Posts Tagged With: arrival

There and back again

My dear readers, I have embarked on a new adventure. Guess where I am – yet again!

London has called me back and I have followed that calling. It has been over a year since I left and I remember telling my lovely host mom and the neighbours that I would come back.

Well yes, I did. And I’m staying with them once again. Yay! https://i0.wp.com/www.fanboysoftheuniverse.com/images/uploads/Yay.jpg

The journey here was relatively eventless. Possibly because I have by now made the trip to London a few times and I no longer get overly excited by that. Everything went smoothly. The flight arrived only about ten minutes later than planned and I got my suitcase without waiting (I actually had to walk quite fast to catch it – otherwise it would have gone around the belt a second time!). The queue in front of the bus was longer than I had hoped but not as bad as last year when I first arrived (remember my very first post?).

At Golders Green I was challenged by the fact that it is indeed no longer possible to pay for your ticket on the bus. I actually had to get an Oyster card for that 20 minute trip, but oh well. I probably won’t get my student oyster card before next week, so now I’ll just use the normal one until then.

I made a quick stop at Waitrose to get something to drink and cereals for breakfast tomorrow – the Waitrose hasn’t changed a bit! I found everything in the same lanes as last year (or maybe they changed it inbetween but are now back to the old way? Who knows…)  https://i1.wp.com/media.tumblr.com/tumblr_macgdfyqFW1rwmb58.gif

At my new home I was greeted by my neighbours, since my host mom is on holidays. I was treated to a lovely dinner (lasagne and cake for desert!) and now I’m sitting in my room, the suitcase is empty and most stuff at the same place as last time I was here. There aren’t many changes around the house, the biggest and for me most tragic, however is: The flatscreen in my living room is gone! Imagine my face when I saw that: https://i2.wp.com/www.troll.me/images/sad-guy/why-just-why.jpg

 (Of course, I’m exaggerating. It would have been nice to have, but I’ll live without it.)

Well people, that’s it for today. Over the weekend, I’ll go on a few reconaissance missions around the area, see what has changed. On monday, uni starts with that whole orientation stuff (or in German, because I love the word: Gedöns.)

I’m pretty sure that will be exciting and I’ll tell you about it. So stay tuned! (And subscribe, if you haven’t done that by now…)

 

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La llegada

Hola amigos y amigas!

Pues, es el tiempo para una nueva entrada. Me parece un poco extraño escribir en inglés porque ahora vivo en España, no? Tengo que practicar mi español más. Yo sé que casi nadie de vosotros habla español, por eso voy a escribir en inglés sin embargo.

There you go, people. Who understood that? It truly feels strange to write English while being here in Spain. Therefore, I will keep writing in English most of the time, but there will be Spanish parts as well. Who knows, you guys might learn Spanish alongside me this way.

I arrived safe and sound two days ago in the evening. The flight was actually too early and we had to circle above the sea for a quarter hour before we could land. The airport in Barcelona is big and I had to walk quite a while to get to the baggage belts. But I didn’t have to wait long for my huge suitcase to arrive. I am still surprised at how smooth everything went. I asked for directions to the bus at the information – in Spanish of course – and found the bus easily. I had to change to the metro at some point, which was a bit complicated with all my stuff, but I managed.  I had tried to message my German flat mate, but I wasn’t sure if it got through. When I arrived at my metro stop, I called her and she came to collect me. How nice!

The flat is comfortable enough, the living room is bright and we have a balcony, but it is rather loud because it looks out to the street. My room is next to the hall, so I hear quite a lot of what is going on at the staircase. The room is small but cosy, I have just enough space for all my stuff. Luckily for me, I’m small – otherwise, the bed would be too short.  So far, I like it here. I have my own space in the fridge and a small cupboard for pasta, cornflakes and the sort.

The day I arrived I didn’t do anything but unpacked and fell into bed. It was late enough. The next morning I first went to do some shopping, getting all the necessities such was bread, milk, cheese and so on. There are several supermarkets just down the street, so it’s not too bad to go shopping. And compared to London, it is quite cheap, too! In the afternoon, I went to find an office to get my student travel card. You can buy it at the ticket machine but they require an ID with only numbers and since the German ID has letters as well as numbers I didn’t quite know what to put in. I researched the office on the internet and took the metro to get there. They then told me there was a number on my ID that I could use, the one printed in the middle of the front – I have always wondered what that is for, so know I know! It’s for Barcelona Transport! (Just kidding) I managed to get the student travel card with that information and know I can get around for 90 days without worrying about travel expenses.

