Sunday, November 26, 2017

First days in Sevilla

All uneventful on the trip Freiburg to Sevilla, good news these days. We walk in to a fantastically clean apartment, Rocio was here. We couldn’t get the gas for hot water to work so Pepe tried, he couldn’t either, so he called the gas fixer people. They couldn’t come until the next day, cold, brrry showers in the morning. 

Going out for a small shop for supper we again appreciated being back in Sevilla, it’s warm and sunny here, that special Sevilla blue sky! 

We visited the fruit and vegetable man who greeted us very warmly. On to a late lunch with Ryan and Angela, Pepe and Dawn. Dawn is originally from Queensland, Australia but now lives in Christchurch, New Zealand. She teaches yoga and had been at a retreat in the mountains of Malaga. Found Pepe’s Airbnb Experiences which is new in Sevilla (more on that in a bit) and had a bicycle tour with him in the morning.  Pepe invited her for lunch with us, part of his Joie de vivre, live in the moment, his chosen lifestyle. She was in Christchurch and had just purchased a home which cracked almost in two with the earthquakes that city suffered years ago. We were there for a tourist visit between the first two quakes, Christchurch Cathedral was damaged, but a complete pile of rubble with the second quake. I was certainly glad we chose the days we did to visit and dodged both earthquakes! Six years later Dawn can now move back in after fighting with the insurance company in court. She said it was devastating and took a toll on everyone’s health, mostly due to stress and so many quakes after, wondering if this was another big one. (I’ve heard this about other people who live there and it has devastated the real estate market, so people are stuck with  broken or partially broken homes, living in fear and no where to go, since it has calmed down, the situation has become easier I think.) Very nice woman, quite educated, open minded and a fellow traveller so we enjoyed asking her questions and learning more about Australia and New Zealand. She is travelling on to Lisbon, Barcelona and Amsterdam, cities she’s never been to before so we all could tell her a bit about each one. Bruce said we were quite the international group, Australian, Canadian, Spanish and United States.

Gas technician came to find out a flange beside the fridge had been closed, Pepe found it, not something we did, not sure whom … anyway turned into an easy fix, we have hot water yeah!!!! Minimum call out is €20,00, worth it to not have brrrrr showers while here. But they aren’t super hot either so Pepe returned and turned up the dial on the gas, sigh, better.

What’s with us and elevators? Heard that before haven’t you… Saturday and we’re ready to go out and ours isn’t working, the outside one, not the inside. The company knows that we are stuck on the third floor, well maybe I could get down and back but Bruce, only in an absolute emergency, they haven’t brought anyone in yet. Tomorrow is Sunday and most people don’t work, but they did so now fixed. 

I’m 59 today and no hot shower, damn it! Bruce was able to get one but not me, turns out it was the membrane, what ever that is, because it hadn’t been fired up in six months. Well that got fixed, truly fixed this time, by 7:30 pm, the gas fitter came at 4:00 pm, assessed the situation and we decided since the heater we had was old, finding new parts problematic, decided to get a new one, got it and installed in less than two hours, very pleased, delighted in fact! Pepe was here for us again, he’s now, admittedly addicted to “red eyes” (beer and clamato juice). Certainly not your average birthday but having reliable hot water is the best present I could have! Oh, in the meantime we had lunch at El Cortes Gourmet experience and things have changed there as well, a fav seafood booth has gone, replaced by a company with less desirable menu for me. While things change some stay the same, the parking fellow with “woolly dog” as we call him is around, as is Pepe who owns the bar across from where we go for a tostada with yo-yo dog, his daughter used to haul the dog by the leash over curbs, aptly named. 

Rocio came at 10:00 am to clean and show us pictures of her son’s wedding and grandchild. She has never done this before but asked for a coffee. I think she maybe needed a coffee, but also wanted to know how the maker, a french press I use worked, having seen it on the counter every time. 

Building across the street from us, see the Christmas lights, not lit yet.

I needed to buy new cleaning products and mops and such for her so went to get them while Bruce had a massage from Angel. Same day, Bruce has been having trouble with ads and an insidious computer program, which shall remain nameless, showing on his screen so we phoned Fermin to come in to fix the problem. He also started the process to upgrade us to fibre optics for a much faster connection to the net, another productive day!

I went to an ATM, withdrew €300 and only €230 came out of the machine! This was at a bank I don’t bank with and I used a German card. So we went to our Spanish bank after talking to a person at the withdrawal bank, who confirmed the shortage. The Spanish bank could not do anything, of course, but did give me an International form to send to the bank in Freiburg. What a pain!

Thursday and we are due our purchases for delivery of large things from El Corte, toaster over, iron and board etc, 

Friday and delivery came with one flaw. We didn’t get our toaster oven, damn it! I should have checked everything before the delivery fellow left, lesson learned. Failed attempts to find an English speaker on the phone meant we needed to go back to the store to get it sorted as soon as possible. Fly in the ointment, it’s Black Friday and crazy in the store. But it did get sorted and we’ll have to wait a few days for delivery. We were lucky to get the same clerk that sold the items to us and he fixed it, in fact he called that evening and it was delivered the next morning.

