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Published: September 30th 2017
Goodbye, my friend. This blue shirt has been with me on every trip to Spain, including the Canary Islands, and also to South America. I've become quite attached to it, and actually should have thrown it out two years ago. Since then, it's been missing buttons, and has had numerous tears. Sadly, there's a lot of sentimental value associated with this shirt, but it was time to let it go - wearing it makes me look like a hobo, and I'm also running out of room in my backpack.
Geo: 41.3879, 2.16992
Bad sleep ... though the room had A/C, things got really cold, so the A/C was shut off ... then it got really hot ... hopefully I sweated my fever away. Up for breakfast - only toast with coffee and the ultra crappy UHT milk - yech! UHT stands for ultra-high temperature processing, so that the milk can be kept indefinitely on a shelf. The stuff is surprisingly good in cafe con leche (though it makes you wonder how good the coffee would be with fresh milk), but just doesn't taste right drinking it on its own, or with cereal.
Over to the bus station - while waiting in line, this old lady started talking to the girl behind me, who kept saying "Uh ... I don't speak Spanish ...", but the lady kept going ON and ON ... finally she asked her "Where are you from?", but of course in Spanish. Having heard enough, I finally said "She's asking where you're from." When the lady heard "Rusa" (Russia), she finally left her alone, after a few more random comments.
Having some time before the bus departed, I grabbed a quick meal at the station's little cafe. A serrano
La Boqueria was bustling as usual, and I crammed down a little spinach/cheese tart that was quite good. I also crammed down a container of mixed fruit, which was phenomenal value at only 1 euro, for a fairly large portion.
ham bocadillo; I requested tomato with it, since the menu said it was available for 0.50 euro, but they were out. Too bad, because tomato and serrano rocks! The saltiness of the serrano seems to accentuate the tomato's flavour. The freshly-squeezed OJ was really good.
I've really enjoyed the last few bus rides I've taken, not for the profound thinking that takes place aboard, but for the profound talent - you beautiful Spanish senoritas ... you make the Spanish tourist board redundant, because even if your country was a complete hole, I'd still visit just for all of you 😊
While waiting to board, I noticed a very beautiful senorita having a smoke, and thought "I hope I get to sit next to her!" Usually, I end up sitting next to some fat smelly Spanish dude, but for once, I got to sit next to the prettiest senorita on the bus, and I felt like I won the lottery 😊 I imagine it's the feeling someone has as they win, while they watch their numbers come up, one by one ... the girl starts walking down the aisle, slowly inching closer ... as she slowed down close to my seat, it
A plate of typical jawbreakers. Definitely not as lovely as the jawbreaker I encountered tonight :)
must be like the feeling a lottery winner has when they are waiting for the 6th number to come up. And when it does, it's "YESSSSSSSS!!!" As she got into her seat, she smacked her head on the ceiling above - all I could muster was a "Are you ok?", though what I really wanted to say was "Would you like me to kiss it all better?"
Elena ... ooh ... a graphic design student on her way to Barcelona to start the school year ... ooh .,,. sultry voice ... oooh ... even her coughing was sultry ... from Zaragoza, or "Tharagotha" as she said it, in the lispiest of Spanish ... of course, it was so lispy that she had to repeat it a few times before I understood what she was saying! But I do have one complaint - I know everybody likes wearing big sunglasses nowadays, but Elena had the most beautiful eyes, something you can't see under those sunglasses. Please don't wear them!
Sounds like she agrees with my assessment of Zaragoza - not that great! She didn't have to study in Barcelona, but obviously, it's a no brainer. Sounds like she'll eventually live here after graduating, which is again, a no brainer. She's off to Stockholm in a few days for a vacation with her cousin, which made me laugh inside - last summer, I was shocked at how many beautiful Spanish senoritas were vacationing in Scandinavia. I guess it's where they all go for summer holidays, and a good reminder to visit Scandinavia again in the future.
