Published: June 9th 2012May 31st 2012
Barcelona began with what I thought would be a very boring 11 hour bus ride, but turned out to be an entertaining adventure. We all piled on the bus at 8am, ableit a little bleary eyed and not quite awake. I knew no one on the coach except Kat and Ben but they were hungover and sleeping up the back so I sat down the front with a few friendly looking girls, Sam, Kelly and Jackie. The "token" American, Kyle, also joined us for a chat. The other girls eventually dropped off to sleep while Kyle and I continued to annoy the sleepers by chatting about various nothings. I have met a handful of people through busabout that I have instantly clicked with, so it was nice to find another kindred spirit who was also on the same page. Way too many service stops later where I ate way too much naughty food and one slightly gorey movie, Hurt Locker, and we were there. There was no accomodation available at the busabout hostel so everyone on the bus scattered in their own directions to find our homes for the night. Sam had been to Barcelona before and organised us to meet in town for dinner.
I had booked a private room through airbnb and had to brave the metro to find my place on the top end of town. When I eventually arrived, hot, tired and repeatedly lost...the owner was not there but his neighbour, Ronaldo, who couldn't speak any English, came to greet me. After a phone call, some frowning and confused looks on both our parts, and a quick game of charades, I worked out I had to follow him upstairs in the worlds tinest lift. A quick assessment of the situation and I decided he was little enough that if he tried anything peculiar, I could probably take him on, or in the very least I could drop my bag on top of him....at its current weight, I could hurt anyone! All was ok, I had a tiny room with a wardrobe, bookshelf, desk, chair and a single loft bed over the top. To close the door I had to squeeze between the desk and the wall shut it and then squeeze back out. Definately no room to swing a cat. I unpacked, decided to throw out some winter gear and then head into town to meet the gang.
I got lost, again, and then lost again, then finally arrived in town where the girls and Kyle had graciously waited for me before heading off to the travel bar which was near the wharf. Sangria was definately the highlight of the meal as the seafood paella was definately not. Frans, back in Townsville had made some for his own going away party which had been amazing and unfortunately my first taste of it in spain did not measure up. But the company was great and we had a good time regardless. We headed off to find dessert, Kelly and Jackie had ice cream before leaving for their hostel as the metro stopped at midnight. This is strange because the clubs in Barsa (the Aussie nickname for Barcelona) don't start happening til about 2am. Sam, Kyle and I found an Italian place that did chocolate brownie - me, Apple cake - Sam, and creme brule - Kyle. It was decadent and very rich.
Not quite ready to call it a day, we decided to find a club. Barsa is famous for its night life and the sugar high left us ready for a groove. We wandered the main street La Rambla for quite a while before getting a token from a street promo person and heading inside. It was 1am.....apparently way too early to party as we were almost alone in the club. Haha We had the dance floor to ourselves so we had a groove while outside everyone got the news that this was where we had gotten the party started! By 2am it was crazy busy and we were learning the Barcelona pick up style. We had our own dance triangle and if a Spanish guy decided he liked Sam or I he would come and stand on the edge behind one of us and stare, they were mostly stationary, but would occassionly have a side to side dance step going. This was a little strange as you could imagine, we tried moving away, the guys followed, we tried swapping positions in our triangle, they followed again. If we tried to catch their eye to indicate we weren't interested they suddenly found something on the roof that was more interesting to look at. It was quite hilarious as this same thing happened with 3-4 guys during the course of the evening. They have serious staying power and I can only assume they thought we would eventually give in to their staring games. We didn't, I hit a sugar low and called it a night. Sam and Kyle left too and we all walked to our hostels. There were so many people out at 3:30am ish and my walk to my hostel was mostly safe...I only got lost once. :-)
