My alarm went off this morning at 0600. The plan being to get the 0700 train to Barcelona. This wasn’t happening though and I’d written off the idea the previous night. However I’d forgotton to turn off the alarm. I was struggling with this too at 6. For some reason I thought it was my computer and stuffed around with that for 5 minutes before I realized it was my phone, switching that off I went back to sleep.
I didn’t wake untill 1000. I was so annoyed at myself for not getting up earlier, I should have nearly been in Barcelona at this time. However I got up had a quick shower. Packed and left.
I left the hostal at 1030. I thought this was giving myself pleanty of time to make the 1100 train. I didn’t get to the station untill 2 minutes prior and the line at the ticket shop stamped out any chance that may have still been apparent.
So in light of this I got a ticket for the 1130 train. Lucky it was only a half hour wait. I then sat down and had a coffee. I mustn’t of had my senses about me much this morning because I loitered in the coffee shop way too long when I didn’t even know how far I had to go to get the train.
I pretty much ended up running the last part, being grateful that the line at the baggage screening wasn’t too long. I walked the length of the train looking for my carraige, got in and less then 2 minutes later we were off.
It’s true. There’s something about Barcelona. I’ve been here for 2 hours and already I want to shift here. Sandra (the Macedonian I worked with in Graz) expressed the same thing as Jordi (my host in Athens) they both said they felt ‘drawn’ to Barcelona. At first I thought they were just having an airy fairy kinda homo moment. But now I understand. I’m here at the end of November. I cant imagine what it would be like in summer.
Admittedly the place is crawling with English speakers, more so then prague. And I’ve never seen so many irish pubs in one area. Maybe it’s got something to do with that. The comfort I feel. But that wouldn’t explain Sandra or Jordi. I dunno.
I spent the first hour or two on the train here typing in my diary and spent the next few hours half sleeping half shifting around in my sleep. I was woken by a small fat Spanish woman going “Hola blah blah Spanish word, Spanish word, Spanish word” I looked around, the train was stopped and the carraige was empty.
I jumped up and put on my day bag. I almost stepped out of the carraige without my pack. That would have got me in the crap. I exited the station and realized I had no idea of how to get to my hostel. I knew how to get there from a certain metro station but another metro station was nowhere to be found.
I walked around the station aimlessly looking for tourist info. Luckily after ten minutes tucked away in the corner of the station was a metro station. I looked at the map. It was more complex then the tube in London. Eventually after 2 short metro rides I was at the station I needed to be at.
The problem about the metro is you exit them totally disoriented. And working out where I was took 2 seconds, but working out which way I was facing was a totally different story. Eventually I found the road I needed to go down and again after walking up and down it a couple of times I found my hostel.
It seems pretty cool. Apparently they have a but of a party thing on tonight, tapas, sangria and a fiamenco show. I have no idea what a fiamenco show is, but I figured I’d suss out the local bar crawls and then make a decision.
After dropping my stuff by my bed. Actually dropping is the wrong word. I’m on a top bunk, which requires me to climb up a ten foot ladder to get to my bunk. So I put all my stuff up there and juggled my gear and got into my PT clothes.
I went for a run, it was awesome. I went from the hostal down to the harbour. The harbour is pretty intricate so I hit many a dead ends. Dispite this it was awesome. It’s such a beautiful place and I was feeling really good. I eventually found myself at the beach and slowed down for a walk along the sand. I tested the water. It felt awesome. Hopefully the weather is good tomorrow. A dip would be awesome.
After the run and a shower I decided to go and try and suss out these bar crawls. The first place I went to, an Irish bar called Ryan’s bar, was pretty vague. The web site said to meet there at 930, yet the barman said they didn’t organise it and heaps of bar crawls come through there. The next place was down through town a little more at a bar called travel bar.
This place was much more helpful. It’s a bar which directly caters for travelers. They had heaps of information about Barcelona and even had a free walking tour twice every day. Unfortunately the help they could give me about the bar crawl was that it wasn’t on. Some new rule here about the police cracking down on free drinks or promotion of binge drinking of any kind.
I decided to just go with the Fiamenco show that the hostel was running and went back to the hostel Via Ryans bar and grabbed another beer. I stopped in here coz I thought that they had Wifi, I’d seen a guy on face book the first time I was in here. However this prooved to be a dumb assumption, there was no wifi, no idea how he was on the net.
I was feeling pretty good, was loving the vibe so on the way back to the hostel I stopped in at the supermarket and grabbed a 2 Litrey, I had a couple of hours to kill before the show so figured I’d use my time with this. With this I sat in the common room on the internet, plugging away.
