Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Our New Home

We lost the apartment we wanted. It was an attic space, with high ceilings crossed with wooden beams, lots of light, and use of the large roof terrace, whose entrance was across from our own apartment’s door. It was pricy, but we wanted it. And the landlord wanted us. But when Andrew told him we might be leaving Barcelona after eight months, rather than the one-year lease the landlord wanted, the landlord stopped returning our emails and we found the apartment re-posted online.

However, the loss was meant to be, because yesterday our apartment search yielded two fabulous apartments that led to several hours of agonized debate over which one we wanted most. The first, in Eixample, we loved immediately. Unbelievably high ceilings, old, interesting moldings, beautiful mosaic floors, and a large, private terrace—a terrace that shares an interior courtyard with La Pedrera, one of the most famous Gaudi buildings in the city. Both the living room and bedroom have tall, large-windowed French doors that open onto the terrace, giving the whole apartment a sunny, airy feeling. There's a separate dining room with a half-wall that opens onto the living room. The kitchen and bathroom are less nice, old and awkwardly fitted. Still, when we walked in, we both felt instantly at home.

Certain this was it, we promised to call the broker to confirm after visiting just one more place. (“I’ll hold it for you until tomorrow,” he promised, with no money changing hands—so different from NYC!) I told Andrew that the only way I could possibly love an apartment more than that one was if it came with daily—hourly—maid service.

The next apartment was in the Barri Gothic, on a small, charming stone street like we’ve always wanted to live on. Six steep flights up, the apartment’s owner let us in—into a newly renovated, two-bedroom apartment that had never been lived in. The owner’s husband is an architect, she told us, and it showed: everything was tastefully designed and chosen, from the original dark wood beams in the ceiling to the black-slate floors to the stark glass tables and black leather couch. It had very small windows and not much light, but it was air-conditioned, with brand-new kitchen and bathroom, all glass and steel. The roof terrace was right across the hallway, dirty but with a spectacular view of the Barcelona Cathedral from one side.

The two apartments couldn’t have been more different: the first was Anthropologie; the second, Calvin Klein. The first felt like being inside an old library, with stories and ghosts in every corner; the second was like being inside a stylish hotel. The first, with its wide doors and courtyard, was cozily nestled within the city; the second, cool and modern, was a soothing escape from it. In New York terms, the first was brownstone; the second was high-rise. We faced a choice: charm or comfort. Which, really, was more us?

We chose charm. It felt like home, and we put down a deposit this afternoon. In two weeks our life in Eixample will begin.

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