Monday, November 30, 2009

Birmingham, England and my mental i-pod

So today was the first time that I encountered people who actually commented on my accent. You know immediately that someone is thinking about your accent when a small smirk pops up on their face as they try not to notice. The English seemed completely entertained by how I pronounced certain words. It’s funny though because you always want to know whether or not your accent is a pretty one (i.e. Italian or British) or an ugly one (i.e. German) I wanted to ask but I didn’t think anyone would have been impolite enough to give me an honest answer. I decided to just go ahead and ask the guy I was talking to in the bar to imitate what he thought an American accent sounds like. At first he just laughed but then obliged... his imitation sounded more southern than any rendition I’ve ever heard. He said mine was ‘lovely’ though. Although I think he was just flirting…he knew damn well he thought I sounded the same way.

What’s strange is that their accent was so thick that at times it was almost like they were speaking another language. I had to focus more on the conversation and realized rather early on that I could easily tune them out. Perhaps, I should marry someone English because then when I don’t want to hear what they had to say I wouldn’t have to. It’s like putting in your ipod minus the music. During an argument I could just tune out, i.e. hit play, and when they were done yelling, tune back in. Yes, this is what I’m going to do. I’m off to London now, so Priority #1 is officially finding a boy who likes me enough to move across the ocean to live in the US. Hmph…I can’t even find one now who will buy me flowers. This one might be tough…

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Amsterdam...well it was no Barcelona

I arrive in Amsterdam the next morning and it was so cold I could see my breath. I left high 60 degree weather for this!? I get to the hotel and it is definitely not something I would have typically stayed in. I walked into the lobby and the staff had put up their Dutch Christmas decorations…6 Black elves with bright red lips on this big table as soon as you walk into the lobby. Yea so apparently their definition of holiday decorations come in the form of black satire lol. To be fair though the Dutch were very nice people so I don’t want to be too harsh. But then again, I felt like taking out my flat iron and smashing them all into little pieces. Who-gonna-check-me-boo! Well, actually they might have by making me check out and being homeless in a foreign country can’t be good. As such, I decided to reserve renegade Lauren for another time.

After dinner my manager and I go to downtown Amsterdam to go to the Anne Frank house and the Rijks Musem. Both were fabulous; however walking around after we apparently hit the tourist district and the smell of weed hit my face harder than a brick. It was so funny seeing people smoke openly like that. Then we hit the sex stores and I must say that it was so uncomfortable to walk in front of those with your boss. Clearly we both saw them, but we both said absolutely nothing. Good choice because nothing was the most appropriate conversation. Off to London …although home is starting to sound good after all this traveling.

Hasta Luego Barcelona

I left Barcelona feeling absolutely great. My last night there I went out for tapas and wine and met a girl who was traveling around the world because she got a divorce last month. I mean her situation was unfortunate, but it wasn’t for me since I didn’t have to eat dinner by myself on Thanksgiving :) She had all these stories too and it was like I was at the movie theater listening to a tragic story. She was clearly still upset about her breakup so she was doing all the talking while I was eating and drinking. Just how I like entertainment for Elle! I kind of wanted to exchange contact information just so I could keep tabs on how everything turned out. A few seconds later I realized that I didn't really care and that I was so interested simply because I hadn't had social entertainment in a week.

So after, I was feeling good and decided to go get a coffee at this cafĂ© next to my hotel. The waiter spoke only Spanish, but he was cute so I decided to stay. I don’t know whether it was the 2 glasses or wine at dinner or luck but we spoke for over an hour entirely in Spanish! I was so impressed with myself…Margarita you would have been proud. On the check, I decided to leave the message: "If you ever want to practice your English...[Insert Elle's email]. I don't know why I did that, but I just figured it didn't even matter because I wasn't going to ever see him again. Get this though...he still hasn't emailed me! Who does he think he is??...I'm like world travel corporate barbie. He better get with the program...eso pequeno mierda.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Patisserie in Barcelona...who needs France?!

So tonight I wandered around in search of food and came across a patisserie. When I walked in it felt like something out of a French movie. Shiny glass containers filled with pastry dough stuffed with any type of filling you wanted, cute silver coffee mugs and white chairs. I would have stayed if I didn’t suffer from the “I feel stupid eating alone” complex. Since I do though, I just took my spinach wrapped in pastry dough to go. On the way out I took a bite and it was amazing! I literally turned back around and went and ordered this giant chocolate croissant as well. The cashier smiled and said, “Te gusta si?! Hell yea I liked it…you see my fat ass didn’t even reach the door before I went back for more! That little prick knows that it happens to atleast 40% of the people that come in there…don’t’ act like I’m an anomaly. They probably have a little chalkboard behind the register to keep a tally. Half way back to the hotel I walked past a mirror and wanted to die. There was powdered sugar all over my face and my navy blue coat. I looked like I just had a fight with a bag of flour. :-/

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Barcelona Day 2

Well jet lag officially caught up with me and I literally saw the clock change every hour last night. Needless to say, when I received my wake-up call this morning I couldn’t have been more shocked if I woke up in Morocco. I literally had no idea where I was or why this lady was talking to me in Spanish, for a good 30 seconds. After I realized where I was I decided to go down stairs for the complimentary breakfast, which I noticed was quite a spread for free. (Later I realized that ish was in fact not free and cost 15 Euros which is about 22 dollars) Guess the word "free" doesn't translate well...

