Maps and I are not friends.
I got off the train in barcelona and found my way to the metro. I am getting better with the train -> metro task but I still am not great at maps. I usually ‘google maps’ how to get to my hostels from the last metro stop and then screen shot it (since I don’t have data). However, the problem with a picture is it does not tell you if you are going the wrong way.
I came out of the metro station and looked at the street name. I was on a giant street that seemed to match the map (the street signs are really not as easy to find as they are at home). The other problem with screen shots is you have to a lot since you have to zoom in so far to see street names as well as zoom out for the general area. So I am flipping through 100 screen shots trying to figure out which way to go. There is a metro exit on both sides of the street and no major intersections on either side of me. I wing it.
I winged wrong. I walked for about 20 minutes and did not see the street I was supposed to be on (nor the hospital visible in the map). I put my bag down on the curb and let myself wimper for a few minutes before heading back. 20 minutes back and 15 minute on the other side. I found the street.
From there I walked only 2 blocks past my hostel before realizing I had passed it (it was a tiny door), turned around, and, eventually, checked in.
Pere Terres Youth Hostel
When I checked in they told me I would be in one room for the first night and then another for the rest. Sort of inconvenient but I never really unpack anyway.
I go up to my first room and find my bed. Top bunk. Lame. Oh well. I hoist my giant backpack up onto the bed (since my locker had a shelf right in the middle, making it impossible for my bag to fit) and went downstairs for wifi and to work on my Geneva Blog.
There were a lot of people down there (as per usual when the wifi is only in the lobby) but I managed to find a spot at a table with one other person. I decided now was as good a time as ever to introduce myself to a new person. His name was Ben and he was from Sweden. He was only here for one night because he missed his train connection. He was heading to another city to do an internship in outdoor… hmm… what was it called… where he is a guide for outdoor activities such as white water rafting, rock climbing, hiking, etc. Anyway. outdoorsy stuff. He had asked me if I knew anywhere to eat around here. I, obviously, did not. I barely knew how I got here. I too, however, was hungry so we decided to go on the quest to find food together.
See? There it is again! Another wandering subtitle. Anyway…
We walked across the street and that was good enough. There was a cheap sandwich place and a sit down restaurant with great prices. We decided to sit. We both got the smoked salmon salad and I added goat cheese. I was pretty happy that such food existed in my life again. Ben was fluent in Swedish, English, and Spanish so we looked through the menu and he pointed out what everything meant as well as ordered for us. It was quite convenient. And while we waited he helped me decipher the placemat advertisement, upon my request.
After eating we decided to see what was around us. It was dark and everything was closed but the stroll was nice. We took side streets and main streets and ventured though parks. It was a lovely city and seemed relatively safe (though I still clutched my bag like it had my heart in it). We came across some bikes and decided that tomorrow, before he left (at 4pm), we would rent bikes for half a day and try to see at least the outside of many of the major attractions. It was a plan. We finished wandering and, after accidentally going a bit out of the way, we found the hostel again. Bedtime… we had to be up at 7 for this adventure.
Well… it turns out that the room I was in was me and 7 guys. Lovely. I opened the door and got a nice whiff of… guy. It was horrible. I breathed slowly to try and get used to the smell and grabbed my toiletries. The bathroom was worse. Not only did it smell like guys it also smelled like mold. I brushed my teeth so fast I think each tooth only got one swipe, and I bolted out of there. I finally got into bed, covered my face with my sheet, and began to fall asleep.
Then! Oh man. My favourite person in the world came in… This guy thought it was extremely considerate to the rest of us if he came in, turned on the light and began to get ready for his night out in the middle of the room. Now, I don’t just mean change clothes and fluff his hair… no. This guy started to brush his teeth while ruffling through his bag, talking himself up for his big night, and trying on every shirt he owned. When I thought he was finally done he would change again! But it got better. He made a call! It was in spanish but I’m sure it went something like this:
“Hello friend. What am I doing? Oh, just being the biggest douche bag ever keeping all of my roommates up at 1am so I can get ready for a night that I will likely forget and come home alone from anyway. It’s a real treat”.
