Oh, That Was So Last Year: Year in Review!

December 31, 2008

When 2007 came to an end, I thought to myself, “Don’t let the door hit you in the a@# 2007.” Now, with 2008 ending in just about 13 hours, I have mixed emotions, but overall, I can look back and know that 2008 was a great year.

Get ready for another Hoolia list because below are the top 3 memories from 2008…

1. Moving to Spain. Duh! That was an easy one, but all the planning and preparation that I put into it in 2008 sure worked out. I’m livin’ la vida loca here in Barcelona.

2. My job at home. I know I was at  the agency for more than 2 years, but 2008 was the best one of them all. My team, my co workers, my clients, etc. all added up to be quite some combination!

3. My brother’s wedding (and the other weddings I went to as well, like Julzies’). My big bro’s event went off without a hitch and now he is happily married. It was really special to be around all our loved ones celebrating his big day.

Tonight, I plan to ring in the new year in style. Now, what that exactly means is up in the air, but I imagine I’ll be having quite a celebration! While 2008 was great, I hope 2009 will be even better and I look forward to what the year will bring. And on that note, if anyone from home wants to know what 2009 feels like a bit early, if you are just that antsy, you will have a 9 hour window to find out from me until you know yourselves!

Cheers to health and happiness in 2009!

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Cheerio to the Friendliest People on Earth

December 29, 2008

Get excited, The Hoolia Blog hiatus has come to end…

My trip to the UK has certainly been a good one, but not only am I seemingly banned from Dublin, as I mentioned in an earlier post, I now think the whole UK will not let me back in the country.

I went through the third degree, actually, the fourth degree (I made that one up for this case) when I entered the country. Why are you here? Who are you visiting? Where and when is your return ticket? Why did you come to Europe? If you aren’t working, who is paying for your travels? Who paid for your university? Have you been to the UK before? etc. and etc. I then proceeded to sit all by my lonesome for a good 20 minutes as the customs guy tried to reach my friend to verify the information I gave, meanwhile being told by another “officer” not to touch my cell phone as she watched me like a hawk. Way to profile the real bad guys UK!

Once I was finally let in, the fun began. I enjoyed a lot of things that Spain doesn’t offer, including Stella Artois, traditional fish and chips, talking in English, books in English, TV in English, Cadbury Flakes and much more. We even went to Edinburgh, Scotland for a day, drank mulled wine, visited the castle, ya know, just a typical day and all 🙂

England has been the closest to the American lifestyle I have had in a few months and given how the trip is likely my last hurrah in an English speaking country until I get back to the California homefront, I really enjoyed it. 

Now I better start practicing saying, “Happy New Year” in Spanish and load up on the cava because I will be ringing it in in Barcelona!

3 pics below…my friend’s house, my salute to Scotland and a Christmas Day walk in Durham.

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UK Bound:”How Now Brown Cow”

December 22, 2008

First, for the first time in The Hoolia Blog’s tenure, I am gracing everyone with not one, but TWO posts in a day. And second, I better start practicing saying “how now brown cow” because I’m off to England tomorrow! And after practicing this phrase to work on my British accent, I should then practice an expression like, “A like Scots” or “Guid eenin” because on Saturday, I’m going to Edinburgh, Scotland! Upon my return, my country count in less than 2 months will be at 4 (5 if you count my layover in Ireland). Not too shabby!

I’m looking forward to spending the holidays with my friend and her family in Durham, England. Normally, when I think of England, I think of London, where I have been twice, but of course, there are other places in the country 🙂 It will be nice to see the countryside while drinking a warm cup of tea (maybe with milk since that’s how they do it) and enjoying a Cadbury Flake while bundling up in a scarf and gloves. We’re even planning to do a trivia night in a pub. Watch out England, Hoolia and trivia go together like oil and water! Oh wait, that means they don’t go together…umm, exactly.

And the fiesta will start no sooner than at the airport itself since I know three other people going to the airport at the same time. In fact, we’re going to all go together and say “salud” with one more drink before we each go our own way.

This post also marks a short Hoolia Blog hiatus. Please stay tuned for its return.

For those visual readers, below is where in England I will actually be. Happy holidays to all. I hope everyone is happy, healthy and safe!!

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Sherlock Hoolia: The Purple Sweater

December 22, 2008

Last week, in the “Falling Clothes” post, I opened the case to find out which neighbor had my clothes that fell from my laundry line. It’s been an intense, week long case, but I can officially say the case has been closed.

A day or two later, I found my towel and t shirt on the top of the mailboxes. Assuming the neighbor didn’t know whose clothes actually fell, since my building has many floors, the neighbor did the right thing. However, a purple sweater, the nicest item of the three, was missing. Mysterious. So, I rang the doorbell of the neighbor I thought had the clothes, but she was not home, so I wrote a note.  A few days later, she wrote a note back acknowledging the three items she found. Aha, I thought, she did find THREE items, not just two. Over the next few days, I knocked more times in search of the purple sweater, but again, to no avail, so I wrote another note asking about the sweater. Dead silence resulted.

