Sí/No: Barcelona, Spain

In a word: No.

To be fair, though, my quick trip to Barcelona was unexpected and riddled with things gone wrong, so let me explain (a lot, beware) how one of the world´s most celebrated cities left a bad taste in my mouth.

My train from Amsterdam got into Brussels an hour later than it should have. The shuttle from the train station got me to the airport almost exactly 40 minutes before my flight. This would´ve been perfect had I not borrowed money for the shuttle from a very nice old woman and wanted to re-pay her as soon as possible. By the time I found the ATM and figured out what I needed to do, it was only 35 minutes prior to my flight to Madrid and Ryan Air was insisting on sticking to their company policy of having to check in at least 40 minutes before departure and crushing the dreams of frazzled travellers. I saw the people still waiting in line to get past security and into the gate for the flight! Apparently there wouldn´t be another flight to Madrid for two days. I looked back at the people waiting in line. My skull exploded.

There was, however, a flight to Barcelona in a couple of hours that I could get onto if I paid a surcharge and thereby ruined the bargain price of my original flight. I had no other options.

After a flight where my legs of a nominal length were crushed, I took an hour long shuttle from the airport (Girona) to the city, started walking to my hostel, stopped for my first salad in forever, and then eventually found my temporary quarters.

I suppose the location was convenient for partying, but I was dead-tired so all I really noticed were the high number of homeless people in the area and the weird vibes I got from the people at the hostel.

The next day I got up and realized I had no clean socks, put on my flip-flops, and walked the city. This led to the downfall of my feet for an entire week and prohibited some opportunities for having more fun. So, unless your name is Meredith, I would really discourage you from wearing flip-flops on marathon walks.

Besides the mounting pain in my toes, there were other issues: I kept on forgetting I was not in Madrid and tried to speak broken Spanish to people, which is bad since they speak Catalan. This also made trying to decipher signs very difficult.

Paris–for as large as it is–seemed fairly quiet. No one really lives in Luxembourg. Everyone rides bikes in Amsterdam. But Barcelona sounded like it was a congested city. Honking, screeching, people trying to sell you shitty, warm beer on the street–it was all a shock to the system.

In the 15 days previous, I had turned on my Ipod twice: Once on the airplane and once on the train to Luxembourg. During my stay 48 hour and change stay in Barcelona, I used it 3 times. I wanted to drown it out.

***
Let us get superficial.

When you think of Spain, what pops into your mind? Hopefully, to illustrate my point, you said to yourself, “Beautiful people.” Well, that´s what I thought, too! Imagine my dismay/shock/horror when I discovered that Pau Gasol (NBA star, Spaniard, not particularly good looking man) is not an aberration of Spanish looks, but the norm. Pau´s face on a woman is an even bigger disappointment. They are fine dressers, however.
Pau Gasol

(Also, do not worry: Further research has indicated that the Pau-city (drum hit, please!) of attractiveness may be limited to Catalonia.)

***

For my third night, I had to switch hostels due to sketchiness and a lack of availability where I was staying. My second hostel seemed good–jovial, more people talking to each other, fewer smells of urine in the vicinity–but I was leaving early the next morning and really wouldn´t be able to take part in any of that.

I tried going to bed around 1 AM but someone was sleeping in my bed. It seemed like plenty more were available, so I just hopped into another. Around 4, I heard a group of people come in.

“Who is this guy?”
Floor boards squeak.
“Oh shit, John is gonna be puh-issed when he gets back.”
More floor boards yelp.
“What the hell? Who is this guy¨”

I wised up to the fact that they were talking about me and blearily chimed in:

“Sorry, but that guy was sleeping in my bed and this didn´t have any sheets, so I thought it was available. I could move, though.”
“That guy already hates us, but it´s fine. I´m just really confused.”

Oh, all the people who had just arrived were blitzed.

The silhouette I had just talked to goes outside to talk to John, whose bed I was sleeping in. Other shadows continue to emphasize how confused they are about me sleeping in the wrong bed. I apologize and re-explain. From outside we hear:

“John, John…some guy is sleeping in your bed but he´s, like, the nicest guy in the whole world–

All of the awake people in the room laugh and got reprimanded by Grumpy Pants who is in my rightful bed.

“–just sleep in Marco´s bed.”
“Ok, I´m so confused. But whatever. What if Marco comes back?”
“I don´t think he will.”

Grumpy Pants, root of all my current problems and confusion for a gaggle of revellers, huffs and shushes us all once more. Without ever seeing the man, I hate him.

At 5:30 the door opens, floor boards creek, and I am awake.

“What…the…fuck…?”

Marco is home.

Poking the body in his bed, he continues, “Hey! Who is this? Who is this? John? Is this John?”

Drunk and incapable of controlling the volume of his voice, he laughs uncontrollably.

“Marco, this guy was in my bed. So I´m sleeping in yours. Just find a bed.”
“I don´t understand. What´s going on?”

More laughter, but Grumpy Pants is not amused.

“Hey! It´s sleepy time. Okay? Go to sleep! Okay!”
“Listen, I´m sorry, but you were in my bed, so this is sort of your fault,” I explain.
“I don´t know. Sleep here¨!” He points to the bunk above him, where his personal items are strewn about and there are no sheets. No thanks.

For the serenity of the room, I give Marco my bed and go downstairs to the lobby. The hostel worker is sprawled on the couch, napping. I read basketball headlines on the Internet.

When I go back to the room to get my bag, a body pops up from the bunk Grumpy Pants had suggested. Apparently, the room was also over-booked.


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