to come and sleep at our houses and they said that they would come and sleep at mine because it was closer to the school. So we came back to my place, I dressed them up in my clothes and I put them to bed. I, meanwhile, stayed out on the couch. The next morning I was woken up at about 8 A.M. by my roommate asking me why I was sleeping on the couch. I told him my friends and I were out last night and the metro was closed so the girls couldn’t get back to their places so I just let them sleep in my bed. He got angry and said that it was not ok that I did that, he did not want me treating his house like a hostel and next time they can just take a taxi home. Yea right, €50 later they get home.  He told me that I could have people over; they just had to stay in my room. So after a while they both woke up and we went off to school to the 2nd day: lingua Española. My teacher is the BEST. She is from Madrid, she has a british accent when she speaks English, and she teaches sooo well! There were about 20 students in the first class, and as of the last few classes, there are us 4 (Jorge is in the next class up as he is a native speaker) and one other girl. There are 5 in total is everyone comes to class, while there are still 10 on the records. My other classes are packed to the seams, with people standing without a chair.
A couple of more random stories before I end this novel. One day I was talking to my roommate about some Spanish and we were telling each other some slang when he told me something (I still don’t remember what it was exactly) about a hit the road phrase. He said the phrase was Sabe something, which in Spanish means to know, but also to taste (I did not know about the latter). I asked him if you could tell a person “tu sabes mal” and he just about died of laughter. He was laughing so hard he had to run to his room and laugh some more. When he came back to the kitchen, he was laughing still, but explained why he was laughing. He told me that saber means to taste as well and said that I told him he tasted bad as if I licked his arm or something. I said “oh” as if all embarrassed. He laughed some more and told me that I should tell our other roommate “sabes bien” and see what she says. I never ended up telling her because I was quite embarrassed.
Next story is about my first experience with the exchange gathering and the night bus. Tuesdays here in Barcelona, they have a get-together at a bar in Passig de Gracia which is a very well-known street here. The bar is quite a sports bar, and they sell drinks for very cheap. So its easy to say why masses of people come to the bar every tuesday night. I met a few very awesome people there, one is from Italy, with whom I still go out with to this day and do things. Valentina is awesome, she is about 5 foot, or less maybe, but full of personality and loves to do things with people. I’ll spare you the list of people who I have met there, but I needed to tell you about Vale because I hang out with her a lot. Anyway, I ended up talking to a lot of people that night, until about 1 am to be exact, before I realized the metro was closed. I ended up talking with Jenna and she was going to take the NitBus which is the night bus (obviously) of Barcelona. They have restricted times but a bus is better than walking sometimes. So we walked over to the buss pickup station and one finally came rolling by and it was heading the wrong way for Jenna so she took another one later, but I got on this one because it was supposed to be heading to Plaza Catalunya which would then give me my other bus to take me to my house. So I got on and whipped out my phone and started playing some games. After about 10 minutes I started getting worried and looked at my map for a road near me. I couldn’t find the road I was on, so I started getting more worried. I pulled my phone out again and started playing games again and looked up every once in a while to see if I knew something of where we were going. About 3o minutes later we got on to the freeway and I knew instantly this was not the bus I needed. It took me a few minutes to gather the courage to ask the driver (in Spanish of course) if this bus was headed towards the plaza. He looked at me like I was crazy and said no, this bus has already left the plaza. He opened the door and told me that I needed to take the same bus but the opposite way which was down this street and to the left. So I do just that and find another bus stop and get picked up. Another 45 minutes later I finally make it to the plaza I needed and ask the different bus drivers which one will take me to my place. I finally got the bus I needed and made it home at about 3:30. About 2.5 hours later than I wanted to. That was my first experience with a bus system in Barcelona.
