4.20.2009

The business of starting anew...

Over the last couple weeks, I've spent many hours walking the streets of Barcelona, not with an eye toward entertaining future visitors that have already reserved their spot at Hotel Mandy, but rather toward day-to day existence as I settle in to life in yet another new country. It's an almost laughable contrast-- to walk right past famous buildings of Gaudi's architecture and hardly blink, but almost break out into an all-out happy dance when I come across a store that carries Old El Paso Mexican products.

No. I'm not ashamed to admit this. When you've experience expatriation before, you understand that immediate priorities center around seeking that which makes you feel at home and comfortable over exploring the foreign surroundings. After all, there's plenty of time for touring once guests arrive (in four weeks).

Compared to the snail-like pace of my start in Germany, I have accomplished quite a bit in Spain. I've joined a gym, started salsa classes two times a week, gone to an expat-meet-up, and gotten on a first-name basis with some of the local business owners. I think I'm making good progress in establishing a home--which, for me, includes more than just a roof over my head.

This is not say the roof part isn't important. When Max and I visited our future apartment we were disappointed to discover almost no progress has been made on important building renovations. In fact, since we signed the contract in late January, the owners still have not acquired final permits for either the electrical or the elevator (and our apartment is on the top floor). Moreover, no work has been done on the private, roof-top terrace, which was a huge selling point for us. And even though we have verbal assurances we can move in by May 15th, I can't help but wonder if we don't have more bargaining power by holding out until we are completely satisfied.

Still, the inevitable relocation and logistical problems haven't put a damper on my mood. I can already tell I will enjoy this new life in Barcelona, which is complete with an elliptical machine, the makings for a decent burrito, and salsa dancing.

Really, could I ask for anything more?

14 comments:

American in Norway said...

Good for you! Sounds like you are doing great! Sorry that you left Germany though... we are going through Mannheim this summer! : (

kenju said...

Everything I see, hear or read about it seems to shout "great place to live!"

I'm glad to know you are enjoying it, but sorry about the lack or progress on your building. I think I might hold out until demands are met.

oreneta said...

There are plenty of guys looking for work, so it makes me wonder if your landlord has the cash to do the work....

Fingers crossed.

Glad you found a place to get ole el paso...was it carrefore, is there another spot???

Have to get together again, no?

G in Berlin said...

With my experience, I would expect that if you don't have an elevator before you move in you will never have one. How you feel about that should determine your actions.(I wouldn't move in- groceries and kids and bottles and bikes up and down stairs is a big NO WAY). I an so glad to hear that you like it- I knew you would. I look forward to you showing me your new city.-- Oh, we missed you. Stomach ok?

Diane Mandy said...

G - stomach not ok. I can never seem to escape Tut's gut after a vacation in Egypt. :-(

Rositta said...

Sounds familiar to me. The place we stay in Greece had no working elevator and no hot water for the past two years. No occupancy permit either mind you. This is all changing this year as we just bought our unit and I'm told on good authority that all will be working come September. Finding the familiar is not so bad, I know I always look for something from home in Greece. It's just human nature...ciao

J said...

Sounds like you're doing fine and are really living a charmed life. Congrats.

Tanya said...

I wouldnt move in unless you are prepared to do without...we are still waiting for promised hot water in the kitchen/laundry, curtains, a fridge bigger than a six pack etc...if we want them I guess now we will have to do it ourselves...but we kinda knew that!Spain sounds great to me cant wait to hear more of your adventures.

Dan-E said...

didn't mention before that spain is home to great wines called "rioja?" seriously, good stuff.

Connie said...

We're moving in June, and talking to the kids about the upcoming change. My son has been very worried about the lack of appropriate burrito supplies at our next post. He was only reassured when my hubby told him that if need be, I have a from-scratch tortilla recipe. :D Certain things ARE necessary!

gemma said...

Sounds like you're well on your way to another wonderful adventure. Congratulations on all you have accomplished to date.

A Touch of Dutch said...

Three cheers! I became happy for you just reading this! I hope the repairs & otherwise in the apartment will come together smoothly & quickly.

swenglishexpat said...

The business of the no-progress-apartment, welcome to Spain! I love Barcelona and Spain, but there is this "manaƱa" one has to get used to. ;-)

Jill said...

I totally agree... as an expat it's so important to dive in and take a strong hold of your new surroundings. Glad to hear that you're getting settled!