Ok, here is a quick update for everyone (mom).
1. I made it to Spain all in one piece; everything went smoothly. I got to the airport way too early. United made me show proof of my residency or a return trip which was surprising. How could they know I’d not been outside the EU for 90 days? Even more surprising was that my checked bag weighed exactly 50 lbs. GO ME! No baggage fees at all, yay, and no one yelled at me about my extremely hefty carry-on or the fact that I was wearing boots, jeans, a sweater and a jacket in the summer! Even more surprising than that was that my United flight (on an AerLingus plane, my fave airline) was half full, which meant I had no one annoying sitting next to me! I spent the flight snoozing, eating, reading Game of Thrones on my Kindle, and watching movies.
2. I made it through customs and wasn’t detained! They accepted my autorización de regreso without a problem, and I picked up my suitcase, and made my way to the metro. I know Madrid’s Barajas airport like the back of my hand (unfortunately); I have flown in and out of there more times than I can count/slept in Terminal 1 more times than I can count. Anyways, if you’ve ever been there, you know what a flipping pain in the ass this airport is. It is ENORMOUS, and takes FOREVER to walk to the metro from terminal 1, especially after an 8 hour red-eye flight and 100 lbs of luggage. My poor back and shoulders. But, I made it to the bus station, wolfed down my first bocadillo de tortilla de patata in 2 months along with a good café con leche before hopping on the 4 hour bus ride from hell to Logroño, my new home!
3. Once I arrived, I began the dreaded apartment search. I was in a hurry because I arrived on a Tuesday, and on Saturday the big San Mateo festivities began, which meant it would be even harder to find a place. Also, I was being a princess, and I was shelling out for a hotel because the last thing I wanted to do after a day of travel was sleep on someone’s couch or be around people in fact. I decided this time around I wanted to live alone; I was done with living in college type apartments with roommates I’ve never met. So I went through a rental agency (inmobiliaria), which is more legitimate, and I had to sign a lease for a year. Whatever, I will cross that bridge when I get to it. I signed the lease two days later for an incredibly cute apartment right smack in the historic center of Logroño. It was redone a few years ago, so it doesn’t have that hideous grandma furniture that tends to plague apartments in Spain. It is big, has high ceilings, beautiful huge windows, a big bed, an extra bedroom, and its a 2 minute walk from the cathedral and main plaza. It even has heat and an oven, a big step up from last year. Basically, I’m in love with it! Come visit me!!
4. I don’t have internet yet, which is actually KILLING ME! Spain is in the middle ages when it comes to installing wifi. It take a month! A month without internet! I don’t know how I will survive. A month. UGH!! I have been spending my time nesting: cleaning, shopping for apartment goodies and for food, and people watching from my big windows.
5. Finally, I arrived just in time to experience the incredible San Mateo festival, which is Logroño’s biggest festival of the year. Ok, I was shocked by the crowds and number of people in the streets. I didn’t know La Rioja had so many people! One of the young teachers at my school, P, invited me to go out with her and her friends yesterday, so we met up at 11 am (yes folks, the wine starting flowing before noon). It was absolute mayhem. Everyone from babies to grandparents were out in the streets wearing little blue or red panuelos (sort of like kerchiefs or bandit scarves as I like to think) around their necks. A lot of people wear all white, and mostly the teenagers like to have massive food fights in the streets, pelting each other with eggs, flour, ketchup and mustard. People throw buckets of water on the crowds from their balconies, and people literally are singing and dancing in the streets. It’s all-out craziness that can only happen at a religious festival in Spain!