Sunday, 15 April 2012

Blisters and the sun...Easter in Barcelona

My mind is in a slight tangle after visiting Barcelona. I still haven’t quite made sense of the whole ordeal. It was such an absolute dream come true, that whenever I think back to it,  I give whoever is standing next to me; a beautiful open-mouthed, dead-eye stare as I start to realise what transpired in those 3 golden days under the Spanish sun. Yes sure, I’ve got a million of those terrible ‘point and shoot’ photo’s as proof of  my physical presence in Batheloooona…and yet I still cannot quite comprehend that it was a reality. This might be due to the fact that I’ve got a terrible cold and the meds are making my brain bounce. But a mere three days of extensive sightseeing turns out to be a ridiculous amount of time to soak up the Catalan spirit, but hey…at least I can still find some Mediterranean sea sand in my coat pockets.

 It’s been a week since we commenced our journey and headed south for Easter. A full month has gone by since I’ve left Amsterdam and I felt the need to get out, get some sun and see some catholic Easter processions. Cath and I have been planning this trip since our return from Paris, and yet we petered around for long enough to get the last really expensive flight to Barcelona (it was either that or a 26 hour long bus trip, hahahaha….sure) but thanks to our lovely parents (THANK YOU MOM AND DAD) we were able to close our eyes and pay the price for a quick ticket to the one city which I most wanted to visit in Europe. I don’t know why I have such a romanticised idea about Barcelona, but I guess it has something to do with the artistic vision of Woody Allen, Penelope Cruz swearing in Spanish and Javier (OH! Javier…) Bardem’s charm must have played some role in the formation of my idealistic view of life in the Catalan capital city.  

Just pause and appreciate
So finally we began our great adventure making use of every means of transport possible to reach the golden city of the sangria. After extensive travel by foot, tram, bus, train and plane; we reached Barcelona bleary-eyed, beat and primarily disorientated but we were able to crack smiles despite our heavy headedness.

With our vitality restored we did everything we could possibly squeeze into three days of extensive sightseeing. We gaped at Gaudi, we swirled in pools of sangria, we pored over Picasso’s life work, marvelled at Miro and were just visually stunned by the vast amount of beauty and life that is Barcelona. We stayed at a hostel very close to La Ramblas, so close in fact that it is called ‘Centre Ramblas Youth Hostel’ which provided us with beds, breakfast, awful coffee and one resident creeper of a neighbour who always seemed to lurk in the dark corners of the corridor…so we didn’t spend much time hanging around waiting for a chance encounter with him.

 Moving onto the topic of language…Español. The only real useful Spanish phrase I know is, “Donde esta el baño?” which means, “where is the bathroom?”… and Saskia picked up, “Una cerveza por favour” which means, “one beer please”. Man, with these two phrases and our combined charm, we had the powerful tools to paint the town red and conquer the Barcelona night scene…but we didn’t and often got bewildered Spanish men pointing us into all directions, desperately trying to guide us to the nearest bathroom or beer stand. We also tried incorporating ‘Nacho Libre’ in our vocabulary as means of scoring free snacks through our understanding that its direct translation would be, “Free Nachos!” but alas, I guess this video would sum up my knowledge of the Spanish language… . In the end it was our clever use of hand gestures that got us much further than any utterance of broken Spanish phrases ever could. 

So on Saturday night, we did what any good tourists would do and we joined our hostels local pub crawl. Seedy bars, body shots and bad music is what we expected and what we got. I once again closed my eyes, paid the price and in the end had a surprisingly entertaining night. The first few bars were good, but the club (yes, CLUB) turned out to be the local guido hang out. Man HOTEL MOTEL HOLIDAY INN…In the end we gave up and joined in the fun but left as soon as 40 year old orange Spaniards started winking and pouting at us. These guys were certainly not the mystery skateboarders we were hoping to meet.

Guido paaaardaaaay
Next day we found the sand, the sea and the sun on our winter skin. Another fun fact about Barcelona…the culture of rollerblading and skateboarding, it’s huge and it made for a myriad of beaming men and women zooming about the sidewalks. Oh, I’ve lost track of the countless times I nearly bumped into old ladies as I extended my gaze to those gorgeous Spaniards elegantly weaving their way up and down the boardwalk. Proper skateboarders, something I really miss seeing in Amsterdam, I guess the Spaniards just have an inherent culture of cool.

Walking along, desperately in search of a gelato stand, we stumbled upon a live band. Sitting down to listen, I fell in love with the city proper, having the sun on my shoulder, music in my ears and Spanish rhythm to sway to. Pure gold on a Sunday afternoon in which boredom and ‘dem blues’ seemed so far removed from our situation. 

 As the sun set, we had finally found our gelato shop. As our last proper sight to see in the city, we headed to find the enchanting fountain of colours at the Plaça d'Espanya. The Font Màgica de Montjuïc was built in 1929 as a feature of the Barcelona World Fair and Universal Exposition that showcases an amazing display of water, light and music which proves to be a surreal foreground to the backdrop of the city. If ever you get the chance to visit Barcelona, make sure you go to see the lights. Here is a link, so please go check it out (by this time my digital camera breathed its last breath and I was unable to capture the display, but this guy did a pretty decent job)

So having spent a decent amount of money on food, sights, transport and accommodation, we decided to spend our last night in style; as only the hardcore student travellers would do, on the Barcelona airport. To tell the truth, we couldn’t find another hostel to accommodate us for our last night and our flight left pretty early on Monday morning, so we thought hey! Why not? It’s not as if any of us are used to resting our pretty lil heads on the crisp clean pillowcases of any 7 star hotel. So we did what we always do… we closed our eyes and gunned it. Guys, honestly, an empty, dimly lit airport lounge is such a beautifully surreal space. We made friends with the cashier at the only 24 hour snack bar (we conveniently set up camp in close range), he came from Ghana so we had a mutual understanding, the Africans meandering around Europe. Isn’t strange how quickly one is able to strike up a conversation or form an instant camaraderie when you meet any one who comes from a vaguely similar background when you’re stuck so far away from home? Suddenly Ghana seems to border South Africa and you share neighbours.  Before I get terribly patriotic and carried away…this is what transpired. Cath and Ingrid curled up on what seemed to be a pretty decent excuse for a bed, made from various items of clothing and a baby changing station which conveniently folds out of Ingrid’s wheely bag (I know right?) Saskia and I didn’t feel any sweet slumber approaching, so we opted for the most fun airport slumber party activity and we did yoga on our scarves for the next few hours. We were only ever so often rudely interrupted with the glares of passersby. But it all turned out pretty well. After that we treated ourselves to some coffee and chocolate croissants and discussed our lives and personal philosophies in depth, strange how the late night air encourages these heart-to-heart conversations. We ended the night with this song, ‘blasting’ from Saskia’s Sony Eriksonn .This song stuck on repeat as my weary eyes gazed out as the sun started rising over the Barcelona runways

Arriving back home on a rainy Monday morning, this great journey ended with a couple of blisters, our tired eyes, haggard souls…one last sigh and this song

This is what we saw and what we did, enjoy

boy buoy! haha!

oh Pablo!

sanctu sanctu sanctu

view of the city from Tibidabo


this is where we stayed


worst foosball table in the world

sleazy bathroom photographs, haha

feel the beats bang...

...and they did

best wallet

No comments:

Post a Comment