our Barcelona apartment, the good

Earlier, I wrote about some of the frustrating aspects of renting an apartment in Barcelona, but this post is about how much we loved having our own little place in the city.

Even though the location of the apartment was on a busy street, once the balcony and bedroom door were closed it was quiet enough to sleep. Plus, we were in a good location for getting to and from Eric’s conference (a 20 minute walk each way), easy access to great markets (two within a ten minute walk), and near lots of good restaurants, grocery stores, and bakeries.

Our view from the balcony to the apartments across the street…

Here’s how we dealt with the apartment negatives:

Problem #1, no wine bottle opener
We had planned on drinking cava most of the time, which is like champagne, so the bottles essentially open themselves, but I wanted some rioja to enjoy with my late lunches. On the way to Eric’s conference location one day I spotted a place that sold wine from a huge barrel for only 1.80E a liter! They just poured it into a bottle, corked it and after 1.35E I was on my way. In other words, the wine in this bottle is in no way related to its label. It was pretty good, btw. :)

Problem #2, no matches to light the igniter-free gas stovetop
Eric came up with a solution to this problem. He took a long piece of cardstock, rolled it up tightly and set it on fire via the pilot light. He then carried the flame from the laundry area into the kitchen while I turned on the gas. All so I could make eggs on two of the mornings. I would not really recommend this method, but it worked for us.

Problem #3, neglectful management
Since we never had the opportunity to make a complaint directly to the manager upon checking out, I happily filled in the booking company with the details of our stay when they emailed us a survey to complete. :)

our Barcelona apartment, the bad

The experience of renting (and living in) an apartment in Barcelona for a week was both fantastic and frustrating. We booked the place online (of course) and had plenty of contact with the guy in charge of managing the apartment before we arrived. He knew in advance that we didn’t have a cell phone and that we would only call him if our plans had changed or we were running late. We got to the appointed spot a few minutes early but after waiting for almost half an hour, I was worried he was never going to show up!

So I went to the internet cafe next door and called him, he apologized, saying he thought we had a cell phone and was beginning to wonder why he hadn’t heard from us. (sigh) Anyway, after this he was there in a flash and the rest of the check-in process went smoothly.

The apartment itself was fine, relatively clean, and had enough space for us to spread out for the week. The stairwell leading up to the fourth floor (no lift!) was rundown, with many broken floor tiles, but thankfully there was a light at the entrance to the street and our apartment, so we never had to navigate in the pitch dark.

Perhaps it was because we were tired, but we never checked to make sure we had a wine bottle opener while he was checking us in. Once I discovered this a day later, I emailed him to ask about it and he promised to drop one off later that day.

Never. Saw. Him. Again.

We also had many problems with heat in the apartment. For one, the on-demand gas water heat pilot light went out at least five times during our week-long stay, usually right before Eric wanted to take his shower. To relight it involved the slow and tedious process of holding in the button and “very very slowly” (according to the directions) releasing the button to keep the flame lit. Additionally, there were no matches anywhere in the apartment to light the gas stove that didn’t have a built-in igniter.

Finally, we had agreed on a 8am “prompt-check-out-time” (his wording) when we left and two women (we had never met) showed up over 15 minutes late to check us out and give us our deposit back. Thankfully we still made the train we needed to get to the airport on time, but it was certainly not how I wanted to start my last morning in Barcelona.

Despite all of these inconveniences, there was plenty of good, so check back to find out how we got around some of these obstacles!

our first day in Barcelona

Even though we slept until 11am this morning, we still managed to take advantage of Eric’s one free day before the conference started. We walked all over Old Town down to the Barri Gotic Cathedral (which is currently undergoing restoration work rendering it completely non-picturesque at the moment). We also strolled around the Parc de la Ciutadella up to the Arc de Tromf and had a glass of rioja (for me) and sangria (for Eric) with some tapas in a quiet courtyard before tiring out feet at the nearby Picasso and Chocolate Museums. We have a ton of photos to share as usual, so I’ll try and get some up in the next few days. Buenos noches!