ur voyage to Barcelona
was a hard one, as the only train from Arles
to Barcelona left at 2:06 AM. Andreea slept at the station, I kept the mosquito
s off of her and talked to a Morroccan
traveler who was taking the same train. We cound a compartment (Andreea and I,) set the alarm clock to five-thirty and passed out. When we woke up we realized that we had indeed missed our intended destination, forcing us to take a seven-thirty connecting train
that brought us into the city at nine. A subway
ride and brisk hike
(with full packs) brought us to our reserved hotel. We took the "leap of faith" elevator up to the hotel
and entered an empty reception. A gnome-like fellow welcomed us, or at least we interpreted his catalunya
n bark as such.
The uttering of my name awoke the dragon. Out of a bead-curtained door stepped a skeleton-ish lady in her late fourties. She was clad in a blood-red inscribed robe, wooden sandals and pouted on a glass cigarette-holder. The characters were mandarian, but she was definately caucasian. With spiderlike fingers she navigated the hotel registry.
"You were supposed to be here yesterday." In disbelief and under tremendous stress from her pack and weariness did Andreea discount:
"NO! We had a reservation for today!" The woman's finger was like a jointed needle, thickest at the knuckle, growing thinner until the termination of her inch-long fingernail. This fingernail was pointed at a black "1-7-00/Phil P."
Defeated, our heads drooped low. How could this be? Did the gods conspire and let a day pass without our presence? Only much later did we figure it out: June had 31 days according to our home-made calender. For an hour we walked the streets, toting our packs, checking hotel after booked hotel on three hours of sleep, carrying those packs in the summer heat. Finally we resolved to have breakfast at a terrible "Pan & Co" branch at which one nervous teenager was taking everyone's orders, successfully messing up near each one and causing twenty-minute waits. I was ready to kill. Luckily for us and all bystanders, the next hotel we checked had a vacancy. While it was cheap and accessible, it had the feel of a hospital to it. The rooms were four meters wide and three times as long, but a 50X100cm balcony allowed a view of the street below.
While we encountered only one pickpocket in Barcelona, it is supposedly full of crime. In Riomaggiore we were told of whole groups specializing in stealing purses and cameras. This is a city in which even the McDonald's has a bouncer. The touristy areas are remniscent of Epcot, as everything is planted, illuminated and paved according to plan. That, and everything is clean; once the metropolitan area is left, it is difficult to find any garbage on the streets. The only downside to Barcelona is the absence of public bathrooms, which leads to a lot of abscess on the street.
Conclusively, Barcelona can be divided into three sections:
In the city, Paellador is quite cheap and appetizing, serving freshly prepared Paella and tapas. Surprisingly enough, Port Olympico houses no tapas bars, only clubs and restaurants. On the one night we stayed there, we discovered Mojitos as well as two travelers from Ireland. They also had a low - but justifyable - opinion of Americans, telling us that most red-headed Americans come to Ireland expecting Leprechauns but then herd to the nearest McDonald's. The man - in his late twenties - was fairly amusing and had just completed medical school. In a discussion about absynthe he mentioned that it was supposedy what drive Van Gogh insane and contained a fair amount of morphine derivatives.
We later went dancing, thrusting out tired limbs to the exhausted beat of Ibiza-style club music. Most of the clubs focused on this genre, however we managed to find one that played eccentric late 80s/early 90s stuff. We had spent about ten minutes in the club when a group of retirees showed up and a man close to eighty years old started getting down.
We took a cab back early the next morning.