So I go back to room and get dressed. Now what I read on websites was that the Spanish, particularly Barcelonans wear a rather formal dress attire to work, so I decided to go with a suit. I don’t know what whack job blogs I was reading because I didn’t encounter anyone who had a suit on today. Maybe that happens in the financial world here, but I’d say as a general rule of thumb that people dressed business casual. Definitely wearing pants and a sweater combo tomorrow!

So I get to the customer's office and I think my guide thought I spoke more Spanish than I actually did today because during out customer visits we spoke only in Spanish. I tried to gather what I could, but dude…I told you I wasn’t fluent. The worst is when you can tell, simply because of the inflection in someone’s voice, that they asked you a question that they expect an answer to and you have no idea what they said. That happened to me at least 20 times today. I was like dammit…I need a translator for my translator! So I managed to get through the visits and ended up picking up a lot of information after I focused a little bit more.

At the end of our visits we had a late lunch by the water, which was really nice. I thought he was going to take me to a traditional Catalan/Barcelonan restaurant but we had Thai haha. It was good but I definitely don’t know what the meat was that I ate. I didn’t want to be rude though so I ate it, but I definitely would not have eaten that if he were not present. I almost hurled as the fatty meat slid down my throat, but I am a professional dammit so I pulled it together!

So I wanted to go out tonight to walk around again but my manager informed me that he was at dinner now and that he would call me in an hour. So unfortunately I have to stay here and wait on his call. Doesn’t he know that there is a TopShop across the street calling my name!?

Monday, November 23, 2009

First Leg of European Adventure...Spain!

So the trip started off fabulous. I called for a cab and they sent a black town car. Secretly inside I was more excited than I probably should have been. I know that sounds a bit snobby but I felt ultra important when I rolled my stuff out to the car this morning in front of my neighbor. So I get on my first connection and I look at the guy loading the bags and instantly think that’s I’d rather someone else do his job for various reasons. I shook it off though because I agreed that I will be” go with the flow Elle” for the entire trip.

The second connection, from Detroit to Amsterdam, was pretty good as well. The flight was connected to Mumbai though so you know people bought their dinners on the flight and everything smelled like it had a bottle full of curry in it. I want to know how they even got that ish through check-in when I have a bottle of liquid hair spray that is 3.6oz that wasn’t accepted?

I get off the plane and am in Spain! I’ve never been anywhere in Europe before, so this trip is very momentous to me. The airport is rather easy to navigate though and I found baggage claim pretty effortlessly. 5 minutes rolls by , 10 minutes, 30 minutes…still no luggage. I forget all about the new “go with the flow Elle” and immediately begin to panic and think about the 7 pairs of shoes that might be lost in oblivion! This is exactly why I didn’t pack certain items that would cause my world to come crashing down if they were lost. ..i.e. my tall brown boots that make me feel like a “Who-gonna-check-me-boo” kinda girl. (That last comment was lost on any of you who don’t watch real housewives of Atlanta)

I manage to find the lost and found and don’t even try to speak Spanish…I just told the receptionist that she will have to understand English today because I was entirely too frustrated and angry to try to formulate Spanish sentences. Lucky for her and me that she didn’t counter my blatant disregard for the fact that I was in a Spanish speaking country with flippancy. She just smiled and tapped her keyboard until she responded with “Oh…I found your bag!” A sense of relief overcame me and I asked her where I could go pick it up. The relief didn’t last long …she told me my crap was still in Amsterdam and that it would be here tonight at 11pm. FML. Did the airline not know that I had a Flamengo dance/dinner planned for tonight that I now can’t go to because I only have the clothes on my back?

Well, I decided that I was not going to let it ruin my day, so I find my hotel and sign up to go on this tour bus. Barcelona really is gorgeous and the buildings are architecturally exquisite. The only down side was that everyone was coupled off and I felt like they were looking at me like I was a societal reject without friends or boyfriend. Okay, so they were right about the latter, but friends…no, friends I got. I only wish Terry and Vanilla Bean (Margarita’s new nickname) could have been here too. A margarita just won’t be the same without them

Friday, November 20, 2009

I'm going to Europe!

Okay, so I know I've been MIA for a lonnnnng time. I'm going to Europe though and I do plan to blog about it on a daily basis if possible. I'm sure it will be a comical disaster (thanks Margarita) so I'm sure it will at least give you a laugh for the day :) Stay tuned!