Ivan called and wanted me to meet with a new partner of his named Shane and bounce business ideas around, you know I love to do that! Met with them and liked Shane immediately, stand up fellow, from Chicago, lived in London, Glasgow and Brussels before coming here. His wife works for an International Finance firm (may have that slightly incorrect). He does International finance consultancy and is straight forward and has good intelligent ideas, and asks lots of questions about lifestyles of people here. They are experiencing some of the pains we have had in moving into a rented apartment, internet access, changing over the services, etc. It was a pleasure to talk business and non-profit organizations again, they want to set up one in Sevilla for expats.

Saturday afternoon and we have Pepe, Angela and Ryan over for drinks. Everyone has been busy with their businesses and us with appointments so it was good to get together again. 

Airbnb has added to their portfolio to enhance people’s experiences in cities they visit. Pepe has two experiences he offers, a trip to his family’s bodega for wine tasting, 

and a bike tour 

That is my shameless plug or advertisement for Pepe!

All for now, apologies for only two pictures!
Cheers, Bx2 and Lexi Cat who is loving the staircase again.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Last days in Freiburg for now

Hello Friends, 

Went to Ciao Bella and the background music was an “Oldies” station, and was it ever, songs I haven’t heard in years and years, guess that puts me as old… Coming back I saw a poster which said “Let’s RieselRock” it’s a dance being held mid-November at the Glass House, our cultural centre here. I had lunch there the other day and very limited menu but what I had was good, almost the youngest person in the place really. I think from seeing the clientele it’s a place to have a cheap but filling meal and talk with others from the neighbourhood, kind of like the Senior’s group in Madeira Park. There is a sizeable library in there also but no books in English, I asked, they are available downtown but I’ve not investigated. 

We ran into Gunter Zoller our neighbour coming out of the Edeka grocers and he’d been in ordering meat for a later pickup, he was afraid they’d run out by the end of the day. He said it was a zoo in the store and "to be very brave". What we didn’t realize at that moment was it is two days of holiday mid-week not just one. Reformation Day is about Martin Luther’s disputes with the Catholic Church, read about it here

This year is the 500th anniversary and so while the day is usually not a public holiday, only in five German states, this year it is one the whole of Germany, also Halloween, not so much celebrated but getting more so. November 1st is All Saint’s Day, public holiday. So if you took Monday off you would have had a very long weekend, even including the extra hour for the clocks changing back, it’s a week later here than in Canada.

Anyway, about Halloween, the retailers have bounced onto this more and more every year, the change is noticeable. I don’t think the children go trick or treating but they do dress up in costume. Must disappoint them, no school today so they won’t be celebrating with school mates. My first costume was a white bunny rabbit complete with flopping ears (mom’s attempt to make them stand up with wire didn’t quite work) with bobtail and a real carrot. My sister was a panda bear, really cute. Since we didn’t live in a neighbourhood, a few miles to the nearest houses mom drove us around to family friends for trick and treat, fun times. My dad would sit home, curtains drawn, no light to the street, he’d probably eaten all the little candy bars that were bought for the meagre amount of kids we did get, he had a sweet tooth, that time of year was the only one when we had candy bars in the house.

Headed out with Christoph on November 1st, summer like day, really! Even the wasps were out. We were headed here  to Kirschzarten but they were full, had too few wait staff so didn’t have room for us. There was a small chapel at Hofgut Himmelreich, maybe held 20 people at most. 

This little fellow was outside, I don't know who he is....

They recommended Gasthof Adler in Buchenbach so with kitchens on the verge of being closed we headed there, Great food, great service, they allowed us to sit outside, inside was too stuffy and on such a gorgeous day it was lovely to be out. 

This town and the previous one are on the edge of the Black Forest and the house architecture shows it, low slung roofs, balconies covered in flowering window boxes. There was a church next to it but we couldn’t/wouldn’t go in due to a service being held for All Saint’s Day. Many old brick or stone buildings and one hotel with more windows than walls, it is a hotel, looked a bit like a doll house to me. Several small churches which Christoph said likely belonged to families. 

Cultural differences even within Canada, a friend from Ontario thought it nice to plant what we consider weed. An acquaintance I worked with bought a house with a lawn and told me she had no idea what to do with it, never having done so, apartments were all they’d known.

We’ve had some calamities in the house recently. I broke the glass portion of the Bodum coffee pot, thought it was tempered glass but guess not, they do sell replacement glass so bought one. Bruce left a simmering pot on the stove of beef broth until it turned black, I took it off and put it on the counter top, which put a circle of discolour on the top. All my scrubbing couldn’t get the pot clean, buy a new one, we’ll need to get a counter expert in to fix that and could mean replacement of the entire counter, ouch, or maybe they can resurface it. Thought that counter was indestructible too, apparently not. We bought ginger ale, Bruce likes it and although not opened, leaked into the storage cabinet we put it in, about half of it, real mess, cleaned up. So they say things come in three’s and we’ve had ours, thank you very much. 

Saturday and there is a football match going to happen, how do I know? Most everyone is wearing either red or blue scarves with team logos on them, and that’s all I know or care to about football in Freiburg or anywhere else for that matter. When the fans do come they come from other towns and the downtown is crowded, Christoph drove in to town to meet us and encountered traffic jams and trouble parking. We ate German food (Gasthaus Zum Lamm) under the horse chestnut trees, next to the statue of the crocodile in the bachle.

Waiting for the train to Frankfurt was cold! Time to leave!

Here are four, yes four pictures of a sunset we had in Freiburg, they are at the end so you can skip them if you wish but they are each different quite strikingly I think so that's why I am including them.

Next post is coming to you from Sevilla, warmer here for sure!