Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Apartment located

Buenos días tíos,

It has been three days since my last post and, as you may have guessed, I have finally found an apartment.  The search went a lot easier than expected.  We looked at a few places, but after we saw this one, it was pretty much decided.  When I first started my search I considered trying to find a piso to share with some Spaniards, but that proved to be a lot harder than just finding an empty place.  

So after some particularly industrious searching by my previously mentioned compañera, Meg, we stumbled upon this rather large, three bedroom flat right in the center of town.  Aside from the perfect placement and spacious cuartos, the landlady was very grandmotherly and offered the place to us at the low rate of 550 €/month.

And yeah, so obviously we took the place and all decided to live together.  I figured that rather than trying to explain to you guys what it looks like, I'd just show you.  Photojournalism style.

Here is the first view of our place.  Its on the Spanish 3rd floor (the bottom floor is 0) and the American 4th.  Its the one with the small red sign in the window.

Up three flights of stairs and through the front door.

Turn right through the foyer and go into the kitchen (the girl came with the house).
Walk past Meg and hang a right.
The laundry room! And the hot water heater we haven't figured out yet!
Now back through the kitchen into the living room.
Complete with dining room table that you can just barely get a glimpse of in the above picture.  Here's a close up.
Camera not included.
Ok, now past on through the living room.
Down the hallway.  My room is on the right.
Hillary's room is straight ahead.
To the right is the bathroom.

And at the end of the rabbit hole: Meg's room!
In medias rearrangement.

That's all I've got for today folks.  Let me know what you think about the picture/walk-through thing.  Like it? Don't like it? Blow your computer/internet up?

Until next time,


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Día del alojamiento

Alright guys,

Hope everyone is doing well out there.  Today was another riveting day in La Línea de la Concepción.  The current agenda for us Americans has been apartment hunting.  We´ve pretty much been at it all day and though things were bleak at first, they´re beginning to shape up.  As today is Sunday, virtually the entire town, minus the church and a few cafes, are closed for the day.  The Spanish take Sunday as a family day, and since most of them don´t want to work - they don´t.  So when I say things are shaping up, I really mean that we have a lot of appointments to see places tomorrow.  So hopefully it will work out.

Aside from that, we´ve just been exploring the city.  I think I mentioned this last time, but its nice as long as you stick to the center.  The center is clean, and the apartments are quaint, but the farther you walk out from the center (or cathedral) the more ghetto and the less fab the places get. Its hard to draw a distinct like because out near the edges of the ´´good´´ neighborhood the streets and some plazas look like Nuclear Bomb Land but then the apartments/houses are straight from Cute European Houses Inc.

Mira, this picture is of one of those nice little complexes.  You would never know that the adjacent street was lined with trash. 

Its sounds weird, but this sort of contrast is a good description of the town.  Because its so close to Gibraltar (or Gib to the Brits) and Africa, La Línea has an incredible mix of cultures.  Several bars cater specifically to the English and the schools in Gib, along with the Queen´s English, teach a language that´s a  Spanish-English-Mediterranean mix called Llanito. It´s really wild to listen to because at first it sounds like they are just meshing English and Spanish words together:  ´´Quieres a spot of tea, porque quiero ir a...´´ But its not a simple mix - its more complex.  Think of a techno DJ who remixes the new single from Brittany Spears meets Pink Floyd: ''Wish you were here to hit me baby one more time."  Both Brittany and Roger are there, but with some weird lights and lots of bass. The weird lights and bass are odd bits of Mediterranean syntax and grammar that have sneaked their way in over the years.

And yeah, there's Llanito in a wild musically metaphorical nutshell.  Hope y'all can decipher my metaphors.  I'll be back with more soon.

Happy trails,

Saturday, September 25, 2010

La Línea

Hey again guys,

It hasn´t been very long since my last post in blog time, but its been awhile in the real life.  I left Sevilla yesterday and arrived in La Línea de la Concepción last night.  My time in Sevilla was pretty cool, though we didn´t really get to do much more than our orientation.  And 6-7 horas of orientation plus jet-lag can be a rough few days.  However, we did get a chance to see a flamenco show and experience some of the Spanish night life.  People generally don´t go out until at least 10 p.m.  And not just the youth are out...grandparents and children all go out to eat and socialize.  One of our teachers, who was from Spain, this week told as that the Spaniards favorite sport is discussion.  So everyone pretty much leaves their house to go chill in the streets and talk to one another.

Oh and before I go any further.  I know you guys were wondering the coffee is in fact awesome.  The standard type they serve is espresso.  Only a few places serve café americano.  Here is a picture of the remnants of my airport coffee.  Sometime soon I´ll try to get a picture of the real thing.  It had créme and everything!

