Monday, July 4, 2011

Austin to Málaga June 2011

Sorry about the long post. If you are okay with reading my posts, please Follow to get automatic updates.

Continental got me from Austin to Houston (IAH), and then British Airways from Houston to London (Heathrow). I had 3 hours to 1) get past Customs at Heathrow, 2) board a Nation Express bus (which I had prepaid $30 for online), and 3) get past Security at Gatwick. It was going to be close, so I carried my small bags on-board to avoid waiting for them at the carousel. The bus was a little late because it was raining. Stress. Driving (riding actually) in the left lane is always an experience for me, if we stick to the left lane, we are in the slow lane. Stress. Occasionally, we drive in the faster right lane. BTW, the IAH-to-Heathrow flight was 8 hours, smooth sailing, even got some sleep. At London (Gatwick), Security kept my fingernail clipper (the kind that looks like a pliers with a pointed tip); she was really nice, almost apologetic, ¨no problem, keep it¨. All planes were grounded due to lightning, but just for half an hour. The Gatwick-to-Málaga flight was 2 ½ hours. I sat next to a nice Scottish lady now living in Marbella (yes, she looked and acted rich).

At Málaga airport, got some cash 120€ charged as $178. At first I thought it has charged me 58€ for the transaction. Whoa! Luckily, that was not the case. The formulas are:
EUR x 1.44... (USDtoEUR exch rate) x 1.03 (3% service chg) = USD
EUR / .688... (EURtoUSD exch rate) x 1.03 (3% service chg) = USD

I took the metro bus (2€) to downtown Málaga's old historic district, specifically Alameda (Avenue) Principal and Calle Larios (I´ll call it La Rambla because it is more of a walking mall than a street although cars can drive on it, but don´t).

La Rambla is a Shopaholic's Delight. Nice stuff. Very nice stuff. Every thing any ego and nice body would like to wear. There are sheets hanging above the 4(?)-story buildings so that people can shop all day. It really helps ward off the heat and humidity, plus it actually looks nice (although it doesn't sound like it). The upper floors are offices, not apartments.

I booked 3 nights at a hostel just beyond the far end of the Rambla. I got here on a Wednesday and spent my first night just recovering from the trip. Tuesday and Wednesday were to be spent trying to find an apartment. The main drag off the Alameda Principal is Calle (Street) Victoria. The first apartment I saw on Tuesday was bea-u-ti-ful, but they would not rent it for less than a year. The same situation happened with the second apartment, although it was not quite as nice. That afternoon, I started looking at Pisos Compartidos (Shared Flats) although I didn´t care for that idea. I set up a appointment to view a 3-bdrm apt owned by a young lady. This apartment too was also on Calle Victoria. When I got there, she tells me the guy won´t be moving out until mid July. Augh! Stress. Panic time. I took to the streets around the hostel. The buildings have signs that read Se Alquila (For Rent) and phone numbers. I got an appointment to view a 1/1, and took it for 390€ ($595) / month, with a 3 month lease (no problem). Whew! I just need to go to the Cajera Automatica (ATM) and get 780€ (security deposit and 1st month's rent).

Funny thing these ATMs. God forgives; they don´t. My debit card will allow me to withdraw 200€ per day, that is just cents short of $300. But, I can´t remember my passwords to my 2 credit cards. Stress! I´ve never had to withdraw cash using a credit card. Crap! I call up the banks and they can reset my password … the process takes 5 days! I asked (okay, begged) María (the landlord´s rep) to let me pay in 200€ increments, but to let me stay there starting Thursday night. They went for it! Whew! Thank you María (she´s a really nice lady, and there´s your proof) and the landlord, whomever that is.

Went to buy some towels. It hot and humid here. I sure need to shower in my new apt. Each flimsy towel is 10€! That´s almost $15! BUT, the sales lady gave me 10 shirt hangers for free. BTW, I knew shirt hangers as ¨ganchos¨(hooks); they are called ¨perchas¨ (hangers). The shower works great. The water is potable, so I can brush my teeth without fear of dying! Also, the streets are safe quite a few cops around as well.

I found a grocery store. The prices are a bit higher but the selection sucks. No wait! Yeah, that´s right. Anyway, as my brother Mark puts it, the extra money is going toward health care; he´s right!

Also, you can buy salt but you can´t buy a salt shaker, at a grocer store. I found 2 at El Corte Ingles, a huge department store. One was 4,50€; the other, 6,00€. Guess which one I bought (I´m paying for my own health insurance, thank you).

I´m getting blisters from walking so much. I found 2 internet cafes. The one closest to my place is open 11am to 10pm Monday through Saturday, and 1pm to 10pm Sunday. It costs 1.20€ / hr. Super!

The Magic Jack system works great here too.

Everybody parties every night but especially on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. The action starts around 11pm and lasts until 5am. Kids come out and sing in the streets. Each line followed by ¨Oh, Eh, Oh, Eh, Oh, Eh¨ – the Spanish version of Camptown Races´ ¨Doo Dah, Doo Dah¨ I guess(?). This Sunday morning, one of the churches had a procession through the streets, drums beating, horns blaring. Penance?

Also, ¨feria¨ is not ¨change¨. Feria is a fair; change is cambio. Ha ha. Where did I pick that up?


  1. Great post. Glad you found a place. Great pics too. Can't wait to get there.

  2. Ron,
    Suena a que estás iniciando una buena ventura. Si las fotos de la procesión las tomaste desde la ventana de tu departamento, entonces no solo tienes una muy buena vista, sino que vives en un lugar muy interesante.
    La semana pasada fue la última clase de Y qué me cuentas! Te extrañamos. Robert sacó un video con mi iphone de esta última clase la cual hoy voy a aprender a editar para subirla al blog. Te haré saber cuando eso suceda.

  3. Thanks, Mitch, have a good trip getting to Sevilla. Thanks, Ramón, I see the club members are trying to keep it alive; I hope they do. Good luck with your adventures in Boston. Austin has lost a great contributor. You´re always welcome to come back.