September 12, 2004

Moving Into my new Place

Theoretically we were kicked out of our school's flat on Saturday, September 11th at noon but Burak slept until 2pm and I was typing up blogs and somewhat packing for most of that time.

At 3pm, we decided to get serious or well, Burak decided to get out of bed, and we started to really pack up our 5 suitcases and many random pieces of things into a series of about 10 grocery bags. We called our new landlord/flat mate and asked if we could move in at 5pm instead of 10:30pm like we previously arranged. He agreed on short notice and now our only task was to take all our luggage 5 floors of stairs (with no elevator/lift I remind you) and find a van taxi to take us all in one trip.

The taking our things DOWN the stairs was not as bad as taking them UP the stairs two weeks ago. We even had help from a flat mate. Then we called the taxi service. They told us a van taxi was on its way. We waited outside with our things. We looked like a mix between homeless people with all the groceries bags and tourists stuck out in the middle of the street.

Well, I knew it was a Catalonian holiday on September 11th but I wasn't sure how serious they were about celebrating it. I noticed flags up on many of the balconies as I waited for a taxi. Then we got a text message on Burak's cell saying that there were no van taxis available but they would try again in a couple of minutes. I had to use a dictionary to read the entire text because there were a few words and I didn't know and at the same time we were about 15 minutes from our meeting time with our new landlord, David.

I called the service again and learned that no van taxis are available because of the holiday but they could send a normal one. Ok, I thought..what other alternative do I have anyway besides hiring two taxis. Burak was on Las Ramblas trying to flag down a van taxi.

Finally our regular car taxi showed up and he looked at our luggage with an expression of doubt. I asked if we could put it all in and he said, 'Lets see.' We started loading it all in. Two huge suitcases in the truck, 1 in the backseat, 1 in the front seat, and then bags filling all the cracks between the suitcases. Burak and I were the only things left to have to get in. With our bodies covered in sweat from the 83% humidity that day and the heat coupled with the lifting, we squeezed into one seat in the back half on top of each other with our legs scattered where ever we could find room. And we were off........

We arrived in about 6 minutes since our old and new places are not far apart. You always get charged about 1-2 euro per suitcase for luggage in a taxi even if the taxi cab driver doesn't appear to touch some of the pieces. For that 5 min drive we were charged 15 plus euro. I gave him 17 just get it over with since David was there helping take our stuff out of the taxi and get us moved in. The taxi cab driver was happy and said thank you for the tip. One note of observation: The tipping etiquette in America is not the same here in Spain. Most service people are accustomed to no or very little tip. I will research this one a little bit more but I have read and heard about this. I felt happy to make him happy but at the same time the American rules inside of me felt bad to only 'tip' him about 1.5 euros for his work. But it was a tough call because he sort of already added his tip with the crazy price per piece of luggage. But on another hand, I moved from one flat to another for only 17 euro!

David helped move us in our new place. We had this very small antiquated elevator to take up our biggest pieces of luggage. With 4 people helping, we were moved in in no time. He showed Burak around for the first time and it was a good to check out the place once more since last week. The kitchen and bathrooms looked so much better than I remembered them last week. They were cleaner and had more lighting that in the pictures on my website.

We learned that our new flat consisted of two German girls, one Canadian ballet dancer, once Italian guy, the Spanish landlord, and then us two Americans. Everyone seemed nice. We still didn't meet the ballet dancer though and we are curious if he is the French or the English speaking type.

So unlike in America where I would have to have had a credit check and paid a huge deposit, we had no credit check and the deposit on the room was only 180 or a half of a month's rent. We are paying 360 for two people to live in a room in a shared apartment with all the water, electricity, and gas included. This is an absolute steal compared to everything I have heard in the city. Plus, I have this huge window that I am working beneath at this moment and have a nice view of the apartment across the street and a neighbor putting her laundry out to dry.

We had all our things in the room and then started to move the furniture around. We moved the beds together and discovered that one wall is not perpendicular to its other walls or in other words the corner we want to put the beds in does not have a 90 degree angle. How is this possible we wonder? Oh well, is our response.

Then we began to discover major dust everywhere! So we decided to evacuate the room of all our things and sweep and mop this place as it has not been cleaned for many moons.

So as seen in the photos of my website of the room, there were several pieces of furniture in the room for us to use. Yesterday I was dreaming of very cute room filled with IKEA furniture in every corner and now I have mix and matched pieces from a garage sale, nothing like my vision. We planned to go to IKEA on the day of the move, but then we learned it was close due to the holiday so we decided to just take out what we needed from our things and then we would go on Sunday.

After loading and unloading a taxi, loading and unloading our room, cleaning and rearranging furniture, and then reloading our room, we were quite exhausted to say the least. We cleaned up and enjoyed our new shower/bathtub. It was the first shower we enjoyed in the last two weeks after having to use that small portal at our last place. We then went out to a local place that happened to be open on the holiday. We ate sandwiches, had an order of olives, and drank a 1.5 liter of water all for about 8 plus euros. Life was going to be cheaper farther away from the touristy Las Ramblas.

It began to rain hard as we left the restaurant and walked a couple of blocks to the Sagrada Famila. Burak saw it for the first time. It is amazing that we are going to be living just a couple of blocks from an attraction people come all over the world to see. It is quite a site.

We had plans earlier that day to go out at night and meet up with these people at their flat before they headed out to a club. Luckily they lived only about 7 blocks from us so we had a nice stroll minus the rain.

At the flat, on the 6th floor, we had a beautiful view of the lightning in the sky and a wonderful fresh breeze. We hung out with mostly 3 English girls, an Irish girl, and a Spanish guy and then a mix of French, Italian, and Belgian came. There were three languages flowing around the room. I felt bad for Burak who doesn't know French or much Spanish. For me it was just really cool to hear things and understand them, but not really care as to what language it was.

But before long this new group left and we were back to speaking English. It was a lot of fun and we learned about where Burak could find teaching jobs and how much would be appropriate to charge for tutoring. How the average Spanish income per person is about 800-1200 euro per month. We heard that once a Spanish person finds a job that gives them a set income in the above range, they are happy and set to enjoy their free time. It reminds me of Belgium where they only work enough to enjoy life but in America where we seem to live to work. It was interesting hearing the observations of foreigners in Barcelona after they had lived in the city for a few years.

We had arrived at 10:30 pm and somehow it was about 2:00am or so. They decided if they didn't leave then, they would never get to the club. We figured going home now would help us get to IKEA the next day on time. With the rain gone, we slowly walked back home and crashed into our new beds not caring that we had no pillow nor sheets nor blankets. We were tired.

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