After arriving, in sweet Spanish senorita fashion, she waited for me to re-assemble my backpack, walked over to the metro station with me, told me which line to take, and which stop to get off at. Having been here before, I really didn't need the help, but I wasn't complaining 😊
I checked in to the Mambo Tango hostel - it's not the newest, nicest, the most centrally-located, or the most well-equipped hostel, but I chose it because of the reviews. It's supposedly got a great vibe, with the staff being a little bit like a family. I scored points with Marta, one of the workers, when I told her that Spain was my favourite, and made the comment that "Barcelona isn't Spain, it's Cataluna, right?" Catalans are fiercely proud, and greatly appreciate if you are at least aware of the trials and tribulations the people of Cataluna have endured over the years, most recently at the hands of Franco. I think the pride and independence stems largely from Franco's suppression of the Catalan culture, and the oppression of its people.
Seeing how dehydrated I looked, partially from the heat and humidity, but mostly because of earlier drooling over Elena, Marta offered me a glass of water. It's a small gesture, but kind of shows how the hostel is.
I dropped off my bag, and was off to La Rambla and La Boqueria, its famous market. It's a bit of a hike from the hostel to La Rambla, and you have to pass through a very seedy area of El Raval, with the odd prostitute hanging around. It gets a lot worse at night, but is generally safe.
On the walk over, I was feeling like I was going to pass out, between being sick, the heat and humidity, and from not having eaten anything substantial in a long time. I quickly crammed down the remainder of a bag of trail mix I started to eat on the bus from Zaragoza, which coincidentally, was my ice-breaker with Elena when I offered her some. Guess I'll have to start carrying this stuff with me all the time in Spain, if it lets me practice my Spanish with a hottie Spanish senorita!
The trail mix was way too sweet, but did the trick of keeping me from falling over until I got to La Boqueria. After a quick snack, I had a quick walk around La Rambla, which seemed strangely quiet despite tons of people being out, before heading back to the hostel for a nap - I've waited four long years to return to Barcelona, so to be sick here is simply put, horrible timing.
At the hostel, everyone in the room had the same idea as me, because three were taking a siesta, and one was reading. Four girls and one guy ... so far I'm loving the ratio at this hostel! As I was standing there, organizing my things on the top bunk, the girl below stirred, saying "I'm sorry, all my things are scattered about!" I didn't get much of a look, but was quite taken with her very cute, very sweet, very proper British (or so I thought) accent, which was extremely attractive. Those of you that remember my stories of the first trip to Spain might recall that it was the very proper manner of speech combined with the Spanish accent while speaking English, that I found so unbelievably attractive. I couldn't wait to see if she was as beautiful as her voice suggested ...
I took out my little travel alarm clock, and tossed it on top of the bed, which it skidded across, hitting the wall, and falling down on the British (or so I thought) girl's bunk. REAL smooth ... I apologized, and retrieved the alarm clock from here, ruing the fact that my accidental toss of the alarm clock didn't even get me a better look!
I napped for a bit, at which point the other girls started stirring and chatting. There were a couple of sisters from Bellevue, Washington, Bridget and Katie, and Katsiaryna from Belarus, but now a Londoner. I was quite surprised, because Bridget spoke very fluent Spanish - it's nice to meet another person who has picked up Spanish as a second language, and compare notes as to why they learned it.
The girl from the bunk below disappeared, but came back into the room after getting ready - I was lying down in bed, so again couldn't really see, but heard her say to the girls, very politely "Sorry to interrupt, but I didn't want to be rude and leave without introducing myself." After making introductions with the others, she walked up to my bunk and said "I'm Emma", as she shook my hand.
The details of what happened after that are a bit blurry, as for a moment, all I saw were two of the deepest, most beautiful eyes you could imagine. After a few seconds, I regained enough of my wits to step away from her eyes, and take in her face. All I can say is ... wow ... even more beautiful than her voice had earlier indicated. After that, I seem to recall saying "Hiiiiiiiii .........." while simultaneously wiping a stream (well, maybe more like waterfall ...) of drool from my chin.
After Emma left, Bridget said "Does she always dress like that?", in the most complimentary manner possible - I thought, "I hope so ... and I hope she stays here for a few more days!". She was absolutely stunning ... her hair, her makeup, and her dress made her look like this glamorous cover girl from the 1950s that magically stepped out of the pages of a magazine. She had this understated elegance, and this classic natural beauty that was timeless ... honestly, it's something you don't really see any more. I didn't know whether to ask her for an autograph, or ask to take a picture of her! I ended up doing neither, and chose option 3, which was nod, smile, and drool.