So he finally hung up and then did the unimaginable. He proceeded to grab a canister out of his bag and spray down every inch of his body with the most rancid axe body spray I have ever smelled. ENOUGH ALREADY. First of all. You are too old for Axe Body Spray the day you leave high school (and before that would be nice too). Secondly, you stink. Third, no girl is going to dance with you based on the amount of Axe you just unleashed on yourself and the rest of this room so you may as well forget it and just GO TO BED. Fourth, you are a douche.
He eventually left and I was up another 45 minutes choking on the chemicals now coating my lungs.
Ben and I met for breakfast at 7:30 (when the place opens… groan). I was pretty tired from the night and my eyes were stinging for obvious reasons, but I was there. We ate quickly and went next door to the bike rental place.
It was only $15 for a half day (6 hours). We had to have the bikes back at 2:55 which was the perfect amount of time before his train.
And we were off!
- We biked to the Sagrada Familia (and laughed at the line),
- Through the Barri Gotic district,
- Past Casa del Gaudi (deciding against the 20 euro entrance fee),
- Stopped in front of Casa Batllo (which was under construction on the outside and was 21 euros to get into – no thanks),
- Down along the Barceloneta (where we got ice-cream and watched beach volleyball),
- Up a steep hill to the top of the gondola (instead of taking the gondola),
- Down a steep hill to the art museum of Catalonia,
- Around the Magic fountain of Mijurca,
- and then to get sushi for Lunch.
Phew! Yup. 6 hours around most of Barcelona and we hit a lot of places! We returned the bikes at 2:56 out of breath and out of time. It worked out perfectly.
Ben left for his train and I curled up with my computer on a chair where I spent the rest of the night (because my legs were shaking). I got a little bit home sick since I had so much quiet time that evening and went to bed early. Tomorrow was a new day.
Oh, and I went to a grocery store and got crackers and cheese and muscles as well as a few granola bars. Trying to cut costs.
A whole lot of Preparation
Do you remember that day in Geneva where I went to check everything out and it was all closed? So I just considered it a day of preparing for the next day? Today was that day again…
I went to the Boqueria Market on La Rambla which was supposed to be open all the time. It was closed with a sign on the door that said ‘open tomorrow’. Fine then. I walked up La Rambla street, which is apparently the thing to do, and looked at the strange and junky souvenirs. Most of them were your good old shitty keychains and overpriced figurines but this line of kioks in particular loved their dirty plant seeds. Yup. Dick peppers, pussy plants, etc. It was very classy…
I was over it. I don’t see the hype of this overcrowded junky street (though I heard nighttime is a whole other story).
I looked at a map and decided the Els Encants Vells flea market was not too far. It appeared to be only a few train stops away so I decided to walk and save the ticket.
Well… it was a lot further than it looked. I exited the tourist area, wandered nervously through a very local looking community, stumbled upon the Arc de Triomphe, passed through a very large park, played leapfrog on a huge road with no visible way to cross otherwise, and found another metro station. This one was apparently only 1 stop away. Finally.
Longest stop ever… but I made it. I made it all the way there. And it was beside the Torre Agbar (The ‘giant vibrator’ I like to call it). And guess what? It was closed. What was up?! It was supposed to be open Fridays and Saturdays… it was Friday (turns out it was a spanish holiday and I had no idea.).
What now? Beach now. All I wanted to do was lay on the beach. So, I took the long train ride across Barcelona, back past where I had walked and further, and then powered through the VERY long walk from the train to Barcelonetta.
Today was not supposed to be a beach day. Today was supposed to be a market day. So, I did not have a bathing suit. However, when I looked around I saw a handful of completely topless women and decided that my bra and panties would be much less extreme than their boobs. So, I found a spot, laid out my sweater, took off my shorts and shirt, and tanned in my Victorias Secret undergarments.
I laid there for a good hour before I heard a club promoter ask the people beside me where they were from. “Canada”. Awesome! I waited for them to shoo her away and then asked the usual “where in Canada?”. Toronto. I started talking to one of the guys (it was 2 guys and 2 girls) and eventually became friends with them all.
It started to cloud over and we all decided we would like to grab something to eat.
We wandered up the street back towards the metro and looked at a few menus. Eventually we found one that had a few vegetarian options and stopped in. The flies were brutal but eventually it started to rain and we were moved under the eave. No more flies. I got a vegetarian Huevos Rancheros for 6 euros and was quite content. I would recommend this restaurant for its cheap prices and exceptional service.
