Thursday, September 25, 2008

In the ghetto

On Tuesday, we left our lovely apartment in Barcelona and boarded the train for the three hour trip to Valencia. The train was very crowded and luggage accommodations were at a premium. Our suitcases ended up underneath two of the heaviest suitcases either of us has ever encountered, including our own. In addition, there was a very chatty Spanish man in our coche who was in and out of his seat like a jack in the box. Even Ken’s glares of death didn’t seem to faze him. To make matters worse, the girl in the seat next to Ken pulled out a garbage sandwich, which smelled so vile that Ken and Mother of Ken simultaneously looked up from their reading and across the aisle at each other in horror. Compounding the stench were her ham flavored Cheetos, which she washed down with some tropical fruit juice. In preparation for their escape from the squalor in which they were riding, Ken and Mother of Ken jumped out of their seats as soon as the city was in sight and began the arduous task of collecting their luggage.

For those of you unfamiliar with train travel in Spain, there is a tiny area available for luggage and it behooves the savvy traveler to access his or her luggage and be prepared to jump off of the train as soon as it stops. Keep in mind that this area is quite small and is often near the restroom. Ken and Mother of Ken successfully extricated their luggage from the luggage rack, coming very near to needing the jaws of life to remove it. Shortly thereafter, an elderly lady who had been in our car came out into the luggage area carrying a bulging plastic sack and her purse while dragging her wheeled suitcase. She insinuated herself in between Ken and Mother of Ken and forced Mother of Ken and three suitcases into a small doorway. She asked repeatedly which side of the train we would be exiting; Ken replied that she did not know and then the lady turned to Mother of Ken to ask the same question. Mother of Ken does not speak Spanish, so she smiled politely and pretended not to hear.

When we arrived in Valencia, we took a short taxi ride to our apartment to meet Antonio the Apartment Guy, who prides himself on speaking “Spanglish.” After introducing ourselves to Antonio, we looked around the street and were underwhelmed by its appearance. Hoping for the best, we followed him through a wooden door into the foyer of our apartment building. This is what we saw:

With sinking hearts, we dragged our luggage up three flights of narrow, worn, broken stairs with little light to guide us. Note to our gentle readers: we are not kidding about these stairs. Mother of Ken had a flashback to the tower at the cathedral of Salamanca. Take a look:

We almost fall on the bottom step every time:

Mother of Ken attempting to safely descend the stairs:

Gasping and wheezing along with Antonio, who remarked that our luggage was heavy, we entered our apartment. To our great relief, it bore no resemblance to the stairway. We have a nice living room/dining room/kitchen area with a washing machine, dishwasher, and an espresso maker. Mercifully, there is no bidet. One odd thing is the d├ęcor, which is mainly Asian-influenced, however, there is a calf skin rug on the living room floor and a rug that looks like brown grass in the bedroom. Additionally, one corner of the living room has several pictures of Marilyn Monroe, Paul Newman, and Robert Redford.

The door to our apartment:

There is one bedroom with the most comfortable mattress we have encountered during our several weeks in this country. There is a strange light behind the headboard, giving it an ethereal quality.

The highlight of the bedroom is the closet, which is made up of many trendy components, but isn’t very functional.

In order to access hanging items, we must grasp a pole and pull with all our might. This results in a clothes bar being lowered to Mother of Ken’s eye level. Ken bursts into uncontrollable laughter each time Mother of Ken pulls her clothes rod down. There are several cubbies and drawers plus a pull out pants rack on each side. The closet also features a motion light that comes on when you open the sliding door, but it remains on for anywhere between one and ten minutes after the door is shut, creating an eerie green glow.

The bathroom door is etched glass, which you can see in this photo:

We are keeping the blinds in the kitchen closed. If we didn’t, this is what we would see:

And no, we have no idea what that big green octopus-like thing is.

Our dining room table is quite lovely, but it is too high even for ginormous Americans like us. We have confiscated the cushions from the strange futon in the corner to use as booster seats for the short chairs that have been placed around the table.

One of the best things about this apartment is the plethora of throw pillows in various colors, one of them a particularly gorgeous turquoise (you can see this one on the bed in the above photo), which we find extremely pleasing. We have a flat screen TV with satellite, but we don’t get any channels in English. So, we continue watching DVDs on Ken’s laptop.
Some of you might wonder how we dispose of our trash. In Spain, there are large containers scattered about for this purpose. This was the view from our balcony one morning:

It’s like this every day.

All in all, we are comfortable and enjoy preparing our own meals, which we will discuss in a later blog.

1 comment:

Leah said...

It's pretty! I particularly like the etched glass doors. And also the humor that can be found in comparing it to the squalor of the hallway.