A Travellerspoint blog


But still homeless

sunny 25 °C

Hello again! I arrived safely to Barcelona yesterday morning with luggage in tow. I actually was able to take an earlier flight from Boston to Newark to lengthen my layover time, which was probably more beneficial for my luggage, and everything worked out great. I only got a few hours of sleep on the plane, probably due to adrenaline and the fact that my seat in the emergency exit row (thought it'd be great for extra leg room) didn't recline. Oof.

My first impression of the country outside the window of the airplane was two-fold: Everything is extremely dry here. The mountains north of the city are brown and sparse. (There is a notecard in the hostel preaching to save water since there is a drought this year, but the notecard looks like it is as old as me...). Also, on the descent into Barcelona I could see wind turbines everywhere. I have also read that all new apartments of a certain size are required to install solar panels. Cool commitment to alternative energy.

Customs in this country is easier than any I've ever seen. I was expecting to receive a card on the airplane to declare belongings and then to have my bags scanned on the way out, but noone even said a word to me on the way out. I didn't have anything to declare anyway, but they didn't seem concerned about enforcing their customs rules.

My hostel is in the middle of the city, west of La Rambla (a crazy tourist spot) and east of UB. I spent the day yesterday walking around holding my eyelids open and trying to be moderately productive. I stopped at el mercat, a huge outdoor market in La Rambla. My eating schedule (already frequent) got all scrambled with my sleep schedule, so I found myself eating whenever I was hungry... which was basically hourly all day. At the mercat I got some fresh fruit- strawberries, kiwi and mango, and found a housing office recommended by the woman at the desk at the hostel. All signs inside the office were in Catalan, and the woman there didn't speak English. This was the first time I had to rely completely on my spanish, and I found it to be full of awkward silences as I racked my brain for words. I got the information I needed, though, with relatively few impasses. Next task was to find a phone. I went to Vodafone to grab a simple phone for talking to potential landlords... more on that in a second. Finally I went back to my room around 4 finding it impossible to stave off sleep any more.

After a short nap, I resolved to call some of the landlords I'd been in contact with. If speaking to someone in Spanish is difficult for me, speaking on a cheap cell-phone is downright impossible. I called one woman and after a frustrating couple of minutes I deciphered that she wanted to meet today at 3:30. It's a good thing I can do basic numbers and verbs or I'd be sunk-ola. At 8:15 I departed the hostel to find my first house showing. It was probably 20 blocks away from the hostel, but blocks vary significantly in size, so it took me right up until 9 o'clock. Follow along: I get to the front of the building that I think this flat (piso) was in, and ring the appropriate bell. Noone home. I ring the other bell on that floor. No Jose there. Bummer. Try the surrounding bells. No answers. Look at my sheet where I had written Av. Diagonal 402, 4th floor. Real bummer- that's where I am. Time to get back on the phone. Cars are whipping past behind me, stretching my already poor listening skills to the max. I decipher that he actually lives in 404, in the 4th door of the 3rd floor. Now thoroughly confused, I go next door and ring that bell. Whew, Jose answers. Perhaps I copied EVERYTHING down wrong... Jose, meanwhile, is really nice- probably about 60 years old, he is both landlord and resident with another man a little older than myself. He insists on speaking Spanish, which I appreciate, and it becomes clear that I will learn quickly if I live here. The flat itself is small, but really nice and quiet. I would have liked a bigger room and younger tenants, but I could absolutely live here for the year. After more pause-filled conversation, I depart back to the hostel to solve my address mystery. When I finally got back, I found that I actually didn't copy incorrectly- his listing is inaccurate. I have no idea why this is, and if I decide to take this room, I'll let you know what I find out.

I am really excited to be done with this room-hunting and start exploring the city in earnest. Also, I have been up for three hours and am exhausted already. Anyway, I'll leave you here with some random things I've noticed about the city.

-There are (large) hills that rise up suddenly in the north and west parts of the city- definitely need exploring
-Foreign exchange students (esp American) are ridiculously obvious walking around in the street- huge groups, loud American. Obnoxious. And me three years ago...
-Homeless people (there are few) all have dogs, which makes me more inclined to donate, and the fact that the dogs generally look better fed than their humans also helps tremendously
-No pickpocket encounters yet. The mercat was really crowded with tourists- can't wait until I'm not considered one of them.
-I can't listen to Pandora here wahhhh... there are licensing problems, apparently. Bummer.

Hasta Luego!!

Posted by dclift 09:06 Archived in Spain Tagged day first

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