Feeling: ON SPANISH TIME
First off: verdict on the "Who can name the most airlines before we land" game. Upon reconciliation of 16D with 4D (I.e., myself and The Pedaller) it was revealed I was on 25 and he was on 22. (Having flown Ryan Air and thus relegated to the airport terminal outskirts, we were surrounded by planes of only the same or Easy Jet so I couldn't add to my haul. And upon entering the arrivals hall, my eyes wouldn't focus on the calling boards on account of focusing close up for two hours, so such plans to boss it there failed dismally). After a minute of gloating, I admitted my asking of the girl in the next seat and her gifting of two airline names plus my complete make up of Japan Air. Thus a tie.
But; forth to Spain!
After a train into Barce, a sprint up to Burger King to hustle The Pedaller some fuel and then an hour-fifteen train up to Girona, we arrived at the apartment at about midnight. After a cold shower to blitz the day away (honestly, the tap h20 here comes out the most refreshing temp of icy, it's so ideal) we set to slumber.
So some observations and tit bits so far!
1. As it's all apartment living, rather than each abode have their own wheely-bin and weekly collection day, there are bins for rubbish, recycling, compost and all such around the city. Every 400m or so, clusters of big bins sit up against the sidewalk for the residents to dispose of their rubbish and what not (there's even one for old clothes and unwanted garments to go in).
I was so in for this idea at first; just the ease of getting rid of your unwanted. And the clear categorisation of landfill, recycling and compost made me gleeful at the thought of all sorting their shit. But then I witnessed a young mum with a big bag of all the above in one, shunted into the landfill labelled. Plus, the scatterings of scraps all along the street.
I think a good idea in theory, but it needs some policing.
I feel I know a good candidate for the role (I.e., myself. Can totally see me with a notepad and pen issuing tickets to all not complying. I just don't know who would grant me the jurisdiction to fine others; local govt? Council? Something to look into).
2. As with almost all European supermarkets, those in Girona have the plastic bag taxwhereby if you don't bring your own carry bags for groceries, you must buy them there at 10 cents a pop. I love this; it encourages everyone to bring reusable bags and is thus much more pally for the planet.
Furthermore, upon scanning your items the cashiers proceed to leave them piling up at the end of the pass for you to pack yourself. At first I saw this as lazy on their part, but upon doing a big shop and being able to sort my own distribution in (home brought) bags, I was ecstatic. I mean, how often do you get home from Countdown and curse the teenager on check out because he packaged the ciabatta loaf underneath the block of Edam? Or put the baby skin soft peaches in with the Blue Top? With this such set up, you can put the softies and hardies with kind. (And if you get home and your French stick has been flattened by your con gas you have no one to blame but yourself).
3. Our first morning in Girona after the grocery shop (we are so domesticated) I went about setting up our room. Quite at odds with my nomadic tendencies, I'm actually quite a nester, so pushing big cupboards about the room and revolving beds about had me in my element. It was only when I ''twas folding The Pedaller's clothes into set out shelf space (tshirts, cycling kit, socks and jocks and what not) that I realised how mum-like I was being.
I purposely mixed in a hat with the section for shorts and didn't completely de-wrinkle the duvet.
4. What I rate the most in Spain? The afternoon siesta. Every day the people shut up shop (literally) and head on home for a family meal and a nap. Late arvo, they head back to continue through until about 9pm.
I find it so revolutionary (even though it's always been the way for hundreds of years). I don't even mind that between the hours of 2pm and four I can't go and get some nectarines from the fruit shop across the street. It's just such an ideal set up, especially in the 37 degree heat when all you want is some shut eye (or to lie down to view a few episodes of Breaking Bad.).
4. And furthermore: toasted sandwiches are called bikinis. How fitting is it? Two parts with a middle filling, like a naked mid torso book-ended by a garment set. I almost want to order one myself just so I can claim I ate a plate of togs.
5. The shoes here are insane. Every single female that goes by has their feet encased in a pair of my archetypal footwear; bit of platform height with colour interwoven with some sparkle. I've had to take to changing my running route so as not to pass by a certain shoe shop so I don't go in and buy a good four pairs (the luggage situation has gone past the point of overpacked). The other day I literally stood staring hungrily into the window for a good six minutes (the counter lady seemed a little concerned) going back and forth over the pros and cons of getting the mustard or pale pink clogs. It was only envisioning The Pedaller's face when I returned home with yet another pair that looked pretty much the same as the ones already purchased that I tore my eyes away and carried on shoeless.
(Well I was wearing my Nikes but you follow what I mean).
(I wonder if could deem a shopping trip to Europe as a business expense? I mean, you need beautiful dresses and shoes for weddings and to sit in to write articles, do you not?).
6. Once again, a language thing. I just love how second languagers phrase their English. Upon leaving our bikes at a cafe to go explore the Old Town wall (a vast structure dating back to 1609; my nerdy history self was frothing), the lad serving replied to our asking to lock the cycles up with, "As you wish". How lovely is that? "As you wish". Sounds far nicer than the Kiwi equivalent: "Yeah mate, no worries. Whatever you want mate".
