Thursday, August 30, 2007

Morning Breeze

Barcelona... For some unknown reason, the A/C in the apartment went out around 8am. I had been asleep for about two hours when I noticed it. Around 10am Nicky woke up and mentioned something to me, which meant, "I'm sleeping and hot. Go fix it."

Two warning lights blinked on and off. I tried hitting a few buttons to no avail. I couldn't unplug the thing because I couldn't find the plug. That's when I opened up the window to the bedroom and a breeze rushed inside. I didn't realize how hot the apartment had been. I walked into the living room/kitchen area and opened up the balcony doors to get more circulation. We live in a railroad type of apartment. It's a rectangle and goes the length of the tiny block. The street by the balcony has more pedestrian traffic as it spills over into the plaza of El Born. Across the way is a store that is renovating and construction workers were ripping something apart. I had to close the balcony for a bit until they finished.

When the noise stopped, I sat outside on the balcony in just my boxers and read email. Amazing to have wifi.

I paid my cellphone bill and did a quick run down of my budget in Europe. I'm about half way complete in my six week trip to Europe and I'm under budget by about 600 Euros, maybe more.

I was running over budget by about 5-10 Euros per day during the first week in Amsterdam. Thanks to my hosts in Sweden, I barely spent any money and I was able to make up my overage. I didn't spend too much money in the days before Nicky arrived and when she arrived in Amsterdam, we spent less than anticipated.

Barcelona is a lot cheaper than Amsterdam, especially the food and booze. We took two cabs from the casino to the apartment and they were less than 4 Euros each ride. I'm spending less than 30 Euros a day on food and drinks here, which is the reason why I'm under budget. I'll try to maintain this pace.

I usually do my best to go under budget as a traveler. Whatever I saved last year went to fund my gambling binge at Red Rock Casino in Las Vegas during March Madness, where I used the extra money that I didn't spend at Vegoose (Oct 06), Amsterdam (Nov 06), Las Vegas (Dec 06), San Francisco (Dec 06), Australia (Jan 07), and Langerado (Mar 06). In essence, that was a free trip and I lived high off the hog eating amazing expensive meals and recklessly betting two or three dimes on a single March Madness game.

I spent less money than anticipated during the summer in Las Vegas for the 2007 WSOP, which pretty much paid for the Amsterdam leg of this trip. Whatever I can save for the remainder of this trip will pay for next year's March Madness (if I don't have to work).

I set aside a portion of my income for savings and travel and started saving money for various trips next year. There are places I want to see, but I'll wait to find out what my work schedule is like before I can plot an adventure. I wouldn't mind moving back to Amsterdam for a month at sometime next year.


I worked the last two days at the Barcelona Casino and I was rusty the first day. I had not covered a poker tournament five plus weeks and it took me a half a day to get my shit together. Luckily things are more laid back in Europe instead of the intense madness and pressure I feel when I'm in Las Vegas.

Yesterday went a little bit better even though I had to deal with internet issues. The entire international media shares the same connection and the majority of them are uploading video which takes up a shitload of bandwidth so there are times when pages load at the same speed as dial up or worse... they don't load at all.

I was going to write about poker this morning, but I didn't feel it. I'm forced to deal with poker for 14 hours a day and when I come home, I find myself watching the Yankees/Red Sox games online instead of writing. And when I wake up... all I want to do is write about other things before it's time for me to go to work.

I have three very long days of work ahead of me followed up by four days off before I have to work for ten straight days in London. At least we get two days in Barcelona before we fly to London and have a day and a half in London to chill out before the next assignment begins.

On the food front, I ate paella one night and we found a cheap Italian joint around the corner that served an amazing gnocchi in a four cheese sauce. Yesterday, Nicky and I set up our stuff in the media room at 3pm and grabbed lunch at one of the restaurants in the casino. I opted for a burger. I tried them two years ago and they weren't bad. That was the first red meat I had since I almost shit my pants after eating steak in Amsterdam. Wait, does ham count as red meat? Because I ate a shitload of ham and cheese in Amsterdam and when I ordered a pizza the other day during a lunch meeting, it was topped with grilled mushrooms and prosciutto.

I usually eat dinner around Midnight. The bar near the poker room serves a light menu. On Tuesday, I ordered a bikini (grilled ham and cheese) and a beer on my break. Last night, my friend Jen (a British writer from London who is fascinated with my latest blog Tao of Bacon) told me that they serve omelets on baguettes. I had been dying for an egg sandwich and finally found one. It was yummy, except the only problem is that the locals put a tomato spread on all their sandwiches... and I'm not that big of a fan of the spread. In Australia, they put a beet relish on burgers and sandwiches and it didn't bother me as much. I actually started liking it by the end of my time down under. But in this instance, I'm not digging the spread.

My boss Schecky didn't have a positive experience ordering food at the bar the other night.

"I made a bad decision," he said. "I ordered the local sausage."

All this talk of food is making me hungry. Time to go downstairs to the market to buy some bread and cheese.

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