Barcelona: Communism, Jam Session, Freak Out!!!!

On Sunday (after getting back to the hostel at 7:30 AM and promptly falling asleep for a few hours), Katherine and I went back out to La Rambla for lunch and got some delicious tapas, as well as a traditional dish from Catalunya called Botifarra.

Yuuuummmm!!!!Traditional Catalunyan dish

Katherine was still exhausted, so we went back at around 4 PM for her to nap. She ended up napping for the next 5 hours, so at least I had Alessio to keep me company because he was working the evening shift on Sunday. Italian lessons continued, and I also helped him do some of his chores around the hostel, like making beds and such.

That’s how bored I was.

Plus, he was kinda flirtatious, so I was having fun getting so much attention from an Italian! However, there was one teensy weensy itty bitty detail about him that kinda-sorta makes him the type of guy I could never bring home to meet my folks:

He’s a Communist.

His Facebook profile pictures (yeah, we’re friends) feature Marx, Fidel Castro, and other beloved heroes, along with tons of anti-capitalism, anti-American banners and pictures. But my favorite part is what he calls Coca-Cola:

“Black water from The Empire”

…..

I love it.

Coca-Cola is my favorite company because they are marketing geniuses, but this phrase was so hilarious to me that ever since my return to the U.S. I have adopted it into my lexicon.

But yes, this is how I spent Sunday. Hanging out with Commie Alessio. He left at around midnight, and afterwards Katherine and I left to get a late dinner (we went back to the Ravi Kebab place, and the owner was so nice! He gave us free drinks because we were being friendly and asking how to say “Hello, How are you” in Pakistani). I don’t understand why Igor said that the people of Barcelona were unfriendly or didn’t smile — I encountered so many wonderful people during my weekend!

After we finished our dinner, the two American musicians from the party on Saturday night came over and played a few of their songs, and it was awesome! Since my return I have tried finding them via Internet, but even my superb stalking skills have fallen short. I am really sad that I can’t find any information about them, because their music is fantastic.

Jam out session w/ the AmericansYou can tell they're really into it.

At about 3 AM I went to bed for a quick nap. I was supposed to wake up at 4 AM so I could pack, check out of the hostel, and take the metro to the train to the airport for my flight that would be leaving at 6:10 AM to return to Sevilla.

That nap was a MISTAKE.

Instead of waking at 4:00, I woke up at 5:10, had the most MASSIVE freak out of my life, shoved everything I owned into my backpack, and ran down the stairs to check out. The receptionist told me I needed to bring down my bed sheets before she could let me leave. I almost cried. Right when I was about to turn to run up the stairs, the French girls and one of the Americans I had gone out with the previous night came to my rescue: they said, “Don’t worry about it! We’ll take care of the sheets! Go!” I thanked them with all my heart, ran outside and hailed the first cab I could. I told him I was headed to the airport and I needed to get there ASAP. We pulled up in front of the airport at around 5:45, and I paid, ran out, got my passport stamped, got through security, and arrived at my gate at 6:00 AM. The Ryanair people shooed me in, and the gate closed right after me. I was the last person to get on the plane, but the point is…. I MADE IT!!!! I arrived in Sevilla two hours later, caught a bus to my apartment, dropped off my bags in my room, showered, went to class from 10:30 AM to 2:30 PM (it took so much will power for me to stay awake), then promptly came home, ate lunch, and slept until dinner.

So that concludes my adventures in Barcelona!

If you’re wondering why I never talked about La Sagrada Familia, the symbol of Barcelona, it’s because I never went. I also didn’t get to go to the Picasso museum, nor did I visit Camp Nou (Barcelona’s fútbol stadium) even though my hostel was just a few blocks away from it. HOWEVER! I went back to Barcelona in late May and did everything that I had missed from my first trip! I even saw some more, like Montjüic and the monument to Cristóbal Colón. But that blog post is for another day.

