And we’re off!! It’s an emotional and physical rollercoaster we are riding for the next few days. Our goal in the next oh, day and a half, is to find ourselves a place to live in the next few days. We’ll be going from our acre and a half in Attleboro with 1900 square feet to NO yard and maybe 1000 square feet if we are lucky. So we already know this is going to be a tough job ahead of us.
We got to Logan way too early…not quite sure why Josh had the car come at 2:30 when our flight wasn’t til 6:40. Oh well! So we figured we’d stop at Houlihan’s in the airport for a last bite of American food and a drink or two. Not a great idea. We really should know better since everyone knows airport food and service sucks. Josh’s soup was cold and finally came back at the end of the meal (of course, that was his meal) and my sandwich was just ok. We didn’t bother with drinks. There was a cute English family next to us – why can’t we move somewhere where my kids will come back with cute little English accents?? So we’re hoping that the cold soup is the worst of what is going to happen and moving along…
We get on our plane, on time, and are excited about the journey ahead of us. Unfortunately that luck was following us, or should I say bad stinky luck. The guy on the other side of me had really bad B.O. Yuck!!! I’m nauseuous and we haven’t even left yet. Thankfully we caught some really fast tailwinds and cut more than an hour off our regular 6 hr time to get to Dublin. Dublin!!! My first time in Europe, albeit in an airport! I’ve been in many airports in my time but never one with this many hallways!! The directions were good for everywhere you needed to go, but you took narrow hallways everywhere it seemed.
As with all bad luck, it continues to follow… I’m thankful that these were all small issues. But in preparation for my trip and knowing how picky of an eater I am, I put a caramello bar in my pocketbook. Maybe the caramel part was a bad idea. Well, all the heavy stuff in my pocketbook squished it and when I went to remove something from my purse, I thought …hmmnm….what is so sticky all over this?? Good thing we got into Ireland early because I ended up spending 20 mins in the bathroom washing all my possessions down from their caramel bath! I suppose worse things could happen right? Sue, you will be happy to know that we saw a starbucks while in the Dublin airport – $8 for a coffee though!! We also saw a Burger King, so Aidan will be happy for a touch of the US when he comes. Aww…. just like home!! Was hoping my luck would change – I found an Irish / Euro penny on the seat next to me as we were waiting for our connection to Barcelona.
So off we go to meet our connection to Barcelona. We were exhausted and actually slept the entire flight – very much typical of Josh but not so typical for me. So far so good…no more problems (yet, a little foreshadowing). Once again, the tailwinds were in our favor and we arrived safely to Barcelona, our home away from home! First off, let me say that the view of the city from the airplane was breathtaking! If we weren’t meeting our realtor in 1/2 hr, I’d upload the photos but I haven’t even downloaded them from the camera yet (actually I’m on Josh’s computer so not even sure he has the software to do it). The view was just stunning and it made me really excited about the next few days to come. The mountains were in the background with the city nestled between that and the Mediterranean Sea – just gorgeous!!
We made it thru customs just find and found a cab. Using our very poor Spanish and pointing a finger at the address we wanted to go to, we were off!!! Wow, we’re in Spain!!!! All this planning and we are actually here! We’re very excited and are looking all around at the sites as we drive. Old mixed in with new. Many places had what they were actually labeled as their store names – Farmacia or pharmacy – we saw the same sign in all different colors and fonts. It was very interesting because it seems that they didn’t have brand names for things like that but we’re guessing that the different colors and fonts meant they were different companies. As we are driving we go past this giant building that will forever be known to Josh and I as the penis building – you’ll have to wait for the picture but the name should say it all. I believe they are actually apartments, but it will be known as Penis building from now on! Sue, you will be happy to know I’ve seen a Starbucks here too…Lisa, I haven’t found the Dunkin Donuts yet but we haven’t made it to Las Ramblas which I believe is where it is located.
So anyways, we’re in the cab heading to our hotel, the Hotel Gran Silken on Ave Diagonal. The hotel is gorgeous and very modern. We go to check in, but wait!!! We don’t have a reservation under Josh’s name. What?????? Josh’s company made the reservations. So now we are in a foreign country with no hotel. I personally begin to panic while Josh being level headed asks, do you have any rooms available?? Ah, my common sense husband, god I love him. But in the end, I showed him where we were supposed to be. He looked at it and said, “well you have the right address but the wrong hotel”. So he calls up the other hotel, their sister hotel, and yup, they have us there. The braintrusts at VP gave us the wrong address!!! Oh well… off we go in another cab (he tried to give us directions via metro but we weren’t ready to tackle the train system quite yet).
So we make it to the correct hotel, the Gran Silken Havana. Still a beautiful hotel but perhaps not quite as fancy – fine by us. This one is actuallly a little more our style. And actually, we have a cute little private veranda as well which is nice. Not that we’ve really had a chance to use it.
