Monday, February 16, 2015

Barcelona: Travel and arrival

For our first jaunt out of Kazakhstan since arrival - Alex's February winter holiday (she also has/had weeks off in January, March and April) we decided on Barcelona.  Somehow in all my travels, I've wanted to go there for about 20 years and had never made it.

The trip started at o'dark-thirty when the taxi came to get us to the airport. One of Alex's friends was going on a "girls' trip' with her mother (one of my friends) and took the first leg with us.  Girls sat together, Terry was with them so I have no idea what they were doing but they were definitely entertained. Zoltan was able to stretch out on 2 seats and rest his pillows against me and slept about 1.5 hours. Always a good start to a trip.

At some point during our transit, Alex's wiggly tooth fell out.  It turns out that Spanish tooth fairies, like Kazakhstani and American, leave one coin (in this case a Euro) and a new toothbrush for the first tooth lost in-country.

Our transfer didn't allow much time, just breakfast and about 1/2 hour in the family fun zone, then on to Barcelona! We had debated whether to buy SIM cards upon arrival or not and in the end our bank account is eternally grateful we decided to spend the 15 Euro for an hour of talk time and 900mb of data.  We got to use it all pretty quickly, as our taxi driver had trouble finding the address for the apartment we rented.  He got pretty close when I pulled it up on Google Maps, and in the end we had to call the host and put her on the phone with the cabbie. Turns out we had stopped one half block away from the place, so she came out and walked us in.  First impression:  the place is super crazy tiny and absolutely freezing.  There is barely an extra inch for storage so we had to get creative with the suitcases after unpacking. The kitchen area was also "cozy" so not much room for provisions after figuring in the crockery and cookery. We got the heat going and it didn't seem to help. Jet lagged, we all lay down, me still in my fleece coat.

Our afternoon was simple:  we found a grocery store, fruit stand, playground and restaurant.  We realized it was Saturday in a city where much was closed on Sunday, so some level of provisioning was essential. On the perimeter of the little plaza a couple of blocks from the apartment were not one but three bakeries.  Only one had breads without milk, though, so it was our haunt. I think by the end of the trip one of the ladies there recognized me.

Upon our return home the apartment was still cold. It was bedtime for the kids so we got them as cozy as we could and into bed. We were soon in bed ourselves.  I was still freezing. Terry decided to check the filters in the split-pack and his hunch was good - they were caked and filthy.  As soon as he removed them the heat started to flow.  He cleaned and returned them and all became right in the world.

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