When I come back to Spain in the future, I hope to live and work in Barcelona. I absolutely fell in love with the city, and I felt like it was where I belonged. Funnily enough, my grandmother’s maiden name is Taulé, which is a Catalunyan last name. So maybe, just maybe, there’s something in my DNA that really is calling for me to return to Barça. 🙂

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Barcelona: Arrival

This is going to be a very long, detailed post. My posts about Barcelona will be this way, for the most part, because I don’t want to forget anything. OK, warning’s over. If you feel like reading, great! I had an adventure during my first night in Barcelona, filled with suspense and danger!

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I left Sevilla on Thursday night. My friend who I’d be traveling in Barcelona with, Katherine, had already arrived the day before, so I flew there on my own. I met these two American chicks who were going to be on the same flight as me on the aerobus that took us to the Sevilla airport, and since they already had experience navigating the Sevilla airport, I decided it’d be best for me to stick with them. Our flight was delayed about half an hour, so it was nice to spend the time waiting with people to talk to. I flew with the airline Ryanair, which is pretty much the cheapest airline in Europe. It’s awesome. The bad thing about it (besides poor customer service) are the carry-on restrictions— they’re VERY strict, so I had to pack smart. Everything I’d need for the next 4 days had to fit into my backpack. (For great tips on how to pack in order to avoid those extra Ryanair fees, check out this post by Jessica on her blog, ¡Hola Yessica!)  I also layered my clothes, and I actually had two complete outfits on. The good thing about Ryanair, besides the price, is that you don’t have an assigned seat; you just sit wherever you find a spot.  I sat with the American girls.

The flight itself was fairly uneventful. Little to no turbulence — THANK GOD FOR SMALL MIRACLES — and we flew at night, so I got to see the lights of Spain’s Mediterranean coast.  When Barcelona came into view I was in awe, 1) Because it was a beautiful glimmering gem in the darkness, and 2) HOLY CRAP IT’S BARCELONA!  You know, no big deal.  It was awesome too because of the way the plane came in for landing: we passed over the middle of the city before banking to the left to land in the airport, a little bit south of the city.  Ryanair likes to boast about how 98% of its flights get their passengers to their destinations on time.  Even though my flight had been delayed for 30 minutes, we still arrived 15 minutes before my original expected arrival time.  Hmmm…

Barcelonaaaaaa

Blurry Barcelona

So we land (hurray!), I grab my backpack and skedaddle.  Thank goodness I didn’t have any checked luggage, because I was in a race against the clock.  In Barcelona, the metro stops at midnight on weekdays, and I had landed at 10:00 PM.  I still needed to get out of the airport, take a train to the metro station, take that metro to another metro station, and then from there connect to the line that would take me near my hostel.  There was another group of Americans who were trying to get to their hostels, too, and I was initially going to tag along with them, but they ended up deciding to take the bus to Plaça Catalunya.  My friends who had gone to Barça the week before had warned me not to use the bus because it was more expensive.  I was tempted to stay with a group because this was my first time traveling on my own, but I decided to stick to my gut and look for the train that would get me to the metro.  So with a smile and an exchange of awkward shrugs, I bid adieu and good luck to the other Americans.

I found some young people chilling in the airport and asked what was the best way to get to where I needed to go.  They said the best way was the metro, but I had to rush. One guy was Brazilian, so I practiced my Portuguese with him and he gave me great directions.  The last thing he said to me (all in Portuguese) was, “One more thing. Be very careful. Barcelona is very, very, very, very dan-ge-rous. Don’t talk to anyone on the street. Only police. Or businessmen in suits with briefcases or something. Use your judgement. I don’t want to frighten you, but just be careful. (HA! Didn’t want to frighten me?! I’m pretty sure my face had blanched and all I was thinking was ‘ohcrapohcrapohcrap’) Now go! Run! With luck you’ll be able to catch the metro! Run! Run!”

[Keep what the Brazilian said in mind, because it becomes important later.]

