Thursday, April 26, 2012

London's calling

I liked London. It was noisy, endless, full of crowds, buses, narrow streets and charming buildings. It had Big Ben, the London Eye, the Gherkin and the Westminster Abbey. It had all these tourists, and hipsters, and people saying "wanker" and "gent" all the time. It had cups of tea for 70 pence (pences?). I have a feeling that you can't really not like London, not if you are here for one day.

But it was all very strange to me. Looking at these sights, that everybody knows, that I know and have seen countless times, I could never put them in context of everything else around them. Big Ben was simply a clock to me. I had zero sense of space it belongs to. I had no idea what Piccadilly Circus is really like (it's a circus alright). And the traffic is moving in all the wrong directions: I jaywalked more than I care to admit and jumped away from cars suddenly turning from unexpected angles even more often.

Good thing came out of this very short visit: I decided against wanting to live there. I suspect that it's a thing among young and maybe not-so-young ambitious folks; living in London is cool, it's like living in New York or Los Angeles, and everybody at some point could aspire to it. I'm done with it myself, though, London is much too... New York-ish for me.

Loved the cabs, though. And signs that claimed that "this door is alarmed".

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Renovations Catalan-style

Today two men came into my Barcelona apartment. Initially I didn't understand what they wanted at all, but I opened the door and let them in anyway because I was hoping they came to fix the air-conditioning that has been broken for weeks. While I was doing so, my North American paranoia started to kick in: what am I thinking? What if they just want to case the apartment? What if they break in to steal stuff later? What if something else? There are two of them and only one of me! Plus, I don't yet know how to say "I changed my mind, please come back later" in Spanish (something to consider learning, perhaps).

Actually, what they were doing in reality was fixing some rotten tiles on the balcony. After a few minutes of watching all the grey paint, cement, and chisels make appearance, I was quite sure they were in truth repairmen making rounds in every apartment in the building, as ordered by the finca administrador. I called my friend just to be sure, and she talked to them, but at that point I was already in my European mindset, relaxed. This is Spain, after all. The whole thing is just so Spanish: no note in the entrance hall for the residents, no warning, just show up, ring the bell, stomp all over the carpet, get the job done, then yell from the balcony to another person on another balcony and head over there to repeat.

Also, right at the door I informed these guys that my Spanish was very bad, which is apparently true when it comes to construction lingo, but in more social situations I fare alright. So I understood perfectly when they discussed me in hushed voices and rather flattering terms. Adorable.