Shortly after, Katie, Bridget, and Katsiaryna left to grab some food, and asked if I wanted to join them - I declined, as I had some things to take care of, but grabbed Katsiaryna's number and said I'd text them later on to see where they were at. It's good having a cell phone while traveling!
The girls left, and I finally came out of my dazed state - there are beautiful women, and there are beautiful women like Emma that inspire me to create a new word to describe them. Emma is a jawbreaker - because while certain women can make your jaw drop, very few can make your jaw hit the ground so hard that it shatters. In fact, I'm going to send Emma the bill for all the dental work I'll need when I get back to Canada.
Later I wandered around town, and down La Rambla again, since it's Barcelona's best strolling area. Barcelona is always humid, so it's not always a comfortable place to be walking around. La Rambla seemed very dead (though still very busy) compared to my first time here, even though I was first here even later in September - I'm not sure if it's due to the economic downturn, or because the last time was during La Merce, one of Barcelona's biggest festivals.
I tracked down the girls at American Soda Bar, and laughed when I sat down - they must've been hungry, because they stopped at the very first place on La Rambla that was on their way from the hostel! They told me that it was actually the second place they went to, but that the first place was actually only steps from the hostel!
They were just finishing up dinner as I got there, so we decided to head down to the waterfront by Maremagnum, a big touristy shopping mall overlooking the harbour. Having not eaten yet, I grabbed a crappy Catalan-style baguette and an orange pop from a takeout joint - an expensive, fast food meal, but not surprising since it was purchased on La Rambla. Cheese, crappy sausage, and a soggy baguette ... blah!
We grabbed a bench right on the water, and just chilled and chatted. Katsiaryna told an interesting story of her first visit to Spain - it was right after Chernobyl, and there was obviously a lot of sympathy in the world for the victims at that time. I never knew, but apparently Belarus was far more affected by nuclear fallout than the Ukraine, because of prevailing wind conditions.
Anyway, years later groups in Spain sponsored trips for young victims of Chernobyl to come and visit, and Katsiaryna was one of them, and spent several weeks in southern Spain one summer. The story became quite comical, because while in Spain, the daughter of the sponsor family she stayed with was a big Enrique Iglesias fan, and dragged Katsiaryna along. They drove 6-7 hours to the concert, which annoyed her, because she didn't know who the heck he was, and didn't want to go.
After the drive, they found out the concert had been canceled! Katsiaryna was PISSED! All that way for someone she didn't even want to see, and she didn't even get to see him? The concert was rescheduled for a few weeks later, and they made a return trip - again, Katsiaryna was not happy about this. But she went to the concert and ended up loving Enrique! Spain ... you always seem to bring about happy endings 😊
It was too beautiful of an evening to leave so early, but Katie and Bridget were getting tired (still jet-lagged, having only arrived in Spain a few days ago), so we returned to the hostel, stopping at La Rambla on the way for a gelato. I had a scoop of very crappy passion fruit cheesecake gelato.
Back at the hostel, I was hoping for another 1950s-style cover girl sighting, but unfortunately Emma was already sleeping 😞 Though it was rather comical, because she was tossing and turning about in a rather violent fashion as we came back, because we turned on all the lights and were quite loud. You could tell she was trying to convey "$%#@! Shut up!" But wait, with her polite and proper British manner of speech, it probably would've been "Bollocks! Please speak softer!"
I was hoping that Emma talked in her sleep, so that I could hear more of that proper British accent, but no luck 😞 As I drifted off to dreamland, I remembered a quote from Amaya Arzuaga, a Spanish fashion designer, that I earlier read on the bus in that psychology magazine I swiped off the flight from La Coruna.
She was talking about vacationing in Ibiza every summer with her family, and said "Pero el motivo por el que mas me gusta Ibiza es porque bajo su cielo, como por magia, duermo muy bien, tengo suenos bonitos." Translation: "But the reason I most like Ibiza is that below its sky, like by magic, I sleep very well, I have beautiful dreams." That perfectly encapsulates my sentiments on Spain - I still don't sleep much while here, but it's a much more peaceful and restful sleep than I get back home. And the beautiful dreams ... they extend beyond slumber into the waking world, because when I'm here, I remember what my dreams in life are, and feel like they can come true. Cheesy yes, but as well all know, liquefied cheese flows through my veins when in Spain 😊
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