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Friday, July 27, 2012

So Many Montaditos, So Little Time!

After Will was accepted to ESADE, he promptly searched for a 100 Montaditos nearby.

The prices are unbeatable, and the montaditos are plentiful, so what are you waiting for?

We first tried 100 Montaditos in Madrid last fall with Aida, my host sister from when I lived in Spain in 2004. We went to one location, only to find it *packed* on a Wednesday. Puzzled, we walked to another location nearby, the same story. Why you ask? Because most everything there is 1 euro on Wednesdays. And now...also on Sundays!

Example of our order and notes about some of the
montaditos that came with our Caprichosa!
We found our local 100 Montaditos a few days ago, and it was just as delicious as ever. You order on a little ticket that tells the staff which of the montaditos you want and how many, as well as if you want a combo-like set of montaditos that is already pre-selected, called "tablas". The Caprichosa is good.

Some of the items in the Caprichosa are listed out with their numbers in the middle column of the top section because we wanted to remember them.

The Patatas Fritas Cheddar, Bacòn y Mozarella are HUGE, and DELICIOUS.

Also, the Tinto Verano is wonderful. It tastes similar to sangria, but I like it much more. It's definitely worth trying! If you don't like some for me.

We ordered way too much, and it was worth it. Most of the montaditos are between 1,20 euro and 2,00 euro. The tabla Caprichosa had six different montaditos, if I remember correctly, and came with potato chips for 6,00 euro. We had that tabla, 3 individual montaditos, the loaded fries, a Tinto Verano and a Pepsi for 16,90. We had so much that we had to ask for a box - and yes, we ate them the next day for lunch!

Left bottom: The Patatas (loaded)
Left top: Our 3 montaditos with chips (third one hidden)
Right side: Our Tabla, Caprichosa

A word to the wise - if you want to go on a Wednesday or Sunday, it will be crazy! If you would like to participate in Jarramanía, you can do that any day of the week. For Jarramanía, the 1/2 liter jars of beer are 1 euro with the purchase of a tapa or montadito. Regardless of when you go, I do not think you will be disappointed.

100 Montaditos
Pantalla completaPantalla completaPlaza de Urquinaona, 1
08010 Barcelona

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Mitsui - Wok, Buffet, and Sushi

Wear your elastic waist pants and waddle on out when you are done.

Nope, it's not a credit card, but it looks like one!
Located in hip Eixample with a couch and a couple of goldfish tanks out front, don't let the  facade and Catalan menu (more like posted buffet prices) fool you into passing by this place.

We went on 24th of July to eat with a couple that we were meeting for the first time. Barcelona Underground reviewed it so highly that Will suggested it would be a good place. The dinner buffet started at 2030hrs and goes until midnight. We arrived at 2100hrs and found the selection surprisingly plentiful and included:
  • Wok station - full of meats, seafood, veggies, and noodles to be prepared by chef
  • "Plancha" station - for the chef to also cook for you on his Hibachi-like grill
  • Salad circle..really, it's huge
  • Oyster bar/Mariscos
  • SUSHI! - super plentiful when we got there and was refreshed, but dwindling by the time we left a few hours later. Included Maki, Nigiri, and some sashimi, several different types.
  • Cooked station - meats, veggies, tempura shrimp, rice, breads, yummy!
  • Dim Sum - We didn't get to try this, but it sounds really good.
  • Postres - candy/sweets station, fruits/jello/yogurt/related dessert station, ice cream (more than 6 flavors)
  • Bar - we didn't order anything from the bar, but it looked fully stocked

Overall, the selection was much better than what I have seen in US buffets, and the quality seems above par. The service is lacking, but you don't need it too much when eating at a buffet. The price, around 14,50 or 14,90 euros per person was good considering all we ate. I hear lunch is a little over half that, but I cannot vouch for the lunch selection.


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Carrer d'Aribau, 112
08036 Barcelona, Spain
934 51 49 99

Get Your Empadronamiento (Padrón) On!

A fairly painless process, especially if you speak Castilian/Catalan...

...And if not, take good notes!

Photo from Ajuntament de Barcelona website

Will and I got our Empadronamientos in less than 15 minutes total. The secret? Please, for your own sanity, **make an appointment**! Here is a step-by-step guide to getting your Padrón as quickly and painlessly as possible. For the sake of simplicity, I am going to give instructions as if this is your first time to to the Empadronamiento (not a renewal, as that is different).

1. Get your paperwork together:

    The Empadronamiento will register you as living in Barcelona, and you need to do this before you can get your Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero (Student Residence Card, includes NIE).

     We had not been here long enough to have any bills,but the OAC was able to process our paperwork with:
  • Our Passports (Visa included)
  • Original rental contract
  • (Paper proving we had appointments - optional, but I highly recommend you to make an appointment) 
      Here is a link to their website to find the most up to date information for what is needed in case it changes. You can use Google translate to get a decent idea, but basically you need an official ID card of some sort and an official paper with your Spanish address on it (utility bill, rental contract - no more than 5 years old, or authorization from your landlord and some of their information if you don't have a rental contract).