Of course, what do I do if someone tells me to run?  I walk very briskly.  Duh.  Plus, my backpack was heavy and I was not going to run the risk of jogging, losing my balance and doing a face plant in the middle of the airport.  I get to the train station (connected to the airport) and get my ticket with the help of the attendant (who also says I’ll be able to catch the metro if I have luck on my side). I see two young American guys I recognized from the flight and immediately joined them to wait for the train. I was scared out of my mind after the warning the Brazilian had given me, so I was thinking “American students = safety,” and I wanted to be near the safety.  Nice boys, from Wisconsin.  One was studying abroad in Córdoba, the other in London.  After waiting around for about 15 precious minutes, we hopped on the train and found seats together.  It was at this point that I turned around and asked the Spaniards around me what stop I should get off on in order to eventually get to Camp Nou (my hostel was a few blocks south of Camp Nou).  The whole section I was in erupted with Spaniards trying to give me advice, each with their own opinions, talking over each other, arguing about which way was the best.  I just stared at them, slack-jawed, unsure of who to believe and feeling stirrings of despair.

This one elderly gentleman (SAFE! He was old and couldn’t move quickly) was getting off at the stop I (apparently, hopefully) needed to get off on, and he said that he could guide me.  I said goodbye to the American boys and got off the train at the stop for the metro.  Mind you, I had been underground the entire time, and had yet to see the city.  I tried calling my friend, Katherine, but no answer.  I bought a 10-ride metro pass for the weekend, and the old man guided me to the metro stop.  Apparently he needed to get on the same one, then get off on the exact same stop I needed in order to connect to my second metro line, so I was very happy. Katherine called me back, and told me to get on the L5 Purple Line. I asked her if she’s sure, then she said she’d call me back.  My elderly companion and I got on the metro and then stepped off a few stops later, where he then told me where I needed to go next, and finally bid me farewell and good luck.

As I headed off in the direction I needed to go, Katherine called me back, saying, “Nevermind! The hostel people told me it’s the L2 Blue Line Metro!” I laughed at her for almost getting me lost while silently thanking every divine being I could think of that the old man had guided me in the right direction.  She agreed to come meet me at the metro stop so that I’d have someone to walk with me to the hostel.

At this point, it was almost midnight. I felt like Cinderella, hoping I’d be able to get to the carriage before midnight… My carriage came in the form of the most beautiful pair of blinding lights that thundered out of the dark tunnel, followed by the sleek shiny form of the L2 Blue Line metro train.

I hopped on, and, two stops later, hopped off at my destination.  It was just a few minutes to midnight, and I’m pretty sure I had caught the last ride of the night.  PHEW!  I went to the exit, up the stairs, and there, waiting for me with a big smile, was Katherine!  I was so happy!  During my entire time traveling I’d had a “stank face” on (Stank Face example 1; Stank Face example 2).  My hopes were that I looked mean and disinterested in the world so that I could fit in as a stressed out, over-worked and under-paid Barcelonian.  I did not want to bring attention to myself as a bright-eyed bushy-tailed tourist with a fat wallet.  But when I saw Katherine I was overcome with relief and gave the biggest, brightest, tiredest, touristy-est smile!

We walked out of the metro station and into the warmer-than-expected Barcelona air. I had finally set foot in the city! She and I walked together to the hostel. It was the same hostel some of my friends had stayed in the week before (Yellow Nest Hostel), and it was about 5 minutes from the metro stop. When we got there I finally let out the nervous breath I hadn’t been aware I’d been holding for those crazy two hours since my plane had landed.  There were two hostel employees working the reception desk; both were Italian.  One man was older, I’d say in his 40s, while the other was in his 20s.  The younger one checked me in to the hostel.  After I had paid and been given my keys and everything had been explained to me, I bounded up the stairs to my 12-bed co-ed hostel room.  Katherine led me to our bunk bed, where I was happy to see she had left me the bottom bunk.  I sat down and unpacked, took off one of the outfits I was wearing, and stuffed everything into my locker.

My first legit hostel room! :)

Guess which bed is mine?
Hint: It’s the tidy one.

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And there you have it! I have finally arrived in Barcelona, and safely made it to my hostel. I know in the beginning of this post I said I had an adventure filled with suspense and danger, but the “danger” part didn’t come until later that night… Guess you’ll just have to read my next post to get the details! 😉