I had the big camera with me as well and I took some first pictures of my street and the surroundings. I still have to get used to that thing, but I’m sure I’ll manage soon enough. The weather is pretty nice by the way, it’s sunny but not too hot, I’d say around 20 degrees. It is supposed to be raining soon, but we’ll see how the weather develops around here. I watched a few episodes of Downton Abbey yesterday and just tried to get used to the flat. I had pasta with tomato sauce for dinner, a pretty safe meal to cook on an unfamiliar hearth.

Since my landlady wasn’t there the evening I arrived, I met her for the first time yesterday. She is lovely, she speaks slowly for our sake and if she talks about numbers, she writes them on the wall so we understand exactly what she says. I think that is very nice of her. I understand her very well in any case; I just have to get into answering with more than Muy bien or something equally intelligent. She invited me to a concert this evening, but I’m not sure yet if we’re going or not, she hasn’t told me about the details yet. I hope we go, though.

Today I tried to get my NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjeros), but it is so much harder than I thought. Spanish officials don’t seem to tend to their websites much, so the information on there is mostly outdated and contradicting. I managed to find an address and went there this morning, but the officer outside told me that I have to go to the main office or something and call them beforehand. I really don’t get all that bureaucracy. I might try that main office thing tomorrow, if I feel like it. Otherwise I’ll have to ask at my workplace if they know how it works – it was their idea that I get that wretched NIE in the first place (Yes I know I need it and it’s not their fault, but it is still annoying).

I encountered a few small shops on the way though, so that’s not too bad. There are so many shoe shops, little markets with fruit and vegetables and clothing shops around here, it’s quite nice. There are even draperies, which is great should I decide I want to sew something. I bought some cherries because, to quote my English landlady, I have to eat more fruit! So once I got back home, I sat on the balcony, had some cherries and read a book. I started a Spanish one – there are some on my ebook reader that had come with its purchase. I don’t understand much, but I get the general idea of it and I’m sure it will get better over time. I try to listen to Spanish songs and maybe I’ll even find a nice series to watch and to practice.

Ok, I think this is it so far. We’ll see what else I’ll be doing the next days before work starts. I am happy everything has worked out so smoothly and I will have a great time here. ¡Hasta luego!

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Amsterdam Adventure Part I

Here we go! The long anticipated entry about my trip to Amsterdam!

It was another journey that started in the dead of the night with my alarm going off at 2:45. God, I wanted to keep sleeping! But I also wanted to go to Amsterdam, so I dragged myself out of bed and on the road to the night bus station. It was so early that no regular bus was running, let alone the tube. I had purchased tickets for the easybus Gatwick Transfer from West Brompton and since I have never been there before, I wanted to have some puffer time. I changed at Baker Street and arrived safely and on time at the pick-up point. It was not really a bus I was getting in, rather one of those big taxis where about a dozen people fit into, which was a lot more comfortable. I slept on the way to the airport, it was about an hour and a half.

So far, I have always travel to or from London Stansted, so this was the first time at Gatwick. It is a lot bigger, so I had to walk for a while to get to the security check. I stopped at a Boots shop to purchase ear plugs – a wise decision, as you will see later. I had loads of time anyway since I had calculated for a lot of buffer time (after the stress with Galway, I really didn’t want to take any risks), so I read my book and waited for my friend Colette to arrive. She came just in time, apparently she had taken the first tube and there had been delays already – seriously, at that hour? Geez, what’s up with this city? But she made it and we both boarded the plane. Since we hadn’t purchased the tickets together, I had a seat in the front and she in the back. Oh well, it was only about one hour anyway. I actually had a whole row for myself, but since I slept soundly through the whole flight (I didn’t even noticed we had started), it didn’t really matter.