      If you go to ESADE, you can find more information about this on the MBA Welcome Page.

2. Find out which OAC is closest to you by perusing these locations:

  • Oficina d'Atenció Ciutadana de la Plaça Sant Miquel
  • Oficina d'Atenció Ciutadana del Districte de Ciutat Vella
  • Oficina d'Atenció Ciutadana del Districte de l'Eixample
  • Oficina d'Atenció Ciutadana del Districte de Sants-Montjuïc
  • Oficina d'Atenció Ciutadana de la Marina
  • Oficina d'Atenció Ciutadana del Districte de les Corts
  • Oficina d'Atenció Ciutadana del Districte de Sarrià-Sant Gervasi
  • Oficina d'Atenció Ciutadana del Districte de Gràcia
  • Oficina d'Atenció Ciutadana del Districte d'Horta-Guinardó
  • Oficina d'Atenció Ciutadana del Districte de Nou Barris
  • Oficina d'Atenció Ciutadana de Zona Nord
  • Oficina d'Atenció Ciutadana del Districte de Sant Andreu
  • Oficina d'Atenció Ciutadana de Garcilaso
  • Oficina d'Atenció Ciutadana del Districte de Sant Martí

  • (In case they change, general website in which to find these links, here)

    3. Make an appointment:

       I said this was optional....but you really should do it. We were in and out quickly. The line was astronomically long, but "si tienes cita, tienes prioridad" (if you haven an appointment, you have priority).

       Just click on this link and then click Solicitud to make your appointment. Baja will cancel your current appointment, and Consulta will let you enter info to get details about a current appointment. Using these links is ideal because calling the office costs money!

       If you don't speak Castilian well or just want help making the appointment, here are instructions with screenshots and in English!

    4. Get your Empadronamiento on!:
    (If you did not make an appointment, get in line and go straight to the second bullet point.)
    • If you made an appointment:
      • Arrive about 10 minutes early with all you need
      • Locate the self-service machine and punch in your appointment number
      • You will get a receipt with a new number (mine had a letter and 4 numbers)
      • Take your number in front of everyone in line to the waiting room (you may need to ask somebody, "Dónde está la sala de espera?"
    • Once in the waiting room there, you will wait until the letter/number combo for you is called on the screen and go to the window associated with it. Give the person your paperwork and .pdf file and let him or her know you are there for Empadronamiento.
    • The person may ask a few questions about your school, when you are starting, if this is your first time getting the Empadronamiento. The person who helped Will and myself was very nice.
    • You will check over the information he or she prints to ensure it is correct and then sign
    • You will receive three copies of the Empadronamiento in a folder with some information about your neighborhood
    5. RELAX!

    (Until you go sign up for your Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero (TIE)

    Sunday, July 22, 2012


    Ikea, that is...only that's not how it's pronounced here.

    Yes, we caved and took our first trip to Ikea today. I have been in staunch opposition to Ikea ever since I fell in love with a certain Jonas Secretary Desk in Chicago. You see, we did not have room for them (one for each of us) in the car and likely didn't have the money at the time I saw them in Chicago. When I got home, I searched to no avail. Chicago had no more, and no Ikea would ship it to me. I looked everywhere for a functional, cheap, space-saving desk like Jonas since the room BJ an I were using as an office was small. I could find nothing in the same price range.

    So, I swallowed my pride and started calling Ikeas out of the states that neighbor Indiana. It was a Friday, I believe, when I called Ikea in Pittsburgh. They had 3-4 left of the color I wanted. They would not let me pay by phone, nor would they take a deposit to hold the desks. So, my dad and I left early Saturday in my Sportage for Pittsburgh. By the time we got there, there were only 2 left if I am not mistaken (but I can't remember for sure). So, I bought them, and some nifty DVD shelving, and came straight back home with my tail between my legs, swearing to never, ever go to Ikea again.

    My Fair Jonas is now a dresser at BJ's parents' house

    Today we went for a shelf for the shower, a scale, a fan, and a spatula. We returned from the perilous (not was less than 6 minutes by train) journey with exactly what we went for nothing from the list but a spatula. We did, however, manage to get an "Ikea Family" card for free coffee every day of the week they are open BUT the day we were there (also some good discounts) and two bags full of other random things we never knew we needed until we got there (or, more likely, we don't need). I like coasters as much as the next girl, but why do the ones I like have to be named "Groggy"?

    On the bright side, the Festa Major de Poble Sec is still going on. It's a big festival for our neighborhood area. So, we went to a street fair, but in American fashion, arrive way too early for too much to be going on. I did, however, buy some super cute earrings that reminded me of BJ's mom because she makes jewelry (it's awesome, more so than these earrings!).

