Barcelona FC Welcomes Me to Espana

Day 50 (!): Tuesday November 29th, 2011

In the early butt crack of the day, I had OJ and some awesome homemade jam (fig and prunes) and butter on bread. I made my goodbyes with Sylvie and Augustin. I had a wonderful restive experience in Pibrac, and reveled in their hospitality, cooking and WI-FI. I hope I can someday return the favor for any of their kids, or can show them around America.

Then I grabbed a train to Toulouse and a bus to Barcelona. It was a little bit of fun to try and find the bus station in Toulouse, but I made it work. I’ve been doing this for 50 days now people (I may have been saved by a polite Frenchwoman who could tell I needed help to find the bus station).

Normally I abhor and refuse to buy food or drink when on a bus or train, but when we stopped at the Spanish border, I was starving and required expensive sustenance, so I paid way too much for mediocre chocolate shortbread cookies (called…Filipinos) and juice. I could’ve gotten a legit meal in Barcelona for the 5 euro I spent on those two items, but it was needed.

It’s a really nice, sunny day and it’s almost December. 19 degrees celsius, feels like summer after what I’ve been in, and will be in. As we drive, the terrain and houses look remarkably like California, but way older. I had some good soul searching, resolving to be a better person and to talk to more distant members of my family more, to learn a language or three (I’m choosing between Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Arabic, Italian, German and French), to study or learn about architecture, history, archaeology and anthropology. We’ll see if my resolve lasts when I return stateside. I hope so.

When I got to Barcelona, I booked my train to Sevilla, a day later than I intended, so my plan was already tweaked, but if anything, I would want more days in Barcelona. I also met a chick from Buffalo (!!) named Naomi while waiting for tickets, and she somehow tracked me down on Facebook an hour later. Then I got to my hostel, the (in)famous Kabul Hostel. My first impression: what the fuck is necessary about a 15 euro key deposit?! A night at the place costs 9. Expensive keys.

The first guy I met was Seyo, a Korean guy in my room. More on him later. And I met a Norwegian guy who had been staying in the hostel for two weeks. Meet Daniel or “Norway,” a guy I would see and hear a lot of in the coming days.

But my first night I was going to see Barcelona FC play Rayo Vallecano. I’m probably the least deserved person to see a futbol match in one of the biggest and most reputed stadiums in the world for one of the most renowned and best teams in the Champions League, but it was a cool experience.

My first impression? It didn’t seem like one of the biggest stadiums in Europe. While Barcelona is warm at night even now, it’s fucking freezing at night, and I was unprepared, so that was kind of miserable. It was also not a sold out and crazy crowd, since Rayo sucks, but Barcelona played all their stars for most of the game, a rout that they won 4 nil. Alexis scored two goals, Messi scored one and Villa scored the other. The first 29 minutes was 0-0, the rest was rape. From what I can tell the only thing fans say is “punta” (essentially, bitch in Spanish) and “gol.”

I wish I had seen a tight or awesome match with a frenzied crowd, or at least with someone else to go with me, but I’m really glad I chose Barcelona as the venue for my first soccer game ever. I could get behind the sport I think, I just need to choose a team to follow. But don’t worry John, it won’t be Barcelona. After all, I only like bad teams.

Back at the hostel when preparing for bed, I met Aubrey while brushing teeth (thus an automatic bond is formed). She was a super nice gal from the east coast and her boyfriend, Justin, who was stone cold passed out at this point, went to…wait for it, ITHACA COLLEGE. He graduated a year after me, I believe. The pair of them had been biking all the way from Italy to get to Barcelona. Sounds exhausting. But impressive and made me feel like a chump. I would hang out with them tomorrow.

That night, my boy Seyo was coughing like crazy and hacking up phlegm, drinking water constantly, and either spilling the water or spitting all over the ground. People turned on and off the light at least four different times at around 4 am or later/earlier, and at one point, while I’m in this weird, horrifying, feverish sleep, Daniel screams to the whole room, “I have bed bugs!” He was pointing to his pillow or sheet or something and people crowded around to see the bed bugs. What. the. fuck. That whole night, I imagined bugs crawling all over me. And I wasn’t just imagining it. Welcome to Barcelona.

NEXT: Bed bugs, and the awesome city of Barcelona.

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