Soon after a guy sat across from me with his book, and we started chatting. He’s a german guy from….. Some place in Germany called Johannes, the most common german name on the planet. He was cool, but the language barrier got in the way a little.
I was pretty much getting over my computer so I went and stashed it in the locker of my room with my passport. I probably should have put a lock on it too in hindsight. I went down stairs and sat with a group that was talking in English. There was a few yanks and a couple of Aussies.
The yanks consisted of a pair that were traveling for a month after 2 years working in Niger in the Peace Corps, there names being William and …… something. The ’peace corps’ like a yankee volunteer thing where you work in one of a variety of different jobs in developing nations. I cant think of anything worse then being stuck in Niger for 2 years. Screw that.
Another couple of yankss that were there was a guy from Washington and a girl from somewere else. They were both in Barcelona for the weekend. They’re both working in Madrid, software programmers. And the Aussie couple that was there were both from Perth, he, Dror Cohen, was an Israeli who’d been living in Perth for 10 years. Both cool but kinda quiet.
William suggested some sangria, and being in spain I figured I better. So we went to the shop nearby and grabbed a few 2L bottles of Sangria, I though this was smart at the time.
I woke up yesterday morning to my alarm at 0800, my head was drilling me. So I reset my alarm for 830. And half dozed for the next half an hour. I forced myself up at 830. Went downstairs and had break fast. All I could stomach was one bowl of cereal. And from here I went back to bed. Setting my alarm for 1000. So I could make the 1130 walking tour.
When my alarm went off at 1000 it still wasn’t happening so I downed an Ibuprofen and I reset it for 1030. I slept for another half hour and forced myself up. Changed my shirt packed my bag and set off for travel bar.
Here I had a much needed coffee and sat around untill 1130. I had 30 mins to kill so I got out my computer and called mum on Skype. It costs 1.5Ueuro cents for a half hour to call Australia. I’d missed one of my best friends weddings the day before and mum telling me all about it actually made me quite homesick. The first time I’d felt like this ever. That combined with mums comment about my excess weight situation was a real soccer punch to the gonads.
Next I went outside to wait. There was about 10 of us here by the time 1130 came, then 1145 came and a few of the barman came out looked around and then left. Not long after one came out to inform us that the tour guide was ‘sick’ and that the tour wasn’t on and to try again later that day. I sat down for another coffee and spoke to a couple of the barmen for 10 minutes about some places to go.
I decided first to go and sort out my train ticket for the next day first and walked to the train station. Then I stood in line for 40 minutes while the one ticket man struggled with his computer, having to reboot it twice for the guy two people in front of me. I booked my ticket for the early train. The first of 2, the later one being at 5, getting into Nice at about midnight.
From here I caught the metro up to the top of town. I spent the next half an hour walking from the station, up a series of hills and steps to a park called something like Dubai park. It was really nice up there and afforded an awesome view of the city. But seriously chewed into my sight seeing time.
I wanted to go back for the 1500 walking tour via a masive church and a strip which the barman had said was really nice. However by the time I eventually navigated using the crappy tourist map back to the nearest Metro I didn’t have time for either and just went straight to the travel bar and sat down with a coffee.
I was feeling pretty sorry for myself still. And was kinda annoyed I’d wasted most of the day. So I sat there staring at my coffee hoping that the walking tour would make up for my lack of ability to get much done.
This hope was thrown down by the fact that the afternoon walking tour had been cancelled too. I heard them speaking on the phone. They did a quick count of everyone who was here for the walking tour and then came back 5 minutes later saying that the tour guide was still sick. Obviously the tour guide felt that the tips he was going to receive from the few of us that were here wasn’t enough to justify him showing up.
I spent the next hour walking around the old gothic area of town. It was pretty cool and had an awesome cathedral in the centre. However there were two downers about the cathedral. One, half of it was covered in scaffolding and 2 it was a 5 Euro entry fee. So I just hung around the door looking in as a couple of people walked in and out. It was cool but I’ve seen too many churches in the last 4 months to justify it.
I was still feeling really crap. The weather was terrible and I was well and truly getting over walking around and traveling by myself, these factors combined added to the seed of the mornings phone call actually had me feeling really depressed. And I was considering going home earlier then planned rather then traveling for the sake of traveling. Then I remembered Cocko telling me about how when he drinks he wakes up the next morning and gets really depressed coming down off the alcohol. Maybe that had something to do with it. Maybe I’ll have to do a bit more trial and error.
