Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sara Came to Spain!!!

Thanks to Continental airlines and Xanax, my good friend and former roommate, Sara visited Barcelona this past week, and it was so so much fun. It was her first time in Spain so I was determined to show her a good time and I think it was pretty successful.

We saw all the major sites of the city, like Tibidabo, Parc Guell, Sagrada Familia, various Guadi buildings, Las Ramblas and of course, the famous Irish pub in Port Olimpic that has generated so many of my fun memories here. But, as expected, the highlights of the trip weren’t so much the sites of the city but the general silliness that usually accompanies any Sara/Ali outing. Some of the best moments from this visit are as follows:

- Meeting a new friend from Belgium named Jacob. Sara thought it was polite to call him
by his native pronunciation of the name, which sounds like Yah-kub, and proceeded to
say his name to punctuate pretty much every sentence she said in his presence

with our buddy, Jacob

- We went to a bar/club with a DJ and Sara approached him to request a song. He said
he couldn't oblige her requests for the likes of Justin, Britney, Gaga or Kanye. Since I’d
been there before I knew the golden ticket to get the crowd going. I leaned across the
DJ booth and asked in my best “English with a Spanish accent” for him to play “Meester
Yones.” He nodded and a few minutes later, Sara got to see how the youth of Barcelona
really gets down- to early nineties alternative rock by the Counting Crows

- Sara’s new thing is taking videos on her camera and she captured some amazing moments
on video- such as my tough love style of friendship, when you can hear me saying
forcefully “Sara, put your camera away and get out your metro card, now…Sara, put the
camera away, put it away now!”
- We made a quick stop in a shot bar one night. As we were trying to decide what to order,
Sara spotted people doing a flaming shot, and as she exclaimed “They’re doing a shot
that’s on fire!” I just shouted repeatedly at the bartender, “Algo con fuego!!!” Luckily we
had a Spanish friend with us who was able to successfully order us some pretty cool shots
that involved a half an orange peel filled with alcohol, set atop a shot glass then set aflame.

- In another video you see some enthusiastic men jumping around and dancing. Sara’s
narration reports that “these are Irish guys, dancing to some Irish song.” I broke it to her
later that the Irish song the guys loved so much was called “Human” and it was by The Killers

- She put me in my place about music later, though, when she informed me that she was
relatively certain that she had been the first person in Akron, OH to discover Nelly. I
asked where she’d discovered him, to which she replied “The radio.”

drinks on her last night in town

- While there were so many great things to see in the city, one of the most fun nights was
spent hanging out at my apartment listening to our favorite songs from our days as
roommates and rapping as only suburban white girls can. Some of our best numbers
include “Gold Digger,” P.I.M.P. and the Nelly Remix of N Sync’s “Girlfriend.” The videos
of this will not be shared in a public forum of any kind.
rapping, obv

Monday, January 18, 2010

Transportation Retardation

I may have gotten a little too used to driving while I was home for the holidays, because I've had some issues with the metro since my return to Barcelona.

On Friday night I needed to take the metro to teach a private lesson across town, close to the school where I teach most of my classes. I had a ten ride metro card, which I thought had two rides left on it. Since I usually go out assuming I'm going to get pick-pocketed, I only take what I really need so when I left I didn't grab any cash or credit/debit card to take with me .

When I put the card into the slot and walked through the turnstile, the machine showed that I had just used the last ride.


I was tight on time as it was so I had to go straight to the lesson and couldn't go back to my place to get money for a new card. After the lesson I looked in my little change purse to see if I might have enough to buy a single ride ticket. A single ride is €1.40. I had €1.32.


I was about a 1.5-2 hour walk from my apartment, and not entirely sure how I to get there on foot. Once the lesson was finished, I wandered around the metro station like homeless person, looking for change on the ground or in the ticket machines. I called Laura, mainly to laugh about the situation since there wasn't anything she could do. She said I should ask someone for money but I could not bring myself to do that. Finally I decided to go over to my school on the off chance my boss was still there at 8:30 on a Friday night.

Thank God for the rare European workaholic.