We had booked the bike tour for the next morning at 11am, but Kyle had washing to do so I headed off on my own to explore the city sights. I am pleased to say that after 5 bike tours, I was not the most incompetent rider this time around! There were two people who were worse riders than me! It was nice not to be causing all the accidents and dramas this time around. We saw the cathedral of saint Eululia who's patron saint, a 13 year old girl, admitted to being Christian to the Romans and they decided to kill her as an example to others. They cut her with knives, put her in a barrel with more knives and sealed the lid and rolled her down a hill. Surprisingly she survived this unscathed. This was her first miracle. Unpeturbed her killers decided to chop off her breasts but still she survived, her second miracle. Finally they crusified her and still she survived, her third miracle. Her killers didn't want to risk further embarassment so chopped off her head, which worked, but her final sign was a dove flying from her body. As she had already performed three miracles she became a patron saint for Barcelona. We also learnt from our guide that Gaudi did not design everything in Barcelona which is more popularly thought. He has turned into "Super Gaudi" over the years and although he was an incredibly prolific architect, there was also many others who desiged and built the beautiful structures in Barcelona. We visited Barcelona's Arch di Triumph which was built because they didn't like the Eiffel tower idea which had been offered to them originally, hehe. The beautiful gardens, the Sangrada Familia (Gaudi's amazing church) the beach for cocktails and a quick lunch whereafter the tour ended and I headed for a wander down to the wharf.
At 6pm Kelly, Jackie, Flick and Nathan, Sam, Kyle and I met up for our Spanish cooking class demonstration. Our chef took us to the markets to show us where he buys his produce and then we ended up back at the travel bar near the wharf (now our second time). After the unsucccessful meal the previous night we were a little worried. Luckily this was unfounded as our chef turned out to be amazing. Our meal began with a tomato, olive oil and bread tapas where you take a slice of bread from a french stick, dip or sprinkle the olive oil and then rub it with half a tomato. This simple starter is amazingly delicious and became a favourite for the whole trip. We also had an assortment of cut meats and cheese which we had seen at the markets. Choizo, salami type ham and a spanish specialty called jamon iberico, which is a cured ham that is eaten in slivered portions. A leg of this type can be sold for 50-1500 euros! We also had delicious potato wedge type chips with a spicy sauce and a few jugs of sangria to keep us going while we watched the chef show us how to cook seafood paella. It was well wort the wait as the taste of this paella compared to the previous nights' were worlds apart. Most of us couldn't finish our portions as the flavours are so rich but very delish!
We headed to the bar outside to learn how this bar makes sangria which changes depending on the area of Spain you are in. Kelly even got up to make a jug herself which of course she shared with us! By this time we had drunk a lot of sangria so Kyle was luckily also supplimenting our glasses with water, something I greatly appreciated the following morning! We were debating whether we join the pub crawl but found there was no room and they were only coming to our bar anyway so we headed next door to a bar that had over 200 shots! We started out with a round of "flaming Harry Potter's" which was quite a show when on fire, followed by Nathan, Flick, Jackie and Kelly trying a "dracular" and Sam, Kyle and I (at my request) trying a "Princess" which was very sweet and tasty owing to the grenadine, various alcohol and cream on top (Kyle was luckly secure in his own masculinity to join us ;-)). Not bad for someone who used to not drink....it was the sangria that talked me into the shots.
From there we were ready to hit the Barcelona clubs for a groove - having learnt that La Rambla wasn't the true hub of entertainment, we headed down to the beach where the locals party in the clubs. A quick dip in the ocean at some ridiculous hour (only up to just above my knees as it was freezing, and no one else was brave enough to join me) we had a short walk along the very dusty imported Eqyptian sand and managed to loose Kyle. In true Aussie style we then renamed him Mike and started to call for him along the shore. Very strange behaviour for 6 sober people hey?! He eventually heard us and we met a promo guy who promised us free entry into one of the really well known clubs so we headed off for a lon walk up the beach promenade. After a few hours of dancing we were all ready for bed and got a taxi back to town - it is amazing how far you can walk when "happy" after sangria. Town was a lot further away at "oh god-thirty" in the morning.