23 March 2009

From Al to El

After a couple of months where we tripped off to San Francisco, Italy and Barcelona, we're here to stay in Barcelona for at least 11 months - giving us our first permanent home together for the first time since we left Dubai in September 2006.

It feels good!

Between now and 2006, we've had various stops with generous friends who have lent us apartments and given us beds in Berlin, and I lived in Melbourne for a year while J commuted between Australia and Europe for work. Living out of suitcases with no places to put our own stuff has not been much fun.

We visited Barcelona twice to check it out before committing to finding an apartment and basing ourselves here, and on both occasions we felt more and more happy with our decision to make the move.

Finding an apartment didn't take us as long as we had thought that it might, once we had made contact with the lovely Eileen from Ficasso Real Estate. She only had to show us a couple of places and the second one appealed so much that we took it right away.

It's in a complex that reminds us of where we lived in Dubai. Although the apartments are a lot smaller in size, they have the same cold marble floors and there's a pool and gym, plus 2 paddle tennis courts. There's a large shopping centre across the road called Diagonal Mar, a metro station about 300m away and the beach is about the same distance in the opposite direction.

Being furnished, there wasn't much for us to do except give the place a good clean to M&J standards, buy items such as sheets, towels and some kitchen equipment, and move our personal effects (clothes etc) down from Berlin.

We've now been here for a week, and it feels like home. Spanish lessons are in the near future, but we first have to survive the kids arriving for 3 weeks over their Easter vacation on Sunday.

Thankfully, J's Spanish has been good enough to deal with Telefónica to get the internet (10mb ADSL) and phone lines connected (within 3 days of ordering!), buy phone cards and deal with shop keepers.

Our first taste of Barcelona life came last night when we went to Camp Nou to watch FC Barcelona play Malaga. We were so excited! I didn't take my Canon 5D MKII as we weren't sure how the security and crowds would be, so instead I stuck with my little Canon SD400. The complex is very well-organised and the crowd was filtered in through many gates and doors all around the arena, so we were never in long lines waiting for entry into the seating area.

FCBarca001The teams warm up

The ground holds almost 99,000 people and it filled up nicely with about 77,000 for this game. There was a huge roar when Barça came onto the pitch to warm up, and when they officially came onto the pitch to play the game, the whole crowd sang the club anthem, El Cant del Barça which finishes in Barça, Barça, Baaarça! We were able to join in on that line!

The teams come on to the crowd's singing

The game was so exciting and Barça is a well-drilled team. They instinctively know where each player is and their passing skills are superb. I've been a fan of Lionel Messi for some time and to see him play was a dream for me, and to also see Thierry Henry was a thrill.

The Mexican Wave goes around the arena

By half time, Barça was 4-0, thanks to some awesome goals by Eto'o, Henry, Xavi and a brilliant individual run by Messi who ran past 2 defenders to score. The crowd was on its feet!

FCBarca002Late into the second half

It was really over by half-time. Still, in the second half, Alves scored a blinding header and Eto'o scored his second to make the final score 6-0. Malaga had a few opportunities, but their time with the ball was severely restricted by great Barça defence - especially from #2 Cáceres.

Were we happy? We were ecstatic! Our first Barça game and we were treated to a goal-fest and top class football. We hope to see a lot more through the season when our wallets permit. Oh - and J is now a Barça member so that we can get first dibs on some of the tickets!

FCBarca0036-0 and a minute to go!

We also haven't totally escaped the U.A.E. influence as Etisalat just became a premium sponsor of FC Barcelona for the next 4 years!

CrowdLeavingThe crowd leaves the ground

Next time I'll take the Canon 5D MkII and get some better shots - and maybe some better video!


Seabee said...

I assume there are plans for drinks with Keefie?

nzm said...

You can bet on that. The invitations have already been sent for reciprocal visits!

But first we'll give them a chance to find their new apartamento and settle in. Jen is already talking about going up to Madrid to see them.

Plus, there's sure to be some friendly banter between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid supporters!

Dubai Sunshine said...

I love Barcelona! I've always said I'd love to live there one day :) ALthough not sure about this whole Catalan/Castellano thing...I think I'd have wayyyy to many issues adjusting to Catalan!

Enjoy it :)

Gargoyle said...

Ah. A life in Spain AND live football. Sigh. I hope you have a great 11 months.

Jayne said...

Football.....umm........that's the game played with a funny shaped ball innit?........can't find any rugby clubs by the name of Real Madrid or FC Barcelona......LOL

Nice to know you've finally manage to settle down for a while! Here's hoping you get to stay longer tho, cos by the sound of it, you're both going to love living there :-)

Keefieboy said...

Welcome to Spain, chaps!

Skittles said...

Stopping by to say hi. :)

It's always exhausting but exciting moving to a new place. Best of luck to you!!!!

(Pssst.. you're invited to play Heads Or Tails. :P)

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Okay, so you are in Spain, and what a super place to explore! You must be millionaires to live such a lifestyle- choose any countries and just go! I once wanted to go to Spain for the guitar music and dance, but never got there.

Skittles said...

I wanted to let you know I gave you credit for all your help with the Blogroll at Heads or Tails today. Thanks again. :)

Qatar Cat said...

Spain is my ultimate dream destination! I want to live in Spain. Not Barcelona because I don't speak Catalan, but still somewhere in the South, by the sea. The olives! The mussels! Every time I travel to Spain, I want to stay there forever.

And Spaniards are muy caliente :)

Pandabonium said...

Looking forward to lots of great pictures. I bet it's nice. Lots of people have recommended that I go to 'el. ;^)

The Lady said...

Have fun in Spain! Want to see more from that 5DMKII!

nzm said...

Dubai Sunshine: you're welcome to visit anytime, and as you already know Spanish, you will be well understood! I remember that you had your bag stolen when you were here? The pickpocket situation hasn't changed!

Gargoyle: Thank you! We're loving it so far.

Jayne: SHHH! Don't tell anyone that I've swapped a funny shaped ball for a perfectly round one! When you coming over? We'll jump on the Harleys and go to Madrid!

Keefie: Muchas Gracias!

Skittles: Thanks! Glad that we got that Blogroll issue sorted for you!

Wendy: hardly millionaires - that was another life!! Bed is here for you!

QC: you'll still be understood in Spanish in Catalunya. Even j with her limited Spanish is getting by very well!

Pandabonium: well, now that you know some people here, what better time to travel? :-)

The Lady: you'll see heaps of 5D MkII images - it's just getting the time to process them all!