Wednesday, June 27, 2007


As readers of my blog may know, I strongly prefer organic food products to industrially produced, chemically polluted products. I was a little worried that I would have to live with industry/chemistry foods here in Barcelona. On our scouting mission to Barcelona in January, Lise and I found one very small organic foods shop, and one very nice organic, vegetarian restaurant (I just googled, and it also got nice reviews on this random site).

The nearest supermarket to the apartment is a very large "Carrefour". So the first times I shopped there I scoured it for organics. I found few (but important ;o) products: Milk, Musli, chocolate (dark), tea, pasta and tomato sauce. Ok, I can live off that.

Things seem to start to move down here, however. A few weeks into the stay, I saw this stand outside the Carrefour.

In which they handed out leaflets about "how and why" organics. Inside the Carrefour there was a pretty girl handing out the leaflets. And now Carrefour has made a (very small) special section, in which they've collected most of their organic products, so they are easy to find. Great.

Later when I was walking to the central Placa Catalunya, I passed this shop:

The sign says "organic". I didn't go in, but I'm hoping for something like Egefeld (which is a fantastic shop, by the way). All in all I'm mildly optimistic for the organic aspects of my stay :o)

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The PRBB building (and One-year party)

The building where I work, PRBB, is a research park, very similar in concept to the one in Copenhagen.

Here's the building (the round one)

It houses the private research institution CRG (somewhat similar to BRIC) and it also houses labs for a nearby research hospital, and other labs. And the building is also very new. Soon after I arrived there was actually a one-year party for the building.

With some strange entertainment

and quite a lot of people

Fewer people as it got late

As it is a new building, the labs and offices are nice and new. However, not all of CRG has actually moved in yet, and this means (apparently) that some servers are on the other side of Barcelona. This should also explain the extremely slow internet connection from the labs (almost too slow to talk on Skype).

Monday, June 18, 2007

The apartment

Since I arrived, I've stayed in an apartment that the lab rents to accomodate visiting researchers (great idea!). The new people like Cedrik and me are then allowed to live there for a couple of months until we find something ourselves. This is extremely nice, as it allows me to be able to be down here and actually visit the apartments/rooms that I might rent. And it removed a lot of stress from the whole idea of coming here, that I didn't have to try to rent rooms over the internet, maybe in Spanish.

The apartment itself is nice. It is a three room apartment with a nice kitchen.

My room on the right.

My room

Most of the furniture is from IKEA, so I feel immediately at home :o). There is even the same chair that I had in my room in Værløse

Sunday, June 10, 2007

UPF - Pompeu Fabra

While walking around (looking for wifi, I think) found the main campus of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra.

The new prestige university in Barcelona. And the university into which I will be enrolled, I think. Unfortunately they don't seem to be famous for science (yet! just see in 3 years).

Well on the campus there was a large banner advertising an exibition on Pompeu Fabra, which was open only two days more. And since I did not know who he was - I decided that now was a good time to find out.

So I went in and discovered that Mr. Fabra was a linguist and the scholar who, among other things, established the modern orthography of the Catalan language. Of course I could probably have found out the same by looking him up in Wikipedia, but this was a little more fun.

You can see the electronic edition of the exposition here.

Internet cafe

As I left Denmark on the 29th and actually worked at IBM until the 31st of May, I brought my IBM laptop to be able to work from Barcelona. However I quickly found out that the IBM Virtual Private Network client (the "AT&T Client") was somehow blocked by the firewall in the lab. Drat! I spent the good part of a day looking for an internet-cafe or some wireless. I looked in the part of town I had been before, and where I thought there should be a good chance of finding some. However, I looked with no success. The Starbucks I knew did not have wifi, and maybe the ubiquity of wifi and net in hotels and hostels has killed the good old internet cafes. I didn't find them. And I decided not to go "war-walking".

At the end of the day, or maybe it was the next day, I walked around the UPF main campus, and I found a small internet cafe a couple of streets away. But they did not have wifi - or wired access for my laptop. The lady in the cafe knew where I could find a cafe with wifi, though. And she managed to explain it to me in Spanish. And I found it!

Great - not only did they have nice fast wifi, but the price was excellent too. "Buy a beer and get free wifi"!

I have returned several times - gotta check the IBM mail....ehrm, or something.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


When I walked to the police station in Barceloneta, during my paperwork treasurehunt, I passed by this house

It looks like a smaller Barcelona edition of Ungdomshuset på Jagtvej. Later I learned that there are several other houses like this in Barcelona. Supposedly there is a rule which makes it legal to occupy houses which have been unused for some time.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Paperwork treasurehunt

On Thursday I did the paperwork treasurehunt. To be able to complete my contract and get a bank account I was told I should get my N.I.E number. I guessed that with the EU common labor market this should be easy. And it was, sort of. I had been warned by Cedrik that I should get up early to wait in line at the office. However, on wednesday I walked by the office just to check. The lady looked at me and asked if I had a ticket - when I said no she rolled her eyes and told me to come back early the next day. Ok. Cedrik was right.

So I got up early and was at the office about 7:40. The office opens at 9:00 but quite a long queue had already formed. Good thing I brought a book. When the office opened the queue was processed at reasonable speed but the "processing" was actually just that people got a number to wait on like in a bank or a post office. After about an hour more of waiting my number was up. The lady who processed my NIE application spoke english, so the paperwork was smooth. She also instructed me that the next steps in my application were

1) Go to a bank and pay 6,70Euro to get a stamp.
2) Take the stamp and go to the police station to have my actual certificate printed.

These last two steps went well. No lines, great.

Sunday, June 03, 2007


Tuesday I left Denmark. I had packed 16,4kg of stuff - almost all of it clothes. As carry-on I had 2 laptops though. It seems sensible to pack lightly as I will move apartment at least once pretty soon after I arrive. The lab has rented an apartment to be able to accommodate guest-researchers. And it offered that I could stay in that apartment until I find an apartment (or room) myself. Very nice.

The flight was uneventful - but notice the plentiful leg-room. Ahh, the joy of checking in on-line.

Actually I almost forgot Lise's nice goodbye present in the plane. Yikes.

I arrived in Barcelona Tuesday evening. The weather was perfect - warmer than in Denmark, as I made my way to the lab to meet Cedrik, my lab-apartment roommate. He was there and I even arrived before he expected. I arrived at around 19:15, but the secretary had said that I would be there around 19:30. Nice, but had she gone online to see that the plane was late? I had told her that I would be at the lab around 19.

Cedrik showed me the way to the apartment. The T4 tram-line seems to be the optimal transportation as we don't have bikes yet. The apartment is nice, more on that later.