Most Tuesdays of April were spent in the bar meeting awesome people and usually not drinking, and most Wednesdays were spent in the dance club called Razzmatazz that has masses of people come every Wednesday because it is free for ESN. One night I was on my way to the bar on a Tuesday and in the metro I was walking behind two cute girls who were speaking English, I stopped rushing by and talked to them and they said they were from California and Georgia. I was just talking to them about random things: about their stay here, when they were leaving, how long they had been here, etc. I walked with them all the way to the cars and got on with them without even thinking. We rode to the next stop before they asked me where I was headed and I said Passeig de Gracia, and they said that it was the other way! Crap! I got on the wrong car haha. Whoops. So I got off on the next stop and rode back to the right metro and got to my bar about an hour and a half late. They were all wondering what had happened to me; they all laughed when I told them the story.  
One day a little later I went over to Jenna’s house after I bought a whole chicken for 3 euros and went over to Jenna’s house with it and some veggies and some ranch I had made. We cooked those and made a great lunch/dinner and ate while talking. We studied a bit and then I came back home. The next day was San Jorid, which is their equivalent of Valentine’s Day in the US, where here they buy each other gifts of a rose for the girl, and a book for the guy. I met up with Tawnya and Edith (one of the girls who went to Portland for the Exchange) and we hung out and walked around all day. We walked inside the Barcelona city hall and got a tour of that, then walked to a cathedral called La Sau and toured that too. Everywhere e went there seemed to be masses of people. I have never seen so many people before. We were hungry so we asked Edith (a native) to take us to some Spanish food. So she took us to a friends mom’s restaurant and we ate there. Unfortunately they were out of all the things that were “Spanish” so we had as close to it as we could get which was pasta and ribs. It was still very tasty. Eventually Tawnya had to leave so I walked around the book stores with Edith who was looking for a book. We went inside a crazy store and left about 30 min later because of the crazy mass of people in the store buying things for the day. So we said our adeu’s and parted ways.  As I was on my way home, I was thinking about getting my roommate a rose because I knew her boyfriend wouldn’t be there to get one for her (not trying to snatch her, just being nice) I walked by a lady who was selling roses for a cause of some children and It was only 1,50 so I picked one up and brought it home for her. She was very happy to see it and surprised all the same. I think it made her night.
Alrighty folks, that’s all for this installment of this months journal haha. Let me know if there is anything you would like to see (picture wise) and ill try to make it happen. If not, Look forward, but don’t hold your breath, to the next post!
Hasta Luego!
Fuego (Diego)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Strikes, Slights, and Scores

And there's one, two, three strikes and you're out of the oooold baaaall gaaaame!
                So I believe last time I wrote to you I was just at the end of our new great friends stay at the hostel and It was a sad time for all of us, but life is, we must keep moving on. So that’s what we did… kind of… we found that we didn’t have much to fill our free time now and so we kinda stayed inside for the most part from that Sunday until about Wednesday or so. Not a whole lot happened except for looking for places, calling a few people, and so on. I’ll tell you about a few of those now.