I got to know everyone a little better and got closer with the girls. Their names were Gillie and Camilla. They were both students in Toronto. The guys were Mikey and Troy. Mikey was a bartender in Toronto and Troy was from London. They were very nice and had just gotten there the day before for a short trip.
Later they were going out and invited me along. I had not yet been out to see any nightlife really and would feel guilty if I spent another one in the hostel going to bed early, so I agreed. We caught the metro and I took their numbers and headed back to get ready.
Checking in with Family
I had over an hour before I was going to meet the girls and really didn’t bring much to doll myself up with. I killed time in the lobby and checked my Voxer. I had a message from my mom. She was telling me how she was on a horse trip through the mountains and had been thrown off her horse and then kicked in the head (luckily wearing a helmet) by the horse in front of her since she landed on his butt! WHAT! She was then air lifted by STARS to the hospital where she got stitches in her head and was diagnosed with a concussion. Luckily she was fine otherwise. Her scans all came back clean and she was released. I was pretty worried but she assured me she was all well and good and was heading back out to enjoy the camping – sans horse.
It’s so crazy to think that I was sitting on the beach in Barcelona when my mom was in a STARS helicopter! SO GLAD YOU ARE OKAY MOM!
Girls Gone Glam
It was time to get ready and try to get back into the night.
Other than Monte Carlo this was the first time I got to really dress up. I did not have a glam dress but decided I would give my classier Milan dress another showing – I just hoped it was not TOO fancy. I got all dolled up (or at least as dolled up as you can get with 1 palate of eye shadow, mascara, eyeliner, and a hair dryer).
When I went to head out I walked into a wall of rain. Honestly. It was torrential. I had spent all this time on my hair and make-up, I was NOT going to ruin it. I ran back upstairs and grabbed my poncho.
I won’t lie, I got a few weird looks from the people hiding under eaves as I walked down the otherwise deserted street.
I eventually made it to the train with only my legs soaked.
The girls met me at the station by their hostel (also in ponchos, THANKS GILLIE AND CAMILLA). We went back to their place and continued to get ready and wait for the guys. I missed getting ready with other girls (I MISS YOU JESS!) so it was nice to sit around and laugh.
The guys eventually made it and we opted for the ‘pub crawl’ put on by their hostel. This was going to be a strange night.
Party Like You’re in Barcelona
It was time. We followed the group onto the subway, took it two stops, dropped into a pub for a pee and a drink, and then headed over to the club where we would be seeing the night through.
When we got there it was pretty dead. But the music was good, it had 2 floors, and everyone seemed pretty nice. We danced a bit on the bottom floor to a mix of classic music and top 40 and then headed up to the top floor to wiggle around to electronic. (I say wiggle because I have no idea how to dance to electronic… so I wiggle). A few spanish guys gave us a twirl and a man from Mississauga danced with me for a little bit before I was over it. We decided to head back down.
It was packed! Honestly. We could not see the floor anymore. Anywhere! But… who was it packed with? Men. So many Men. I think the ratio was 1 to 20, girls to guys. We were in for a rough go. We wandered down the stairs cautiously and, sure enough, between the stairs and the dance floor were offered 10 drinks by 10 different guys. Hot guys? Nope. This place only had a handful. We danced for only moments before more guys came up. This may seem like a ‘la dee da. I’m so hot all the men like me’ sort of banter, but no… this was brutal. We were almost the only girls there in a sea full of guys and I think they all just wanted a shot. One guy in particular came up and asked to buy me a drink. I said “no thank you” and turned away. He asked again. I told him I don’t drink. He laughed and asked again. I walked away.
We noticed a girl that was probably only semi-conscious swaying on the dance floor. She was so out of it she couldn’t even say her name. We decided that we could’t just leave her there and went to grab her. She seemed to be alone. We brought her in to dance in our circle and guys kept coming up and grabbing her. Have these guys not seen the posters “If she doesn’t say no it doesn’t mean yes”? She was too drunk to even know these pervert-rapists were trying to maul her so we dragged her out of the crowd. We found the guy that brought us and all tried to figure out where she was from. We didn’t recognize her. Eventually the club manager came down and we passed her off to him. He was getting her a cab against her wishes. (The girl couldn’t remember her name or where she was from but she was able to fight back saying she was not ready to leave… WHO GETS THAT DRUNK WHEN THEY ARE ALONE?! Come on girls… don’t become a number.)
