Monthly Archives: July 2014

Air Conditioning is Cold

Arriving in Barcelona has meant becoming homeless for the first time in a long time. It’s an odd feeling not having “that place” to arrive back at every evening. All this is made even stranger by our temporary dwelling having such charming features as a grand total of four forks and one pristine bidet. And no, I haven’t gotten up the courage yet to give that porcelain appliance a try. It seems likely that when that day comes, it will not be one of my better days.

We’ve gotten many laughs over the last few months at the tangled results of our efforts to translate mysterious Spanish phrases using whatever online tool is the flavor of the day. Google Translate is the most popular choice, but when this useful tool decides to take a left turn, it’s quite the wild ride. For some reason, descriptions of documentation needed for various tasks tend to feature a phrase that translates to weapon. I’ve heard many horror stories about dealing with the Spanish bureaucracy, but could hand-to-hand combat be part of the test?

These translation revelations are never more entertaining than when scanning apartment listings. I’ve learned so much in such a short period of time. For example, a couple of listings this week revealed that Air Conditioning is Cold. Who knew! And I was very tempted to schedule a viewing of the apartment described as “Shining for your height.” If only there was time to fit it all in.

I’ve also seen a kitchen described as “Perfecto.” I guess the poetic license among real estate agents to push the truth a tad is also available across the Atlantic, since said kitchen was lacking all appliances except an aging cooktop. As well, I’m hoping that it was simply a misstep in translation that suggested one flat had four bedrooms outside. Camping anyone?

Spanish apartments have many features that are a little foreign to me. Most definitely, I’ll need to do some additional research to get comfortable with the more unique attributes that have popped up in the last few days, including aluminum parquet, wooden windows, parking for an enclosed car and three winds (does the weatherman know?).

And maybe my favorite description of all will definitely take some adjustment “In the evening we found a suite and two twin bedrooms sharing a bathroom.” Is that legal in Spain? Google Translate is a lifesaver and, potentially, a threat to the moral fiber of the country.

If nothing else, all this levity does help one keep sanity through the pain of searching for a place to live. That and a certain five-year-old who never runs out of ways to delight, nor holas to dole out to surprised strangers. Here’s to the simple joy of childhood found with the first tree climbed in Barcelona.


RANDOM THOUGHTS: I was bested today at understanding and speaking Spanish by a 5-year-old. I know it won’t be the last time. Life is humbling… I popped the SIM card out of my phone (okay, the guy in the store popped out the SIM card), replaced it with a card from a Spanish carrier and voila! I’m now dialing like a local. Technology is wonderful (when it isn’t driving us crazy)… I’ve gotten some of the key Spanish words for surviving cemented into my brain, such as bathroom and coffee, but for some reason the words for hardware store and socks are also sticking with me. It’s going to make for an awfully interesting, albeit limited, session of small talk. (Do you shop for coffee and socks at the hardware store after your bathroom break?).



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Filed under Barcelona, Recent Posts, Relocation

And So It Begins…

The wait to begin our journey to Barcelona seemed like it took years – because, well, it did take years. As I broke the news to friends and colleagues over the last few weeks, the word “sudden” was thrown into the conversation often, but the reality is this may go down in the annals as one of the longest “sudden” decisions in the history of man.

For me, the desire to live for a time in a foreign city dates back about a dozen years ago and a near-miss move to London. The thought cropped up again in early 2011 when another opportunity arose that didn’t pan out. That one really set the wheels in motion, starting my wife and I on the odyssey of figuring out if we wanted to do this, where we might want to do this and the logistics of making it happen. As you can see, “sudden” is a relative term.

And, oh, what an odyssey it has been already, especially with a five-year-old in tow. I learn a little and laugh a little more every day seeing the word through his wide eyes. From the giggling pleasure that comes from the unexplained urge to run full-bore down every moving sidewalk he can find (all while towing a suitcase as big as him behind him) to the simple contentment that comes from a favorite food at the end of the day, he is a model of how to live life in all its simple glory.

We’ve been trying to keep it simple over the last few weeks as the myriad challenges of moving came into play. That was a good plan, but not sure the final execution quite hit the mark. As we loaded up our luggage off the carousel after arriving in Barcelona, I could swear I heard someone comment that no one had landed with that many bags since the Mayflower. So much for simple.

After corralling the largest cab we could find and wrestling the multitude of bags to the 1st floor (which is actually the second floor for everyone on the left side of the Atlantic), we had arrived in our temp apartment to start our time in Barcelona. The desire to live abroad had become a reality – complete with utter bewilderment at how to turn on the stove. It truly is a journey.

RANDOM THOUGHTS: I’m no expert on Spanish cuisine, but I’m pretty sure that the spaghetti and pizza that made up our first two major meals in Barcelona didn’t really qualify. As a newcomer in a town with limited opening hours for everything from offices to restaurants, you can’t be too picky at meal time. There’s an irony in there somewhere… As a car guy, I’ll also call it ironic that the final vehicle I drove before our departure from DC was a rental car sorely lacking in, well, pretty much everything. It did have four wheels and sufficient seats, but I’m pretty sure if I popped the hood I’d find a couple of hamsters on a treadmill instead of an engine. This may be a sign of our vehicle future to come.




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Filed under Barcelona, Recent Posts, Relocation