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

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The First Hit

So it’s been a while since I have posted, I know. So I think the last I posted was when we got to our Tonja the first day, so there is a lot to fill you in on! So after that day, we were in the breakfast area and a girl came in asking for some coffee milk and sugar. We showed her where they were and then she asked us where she could take a shower because the other girls in her room were still sleeping and she didn’t want to wake them. We showed her a shower that was available to use and she thanked us immensely. After breakfast, we all went back to our room and left the door open.  After a bit, she came out of the bathroom and saw us sitting in our room (it was right next to the bathroom).  She chatted it up a bit and invited us to dinner later that night at about 8. So we went about our day and made our way over to a “locotorio” which I guess is somewhat akin to a cyber café, which I had never seen before. It was interesting, we had a little 1,5x1,5m box that had a phone in in for calls and a light switch, that was all. So Jenna and Tonja and I all smashed ourselves in this little tiny area (very much emphasized the word squished) tried calling one of the numbers that we had found on the internet to get a house and the number didn’t go through (,10E) and there were more calls that either didn’t go through or just went to voicemail. Eventually Jenna called a guy here of a friend of a friend and he said he might have a place for us. So he gave us her number and we then called her. She said she had 3 rooms available and would be willing to let us see it that day. GREAT, we all thought.
 So we Google map the place and see that it is not within walking distance, meaning we have to take the metro: Our first time with that one. So we plot our route and make our way towards the metro. As we got there we saw that we had to buy tickets (duh) before we got on the metro. So we do that and it pops out a little card with a foil strip down the center.  We bought a pack of ten because it is most logical because we are going to be going there and back with 3 people, that’s 6 trips for those of you who don’t like math. So we make our way on to the metro, which is actually a really cool, but hard to explain. It’s my first time on a metro, but most of you have probably used a subway before. Anyway, we make it to our stop on the metro and we get of the tunnel. We have the names of a few streets and no direction. We ask the first person we see and he says to follow him, he thinks it’s about two blocks straight ahead. We end up walking with him for about that distance before he tells us that it should be down this street to the left a few blocks. Tonja and I go to cross the street and the “go” green cross dude started flashing so we ran, Jenna stayed. As we made it to the other side, we looked back and saw there was an older fellow talking to her. I just figure they are making conversation.  As the cross dude turns back to green and Jenna high-tail’s it over to us and says that she just got propositioned for sex. We were all laughing so hard.
As we were walking down the street, Jenna noticed (and told us later) that there were a mom and her two daughters who were standing in the park. She looks at her daughters and says “ok, there are three of them and they look American” Jenna immediately looks over there and they just stare at her. She kept an eye on them until we were out of range and nothing ended up happening, thank goodness. So we eventually make it to the place and go in to check it out. It was a really nice place with an old lady who only spoke Spanish. We looked at the three rooms and they were all really nice. It was a great set up, except we realized that this was in the neighborhood called besós which is a neighborhood like NE Portland. Very sketch and walk-in-no-less-than-a-group-of-3 kind of place. So we decided that it may be a place if it comes down to the wire. We say our adios and make our way back home.
I’m going to cut this one short tonight, there is much more to tell you about, but it will have to wait tell I get a little more situated.Definitely a lot sooner than this one xD  Let me express that this is NOT the end of the night by any means =] Ok Hope you enjoyed the read, and sorry for the late post!
Hasta Luego!