Last night, as I was coming home from watching the Barca futbol game, I saw her leaving her apartment and that’s when I made progress in my case. After receiving some strange faces from her during our chat, she said she put all the clothes on top of the mailboxes. She later went on to say the sweater would not fit her, as if I was accusing her. I either have to work on my detective tactics or she needed to realize I was simply asking.

In the end, it’s clear another neighbor took the sweater and I’m not getting it back. To add insult to injury, she said no more accidents should happen because I need to pin the clothes better. Geez woman, point taken. And to add even more insult to injury, last night when I was taking the clothes off the line (and none had fallen), I accidentally dropped another shirt. It was in my hand, then out. Ay yi yi.


Tis the Season to be Jolly

December 21, 2008

People and the city of Barcelona as a whole have really gotten into the holiday spirit. I have been to several holiday dinners  (even wearing a Santa hat at one, as seen below) and I can’t help but enjoy the lights and decorations spread throughout the city. From signs in Catalan saying, “Bones Festes,” to blue, white, green, red stars hanging on the streets, it’s definitely the season to be jolly. I have even downloaded one of my favorite holiday songs, “All I Want for Christmas is You.” Unfortunately, not that I can sing worth anything ever, but when I try to sing that one, I really sound like a squeaky wheel. Oh well. I also downloaded “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,” which is easier to sing, but it’s quite annoying. I only bought it to sing with the 5 year old I teach and then again with the 7 and 9 year olds. Now I will buy “Feliz Navidad” because it’s only appropriate after all.

If I have to be so far away (6,000 miles to be exact) during the time when families all get together, it’s great to be around people who are in the same situation, trying to make a home away from home here in the good ol’ Catalonia region of Spain. So without further adieu, I’m off to a holiday lunch, followed by a holiday coffee with one friend and a holiday coffee with another. Got to get in all the goodbyes before Tuesday!

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Spaniards Sure Are Sleepy!

December 20, 2008

Giving the “perma” vacation nature of this week especially, I have been quite the lazy chica. I think I’m all caught up on all my beauty rest and then some. I have also had more time to really stop and smell the roses, so I have noticed that contrary to what I first thought, the siesta does actually exist in Barcelona.

Lately, by the time I get around to leaving the house, all the shops are closed! In other words, as I’m ready to start my day, the Spaniards are busy sleeping or resting for at least 3 hours smack dab in the middle of the day. Regardless, I still walk around and go exploring, but the nice thing is that when I head home, I notice more and more shops around where I live. For example, there is a big supermarket near me that I just noticed. Who would have guessed? 🙂 

I think only retailers take siesta, but I can only imagine taking a 3 hour siesta in the middle of the day in a corporate environment. “I’m sorry client, it’s time for my siesta, I will deal with your urgent matter after I take a nap for 3 hours.” That would certainly be the life.

And on this topic, below is a picture of the cause of my laziness (quite a comfortable, be it little, bed). You will notice the candles next to the bed which both lit my lamp shade on fire and my hair! Yes, my hair was literally on fire the other night as I tried to blow out the candle. Good thing I was wearing my Oakland Fire Department t shirt because I felt empowered to come to my own rescue and that is certainly what I did.

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12 Honks on the Side of the Highway

December 18, 2008

In follow up to all the wine tasting I did in France, I figured I would do the same a little closer to “home.” And in doing so, the adventure within the adventure continued.

Rising and shining early, my friend and I went to the train station with the plan to pick a destination and go with it. We were in the mood to wine taste and see some of the Spanish wine country, so with a train leaving for Vilafranca de Penedes shortly after we arrived at the station, we bought tickets and hopped on. Upon arriving at our destination, we asked each other, “Ok, now what?” and then laughed.

We figured out where to find the tourist office and decided to go to the Torres winery, a winery within walking distance. So off we went and much to our surprise, one part of the walk was along the highway. As a result, we got 12 honks from cars and a few double honks as the scene of two lone chicas traveling along the highway was quite funny. Oh those Spaniards.

When we made it to the winery, we were excited to see an American flag next to the Spanish flag. My two countries are friends!! We later learned that U.S. General William E. “Kip” Ward was visiting and we saw all his bodyguards and the special treatment he received. But our treatment wasn’t so bad either…we got a private tour!

We took a cab back to the train station and according to the driver, the Spanish government mandates that a ride down the hill alone is 3.40 euros. Can you say full of bologne?! And I guess the government mandates the fare goes up and up without even moving because the end price was not typical of small town Spain. But no big deal as we had a huge laugh about the driver later as we said “salud” to a nice day!

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