So moving on, as far as towns go, La Línea has been pretty nice so far.  Its kinda small, como 30,000 personas but its pretty quaint.  The outskirts of the city I´ve heard can be dangerous because the unemployment rate is so high, many people have become gypsies.  Though within the city center it is really nice. My hotel is on the Mediterranean and the view is absolutely beautiful.  And you can walk from the med to the Atlantic quite easily.  It takes around 10-15 min at the narrowest point of the town.

Here is what my hotel in La Línea looks like

Here is the view from my hotel 

And here´s some random rock I found...

I´m gonna head off to eat for now, but I´ll be sure to post some more pictures and adventures soon!

¡Hasta luego!


Friday, September 24, 2010

Finally in Spain...though I know its late

Sorry this first one took so long...the internet here is unreliable at times.  Anyways here goes.  I'm going to try to suppress my perfectionist tendencies and just let it flow, so expect some weird grammar and what not.

So here I am, finally in Spain, finally in the hotel.  The trip so far has been very nice, though admittedly getting into the country was a little exhausting.  For those of you who haven’t heard the story, it goes like this: My two traveling partners (Meg and Hillary), who I met in college, and I woke up bright and early on the 18th of September to arrive at the airport by 5:30 a.m.  Before I go any further, thank you to all our parents for bringing us that early! You guys are great!  Anyway, we said our goodbyes and hopped a plane to Dallas.  From there, we spent almost 11 hours waiting from our 6:45 a.m. arrival to our 5:40 p.m. departure.  Needless to say, it was a pretty grueling wait, though we were fortunate enough in the fact that the Dallas airport is neatly contained within an overpriced shopping mall.  It sounds ridiculous, but no joke.  That place is massive.  Anyway, after that adventure we were politely informed that though our flight had arrived on time  they had decided for reasons unknown to switch our plane with another, which would of course require both cleaning and inspection.  However, through our haze of travel a small light shone through.  They had overbooked the plane!  Sounds anticlimactic, but the management then informed us that each person who volunteered to give up their seat would be given an $800.00 travel voucher and free lodging/meals until the next flight.  After some unnecessary-long-and-upon-hindsight-silly discussion we decided to try and give up our seats.  Alas, the clouds rejoined over our heads and the airline no longer needed anyone to give up their seats.  Ugh.  No way.  Attention passengers for flight 36 to Madrid: now approaching the 12th hour in Dallas with no end sight.
            Well, when in doubt wait.  And then wait some more.  So we did.  And we did.  And around hour 13 or so, a freak hurricane blew in over our heads and brought such a wind that it took our clouds with it.  The airline gods had decided that the plane was still overbooked!  Now! Go! Fast! No need for discussion! We jumped in line, handed our boarding passes to the more than slightly disgruntled employee to secure our place in Olympus – cruising at 30,000 feet. Tomorrow.  Weighed down by 800 clams of cold hard vouchers. 
            Wanna hear the end yet? Yeah, I did too.  After handing over our passes we looked at the attendant expectantly until she…

…asked us to wait some more.  Yeah, I know right?  Soon after, the plane began to board and we watched everyone get on.  It was now into hour number 14 and we really just wanted to know what to do.  Ok so eventually everyone boarded the plane, and with only a few questions, the lady finally informed us that we had secured our vouchers, hotel, and flight to Madrid tomorrow!  YES! Sweet strange gods of closure! Thank you for that and for getting us the hell out of the Dallas airport! After the news we did the only thing we could do: get a beer and some food.  And yes, finally, after 15 hours in the airport we were able to leave and finally get some rest.
            As a side note to this story, the hotel we stayed was really quite nice.  If you ever wonder why plane tickets are so expensive, this is the reason.  Overbooking happens often apparently, (we were part of a group no less than 20) and they do not skimp on the details.  I would be surprised if the hotel was less than $200 dollars/night AND they put us up for 2 nights so we wouldn’t have to check out at 11:00.  How sweet.

This is the hotel room...and Meg:

            Luckily, from here on out it was pretty smooth sailing.  We made our new flight to Madrid, arrived on time, and discovered our connection flight was at a later time so we got to relax in an airport once again.  As is common in Spain, the flight was about 45 minutes late (though no one informed us of this, which leads me to believe how common it must have been) but we made it to the hotel in time for the beginning orientation.  Not too bad for my first unguided trip out of the country.  Though honestly, the real miracle was that none of us lost our luggage during this run-around (which we had not seen since Little Rock) and it arrived WITH US on the plane from Madrid to Seville.  Finalmente, quiero decir que whoever you are my dear mystery person, with a degree in American Airlines baggage handling, well done.  Well done.