When we landed, the weather in Amsterdam was much the same as in London – grey and rainy. We felt at home immediately! (Just joking.) Schiphol Airport is also very big and confusing and we walked about a bit until we found a Starbucks to have breakfast. It was expensive, as always, but at least I got Hot chocolate and an egg and bacon sandwich to fill me up. It was eleven o’clock local time, and I hadn’t eaten anything since three in the morning, so it was about time. Colette and I then went to purchase train tickets to the city center. It was easy enough and soon after we were sitting in a train to Amsterdam Centraal. It takes about 15 minutes to get there, how lovely is that?

At the station we looked for lockers, since my friend didn’t want to carry her bag around the whole day. Quite understandable, for that thing was heavy and you couldn’t wheel it. We found the lockers at the very end of the station and safely locked the stuff away. I kept my little suitcase, and we then made our way out into the city.

Since we had no idea where we were going, we just kept strolling along the main road, looking at the little shops and restaurants and trying to get a first feeling for the city. It was not really raining, so we enjoyed walking. Our friend, Hannah, would arrive later in the afternoon and we had some hours to kill before that, so we went into almost every store along the way. I bought a shirt at New Yorkers and Colette some earrings at Bijou Brigitte and we spent quite a while in Waterstones looking at the books and exchanging novel recommendations. Colette has a book blog, too, you might want to check it out: Colette’s blog. After about two hours of walking around, we were getting tired and settled down in a small cafe called Le Pain Quotidien. They had lovely homemade ice tea which we enjoyed very much. We spent about an hour in there and with about another one to go, we headed out again to grab some chips. On our way into the city we had tried some chips with weed sauce – yes, you read correctly, weed sauce! It is apparently mayonnaise with weed in it – it tasted disgusting. But the chips were very good and we decided to give it a try with normal mayonnaise sauce. The place is called Manneken pis, I recommend you trying a portion of chips there if you ever get to Amsterdam.

We were eating our lunch when I got a text from Hannah saying she had arrived, so we made our way back to the station to meet her. Finally, our little adventurous group was complete! After collecting Colette’s bag, we decided to find our hotel and to settle in. Since we had no idea where to go, we asked for help and were directed to tram line number 1. We purchased our tickets and enjoyed our first ride on the Amsterdam tram. We got of at some place that sounded remotely like Leicester Square and I took the lead to find the hotel – since I had the address and all. It took us quite a while, not because we were lost but because that station was most certainly not the closest one to the hotel and we were all tired and didn’t want to carry our stuff around much longer. Luckily we finally found the place (It’s called Hotel Vivaldi). It is a two star hotel, more like a hostel, but it suited our needs and was not too expensive. We checked in and got the room card. The funny thing is that the hotel is divided into two buildings – the lobby and reception is in one house and some of the rooms are in another, about 100m down the street. That’s where our room was, too. But I didn’t mind and since I had read some reviews beforehand, I knew what to expect.

The room was rather small, just enough for the bunk bed and single bed and some room to turn. We had our own bathroom, which was nice, but there was no window and not even a ventilation system, which would be annoying later. For now, we were happy with our accommodation and settled in. We didn’t get WiFi in our room for now, so after we had a short break we went over to the lobby to get access and tell everybody via mail, Whatsapp or Facebook that we had arrived safely. It was about 5:30 when we decided to look for a place to eat and we headed out. There was a place close to the hotel that seemed to offer breakfast and pancakes and all and we decided to try that out in the morning – it looked a lot more appetizing than the breakfast room at the hotel, even though that would only cost 3€. For dinner, we were looking for something cheap but good and that took quite a while. There were some restaurants and diners, but they were either too expensive or looked dubious. After walking for almost half an hour we finally settled for a small Italian restaurant that had reasonable prices. The food was okay, not the very best but it tasted good and filled us up. It was still early when we finished and we kept walking around a bit more, looking around the small flower market close-by. We then returned to our place and once again found ourselves in the lobby for internet access. We had decided we wanted to watch a movie in the evening – since Colette had brought her laptop – so we rented Tarzan on iTunes. There’s nothing like a good old Disney movie at the end of a long day! The three of us got ready for bed and emerged ourselves in the jungle with the gorillas. We agreed to set the alarm for ten the next day and then snuggled into bed. I plugged in my earplugs, because our toilet just wouldn’t shut up and there were other people in the building making some noise, and I slept happily until the next morning.

Well, this is it so far, I won’t overwhelm you and write about one day at a time. I hope you enjoyed it so far, I will be back after a short break!

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