She was on her way out but she was still there. She gave me a single ride metro card she had but at the last minute, gave me ten cents too, just in case. It was a good thing she did, since the card she gave me didn't work. I had visions of one of the coins slipping from my fingers and rolling beneath the ticket machine, but the transportations gods smiled on me and the trip went smoothly.

I got home, got my debit card and went down to buy an unlimited monthly card.

Then on Saturday night, on my way home at around 6am, when again entering the metro turnstile, I managed to slide my card into the seam of the machine right above the card slot. My friends tried to help get it out but it was really wedged in there. A guard noticed me staring, glassy-eyed and helpless at the machine and was able to open it up and fish the card out for me.

I'm thinking of trying to do more walking from now on.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

"Welcome to America, Here's Your Gun"

In one of my adult classes this week, half the students did not attend. Thus, the ones who did were able to cajole me into having, instead of a grammar lesson, a two hour chat session about whatever struck their fancy.

One of the things we talked about was my trip home for the holidays. In talking about the US, some of their ideas and preconceived notions about America and Americans came out that surprised me. According to what they know from movies and TV:

- Most Americans live in New York City
- Pretty much everyone has a gun
- The majority of men drive pickup trucks
- There is a hot dog cart on every corner of every street in the country
- There are many, many farms with many, many cows

This led to me telling them what people in America thought of Spain and Spanish people. I told them that many Americans probably didn't know a whole lot about Spain at all but the ones who do think that:

- They drink a lot of wine
- They eat dinner late and stay up late
- They take a long break in the middle of the day
- They don't work too much

They conceded that this was a fair assessment and we moved on to a discussion of favorite vacation spots.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Peace Be With You

In an email to me today, my mom mentioned that she learned she had not gotten a job she'd interviewed for editing the parish bulletin for her church. She followed that statement with a hearty "WTF?!"

I replied with an indignant "What the HELL?!"

I can't imagine why she didn't get the job.

Back in Barca

I'm officially back to my life in Barcelona. How do I know? Well, I watched TV and movies on my computer, I'm typing with chilly, numb fingers, I have laundry hung out on clotheslines to dry and I am dreading teaching my disobediant and hyper theater class on Wednesday.

You know how else I know I'm back? I went for a walk today and saw no fewer than three beautiful fountains and multiple gorgeous buildings, I'm eating fruits and vegetables again, I got an enthusiastic welcome back head nod and smile from my buddy who works in the convenience store downstairs and I sat in a cafe yesterday and read about the Spanish royal family in a gossip magazine while sipping cafe con leche.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Mission Accomplished

I have certainly been remiss in my blogging over the past couple of weeks, but I'm not sorry since I've been having too good a time with friends and family to sit down and write anything.

It has been a great visit and I've gotten to do and see and have pretty much everything and everyone I wanted...well, I haven't done any people, that was misleading, perhaps not the best way to phrase that. In any event, it's been fun.

Some of the things I was most excited about and got to do are the following (you'll notice something of a correlation to the post I wrote about what I miss about the US):

- I ate multiple Wawa hoagies and other delights
- I got to meet and hold my cousin Jen's new baby
- I had Haagen Dazs Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream, thanks to a late-night sojourn by Jackie and Andrew
- I played shuffle board at my Uncle's bar
- I drank Yeungling and requested about $15 worth of songs on the juke box at Tierney's in Montclair
- I went to the spa with my mom, sister and sister in law and got a massage
- I sang Karaoke with my cousin in front of several family members and other bar patrons
- I slept to my heart's content in my super comfy bed in Sea Isle City
- I got a guitar for Christmas and bought a book to learn how to play it
- I went grocery shopping with my Dad, which has been one of our 'things' since I was about 6 years old
- I got to see just about all of my best friends (and I really am one of the luckiest people ever in that I actually do have about five best friends)
- I helped decorate the Christmas tree
- I just got to be silly with my brother and sister
- I played some slots in Atlantic City
- I rubbed my pregnant friend's belly and helped construct the crib for the baby
- I visited Coyne PR and hung out with my old colleagues
- I went to see a show at the UCB
- I wrapped presents and cuddled with my sister
- I ate a few slammin Greco family weekend breakfasts
- I got to be home