7. Last night The Pedaller and I headed out for sangria and some tapas. We reached the main town square at about 7.30pm, with the place we chose quite sporadically half-full. At 8.30pm when decided to carry on to the next joint (he felt like Mexican at a place beyond the bridge) the place had started teeming with people waiting for a table.
As we rode through the streets (me concentrating with intense focus after a half litre of rather potent sangria) I realised I had never seen the place so ebullient and vibrant. It's true what "they" say; the Spanish streets come alive after 9pm. Families heading out for food, couples cavorting by candlelight, locals heading down from their upper floor apartment for their regular potatoes bravas. Must be all the two-to-four napping.
And eating out is the way (in the dining sense, let me please clarify that overtly). The places are mainly so cheaply priced that meals out a number of times a week are highly affordable. Plates start at a paltry two euro, with four or five for a young family more than enough to suffice.
8. And the relaxment of life. I'm a rusher, blitzing through tasks from awakening to setting down to slumber (and sometimes beyond, dreaming about to-dos and often waking up to jot notes down with the pen and pad next to my bed). But here you can't help but fall into the lackadaisical and languid lifestyle.
I was at some side stalls the other day having a peer, when I came across these wondrous wooden creations. Chipped through coloured pencils, dainty handbags, jewellery boxes and keyrings (yes) and just all out quirky treasures, each of which the girl-lady (she was 30, and I never know if such an age comes under either of the aforementioned termings) personalised with a name or phrase.
There were these incredible combs for sale, which I decided would make an ideal present for The Pedaller's just-grown golden locks. I stood in line to buy one, behind a Spanish family all purchasing personalised key rings.
After five minutes of awaiting I started getting really antsy. After ten, quite irritated. This is taking fucking forever, I thought, feeling quite aggrieved. Should I just leave it? Come back later? I need to get back.
Then I realised I didn't need to get back. I really was in no rush. Five, ten, twenty, even an hour wasn't going to make a spot of difference to my day. The Pedaller was out pedalling, my casually jotted down to-dos were in no way time conscious; there was no reason at all for me to clench my teeth and insidely seethe.
So I took a deep breath, calmed myself down and continued looking at the other offerings as I waited (resulting in me coming across the most wonderful wooden pen box that the girl-lady – still unsure – copied my business card onto, as my signing set for weddings).
As my items were signatured, a Dutch woman (she was in her 50s, thus I can categorise) and her daughter ambled up and decided on some buyings. My own were taking a fair while to do ("Would you like flowers or a star or what on the comb by the name?" The girl-lady asked. "Hmm," I replied. "Would it be at all possible to perhaps draw a motorbike?"), and I started getting antsy again. Fuck, they'll be getting so pissed with me, I thought, getting all worked up and worried. "I'm so sorry for making you wait," I apologised to the Dutch duo.
And you know what the mother replied?
"Don't be silly!" She said. "We're here on holiday, we have all the time in the world."
And I realised so am I, and I really do too.
9. The Pedaller and myself have really worked out our roles; I'm the talker, he's the doer. Whenever there comes a question needing to be asked ("Excuse me, where is platform 4?", "Is there an English menu?", "Is it possible to come back for our bikes?") it's my turn to step up to the stage, then when it's time to be practical with attained enlightenment, it's his turn to shine. Pretty much, I get the info and he takes it to do stuff with.
Going on three weeks pretty much nonstop in each other's company is proving the easiest thing in the world. I still look forward to him coming home from a ride, and actually miss his company when he's out pedalling rather than relish in it. And I'm ok with him seeing everything I eat day in and day out. I never thought I'd say that about a person.
10. And just a little last; how rad are these loops to tie up your dog? They are at the wall of a couple of cafes I've come across, and I thinks they are truly fantastically functional.
11. We are lucky in our little wholesome NZ. While we have issues with intercultural living at times (as does everywhere), we are rather united as a country as a most. I mean, the South Island doesn't petition for independence, and Stewart Island isn't all about getting its own flag.
Being so far away and thus not always right in the know, it's often the case that to us Spain is Spain, Ireland is Ireland. But there is so much more to it and countries can actually be quite fragmented. I mean, Northern Ireland is actually independent of the Irish Republic, instead coming under the rule of Great Britain. Catalonia (northeastern Spain where Girona is located) is actually an autonomous region of Spain, and has been calling for complete independence for decades of years. Czech Republic and Slovakia were classed as the one country of Czechoslovakia until its separation (after much protest and debate) in 1993.
We are so fortunate in our little land at the other end of the world. Where New Zealand is New Zealand and we all love Richie McCaw . (Well, apart from Papa Henio. He doesn't rate Richie so much).
I'm loving these 37 degree days. Learning to relax. Riding in for dinner tapas with the Girona goers at a time in which Kiwis would be heading back home. Binging through Breaking Bad. Putting my to-dos aside and just being in there here and now.
Being on Spanish time.