Saturday, June 29, 2013

Adventures in home exchange NYC-Barcelona (Day 1-2)

The idea of exchanging apartments always excited me. I love traveling and knew that my beloved (and sometimes hated) b&b's just won't cut it once we have children. Kids are needy (and some adults are also, but that;s for another blog entry). They need breakfast the second they get up, they want to take closet full of toys with them on a vacation and they go through clean clothes like you wouldn't believe. No matter how amazing (or expensive) a hotel may be, these services are not part of their marketing plan. We needed to find another solution for a vacation that would be affordable and would encompass all our needs and so I figured, a home exchange with a family with similar age children would be just what we needed.

I went on and within minutes found an apartment/family I liked. I signed up for a year long service, emailed the people .. aaand never heard from them :( Having been rejected, I abandoned the idea and did not return to it until 3 months later. This time I wrote a nice profile, managed to find impressive photos of our apartment and put together a profile describing what an amazing place we have. It felt a little bit like being a real estate broker and an online dater all in one ... I looked through profiles, studied photos, read descriptions of areas I've never heard of and finally found one that I felt connected to. The family emailed back within 20 minutes, we skyped the next day and now it's July and I am sitting behind their desk in Barcelona, while expecting them to arrive any minute to our homey digs in Brooklyn.

We are staying in Barcelona for the entire month of July and it is promising to be a real adventure for all of us. Our new apartment is in the are called Poblenou, which according to Wikipedia means "new people".  The closest big street to us is Avenida Diagonal, which has two bicycle lanes and a wide walking path in the middle with benches and people rollerblading, running and walking (or dancing like LoLo did today). We have a view of the Sagrada Familia, the cucumber building and Tibidabo from the glass walls of our 12th floor home.

Day 1: 
Having just arrived, we decided to take a walk to a supermarket, which is also part of a shopping mall. We are located in the middle of the Avenida Diagonal, which also has a mall on both sides.
Around the corner is a little playground, where we stopped and picked up wilted tree flowers and tossed them around ... so little is enough to have so much fun ...

The food store was just like any giant food store in the US, with a difference that their seafood section takes up an entire isle and it is so fresh, it actually moves around the display table (not kidding).

We stocked up on all necessary groceries and brought it home in a taxi. The one item we did not buy was toilet paper - having previously assessed the tp situation as "no need, have enough". This situation rapidly changed, as I found three rolls in one of the bathrooms all soaking wet, but carefully placed back to their place of origin. I cross examined the entire family about the event, but  there was no admission of the deed by anyone (though Lola has been smirking ever since. I am not sure if it's because of the TP or the chewy candy gone missing from my nightstand). 

We had three dinners. One at 5 pm, another one at 9 pm and yet another one at 1 am. We sat around the table eating Spanish bread and butter with tomatoes and loved it. LoLo thinks it's New Year's Eve all over again because of the late bedtime and the fireworks sew from our window. 

Day 2. 
Wake up time: 11 am! We are getting better at this! That's an hour earlier than the previous day! Decided to stay local, as we wanted to come back for an afternoon nap and were worried about meltdowns, crankiness and general unpleasant behavior due to jetlag of all parties involved. Glories is the other shopping mall on the opposite side of Avenida Diagonal and a few blocks away is Barcelona's most famous flea market ... Now, I love flea markets, but Geoffrey is repulsed by the idea of buying something old, used or smelly for that matter. I love the idea of old, used and non-smelly, so we went and did not find much beyond a bunch of men waving their hands at me not to take photos .. ooops I already did ... bad, bad tourist!!! (I can't help my impulses ... ) 

I could spend the entire day here! Watching people haggle, rummaging through photos, books, memories that once may have been somebody's treasures. I would want to interview all the items .. where they came from, who used them, what happened to the owner, why are they on the unwanted pile? Who would they want their next owner to be? How long have they been lying around this dusty market? It's a shame items can't talk ... (that reminds me of LoLo's baby clothes quilt that I should finish when I get back to NYC ... they will tell a story ... ). Anyway, I wasn't impressed by the goods, but still loved the atmosphere, as I always do at any market wether flea or fruit or flower any other ...

LoLo got Spanish fans that they kept fanning the world with them for the rest of the day .. You know, just so we "blend in" and don't look like tourists ...

We took a short nap for about three hours and headed out for dinner. What else to do on vacation besides scheduling your day around food? We are on our third round on octopus, second paella, numerous glasses of sangria and wine, bread with tomatoes and for those prosciutto friendly vegetarians (just like myself) there is always JAMON ... 

Walking through the old part of Poblenou we found this amazing balcony full of flowers ... 

... and a wall painted with strips of different color and these people hanging around ... 
We are learning one Spanish word a day and today's word is CANITA and means "straw"
(popote in Mexico, pitillo in Colombia and sorbeto en Puerto Rico) ...
no wonder my Spanish is so pobre :)))
That's all for two days ... we are LOLOving it here!

Adios, LV

No comments:

Post a Comment