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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Fly happy

It's difficult to be happy after having been frisked, taking your shoes with a hand, and your coat and backpack with the other, trying to put again your watch and belt. The safety measures in the airports are arbitrary and useless. What's wrong with liquids now? is the flight safer if I take onboard a can of coke bought after the security check instead of before?

Anyone who flies often will understand what I mean. The sole purpose of all this measures is just to annoy the passengers. With me, it works. They want you to be afraid (of what?) even if it means violating your basic rights, even if there are no reasons for it. I remember the story of a friend who came to visit me. She wanted to bring a box of marzipan as a present, but the security guys thought that it was dangerous because of its shape (!?) even if it was still wrapped and protected in the original package.

Ignasi Guardans is a catalan representative in the European Parliament, and there he has always been the voice complaining about the unfair situation in the airports. A week ago, he sued a security worker of the airport, claiming the attitude of this worker to be humiliating and excessive. Well done, it was time enough to arise this problem in the media.

For me, it's hard to deal with all this measures, I don't like them and I feel stressed because of them, but well, I can manage, I fly quite often so I'm kind of used to it. But I really cannot stand the security workers being rude, or just stupid. Last time I flied (coming from Madrid to Barcelona) one of the guards was shouting aloud 'I can't wait for the high speed train [connecting Madrid and Barcelona] to be opened, so all the complainers will stop annoying us', to a lady who was actually complaining because she had been frisked and was stuck for 5 minutes in the gate without any good reason.

What's the point of all this? Why don't they let us to fly happy?

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Borders

We EU citizens have got way too used to travel just with our ID card in our pocket. We have almost forgot what does a visa mean, even how do stamps in a passport look like. But since I'm going planning to go to Russia, I'm learning a bit about this stuff.

It's not easy to get into Russia. You first need an invitation. In my case, I need the original one, which won't be ready until the 20th of February, more or less, and then it has to be sent from Moscow to Barcelona (at least 5 days!). In the meanwhile, I need to subscribe a special (and compulsory) insurance. And afterwards, I have to apply for the visa. It will take at least 3 days (if I pay double prize. If not, it will be not less than a week). And of course I need to be phisically there, in the consulate.

All this 'process' is making me to think again about the stupidity of borders and all the related bureaucracy. I have experienced how annoying is it when you are requested your passport several times in the same train trip... and without needing any visa! At least we are lucky. There are so many Europeans (Russians, for instance) who need visa to move almost anywhere. For a (let's say) Serbian student is already hard and expensive to travel abroad. And now, add to it all the costs of visas: the visa itself, the trip to the consulate (or the cost of sending the documents, if physical presence is not required) and so on.

Is it time to end with all these stupid formalities? All the students and young people should be able to travel free.

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Saturday, January 05, 2008

Wise presents

Tomorrow, 6th of January, is the day for Christmas presents here in Spain. Presents are not brought by Santa Claus or anything like that, but by the Three Wise Men, whose holiday is the 6th of January. By the way, this also explains why Christmas holidays are a week longer here :).

Buying presents for your family is somehow easy when your mum says: 'Perhaps you might consider buying this for your sister, this for your father, and this for me'. But otherwise, it becomes a bit difficult (especially when you hardly have any time to look for stuff in crowded shops!).

I have to admit it, when I don't have any advice about what should I buy, I tend to get things that I would like to receive as a present. Am I so selfish? Well, the point is that I can't give as a present something that I don't even like!. And it can be funny since my sister and me usually have a totally opposite taste... we'll se tomorrow :)

PS: Tomorrow evening I'll be back in Barcelona, and I have an exam on Monday and then 2 exams on Tuesday... if I am still alive after that, I will most likely be in the mood for some beers =)

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Friday, January 04, 2008

Numbers talk by themselves

Some people around Europe (especially in Nordic countries) wonder why Spanish people stay at home until 30, even more, whereas in many other countries it is usual to move away from dad&mum's at 18:

Minimum monthly income in Spain: 570 €
Minimum monthly income in Belgium: 1234 €
View source

Average price of square meter in Spain: 5160 €
Average price of square meter in Belgium: 2150 €
View source

And in case you are curious about more statistics, the density of population in Belgium (344 hab/km2) is more than 4 times bigger than in Spain (79 hab/km2). 4 times more people for the same amount of land, and the prices of houses are less than a half! And the minimum wage is more than twice!!

Numbers speak by themselves, don't they? I'm already starting to make calculations... how many years of slavery will I need to get my own place to live? :S

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