Posts Tagged ‘Spain’

Beautiful Barcelona

Posted: October 16, 2014 in Food, Travel
Tags: , , ,

It’s in a nice weather zone with very mild winters, it has beautiful architecture, beautiful people, great affordable food, nightlife, enough city infrastructure to support things like an aquarium and parks and arts. It’s surprisingly clean. It’s conveniently located. It’s got a coastal location on the Mediterranean. It’s a vibrant, bustling port city. It has affordable real estate. It has a population of about 1.5 million, which is “just right” in the ExpatBob Goldilocks Urban Population Count (TM).

It even has an excellent subway system that smells like OPM (Other Peoples’ Mierda), and several seedy old style districts with narrow streets that smell like OPM, both of which always get the ExpatBob Seal of Approval (TM). These seedy old areas are cleaner than anything in Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina, and Chile. Why, I don’t know. The South American stuff seems to have an old worn-out carnival/circus quality to it, like they are trying to put shine on a 100-year-old turd and make something out to be like it’s more valuable than it is (Viveza Criolla bigtime). Here it’s just kind of left to age gracefully, because it’s been around for several hundreds of years, and there’s plenty of Old Europe to go around.

And despite the mishmash of That’s-Not-Spanish (TM), a puree of Castellano+French+Portuguese (Catalan and Gallego), folks seem to revert to the standard Spanish Spanish or French, and, failing that, use English as an intermediary. They can understand my Rio Platense and Chilensis just fine.

Commerce is not met with derisive looks and unwelcome leering, as is common in South America. Folks here want your money and know they need to smile for it. There is the standard lazy Spanish service but it’s about 500 times faster and more efficient than what I am accustomed to. Even the lazy beach bum vendors will get more done in an hour than the average Uruguayo will get done in a lifetime.

There’s free wifi everywhere.

It took me all of 5 minutes and 10 Euros to buy a prepaid cel phone card with enough data to last me the week. Movistar was all out of sim cards, but the Vodafone place next door had plenty. Into the BobPhone (TM) it goes, and it works right away.

Ohh, and there just happens to be one of the best maritime museums in the EU here, and oh, look, there’s an international boat show going on this weekend at the port. This is all stuff that rates top marks on the Bob-O-Meter (TM). Maybe I actually made it to Heaven. I’m certainly not in Hell, because that will involve waiting in an endless line of grey-faced people in a dimly-lit government office in Uruguay, just so I can be told, “No, you can’t do that.”

BobPros (TM)

  • Port city (water exit for Zombie Apocalypse)
  • Mild winter weather
  • Beaches
  • Sunny most of the time
  • Friendly People
  • Beautiful People
  • Good public transit
  • Good airport
  • Tourist attractions
  • Good internet
  • Good mobile networks
  • Great food
  • English spoken here
  • Clean
  • Areas with old architecture

…So what’s the catch? There’s got to be a major buzzkill hiding here somewhere.

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There is such a glut of empty and foreclosed and reposessed housing in Spain, as icing on the cake of their financial woes, that the government has proposed a program to offer permanent residency to foreigners buying properties valued at €160,000 or higher (USD$200,000). The plan has yet to become official policy but maybe they’ll get it drafted into effect in another decade or two.

Read the article here for more information.

This is from Two Years Before the Mast, written in 1840, regarding the Californians and the oddness experienced there by sailors, and why. It was Spanish territory then, with Spanish laws, Spanish taxes, etc. It speaks very much insight into why Uruguay is such a bizarre place, because Uruguay still carries these ways of doing things…

“The Californians are an idle, thriftless people, and can make nothing for themselves. The country abounds in grapes, yet they buy bad wines made in Boston and brought round by us, at an immense price, and retail it among themselves at a real (12½ cents) by the small wine-glass. Their hides, too, which they value at two dollars in money, they give for something which costs seventy-five cents in Boston; and buy shoes (like as not, made of their own hides, and which have been carried twice around Cape Horn) at three or four dollars, and “chicken-skin” boots at fifteen dollars apiece. Things sell, on an average, at an advance of nearly three hundred per cent upon the Boston prices. This is partly owing to the heavy duties which the government, in their wisdom, with the intent, no doubt, of keeping the silver in the country, has laid upon imports. These duties, and the enormous expenses of so long a voyage; keep all merchants, but those of heavy capital, from engaging in the trade.”

And his comments on the men of Juan Fernandez:

“The men appeared to be the laziest people upon the face of the earth; and indeed, as far as my observation goes, there are no people to whom the newly invented Yankee word of “loafer” is more applicable than to the Spanish Americans.”

“These men stood about doing nothing, with their cloaks, little better in texture than an Indian’s blanket, but of rich colors, thrown over their shoulders with an air which it is said that a Spanish beggar can always give to his rags; and with great politeness and courtesy in their address, though with holes in their shoes and without a sou in their pockets. The only interruption to the monotony of their day seemed to be when a gust of wind drew round between the mountains and blew off the boughs which they had placed for roofs to their houses, and gave them a few minutes’ occupation in running about after them. One of these gusts occurred while we were ashore, and afforded us no little amusement at seeing the men look round, and if they found that their roofs had stood, conclude that they might stand too, while those who saw theirs blown off, after uttering a few Spanish oaths, gathered their cloaks over their shoulders, and started off after them. However, they were not gone long, but soon returned to their habitual occupation of doing nothing.”

Argentina, not content with Spain’s lack of exuberant joy at having YPF stolen from them, and also not content with Spain’s decision to stop buying their own fenced fuel, decided to put insult to injury by adding Spanish ham to their list of import bans.

Kristina sez: “I read today that the Spaniards are complaining because they say that we are not going to let the ham from Jabugo pata negra, and turns out to be that they just threaten us with not letting a single drop of bio-diesel into Spain.”

Translation: They are holding a grudge because we stole YPF? The nerve…

We’ll show them! Up yourth, Thpaniardth! Screw your ham! The stuff we make here in Argentina is better anyways. Wait, we still make that, right? Oh…

We are Infallible! Screw your ham!

Read the article here.

They think they are helping their economy, but what about those people who made their living importing, distributing, and selling those 274 tons of hams?