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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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