Next I went back to the hostel. I figured I better send Laura a message, the girl whome I’m staying with in Nice, as I didn’t know her number or her address and was supposed to be staying on her couch the following day. I grabbed out my ticket to check what time I got into Nice. Apon looking at my ticket I realized that after waiting 40 minutes the guy had actually given me a ticket for the train later in the day and I had to go back. I changed into my PT gear, threw on my jeans and jumper over the top with my skipping rope set off for the station with the intent on going down to the beach to do some skipping and some pushups.
I got my ticket changed with out a hitch. He’d only booked me from Barcelona to Montpellier, where I have to change, so I had to pay an extra 3Euro booking fee for the second half of the journey. Not too bad, and I was expecting worse.
I left the train station and rounded the corner for the beach to go for a skip. I was met with a gale force wind and some rain drops. I wrote off going for a skip and retired to the hostel. As I did so the weather deteriorated more and more and more.
Back at the hostel I grabbed out my comp and started looking for a place to crash in Belfast. All the while the rain got heavier to the point where it was absolutely bucketing down. In the middle of one of the main downpours Dror and his girlfriend returned positively saturated.
I spoke to them for 10 minutes and organized to go and watch the game with them. It was incredible how that little human contact with a familiar figure and a plan to do something social that night completely lifted my spirits.
The couch surfing with strangers is hard work. Especially when their English leads a little to be desired. It’s a better experience then just hanging out with Aussies and yanks at the hostels. But the latter is easier, and refreshing so maybe I’ll have to mix it up a bit more in future.
At one point after Dror had left a massive group of about 30 came into the hostel. They were all immaculately dressed and towed suitcases in hand. They were no back packers. The hostel man gave an introduction referring to their ‘program’ and the ‘companies they were going to visit’. once he shut up I asked one closest to me what was going on. He explained that they were all dutch business students. Here on a study trip where they’re spending a week visiting companies, doing cultural stuff and then doing a research project. A school excursion to Barcelona? Not a bad deal I reckon.
While I waited for Dror and his mrs I sat down on the couch and read with Johannes for a while. Then I realized that there was another couple coming with us that night and they’d cooked dinner for the four of them. I figured I’d just join them and have a chat. They were another couple of Aussies. The guy I’d spoken to for a while in the kitchen earlier on.
They were pretty cool too, a couple of Architecture students from Sydney. Their accent was really hard to pick. I think so far that Victorians have the most Australian accent, (this is a generalisation which disregards all the country folk who’s accents beats all of ours anyway) but every one else to me sounds almost a bit British in the way they speak and these two were no exception.
They were really nice and between the 4 of them they had more then enough food and offered me some. It was a good wholesome thai pasta soup thing and some cheese on bread. I definitely wasn’t complaining.
We left the hostel at 1910 to go and watch the football, which started at 1900t was Barcelona FC vrs Real Madrid. The two major Spanish teams and it wasn’t being shown on free to air TV. As a result most of Barcelona’s population was out and about vying for a spot to watch the game. All the bars on the main street were packed. With people lining up on the pavement from any spot possible to see the game through the pub doors and windows.
We went to travel bar. It was on a back street and I figured we’d have better luck there. To a degree we did. We were able to get in and find a spot where we could see an oblique angle of the game and watched the last 10 minutes of the first half in here. At half time we decided to go and try our luck somewhere else.
We walked around the back streets for a while trying to avoid the main street of La Rambla. However no matter how many times we left it we always ended up back there. So we just cut our losses and decided to walk along La Rambla checking out the places as we went.
We found two places side by side that both had pretty good views from the outside of the TV’s that were inside. I stood at one of them because I was too tall to see under the window sill of the other. The first time being tall has been a disadvantage.
However I soon realized that the people to my right were cheering slightly earlier then the people around me. So I started counting with the seconds and walked next door. It was 5 seconds earlier so I half pushed in at the front on the side so that I could see.
There was only one goal scored for the game, but Barcelona dominated winning 1 nill. The cheer from the crowd when Barca scored was fantastic and could be heard up and down the street. And after the game finished we walked down La Rambla as people cheered and chanted Barca. It was a really cool atmosphere.
We were all getting up pretty early so we all just headed back and chilled at the hostel. Johannes went and grabbed some beers and I joined him with that. He’s couch surfing too and was telling me about one guy whom he met who he might be sailing with down the Mediterranean all the way to Morocco. I’m definitely thinking about getting on that boat. Dror was also telling me about a website called helpx. A sight that offers accomodation to people who will work on farms etc for 5 hours a day. So I might do that for January too. I dunno.
I went upto my room at about 1100 and took off my shoes. The bottoms of both my little toes had turned to blisters so I drained those. Hoping they’d be better the next day. I got most of my stuff packed too. I didn’t want to be making too much noise in the morning when I was getting up early and turned the my bedside light off not long after.