As we were heading back out to dance, feeling better that the girl was safe, a guy put his hands around my hips. The girls quickly pulled me away (thanks again girls). He was totally creepy and would not leave so we kept moving. Sure enough the guy that had offered me the drink was back. Asking and asking. I finally said “NO NO NO NO NO!”. To which he replied “SI SI SI SI SI!”. He then reached out for my arm and I put both my hands on his chest and pushed him away as hard as I could. He fell back and eventually got the picture (I’m just lucky he didn’t come back swinging). The other guy that we had run away from was now stalking us. This was ridiculous. We were about to leave when a very attractive milato man asked from the VIP section above if we wanted to sit with him and his friends. PHEW! Yes please.
He let us in at the gate (to which the creepy guy followed us) and shut it behind us. SEE YOU NEVER, SUCKER! We sat with this new group of guys at their table. They were all very nice. The man that had invited us was from Paris. His English was quite broken and the music didn’t help but I got a small amount of information. His name was Jeremy and he was in communications, building websites. Neat! His friend was a dental surgeon $$$. We spent a good hour talking and dancing with them before we decided it was time to leave. Thanks for the save boys!
Just as we were leaving we saw the drunk girl again. We talked to the guy that brought us and apparently she had asked the cab driver to turn around and take her back… Let’s just hope she got home safe.
(oh yea. As for the boys we came with? They were off on their own. We had lost one (who actually got kicked our for urinating in public) and the other eventually left. We would see them tomorrow.)
We walked back to the metro and went our separate ways with the plan to meet the next morning at 10:30 (since it was now 4:30am).
Bed felt so good.
Markets for realz!
Marcat del Boqueria
I met everyone at the Boqueria Market the next morning. It was a shit show. The guys came 2 steps in before deciding that looking at fruit was so not worth this crowd. They told us to meet them at the beach later.
We should have gone with them. It was crazy in there. Tons and tons of food stalls from fruits to hanging legs (hoofs still attached), to trinkets, to the smelliest of fish markets. We made it a few isles before deciding we had seen it, smelt it, and were good to go.
Certainly a neat place to see, but maybe not to stay.
Els Encants Vells Flea Marcat
We then headed to our second market of the day. I lead the way since, well… I had already been there… We hopped the metro this time though – I was not walking that again.
It was open! We walked inside and… wow. This free flea market was a dream come true. If I had not been backpacking I may have walked out with half the place. They had so many awesome typewriters and antique mirrors and furniture and adorable ornaments… It was a pickers heaven (I have decided I may not try to refurbishing old flea market stuff at home… once I get my new house. It looks so fun!). We wandered around in awe and pictured what we could do with all of these treasures.
Now don’t let me lead you wrong here. There was more junk here than could fit in a convoy of dump trucks, but the gems amidst them were worth the scavenge.
It was a really cool place to be and we were quite happy with our adventure.
Barceloneta Beach #2
What else do you do after a long day of walking? Sit at the beach! Luckily I had planned for this and wore my bikini. We laid out our towers (well… I had my poncho for a towel) and basked in the sun until the guys met us. Then we basked some more. It felt wonderful.
It was then time to meet their other friends for Dinner.
We went to a nice place on the beach and I finally ate the infamous Paella. It was pretty good. Not sure what the fuss is all about. I mean, I would eat it again but I don’t see how it is such a famous dish. I did, however, have to ask for all of the heads of the seafood to be cut off because when the plate came I was being stared at by my food and, as a pescatarian, that devastated me (I think ill take a break from seafood for a while too).
After we ate they all went out to continue the party and I decided to call it a night. The evening before and the early morning today had wiped me out.
It’s All Downhill From Here
History Like I Wish I’d Never Seen
I met the girls the next morning at the train station near Parc Guell (or as I like to call it, Candyland). Today we are getting our sightseeing hats on and hitting the big spots (some of which I’d already seen but would’t mind seeing again).
