Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Long Awaited

D accepted the long awaited job offer the day I left for Barcelona.  There was a small signing bonus ($2500) as it was his first internal position.  By the time the tax man gets a hold of it, we'll have enough for a couple of new tires for my car so am happy with that.  Coincidentally we both started in new offices this week.  What are the chances?

He begins with one day a week at home and will work back up to 3 over time (hoping for 2 by the end of the year).  I miss not having him at home on the days I work, to see me off.  The tables have turned and now I'm up at 6 am cooking breakfast and seeing him off.  It is really important he starts the day well.  Hopefully we won't have to be concerned with job hunts or office moves for a while. 

My trip to Barcelona was exactly what I needed.  I rented an apartment in Gracia, a new area for me, which was an easy and scenic 45 min walk to Placa de Catalunya and another 15 min to La Boqueria.  It was so nice to be back for a longer stay than just a day or two.  I was excited to finally be able to explore the city.

I started off by spending the first few days hanging out in my hood.  Pleased with toning things down after all the stuff that had been going on.  Because my visit to Prague wasn't as relaxing as I had hoped, there was a build up of stuff I needed to work through on my own and I was anxious to get at it.  It is a luxury to be able to concern myself with only myself for a short while.  Upgraded to world business class on the way over to kick start things.

The vibe of the city really resonated with me.  People were busy, professional but relaxed.  That's kind of an oxymoron here at home.  The city is visually stunning.  Covered a bit of new ground each day.  Not a whole lot but that didn't bother me.  I haven't felt this laid back and open since Norway or Nice.  All the possibilities of the world opened up to me again.  The regimentation of everyday home life has a tendency to restrict my belief in what's possible.

Very happy I didn't buy tickets to concerts and games in advance as I was content letting things free flow for the duration versus living by a watch or calendar.  That was tough for me because I could have experienced a Bach Cello Concerto, a Spanish Guitar concert, a Baroque vocal concert and a Barca game.

My apartment was new, modern and had a private terrace.  It was wonderful sitting out there after a long day out, letting the late day sun or early evening warmth dry my hair while I wrote or listened to music before deciding what to do that evening.  The weather was in the mid 20s C all week.  The locals were still wearing long sleeves, scarves and pants. 

Got turned around a few times.  The final incident on the last day was the worst.  I broke down and had to ask for directions because I was so frustrated.  It was late, I was outside of my map zone and still needed to pack and get the apartment ready for check out.  To top it off, it was starting to drizzle.  That ended up helping as the rain tapped me out of my funk.

Made no effort to learn Catalan.  It is so different from Spanish I honestly didn't know where to start. People were friendly and would speak to you in Catalan and quickly got used to seeing my deer in the headlights look as I had zero idea what they were saying.  Thank goodness they would switch to Spanish after hearing my often pathetic attempts to explain myself.  I think it was cool they thought I could understand in the first place.

Each morning before I'd head out, I'd read over my language sheets.  It's amazing how helpless I felt when I couldn't remember how to say the word 'slice' or 'piece' or 'few' or 'it doesn't fit' or 'that one'' etc. etc.  It was glaringly obvious I need to study more. 

If you are going to stay outside of the core, don't expect anybody/many people to be able to speak English.  You will also have to make up your own maps as regular tourist maps didn't extend far enough.  D helped me out with that.  And I worked on memorizing them as I only pull maps out in public as last resort.

Enjoyed my area so much I didn't cover near the amount of ground I originally had in mind.  I was prepared for everything.  Each area of the city is self contained.  You will find at least one good market and pretty much everything you would need.  Mine had a small village feel.  It wasn't fancy or full of architectural gems but was simple and uncluttered.  Reflected how I wanted to feel inside.

 First purchase from my local market
Mercat de la Llibertat

How cool was this find?!  The owner is from Iceland

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