So the first one that we all thought we were going to get ended up to be interesting. We get the directions to this place over near the Segrada Familia (for those of you who don’t know, it’s a freaking massive cathedral built by Gaudi, the most amazing architect! If you don’t know him, take a second to look up some of his work. I’ll wait right here………… Did you look yet? No? Sigh… I’ll wait again………… How about now? Ok if not, then you need to do it when you are done. I will check in again when I am finished writing). We walked about 20 min to this place and would up finding her right away. This place looked so perfect online that we couldn’t pass it up; it had a gigantic window to the street side with natural light! Yes that is a slight commodity within the flats here. So we meet up with her, a lady about 30 or so and kinda mouse-ish but nice anyway. From the outside this place looks really nice, solid doors, cool locks and so on. As we get to the door, she tries to open it which takes a few tries and finally succeeds. First clue. We walk inside and its immediately dark with only artificial light. As we all shuffle inside, we can see that the place is slightly worn down and old, but what can you expect from a city that’s almost as old as recorded history. So we move on; the hallway, dark and one small light in the very center. She veered off as we passed the first room into the second and showed us the drying area for our clothes, which was actually pretty awesome; they have hanging wires out so you can put your cloths, yes just like a clothes line for those of you…. Fortunate…. enough to know what they are =]
We moved on to the kitchen which was a sad excuse for a kitchen, but had all the necessary things: stove, sink, fridge, utensils. We make it to one of the rooms that’s up for rent and I think I dropped my jaw. This place would be a sad excuse to be called a broom closet. It barely had enough room for the SINGLE bed and the dresser at the other end of the room. Also, the bed looked  ancient as did everything else in the room. Strike two. As we walked to the next room up for rent, we walked through the advertised living room and it was as if the whole thing had darkened, and it was a nice day outside. Almost as if it was photoshopped… hmm…. We continued to the next room and it had enough room for the double bed and the closet but that was about it. So as we were going out we saw the other people who live in the house who looked nice enough but walked right by us without even looking and went out into the place where we dry our clothes. To smoke. With their clothes… Yea. Strike 3. You all know what strike 3 means. So as we were heading out, she was still trying to sell us the place and told us that on top of the first months rent when we moved in, we would need to do a month and a half security deposit that can be kept for any reason they deem necessary, and also a 100€ fee for administrative purposes that we could get back if we had someone to move in to take our spot when we move out. Wow, really? This place wasn’t even nice. Strike four, if that even existed. As we all walked out of the place, we all knew without needing to say that it was not worth our time. So we headed back home.
                Next adventure was when I went over to check out a place by myself. It wasn’t a huge adventure just that I went by myself to check out a place. Exciting =] So I took the metro over to the place and was looking at my map pictures that I had taken on my phone to find the place. Not too hard to find, once I got there I rang the bell and the guy let me up. When I got there he was very nice and showed me the place, which was a step up from the last one, but not by much. Still everything was so very old in the house, yet still functional. The people were really nice and I had to wait to get in the room until the other person left for wherever she was leaving to. The room was about three times the size of the room in the last house, and the bed was a double rather than a single. Anyway, I made my way back to the hostel and didn’t expect an email back from him.
                On a little brighter note, I found a place that Jenna had sent me over skype a few days before and it had a phone number in it to call. So I went over to the locotorio (which is in internet and phone café, run by packies, with no coffee and very dirty. There seems to be a yellow filter over everything in the place) and gave him a call. He said his name was Javier and that he was actually out running as I called him. I asked him if he had the place up for rent and he said that he did. I asked him when would be a good time for me to come look at it. After a few seconds of silence, he said why not tonight? It was already about 9:30 so I was worried it was too late, but I told him I could be there in about a half hour and that I would get my things ready and leave soon. So I did just that and made my way with my picture of the location of the house on my phone. So I took the metro over there and started walking by my own directions. As I made it to the street, I noticed that the numbers were quite large for what I was needing. These were all 150 and 170 and so on. I needed 31… So I walked up and down that street for probably 30 minutes. I stopped at 131 thinking that maybe he had mistyped. Nope, this building didn’t have a 6th floor. So I walked back down the street and finally found a shop that could help me out. I went in and asked them where Bolivia 31 could possibly be because these were all in the 100s and higher. They told me that there was another side of Bolivia across the main street here called diagonal. Crap. I looked at my map and realized what I had done wrong. As I was talking to Jenna, I was looking for just the street of Bolivia and forgot to put in the number of the house. Well, that mistake cost me about an hour haha. So I walk over to the place and finally find what I was looking for. I rang and he let me up to the place. As I walked in, I saw he looked really friendly and looked like a fútbol player if I had to guess. He let me in and showed me the room. Again my jaw about dropped, but this time in a good way. This room was about 10x10 with a twin bed but an enormous amount of space! I was almost sold just on this room entirely. He showed me the kitchen, gas burners, regular fridge and generally a good set up. Bathroom leaves something to be desired with the shower literally about 5 square feet, but it was good nonetheless. As I left, I basically told him that I would take it because I liked it so much. So I went home without events and sent him an email tellimh him just that same thing. That I would love to move in asap and get things moving. He said that I could move in the next day but he wouldn’t be home until about 8. I was SO excited to have the stress of finding a place off my back.
