HAPPY 3 WISE MEN DAY IN SPAIN!
Now, back to business.
You just love escaping to your favourite coffee shop to do a little work in peace. So what if you can’t get there today? Rainy day? Lazy? Rainy day + lazy? No problem! Forget about your rain boots and the wind that’s picked up outside. You’re in for a treat!
Do you really need the perks of a coffee shop to get your work done? What’s your sole objective in going to one? Is it to relaxingly get your work done with no distractions of having to wash those dishes in the sink from last night? Is it to enjoy the music? Not to mention those yummy coffee drinks topped with whipped cream. Oooh, but it’s too cold to go outside, even to enjoy all of the above. Kick back and relax. It’s the weekend, after all.
Here’re some tips to create a similar environment in the comfort of your own home.
- Set the mood. Light up a candle or two, ones with your favorite fragrance if you may.
- Go a little further and add jazz music. YouTube is good at finding you a nice, soothing track.
- Plop a pillow or two on the sofa. Take out the book you’re reading and lay on the sofa with your feet on the pillows.
- Prepare some tea and put it in your teapot or French press and set it next you on the coffee table and…voila- there you have it!
Enjoy your tea while you read your intriguing book or while you do work on your laptop.
Trying to temporarily adjust to how things work in Halifax while I’m back visiting for a few weeks, I discovered today that waving down buses isn’t necessary. I’m so used to doing it in Madrid that I carry the habit with me everywhere I go. It’s difficult to keep up with the complexities of an ever-changing, every growing metropolitan city like Halifax because it’s been just shy of two decades since I lived here. Also I can’t remember how everything works here.
Something else I discovered today was some beautiful shops along one of the streets in downtown Halifax. Pretty flowers adorn the outside. Some of them consignments shops, and others are cafe and restaurants, one of which is Turkish called Lemon Tree. I’ll be visiting there soon. Yum yum Red Lentil soup. Thank you Istanbul for opening my eyes to that utmost tasty dish.
Another pleasant place I visited was the Public Gardens where I had a nice “coffee” lunch at 12:30pm. I don’t have lunch till 2pm in Spain so I’m not used to eating early here. The ducks were hanging out at the pond, prepared to give them food, which I didn’t. They’d all flock towards me if I had.
In the past year the first two electric car rental companies opened up in Madrid. Last year, Car2go was launched charging customers 19 Euro cents a minute. This year, a similar agency called Emov appeared in our lives offering the same rate but with a couple more benefits. Both agencies let you pick up any of their cars with a drop of a hat and return the car anywhere within the perimeter they’ve set out in the city. The unfortunate part of this story is that the first agency, Car2go, increased its rates to 21 cents after Emov was introduced. By this time it had accumulated enough customers and won their loyalty so it was a wise business move, I understand. A 2 cent increment isn’t much, I know, but it’s the principle of it that makes me less inclined to use its services. In fact, I refuse to rent from the company. As if that weren’t enough, subsequently Emov increased its prices too, to a whopping 25 cents a minute. Call me a rebel for saying so, but what a significant hike that is in so short a time (4 months). I’ve lost all interest in renting out either agencies’ cars. Is this considered boycotting? Probably. I know businesses increase their rates all the time, but really. Really. It’s not cool to increase your prices shortly after introducing your business and winning loyalty from new customers. From an opinion of a former electric car renter enthusiast, I must admit that I am disappointed.
I invite you to argue my point. If you don’t agree with me blacklisting those two companies, then tell me why. I doubt you’d be able to change my mind but I’d like to see you try 🙂
Having grown up in a small city like Halifax, Nova Scotia, moving to a big city like Madrid has had its ups and downs. I don’t mean to be a pessimist but let me dwell on one “down” for a sec. Ever since I’ve moved to the hustle and bustle of Madrid, I have become part of the hustle and bustle. It’s been a continuous run to make the subway train, make the bus, and make it across the street before the lights turn red for pedestrians. It’s a nonstop race to get anywhere in this big city. It’s no fun dodging all the slow people on such narrow sidewalks, with pedestrians walking on the wrong side. If there was such a thing as sidewalk jaywalking, we’ve got experts here. I’ve got to hand it to Madrid though – it does have an excellent public transportation system. However, the fact that it’s a huge city means that it takes more than a minute to get anywhere, which means that everyone scurries to get to their destination on time. But I’ve realized over time that even when I’m not in a rush I still find myself literally running to make the next train or the green light, even if I’m ahead of schedule! I’ve caught myself red-handedly hastily making my way down, or up, the escalator of the subway. What’s wrong with this picture? Is this the destiny all big cities?