The trek to Parc Guell is a long one. Thank god they have escalators up all of the streets or I doubt half the people would make it. 60 degree angle narrow streets with stairs on one side and an up escalator on the other, and a few blocks of walking in between. This place better be worth it!
We found the entrance and explored a bit of the path before going to the main area (just kidding… we were actually lost and couldn’t read the signs… found a nice look out point though).
We saw the colourful rooftops down below and headed down the path.
The area with the ‘candy land’ buildings was 8 euros to enter and they only let 400 guests in at a time. The next available time was 2:00pm. It was noon. Oh well, what else did we have to do. We got our tickets and then sat on a bench. Literally sat there for 2 hours… and non of us cared. We people watched dozed off a bit, chatted, and BOOM. It was time.
We walked in, looked at the nice mosaics on the rooftop, went down the stairs into the pillared building, admired the roof, took a picture by the Lizard (which we finally got alone cause apparently other people don’t care if you are in their picture and sit right beside you… but I care), and then checked out the empty casa del guell. And that was it. It was done. Two hours of waiting for a few mosaic tiles, and some decently neat sculptures amidst some extremely gaudy architecture… and that was it. Well… we left and wished that we had just taken a picture from outside the gate… Maybe you will feel differently.
The girls had not yet seen Sagrada Familia. I was perfectly fine going back because this cathedral is one of those one where you could look at it 100 times and see something new every time.
We walked all the way around it, admired the facial expression details on each sculpture, questioned the decision to add the fruit bowls on the top, appreciated the difference between the cleaned half and the ‘still to be cleaned’ half of the building, and took a few pictures.
We then went to find somewhere to eat. Right across the street there was a little restaurant. We wanted calamari and they had it, but we figured we could find it cheaper somewhere else. We walked half a block down and found a place with the exact same menu. I mean the exact. Like… same pictures, colours, food choices, and logos. The only thing different was this one was half price. It pays (or saves) to walk down the street, and not even a block!
We ordered some calamari and a few other Tapas. They were not wonderful. In fact, I felt sick since they were all deep friend. But we were no longer hungry. Good enough.
Onto the next.
Art Museum of Catalo… No?
My friends had sent me a website that had the times of each museum’s free admission. Some of the major spots in Barcelona had free admission on Sundays. Some where every sunday, some were just the first Sunday of the week… the Art Museum of Catalonia was apparently saturday. I could have sworn… Luckily it had wifi on the terrace… we checked… Yup… Satruday. Frigg! All the other ones were Sunday! So… it was closed when we got there.
Magic Fountain of Muj… No?
I had seen the fountain but the girls had not. We walked down. The fountain did not seem to be on. A break maybe? We checked the times… not back on until 9:00pm. I had wanted to see a night show but had hope it would start around 7. We had plans at 8:30… Crap… No fountain for us. And it looked so awesome in the postcards!
Girls Gone Not-So-Glam
We went back to the girls Hostel. We had reserved a spot on the guest list of the W pool party tonight. The W was the fanciest hotel in Barcelona (starting at 750 euros a night and up to 10,000) and they and a pool party on Sundays that the public could reserve. All it said was pool party and dress code. I had worn my crop top, necklace, and jean shorts so that I could hopefully transition from the day trip the the nighttime without a change of clothes. I wore my bathing suit underneath since, after all, it was a pool party.
We rested for a bit, got ready, but not too ready, and caught a cab to the hotel.
W Pool Party
We got to the pool party just before Mikey. Troy had left that morning back for London so would not be joining us (which I forgot to mention). As we waited in line we rallied this was not your typical pool party. This was not the pool party I was picturing from my experiences in Vegas and Arizona. No, these people had no intention of going in the pool. The girls were in 6 inch stilettos and tight dresses with their hair and make-up likely professionally done. Well… It looked like we may be under dressed. Camilla and Gillie were in sun dresses (so at least they had that going for them) but my jean shorts were certainly out of place. The crop top and chain may have been passable with maxi skirt but that was just not my case. Well… we were here now…
Mikey showed up and we went inside, walking up the stairs in our sandals beside amazon women in 6 inch heels. I was not as uncomfortable as the other two, probably because I didn’t care at all what the people at the party thought of me, but it was a little bit strange. The line for a drink was insane. Mikey went to wait in it and we admired the area. The pool was in the middle and was surrounded by a beautiful wooden deck with white couches for the VIP section. There were multicoloured lights flashing all around and palm tree in every corner. it looked like the exact party I was in the mood for, had I known and worn my Milan dress and a sock bun (as fancy as it gets whilst backpacking).