    Earrings from the street fair
    Angled view of ring BJ's mom made for me
    Over the top view of ring BJ's mom made for me

    Saturday, July 21, 2012

    Chelsea - O' Burger, where art thou?

    American hamburgers are right under your nose.

                          Special Burguer (left) and Top Bacon (right)

    Chelsea is a great burger joint on our street that opened in 1977. The owner was working on a cruise line and was at port in Miami. He decide to bring this concept back to Barcelona in a time when the hamburger was not yet popular here. However, it is now very well known.

    BJ and I both got the Top Cris burger and shared fries with our table which consisted also of our landlord and his au pair, a super sweet Finnish girl. She taught us that hampurilainen is Finnish for hamburger. Thankfully we didn't have to order in Finnish, because I can't pronounce that word. Actually, they speak English at Chelsea, for those of you who are too timid to practice your Castilian or Catalá.

    So, in addition to the wonderful bun and hamburger, Top Cris boasts:
    - Lettuce
    - Cheese
    - Eggs
    - Bacon
    - Ketchup
    - Mayo

    I don't even like it when any part of the egg is liquid...but this burger was really, really good! The fries were also super good. It was so messy we each used several of the tiny napkins you pull out of the napkin dispenser at the table. Our server was also attentive, and they have a terrace.

    UPDATE: Tonight (21, July 2012) we went again to Chelsea. I'd say it's just to get pictures for the blog, but BJ was the one who actually wanted to go this time. I got the Special Burguer (spelling according to menu - pictured above), and BJ got the Top Bacon (also pictured above). We shared onion rings and to drink I had Coke (with lemon) and BJ had Estrella - total bill, 15 euros. Not bad considering we ate on the terrace which always has an upcharge. As usual, the burgers were superb.

                                             These were delicious!

    Below you will find contact/location information for Chelsea:

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    Tel: 93 325 34 47- Avda. Paral-lel, 172 bis - 08015 - Barcelona-España

    Friday, July 20, 2012

    Since Wednesday the 11th

    BJ (my fiance) and I left our home, family, and friends on Tuesday, July 10th. We arrived in Barcelona on July 11th, at which point we promptly decided the whole ordeal just didn't feel real.

    Denial. Shock. A mixture of sadness, yearning for what we left behind, and excitement about what may come made my stomach churn. Here we are in Barcelona, and this is real.

    So, what have we been up to since our arrival? Our foremost objective was to find a flat before July 17th (our scheduled check out date from the AirBnB flat we had rented). We searched tons of flats before we left, and upon arriving, I checked which ones were still available and emailed several of them. After not hearing back from any of the prospective landlords (except for one), we started looking at flats with an agency. It turns out, using an agency in Spain is worthless if you speak Spanish (er...Castellano), because landlords hire several agencies to show one property. This means your particular agency may not even know the property you are scheduled to see has already been rented (yes, happened to us). When you finally do get to see one that is available, the property owner shows up and tells you all about the flat, and they handle pretty much everything from there (that is, after you pay the agency 1-2 months of rent for "finding" and "showing" the flat to you) if you decide you want it. After that, it appears the agency likely has nothing to do with you.

    It just so happens, we were extraordinarily blessed. The one property owner who did respond had an amazing flat (better than the others we looked at with the agency when accounting for price for location/furnishings, speaks ENGLISH, and has family from La Pobla de Lillet (where BJ proposed, very tiny town close to France). His wife also speaks English and has already helped BJ and me acclimate to the city. They have helped us immensely in the whole rental process and even surprised us with a bottle of cava (Catalan sparkling wine), a bowl of fruit, and an orchid for the flat. The location, although not as close to BJ's train stop as we would have liked, is great. We live very near the Magic Fountains of Montjuic and Chelsea,"The Best Hamburgers in Barcelona".

    Beyond that, we have been staying up late, getting up late (working on that part...), and EATING. We've had Starbucks, KFC, and Subway. Sometimes you just want to feel more at home, even if the 5 dollar foot long has been replaced by the 30 centimeter euro eater. We've also tried several other more...local establishments and are rarely disappointed. Well, except when it comes to two things: guacamole and barbecue sauce. The guac here is more like a cream or salad dressing texture. A night or two ago we met up with some other master's students at an Irish place (called Loche Bar I think). Beforehand we stopped for dinner at a restaurant with Mexican food and a gorgeous picture of real guacamole on the menu. A while after ordering, we found out they didn't have guacamole at that time. BJ was heartbroken. We did find one place with good barbecue sauce, it was The Michael Collins Pub.

    We've stared at the Sagrada Familia several times, saw All-American Rejects and Blink 182 near the Olympic Stadium, and just today stumbled upon the Güell Pavilions.  We also paid a visit to the Magic Fountains to see the light and music show that is synchronized with the fountains.
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