One more story before I close for this installment. The next day, Jenna thought she had found a place and I told her that I would go with her, I had some time to kill so what have I got to lose. So we walked over there, very close to where hour hostel was, and rang the bell. As they let us inside, I get a not so sure vibe from it. We are greeted by a lady about 30’s and very… let’s say spiritual and in a metaphysical way; As were the things in her house. We made our way to the living room to talk about things and ended up talking only in Spanish because that’s all she spoke. We talked for a bit about nothing really and finally we heard a dog barking behind the closed door. Instantly I knew I didn’t think this was the place for Jenna because that was the sound, or yip of an ankle-biter. Oh how I do not like ankle biters. We asked her about the dog and she said she was getting the dog some kind of thing that was supposed to calm it down. I think she called raiki or rakey or something like that. No idea. Anyway, the dog came out about 5 min later and sure enough it was an ankle biter. So we talked a little more and ended up leaving. Not the place for her. As we were getting back to the hostel, Tonja was leaving to go find another place and didn’t really ask for anyone to go with her and Jenna told me I should. I agreed and ran after her.
We had just a short walk to her place which was about 231 or something like that. So we made our way over there and sit in front of the place because we were about 15 min early. So we sat under what we thought to be the place for a good while. After our 15 was up, we started looking around a bit more and realized that we were actually at the wrong place, Doh! So we go across the street and look inside and see this REALLY nice apartment suite that even has a receptionist working. First clue. We look over the ad and see that there is no room number or anything. So we go to a locutorio and call the lady up. She said that she was in her apartment and gave us the number. So we go back over there and the door was open (there was someone coming in right before us) so we walk right in. We go to the floor after consoling the receptionist that we knew what we were doing. We go to the floor and knock on the door to no avail. We went back downstairs and asked if we had the right room and we did indeed. The lady was just not there. So we gave up and I realized that it was probably a scam and she was never there to begin with. So we make our way back home.
To end the story, it comes to be about that time where I head over to my place and I do just that. I have a lot of things to carry up and down stairs, ugh. So I do it on the first set and that was ok, but by the 3rd set I was worn out. I walked down the hall and saw a set of stairs there that almost literally were pointless. They went about 6 stairs down before going about 5 feet and then going right back up the same amount. Thanks Barcelona. I get on the metro and ride to my switch, and go up and down about a hundred more stairs before getting to the next metro. After I get to the next one, I had to go up more stairs, none being down, and then up more stairs. All the while carrying a 60lb bag in one hand with my carry-on that is too short to use for me and a laptop bag that was not light either. So after I went up some more stairs, I finally made it to more stairs I had to go up. Did I make my point yet? Finally to a point of sheer relief, there was an escalator at the very end set of stairs which I would have died going up: there were probably 3 sets of 30 steps each. So I make it to my place and ring the bell. Javier didn’t recognize me with my hair up (it was very hot) and gave me a funny look. Once we sorted it out I came inside and crashed.
So that’s my finding of a great apartment and some duds along the way. As most of you know that’s how apartment hunting goes. So I am going to sign off for now, I hope you enjoyed this installment of the series. Look for the complete set coming to your local stores soon!  Or maybe we will just stay with blogger for now. Yea that’s probably easier. Tenga un buen dia o noche! Sorry this one was kind of long, I just wanted to get a lot out of the way =] I’m trying to catch up to real time, believe it or not. Did you look up Gaudi yet you lazy bum? You better.
Hasta luego

Here's some pics of the place! Boy, I spoiled you guys today =]

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Brits. Beers. Beaches. Bikinis? Boo-Ya

                Ok, I know It’s been a while since I posted, and I regret it because I’m forgetting more and more as time goes on. I decided to write it tonight because I have some extra time and I don’t want to do my homework =]] So continuing on… (About the title, I dont really like beer, but oh boy do the English!)
