Thursday, January 20, 2011

Girona We Have Arrived

Hey everybody, Lisa and I have arrived safely to Girona. We had our share of travel problems, but thanks to patience, partnership and good food we made it still in good spirits.

After arriving to the airport on Monday for our 2pm flight, we called my dad at 4ish to say come get us, we are not going tonight. There was snow in Milwaukee and mechanical delays with our plane from the inbound flight and the delays with plowing the runway, so it was to the point where we would miss our connection in Newark and have to stay the night. We much preferred to stay with my folks again and catch a flight the next day.

We got re-booked on the first flight from Milwaukee to Newark to help give ourselves extra time for delays, but this meant we had a 6.5 hour layover in Newark. Well, as luck would have it, our plane was delayed an hour from the gate, then we got onto the last stretch of "road" before making the turn onto the runway and the pilot pulled the plane over to the "parking space" and came on the PA to announce that Newark had temporarily shut down all inbound flights due to freezing slush. Evidently it is a problem to try and land big airplanes on slippery cement? After 1.5 hours sitting on the runway, we were given the all clear and off we went.

Arrived in Newark and  had only 3.5ish hours to kill. Lisa and I went to find a sushi place I had eaten at before. After feeling like I had found it at a different airport, we turned the corner and there it was! We enjoyed a nice sushi lunch/dinner and resigned ourselves to try and kill the last 2.5 hours doing nothing. We walked and "shopped" a little bit, enjoyed a free sample of white chocolate Toblerone at a duty free shop and as the boarding time approached got a bowl of soup to make sure we were satisfied heading into our 7 hour flight.

Thankfully the flight to Barcelona was easy, with the exception of some bad turbulence at take off. It was due to some storms in the area. I think they may have been part of the same storm system that went through Milwaukee the day earlier and caused us the delay originally, but not sure.

After arriving in Barcelona, we went through the regular routine of passing customs and going to the baggage belt. No sooner had we gone through customs, used the restroom, gotten two luggage carts for our four suitcases (one was a smaller carry-on bag), two carry-on bags (shoulder computer bag and backpack), and two bike boxes/cases, did we arrive to the luggage belt to see our suitcases rolling through. What a great sign! Quickly our bags arrived and all seems well. We rolled over to the over-sized belt to pick up the bikes and what was two became one. Lisa's bike (conveniently my spare!) had arrived, but there was no sign of my bike. After checking other luggage belts, we decided to file the lost luggage claim, get the car and head home.

Currently we are staying at Levi's house while looking for an apartment. We have seen four apartments so far and have a real possibility in two of them. One is very contemporary and modern with newly updated appliances, furniture and bathroom (has a towel heater rack!). It is located very near our apartment from last year, above/on one of the busier streets in town, and closer to the train station. The other apartment is located basically opposite the other from our old apartment and has a pretty sweet location in the old town. It is a block or so down the street from the Rambla (walking business/restaurant district), in an old building with a lot of charm and the apartment stretches the length of the building with a window overlooking the street (basically a continuation of the Rambla) and the other window looks out over the river. Basically I would classify the two as modern/updated vs. old charm. Neither is perfect, but both are a possibility.

Tomorrow we have scheduled to see three more apartments and then we will probably make our decision. It is exciting to be looking at our possible home and at the same time very difficult because it is possibly our home for the next several years (hoping I can continue to ride/race or get a (re)new contract) because we don't want to be moving every year; it is not very easy! Because of this we are considering things very cautiously. We are weighing on other factors too such as the ability to host some people if they come visit or the ability to get get to the train station or the comfort level during the summer heat (blinds and a/c). Other factors include kitchen space or bathroom space and the economics of it. I guess basically I am running down the normal laundry list of things people consider when looking into a living arrangement, so moving on.

Today I went out for a nice first ride in Girona. It was nice to not be fighting the cold weather, the roads were pleasant and peaceful, and it was nice to be on a road bike again; although, it was not my bike! Thanks Lisa for letting me borrow your bike!

Lisa went for a run around the neighborhood up here at Levi's and enjoyed herself I believe. It is a different area for her to run because Levi lives a little bit outside of the hustle and bustle of the Girona center, so it is nice for her.

We had an oven roasted chicken, with gnocchi and vegetables for dinner. It was quite delicious and especially enjoyable while watching the first season of "Two and a Half Men" (thank you Grandma and Grandpa Savre!). We bought a whole chicken and roasted it ourselves. It is very easy to do and usually tastes better than simply buying chicken breast or whatever is already cleaned up or done for you. We are trying to do more dishes like this because it seems more economical and they are really quite simple to do. We have always shied away from it I think because it seems difficult and it is not so simple to just throw together, but really it is quite simple to turn the oven on, throw a chicken or beef roast in a pan and let it go; just takes a little for thought. Anyway, enough about our food!

Wait, one other food related thing. Yesterday after seeing the first two apartments, we stopped in one of our favorite bakeries/cafes and had a "cafe con leche" and a "xocolata con menta". And yes they were delicious!

Other notes, I was beginning to worry today when I checked the status of my lost bike in their automated system because it said something about "still trying to trace baggage". After a phone call with a very kind gentleman at customer service, I had come to the conclusion that it had been stolen or fallen out of the plane while crossing the ocean and I would not see it again until I took up deep sea diving. I decided however that I needed to be patient and have a little faith in the system.

About 5 minutes after I got off the phone (thank you Skype!), my cell phone rang and it was Continental saying they had probably located my bag. Evidently it had lost its baggage tag and the information on the luggage tag didn't match the information I gave them at the lost luggage; the address was different I think, so they were not certain if it was mine. Also, the lady at the lost luggage counter had put in the description was a large black suitcase, even though I tried to explain to her it was not a suitcase, rather a very large bike case which doesn't look like a suitcase at all! Nonetheless, due to these errors, there was confusion, but after my phone call, there was someone who connected some dots and said there was a large bike case at Newark that had lost its baggage tag and had my NM address on it. Thank you to that guy and hopefully I will be seeing my bike (in working order, cross my fingers) in the next day or two.

I think that is all for now. Stay tuned for updates as the second year of this journey begins. Adeu! (pronounced "a-day-oh"; usually just said "day-oh" I think. It is the common Catalan saying for goodbye.)

Picture: Me spicing the chicken after arriving home from training... Lisa thought this was funny.

1 comment:

ZiaVelo Racing Club said...

WE love roasting whole chickens. We enjoy is with garlic cloves and kalamata olives put in there before cooking. And, then the juices make a great soup base. If you think you want details let me know.

BTW, I love how you say "We're staying at Levi's." like it's saying "I'm staying with an old college buddy." Classic