Winter, is coming


While the last few days of upper teen weather in Barcelona would tell of the contrary, it is true that winter is coming to the area and of special concern are the coming months of January and February. This was an issue when deciding on a place to live, which ultimately didn’t have heating. In some ways, that feels a lot like my apartment in San Francisco where it had two squalid electric wall heaters that smelled like burning cats when you used them.

Barcelona is in general a great deal warmer than San Francisco of course and so heating is not a terribly huge concern. Our apartment was built much more with the heat aspect in mind as the five meter ceilings were meant to trap the heat up top and the three meter doors were meant to draft the sea breeze through. Admittedly, with the exception of August, this worked quite well. What has also worked quite well is the fact that these large doors have large windows and so, when open, they warm up the apartment during the day. So much so that heating isn’t much needed, even in December.

There is still the January-February problem though. You don’t hear about many people heading to Europe in these months and with good reason: it’s nipple-breaking cold. There is a solution to heating though if you are in an place without a proper centralized system which is the portable heater. You can either choose the electric model that I’m very familiar with seeing under the desks of any girls who work in dot-com offices in San Francisco which seem to be kept at 12C year-round.

Then, there is the gas option. This is essentially a butane tank strapped on to a little heating element. It honestly looks like something the coyote would use to catch the roadrunner and, like most Americans, I find it absolutely terrifying. It does work though and given the cost of electricity vs. the cost of gas, it’s a great deal cheaper to use. You just can’t really use it at night for fear of not waking up due to fumes–not due to fear of explosion. That usually only happens when people leave on the gas for a kitchen stove.

As for refilling these gas bottles, I’ve discovered a new noun in the common vernacular which is the “butanero” or basically “gas man” in English. We even now have the number of “Ali el butanero” on speed dial if we find ourselves without gas suddenly and need a top off and/or grow tired of walking around with blankets on.

You haven’t really lived anywhere until you’ve spent four seasons there…