So now that we are checked in, our first priority is to finish setting up our bank account. We had done some of it online but the rest had to be done in person. We take yet another cab to La Caixa, our bank. It’s not like banks here where you have a reception area with tellers and then some offices to the side. This place had 3 cubes, no teller area and then 2 offices in the back. There was no line, just a row of chairs. Not knowing what to do, we just sat down. Thankfully the guy next to us spoke English and told us we just wait our turn and it’s first come, first serve. That was great until some other guy cut us off and we couldn’t tell him! So we sat there for close to an hour.
By now it’s after 1 and you need to keep in mind that in Barcelona, and most of Spain, they take their siesta very seriously and most places close down between the hours of 2 and 4/4:30. We knew that this bank was one of them. So hopefully they don’t kick people out that have been waiting if you haven’t been served by then. Thankfully it never came to that. It was finally our turn and we asked for our contact that we had been emailing with. Her English was a little broken but still much better than our Spanish (which we obviously need to work on). We got everything set up and all of our bank cards. You actually get different pin numbers for your internet banking and your ATM banking which was interesting. That and a card to use if you are doing transfers – they may contact you, ask for 3 numbers, then you looking for your corresponding numbers and give them the next 4 in the sequence. It was very spy-like!!!
After the bank we took a stroll down the road to the VP office. It was in a very modern building right by the ocean. Nice Josh!! You have the life!! Josh knew most everyone there and it was nice for me to meet some people too. Everyone spoke English – so that was a nice change from the day! It was a quick visit to the office because we had to meet up with Mele, our realtor.
We decided to try the metro which was rather daunting to us. We walked the 3 blocks from VP to the Metro station. We knew we were heading for the Villa Olimpica so we knew what direction based on the map. The tough part was the automated ticket dispenser. We were unsure of which ticket to buy and only wanted a one way token. We were just about on the verge of giving up when we figured it out. Victory!!!! This was a huge barrier to us, taking the public transportation on our own. It may not seem like a big deal but we could have ended up in Madrid for all we knew was going to happen! Everything was labeled very well (in Spanish but we do know some!) and we got off at our stop with no problem. Holding our tourist map, we tried to figure out where we were meeting Mele. We went in the wrong direction, of course, but we had some time to kill and figured, let’s head towards the water. The Mediterranean is GORGEOUS! It was a little cloudy out but the sea was still blue and the beach looked amazing and it stretched on forever. There was a nice boardwalk to walk along though at that point we didn’t had time because now we needed to backtrack and find Mele. The streets are labeled ok – they are great about crosswalks and even the craziest (you thought Boston or NY was bad!) drivers would stop for a crosswalk.
Speaking of crazy driving – these drivers are insane! The roads, even highways, are much more narrow and I don’t know how more cars don’t crash into each other. Most of the roads are VERY curvy as well. During our house hunt I actually became so nauseous that I had to lean my head out the window in fear I was going to puke (and came very close).
So we meet Mele, and she kicks ass! She’s high energy, perfect English (she’s actually from Puerto Rico and spent a lot of time in the States too) and knows her stuff. So off and running we go! We had 6 places to see between 4PM and 6:30… not a lot of time.
The first place was nice – right in the Villa Olimpica… there was a courtyard with a pool and play area for the kids. They weren’t thrilled about the dog thing which I thought Mele had confirmed was ok with all the places we were seeing. It was 3 stories, kind of like a townhome and a bit on the rustic side. But the views were great and the space inside was good although a little awkward.
The 2nd and 3rd were in the same building, far from parks which sucks, but brand new. One furnished, the other was not. We really need it to be furnished because we don’t plan to bring anything over from the US for just 2 years and don’t want to spend the $$ on furnishing a place that we won’t bring back with us.
The 4th place was a 1970s kind of place with amazing view in the Sarria area. But unfurnished and a bit dark for us. We LOVED the rustic feel, yet updated amenities of the 5th place – if only it weren’t a 3rd floor walk up. I was winded by the time we got to the top and still not feeling so great from the cab rides. Actually I was feeling pretty crappy from the 3rd place on – and had to stop for a quick snack because the apple I had at 10AM, just not cutting it any more. Finally the 6th place we loved. By the school and park, though a bit of a commute for Josh. We’d have to negotiate some furniture in there because it supposedly comes unfurnished but we will see. It felt the most homey of all of them and was on the 8th floor with a beautiful terrace. By now, I’m ready to puke and can barely stand straight. So I didn’t take any pics. But if we decide this is the one we will go back for another visit.
Ok, we’re off to see 10 more places today. Got to jump because Josh needs the computer too. More updates later!