We took pictures by the typical white logo wall and then sat inside where it was warm and had a good strong session of people watching. We picked out everything from our favourite mens outfits to our dream shoes on the people walking down the ‘runway’. We looked out the window after a little while and realized that the dance floor was now packed. We headed out.
There was fog coming out from under the deck and the DJ was mixing some pretty ‘sweet jams’ (sorry, it just came out). There were dancers up on pillars beside the DJ and the whole show was a masterpiece. This was the coolest place ever. We weaved our way into the middle of the dance floor and started to shake it like it was 2014 in Barcelona, Spain. So pretty hard. Mikey had gone to get another drink and a couple of guys started to chat us up. Paris, Spain, German. They were all dressed in pure white. Not a real important part of the story, but I thought to myself (see? girls don’t need to be all fancy to get guys, they just have to have a great smile and look like they are having the time of their lives). We didn’t talk long and continued to dance.
None of us were really drinking and we soon grew tired of our feet being stepped on so we headed out. We were also all leaving the next day.
New Friends at All Times of Night
I was starving. We started to walk along the beach back to the road to the metro. There was a guy on top of the jungle gym dancing on the highest point to the music we could still hear from the W. It looked like the least safe area a person could dance. I cringed. Then a guy came up to us and commented on how he too was worried for this mans safety. We got to talking and he was from Florida, killing time while his friend finished his poker tournament. We told him to tag along.
We stopped in for some pizza to ‘take away’ at one of the places along the street. Mikey went in to find the bathroom and we ordered 2 pizzas to go. I was tired and really just wanted to eat and get home. We then asked for the bill (“La Quenta Por Favor” – I’m a pro). Soon the food came out and still no sign of Mikey. Is he ok? We sent our new friend (also named Mike) to the guys bathroom to check on him. He came back empty handed. He was not there. I went to the girls bathroom. No sign of him. But I did notice that the bathroom was shared with another restaurant. I went back to the table and we waited for a while longer, trying over and over to call his phone. He wouldn’t just leave. We were getting worried. We ate our ‘take away’ pizzas and then decided we would leave but keep trying to call him. (Spoiler alert: It turns out that he had indeed went out through the wrong restaurant and thought that we had left him, so he went to the casino. Phew. At least he was safe and had not been abducted into the Spanish-Canadian sex trade).
Transportation Can Bite Me
Turns out the Metro doesn’t run past 12am on Sundays. We had JUST finished talking about how convenient the metro was and, low and behold, the gates are closed to the station. We said goodbye to our new friend and waved down a cab in about 20 minutes.
My bag was still at the girls place so we had to stop there. I did not want to pay for the cab to sit so I let him go. I grabbed my bag and said goodbye to my Canadian friends.
The hostels phone was not working so he told me to just go down to the corner where lots of cabs drive by.
Oh… there were lots of cabs alright! BUT ALL FULL. I waited for a green light cab to go by for 25 minutes before finding a hotel and asking them to call one for me. The guy at reception said tonight was crazy and cabs were not being called. People had to try to catch one. Seriously?! Ok. So he sent me to another corner where there should be more cabs. I walked the 3 block and waited not hat corner, along with 30 other people clearly looking for cabs This would be hopeless. I waited for 40 minutes (in which time not one person got a cab) and then decided to walk back to the girls hostel. I was going to give it one more shot asking the hotel guy to call when a cab pulled up in front and a couple got out. JACKPOT. I ran over and waived in the window before the people were even finished getting out. Only took over an hour.
10 euros later and I was back at my hostel. 10 minutes later I was in bed.
Off to Madrid in the morning.
Barcelona (3 days)
- Sagrada Familia
- Poble Espanyol (spanish village)
- La Rambla (famous street)
- Barrio Gotica (gothic quarter)
- Barceloneta (beach)
- Parc Guell
- Picasso Museum
- Magic Fountain of Montjuic
- Casa Batllo