Day 52: Thursday December 1st, 2011
I got up really late, feeling like shit and missing the free breakfast.
I grudgingly got out of bed and went to a falafel place called Maoz Vegetarian, thinking veggies and hummus would do me wonders, but my stomach didn’t agree, so I packed it up in my bag for later.
I took the metro and walked up to Parc Guell, another fantastic Gaudi achievement, which of course is a UNESCO world heritage site. When he first started work, he intended it to be a real estate venture, but even in failure, Gaudi soars, because this is one of the prettiest and bizarre parks I’ve been to (and has crappy wi-fi!). The city purchased the property and the rest is history. The walls are designed in funky mosaic tiles, and there are a few mosaic dragons hanging out. The staircase and pavilion is something out of Dr. Seuss or Alice in Wonderland, which I think goes a long way in describing Gaudi’s style. You can also find a house that he used to live in, which was turned into a museum I didn’t want to pay for. There’s a serpentine bench at the top of the hill which was intended to be a market but instead produces a fantastic view of the city and the Mediterranean. This bench is known as the largest in the world. And I sat on it, so there.
I didn’t stay long because I felt like shit and was tired, so after taking in the view and the people and wandering around snapping photos, I went back to the hostel. On my way, I heard my name being called.
And bam, there was Lorena, my Brazilian buddy from Dingle. How small is this world? She was with her father and I could tell by the way she regarded me that I looked rough. She had been visiting the park as well, coincidentally enough. We shared an awkward hello, I met her Dad, and then we both went our separate ways. It was lame that that was the only interaction we had in Spain. Hopefully we meet again to discuss German film.
I went outside on the balcony of our hostel, a cool spot with wi-fi and a good view of the city. There I met Dan, a dread-locked fruit farmer from Canada. We’d have a lot of interaction in the coming days.
Back in the hostel room was Daniel, the aforementioned Norwegian. He lamented, every day that I met him, that he had been in this hostel for 14 days (it was always 14 days somehow) and was sick of Barcelona and especially this hostel. But he was also looking for apartments to live there, so go figure. His daily ritual was this: he woke up late and tinkered on his computer all day in bed until happy hour at 6, where life flowed back into him, and he went down to the hostel bar and went nuts. He also had an elaborate list of all the countries he’d “entered” (I’m referring to women).
I wasn’t going to drink or go out or do anything, but there were people outside the room hanging out, so I joined them and they offered me a homemade jager bomb, so what could I do? Then I followed them back to Room 202, for Night #2. I invited Aubrey and Justin, but they were lame and also heading out the next day. They were great people and a real cool couple, and I hope we meet again in America. Maybe at an IC reunion.
This night, because there’s always a different crowd each day in this place, I met Team Poland, a group of late twenties Polish friends and family pouring vodka and black currant juice and handing it out like free candy. You didn’t have a choice, so nostrovia! One of the Polish guys was a cop with a wife in the hostel and a few kids (thankfully not in the hostel) who after sharing a drink with me said I could stay with him at his place any time I wanted. He was smashed and I’m sure didn’t remember that promise, and I didn’t really wanna take him up on it.
I also met Wes and Deane, two of the coolest friends I made on my travels. They were Americans who had lived in Barcelona but their lease had run out and so were in the hostel until they could figure out their next move before going back to school. Deane was a wacky long haired funny fucking man from Pennsylvania, and Wes was from Connecticut but went to Boulder and was just as sarcastic and funny. They were a lot of fun, and great drinking mates. It’s awesome when you find people that share your sense of humor, and while in Europe, this actually tends to be more Americans. They shared their rum and coke quite liberally to boot.
Then we went down to the bar, wanting to avoid the Polish when they got a bit too crazy. There I met Olly, an ex-Air Force Latino guy from Chicago who had just finished his tour. He was a fucked up guy, but we became fast friends. He was with his sister and two really hot girls as well (a girl named Kelly and a smokin’ black girl), and Max, who we all (I) called Bieber, because he looked like what Biebs will look like in five years after some drugs and hard times. He obviously hated it, but I kind of hated him because Kelly wanted it, so we were even. They were all American and were going to the Catwalk, a club. Um, sure.
The clubbing itself sucked. Every night our hostel organized an outting at a club for that particular day of the week, and from my experience, they always blew. No one was there. Maybe we were early (you probably have to wait until around 2-4 am), but we were all impatient. We danced a bit and Olly bought me a 7 euro Heineken and that was that.
We left pretty quickly and went to the beach, a beautiful spot if it weren’t for, well, being Barcelona. Every minute a sketchy guy comes up with beer from the supermarket that he’s trying to sell, and also trying to sell drugs. I wanted no part of it, and became known for saying “veinte cents” as an offer (a Spanglish offering 20 cents for a beer when they want at least 1 euro; this usually scared them away). It wasn’t very long before Olly bought weed and beer from him. At least he didn’t buy anything worse. The whole time I tried to talk up Kelly or the black girl, to no success.
From there, the girls and Bieber wanted to leave, and so did we, but a taxi was limited to four people, and it was clear that Olly and I would be the odd men out, so we “volunteered” to go our own way. Instead of going home we went to Port Olympic, where the great clubbing is supposed to occur, but it was just sketchy and sad in every club, and it felt more dangerous than fun (there may have been a few prostitutes). At this point, Olly was a mess. I wanted to go home, he wanted to party but also do whatever I wanted to do. It was weird. So we went to a casino for a few minutes and then after seeing him sway around, I resolved to find a metro. We found a metro, but it was after 4 am and they were all closed. Fuck.
So I finally just admitted defeat and called a taxi to get us home. Once in the taxi, Olly turned paranoid and crazy. He was freaking out and thought the taxi was a police car and that I was taking him to jail. He became mean and very weird and untrusting. We had bonded pretty hardcore before this, so maybe that weed wasn’t just weed.
We were feet away from our hostel when I met someone that made that whole fucked up adventure worthwhile, because I wouldn’t have met her otherwise: Karlee, a cute as hell Canadian girl also staying at our hostel. I’m not entirely sure how the conversation started because we basically bumped into each other, but I think we recognized each other from the hostel, and then we just talked. And talked. Olly was there for part of it, but then he got mean again and I told him to go to bed. Glad he did.
Karlee was working at a castle in Ireland, she was a smoker (I hate smoking but love kissing girls who smoke thanks to Nicole Basta; I have issues), and we shared a lot of the same favorite movies and TV shows. In fact, we both love the ‘favorite’ game. Basically you ask an unending number of questiosn like “What’s your favorite movie?” to “What’s your favorite pornstar?” or what have you. I do this a lot at Bank of America, as Stephanie can attest.
We basically fell for each other, sitting on a fountain that was no longer running in the middle of the plaza at 5 AM, surrounded by people trying to sell us beer, roses, what have you. While I told them to fuck off, Karlee actually bought roses from one of them. I guess I could’ve done that, but any romance in roses are mitigated when it’s some creepy guy selling them to you and probably trying to rob you while doing so. I was very wary of the whole thing, and for good reason.
While we were talking, her best friend that she was travelling with was hooking up with, yes ANOTHER, dreadlocked man. This guy was a Quebecois fuckhead. You’ll know why later.
Then this random woman came up to us and warned us that people were looking at us weird and we weren’t safe and that she could come with her to a bar she knew. This scared the shit out of me, even if she was making it up, because she was probably trying to lure us into some trap of her own. So I grabbed Karlee, she grabbed her friend and Mr. Quebec, and we went back to her room.
NEXT: A rude awakening.