                We, being Jenna, Tonja and I, were invited to a private viewing of the art of the Brit People (Yes they are all artists) on Saturday 3/31 ( I know, I know. It was a while ago now). When we were invited, I believe it was that Tuesday or Wednesday before.  Not a whole lot happened between those days, a lot of house searching and not a lot of luck. All the while we are living at this very nice hostel that charges us 60/night for the three of us. The people were really very nice but the cost was getting to be insane and the lady kept hounding us for money (Again, I know, I know it’s her job.). In total I think I ended up staying there for just over a week which totaled up to about €140 or €160 (7x10=70 x2=140 ; ] Denver style math for those lacking math skills). For those of you who don’t know the exchange rate, I can withdraw €300 from an ATM and the charge on my account in the US is $415 including the $5-10 fees. The amount of money I have here is significantly less than I do in the US, which isn’t a truck-load to begin with. Anyway, I lost my train tracks there for a minute. So during that few days we called a few people, but didn’t go to any places to look. So we were told that we would need to find another hostel to stay at for Saturday night because it was booked already. She did, though, have another place for us to stay for that night and it was actually less expensive (€18/person rather than €20) and it wasn’t too far away.
                At that point we were so sick of looking for places and staying inside that we decided that we were going to head to the beach. So we did. We went to the beach for the first time since we had gone there and rode the metro for the first time also. Metro is really no problem, you have these ticket dispensers that will, obviously, dispense tickets for you. The most cost effective one is a T-10 which is ten rides for €9,50 rather than individual rides for €1,60. One ride is every time you scan your ticket to get in. You need to scan your ticket every time you go into the tunnel. The ticket takers are machines that you stick the ticket in and it sends it back out with another ride checked off. Anyway, we make our way to the metro; rides are once about every 5 minutes which is very reasonable. We all stand with our hands on our pockets and purses (they had purses, not me thank you very much). We get off at our stop, Barcelonetta, which is the beach, we get out of the tunnel and start walking towards the beach. About halfway in to our walk to the beach, we happen on these performers who had what looked like a gigantic hula hoop. They were warming up for a few minutes before they started. It’s so hard to describe what they were doing, but luckily I got a video! I will see about putting it on here… If not, basically they were rolling the ring around and jumping in and out, doing tricks with it, and going DaVincii in the circle! It was so amazing! After that ended, we walked down to the beach! Finally!! Sweet sand! And oh was it what we were looking for on a hot day. As we took our shoes off and changed to our beach attire, I walked around on the beach and looked around a bit. Initially I didn’t believe what I saw from behind, so I had to go around and look; sure enough it was true. There were two girls sitting with a guy friend both with alcohol in their hands. One was pouring the other a drink while tanning without a suit on. It was so weird to see people with alcohol on the beach! Oh, what? You mean the… oh yea. They didn’t have tops on. Yea THAT’S what I was really talking about haha xD It was very different to see people just sitting and talking with another guy friend just having a good time with less than underwear on. I didn’t mind, let them do what they want, right? So we found a spot on the beach to sit and talked for a long time, probably 3 hours, then decided it was time to walk around a bit more. We made our way down the beach and happened on a few guys breaking (which I also got video of, yea-yuh!) and a girl doing some salsa. When we got enough of our walk in, we made our way back to the metro and went back home.