Something’s made me slow down my pace, and even made me relax a little. I was tired of my sandals getting worn out and the straps loosened, because it was uncomfortable to walk like that. I know this may sound ridiculous, but because of wanting to save my sandals from getting worn out, nay, keep myself from feeling tired because of how it’s affected my feet I’ve started walking slower, which means that I’ve stopped walking briskly as if I was in a walkathon and running like a maniac for nothing. Now I actually enjoy going from one place to another, instead of feeling stressed. I miss going on walks just for the sake of walking. It’s a pity that we let something as simple as our journey to a destination stress us out. We must go somewhere all the time, everyday, whether it’s for work or something else, so why not do it with ease? I think it improves the quality of our life.
The picture in my featured image is one I took as I was walking somewhere today. I noticed two cute little houses that stick out in a neighbourhood. Who knows how many times I’ve passed by these buildings but never really noticed them.
I’ll leave you with this quote by the famous Eddie Cantor:
“Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going to fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.”
As a Canadian coming from Halifax, NS, riding a bicycle in a decent, nay, warm weather is a luxury. That’s why I’m such a big fan of this fairly new public transportation system put in place in the city I live in, Madrid. Cycling from one point to another and then having the convenience of parking the bike at one of the many, many point-stations all around the city is something to be grateful for. If I need to be somewhere and don’t feel like walking or taking the subway or metro, or even driving a car, I can rent a bike at one of the stations near my house and ride it 5 kilometres and park it literally 2 minutes from my destination.
But let’s be careful and not make the same innocent mistakes I’ve made. Having trusted in other clients like myself, I didn’t think about checking the bikes to make sure it’s useable and rideable.
- Check that the chain on the bike is tucked in where it’s supposed to be. If the chain’s out, your bike will not move no matter how much you pedal. Oh, by the way, did I mention these beauties are electric and can be motor run if you want them to be? This makes the bike go faster and you reach your destination in a jiffy!
- Check that the tires aren’t flat. That can be a bumpy ride! Been there, done that!
- If the bike cannot be hooked back into the station, then you must write a note to the company at the big machine there. Let’s avoid a random stranger pulling out the bike while it’s still connected to your account, shall we!
That’s all for now. I had an all but lovely Saturday morning bright and early when I was confronted with all three of those mishaps I outlined above. Hopefully they won’t happen again.
Photo credit: tumblr.com/blog/alexeylin
It’s a Monday here in Madrid. No big deal, right? Well, it may be just an ordinary weekday for some, but not for me! As a teacher, I’m privileged to have the day off (woot woot!). Easter Monday. That means a number of things. I got to visit my favorite and only embassy (Canadian) this morning, go to my city hall and get some info regarding parking in my neighborhood, and well that’s it. In terms of getting errands done that is. Do you know how useful it is to have a day off during the week? An unfortunate thing as a teacher is that I’ve got to wait for days like these to run essential errands. I need to go to the bank? Well too bad, I gotta wait till the next “reading day” when teachers get the day off. Need my passport renewed? Guess what? Gotta wait for that weekday and get myself over there before the office closes midday. Same goes for banks. I find it unbelievable that they close as early as 2:30pm. Hey I’m no Einstein but I am positively sure that they can afford to stay open till at least 6. We mere civil servants don’t got the time to leave our work in the middle of the day and go to a bank. Anyway, it’s not my favorite thing to do if you know what I mean. Unless I’m cashing in.
Besides running errands I’m reminded by the beating sun on my head this very minute that I can spend the rest of my day off enjoying my day off at coffee shops. Sitting outside on the terrace of one coffee shop makes me remember all the good things life has to offer.
As I’ve stressed in previous posts sunny days all round has made everything worth moving to Spain. 🙂
In a follow-up to my latest post From Canada to Europe. Reflections of an expat, I wanted to share an anecdote about a cultural experience. Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you weren’t sure how to act? Living in Spain, I’ve witnessed that Spanish people appreciate time spent with friends. It’s appreciated even more when you’re a foreigner and you try to include yourself in social gatherings. It shows that you care about getting to know them. In my case it hasn’t been any different. I work at a job in Spain where my co-workers appreciate it when I spend my coffee break with them, especially if they invite me. It’s almost a rule of thumb to not refuse an offer like that. “Coffee break” isn’t limited to coffee only. It’s more about drinking something or having a snack with them. To me this means that the Spanish value “people” time. Coffee breaks also provide a space for building and strengthening relationships. I’m all for that. However, I’ve come to face a small dilemma: I’m a busy body and have recently been working on several projects simultaneously (and I enjoy all of them), and so I like to take advantage of the little free time I have and work on them during my breaks. This doesn’t mean that I don’t like spending time with my co-workers; it just means that I like to be efficient. This is a difference I’ve noticed between the Canadian/American culture and the Spanish culture. I’m aware that my co-workers may notice when I´m not around during our breaks, so I thought a temporary solution would be to divide my free time or coffee breaks between my co-workers and my projects. I also thought of getting more data so that I could be around my co-workers while working on my cell phone instead of having to use a computer in a separate office. I wouldn’t want to push anyone’s sensitive button! Is there anyone out there who feels like there could be a better solution? Do you agree with me? Your opinions are welcome!
Singing off –
The featured image is courtesy of Daria Nepriakhina.