My first visitors and how about a taxi right now!

Trip Start Oct 06, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Spain  ,
Tuesday, February 28, 2006

So it didn't take long before I had my first visitors here in Madrid. The last few days, Alf Kåre (who you may remember from some of my Brazil blogs) and Gunnar spent a long weekend with me down here in sunny Spain. Well, we actually had the worst weather I've seen since I came here, with a cold wind as well as quite a lot of rain and snow. Anyway, they are both from Norway and very good friends of mine, so let me introduce them a bit more...

I first heard Alf Kåre's voice about ten years ago, when he called me while I was working in IT support for a multinational company in Stockholm, Sweden. He was working for some IT consulting company back in his hometown Stavanger, Norway, and had some plotter problems. I answered the phone, but never having seen a plotter in my entire life before, I was of course clueless...

"Have you tried to reinstall...? Not the answer you were looking for you say, hmm. Hang on a second while I go and discuss with my colleagues for about 30 minutes. ZzzzzZZZZzzzzzZZZzz. I'm back. Okay, here's what we have to do. Have you checked if there's a paper jam? Hello, hello..., are you still there???"

Not being happy with the support he received, Alf Kåre moved to Stockholm himself a few months later and joined the same team as me. Probably with high hopes to sort things out and hunt down the guy who ruined his day. We spent a few years together in Stockholm, scaring away more than our share of girls in the city's hippest establishments, before I moved on to Reading in England to continue working for the same company. A few months later, Alf Kåre joined me in Reading for about a year, before he moved back to Stockholm to start a family (where he still lives with his Magda, their son Sander as well as a couple of other kids I forgot the name of :-). I later moved from Reading to Seattle in the US, but that didn't stop us from keeping regular contact, as well as spending many holidays and short weekends together in places like; Australia, US, Holland, Ireland, France, Italy, Portugal, Norway and now latest in Brazil and Argentina. Alf Kåre is extremely easygoing as well as one of the few persons I know who I can talk to about absolutely everything. He is very funny, sometimes a bit childish just like me, as well as a "kverulant" who loves a pointless discussion ("hvis jeg kan generalisere nå i disse dager da"). That makes a best friend. Since I have now moved to Madrid and joined my old company, Alf Kåre sort of became one of my managers in the European team I am working, so we'll have to see how that goes ;-) It's all about customer satisfaction... "Have you tried to reinstall???"

Gunnar is also from Stavanger in Norway (yes, I know your roots are from some pointless village clinging on to the cliffs of a steep deep blue shimmering fjord, where you spent your childhood chasing sheep and throwing rocks at blue-haired ladies passing by in million dollar cruise ships, but lets just pretend you are a city boy for now ;-) Gunnar is an old friend and colleague of Alf Kåre, and I was first introduced to him in Reading about five years ago, where he was working in IT support for another big multinational company. After Alf Kåre moved from Reading and back to Stockholm, I continued spending a lot of my time with Gunnar and his English wife Caroline at their house in Caversham, enjoying their home cooking and drinking all their beer. Gunnar and Caroline are both some of the most hospitable and friendliest people I have ever met. They are both very funny, well in fact, Gunnar is an absolutely hilarious character who never stops talking and who knows all there is to know. Well, about 90% of what comes out of his mouth is what I would call "shooting from the hip", but at least he sounds convincing most of the time ;-) That makes another best friend. Spending countless evenings and weekends with Gunnar and Caroline, is probably what made my dormant dream about traveling around the world come back to life. They have both been around the world twice before. They actually met in Indonesia on their first RTW trip, and later went on another RTW trip together for 18 months. Seeing all their pictures and hearing all their fantastic stories helped me make up my mind to hit the road with one sole purpose. That being..., to enjoy myself and see a bit of the world while I can. Both Gunnar and Caroline grew a bit tired of Reading, and around the same time I started my trip in Guatemala back in 2004, they packed up and headed for Jubrique, a small village in southern Spain, to start a new life and fulfill one of their other dreams. To build a house from scratch on their own. You can read more and see pictures from this adventurous project here:

Caroline and Gunnar's project and new life in Spain

And how was the weekend here in Madrid spent you say? Well, we didn't get to see much of the city's touristy sites. Instead we spent most of the time eating tapas, drinking, talking and partying to the early hours. The rest of the time we spent trying to chase down taxi's in the middle of the night. You see, I live on the outskirts of town and hence we need a taxi to get home (well, on our last night out in Madrid, we figured out that if we party until 6AM then we can take the Metro instead). And although I really like Madrid so far, there is one thing that drives me mad. The city is full of taxi's, but during a weekend night they are all occupied (there's just too many people out and about in the streets of Madrid), and for some reason it always takes exactly 90 minutes to find an available taxi. It's true, it takes 90 minutes on the second. It has happened to me several times now. We figured all the city's taxi drivers are spying on us from street corners and empty office buildings around Puerta del Sol. "Hey, there's those Gringo's again, synchronize your watches and then let them wait..."
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