As we got back from our beach journey, we went to check in to our new place, I think it was called Hostal Ciutat and was only about 1km away from our current hostel. That one km happened to be half uphill, while lugging all our stuff. Jenna was not happy. We make it to our place and check in. As we make our way to our room, we immediately notice that it’s not as clean or as neat as our other hostel. We figured out where our room was and after we figured out how to open the door, we got in and stood there for a second looking at the room. It had three bunk beds that were all empty at the time except for a pillow and a sheet. We all decided that it was not safe to leave our stuff here and headed back to the other hostel. We asked one of the lovely English if we could leave our things in their room while we went to the party and they of course said yes. It was about 8 o’clock at that time, so we started making our way to the gallery. As we got there, we saw a person who was holding a ribbon-like thing signifying the opening of a shop. As everyone gathered around the shop, they said that they were officially declaring the gallery open for viewing. We all make our ways inside and gawk over the amazing works that had been made. Not to play their work down in any way, but we hung out there and looked at their work while they explained it to the people who were curious enough to ask. After that we went to a bar that was next door to celebrate the hanging of their work. This was the first gallery that their work had been hung in another country, so it was very important to them. After that, we went back home, gathered our things and went back, up the hill, to our other place. The next day, we tried to rush back in time to see everyone off (they were scheduled to leave that Sunday afternoon, but had to check out at 10). We made it back as the last quarter of the group was leaving and at least got to tell them how much we were going to miss them, mushy, mushy, squishy, tears, yea. Moving on.
                So that’s all for this installment of “How will Spain react to Denver” .I’ll add more next time, but as for right now, it's 2:30 am and I have school you selfish people! I hope to make the next one sooner, but my beach laziness is kicking in! I’m sorry all! I know you look forward to these stories, and I like writing about them so I can remember them for later. Thank you for your comments and thank you for keeping on me to write these! Love to everyone!
Until next time,
Hasta Luego

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Night with the Brit People

                As I was saying, we made our way home from going to visit the house in the very sketchy creepy, gang-ridden area at about 18:00. As we all lie back down in our room and start to relax, Jenna and Tonja start to fall asleep. At that point, I think I was writing another blog for you all (a blog about a blog, haha!) As I was writing, I remembered that we were invited to go down to dinner and eat with the Brit People (they hated being called that xD). As the time came around, I woke Jenna and Tonja and asked them if they wanted to go out and talk with them at all. They both said they were really tired but they thought that they might later. So I go down stairs and out the back door and as I go through, I see what seemed to be eight to ten people sitting around the small picnic table. They all stop their conversation to look at me. I said hi and they all said their hellos back. We got to conversation and they asked me the basics: name, where you from, what brings you here, etc. After all that they offered me some dinner (yum!) and we sat and talked more. About an hour later Tonja came down and stood behind me for a bit before going back inside.
I can’t really remember, as I am writing this more than a week later, but we went out a few nights that week and stayed out until about 3 each time. The first time we went out, we didn’t really know the layout of the town yet, so we were wandering around looking for a bar (they are really into drinking) and we happened on a bunch of 6 German girls, around 19 or 20 years old, who were looking for a bar also. So we asked them if they wanted to join groups and find a bar with us. Of course, they followed us because they didn’t know where one was either. We end up walking around for about 15 min before we lose two of our guys. The main chunk of the Brit people were getting really worried and they were just about to go looking for they guys when one of them stumbled around the corner and said they found a bar but it was really expensive. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief because we found them both and we kept looking. 
We wound around this street, down that one for about 5 min before we found one. It was really cool, they had a main part of the bar that was normal, but they also had a section of the bar that was outside was a jungle theme. They had vines around the outside of the bar with a camo net over the top with some heaters near the tables so it didn’t get too cold. Anyway, we started out inside the bar and people ordered what they wanted. After a few minutes, someone went out to the other side of the bar to check it out and came back raving about it. We all needed to check it out, so all of us and about three of the German girls came out to sit with us. We hung there for the rest of the time and had a great time. As we were leaving at about 02:30, the two of the German girls started yelling at each other about wanting to go home and wanting to stay out. It was crazy! This is the German that everybody thinks about when they sound so angry. Our group half decided that they wanted to go out for more, and the other half wanted to go home. We started walking to find another bar (they mostly close at 03:00) and made it most of the way towards the main street before the half that didn’t really want to find another one, started going back.
That was one of the crazy nights we had with the amazingly fun Brit People. We were also invited to go to a private viewing of the opening day of their artwork! I will talk about that one in my next posting. Ciao for now!
Hasta Luego