I got only a short breather after the last trip – enough to catch up on some sleep and try to out-lay-in-the-bed the aircon-induced flu – and off I went to yet another adventure: in Spain.
I have been to Barcelona before, but only for a day on the way to Morocco. This time the plan was to finally properly see the city. (Picture gallery HERE!!!).
Upon arriving to Barcelona airport, I couldn’t find Aline – I assumed she would be there. Having waited for almost 40 minutes at arrivals, I texted her to ask where they were (her and the other people sharing the car with us). I got instructions to walk outside of the terminal and all the way through the parking lot. I did that – no one there… 20 minutes later I managed to get ‘row 37’ intel from someone in the car… That they were standing on the utmost left (as you exit) corner of the terminal building was, I’m guessing, too simple of a description to tell me from the get-go :). We finally found each other and drove off to Lloret del Mar for the Zouk and the Chocolate Factory Congress. We were lucky to find a parking spot about 350 meters away from the hotel (the hotel has no parking space… Go figure :)) and enjoyed a great weekend full of dancing there :). But this is about Barcelona, not Lloret…
We returned to BCN on Monday afternoon (December 10). At first we couldn’t get through to our CS host… We needed to drop the luggage off then return the car to the rental at the airport, plus drop off two passengers for their flights. Passenger 3 was the (in?)famous Fabiano, aka Nyx, the protagonist of a ‘saga‘ that began this summer. This time, thank goodness, he wasn’t catching any flights (phew!) but staying in the city instead. Well, sort of… Turned out that instead of staying in Barcelona, he was somewhere up in the mountains at Molins del Rei, which basically ruined any party plans right there :(.
Right then on Monday though he was getting picked up at 11pm, which was fortunate: we were able to grab a coffee at a nearby cafe, leave Nyx and our luggage at Spiral Dance studio and drive off to the airport. Rental car drop-off was in the middle of nowhere, but at least a shuttle bus took us back to the terminal, where we had a lunch with our friends, saw them go off to catch their flights, then caught a train back to Barcelona, navigating our way there with a smartphone app that positions you as a blue dot on the map, which moves as you do :). Best of all – it doesn’t need internet to work!
We then fetched our suitcases from Spiral and walked to where we were staying (15 minutes from Spiral, not too far from placa Espanya), settled in, agreed to intersect later on with our host somewhere in the city and went out for a stroll. The evening out ended up being cancelled and it probably wasn’t such a bad thing, after all – we were tired and needed to sleep, which is exactly what we did after a short walk around.
On Tuesday the central heating (and, thus, hot water) broke in the building… Something that would have been fixed in a few hours in Holland was, apparently, no big deal mid-winter in Barcelona… We chilled at the house for most of the day, the weekend’s toll still very much upon us (my knee was hurting for whatever reason, Aline’s ankle was hurting for the reason that someone ‘graciously’ stepped full-weight on it… Maybe one day people would learn to watch out and keep their weight on their toes?), but ventured out into one of the most famous cava/tapas places in Barcelona in the evening with our host. The prices there are outrageously low (you can get a bottle of Cava for 2 Euros until a certain time…), the local tradition is to throw the food wraps right down onto the floor, there are no seats and you may need to learn to levitate if you get there around lunch hour, but everything is tasty, staff is friendly and the place is just great :).
We then proceeded to Mariatchi bar – it belongs to Manu Chao who, apparently, drops in ever so often and may randomly start singing and people start saying “wow, he really sounds like Manu Chao!” lollll…
We had a relaxing evening and a few semi-philosophical conversations, then retired to our humble quarters.
On Wednesday we took the free city tour of Barcelona. There are several to choose from (google ‘free city tour Barcelona), but we opted for the one we could take at 1pm (11am when the other companies started was way too early for us night owls and 3pm would be getting too dark for good pictures).
Turns out that decision was fateful in more ways than we could imagine…
For starters though the coolest thing was that there were 4 of us at the tour: Aline, myself, Hellen (another fellow traveler from Kenya) and Jamie (the guide). It was pretty much private and cozy.
But we got even more lucky when we returned to the bar for a coffee.
After warming up and saying goodbye to Hellen and Jamie, I went to the bathroom and in the meantime Aline ended up talking with Luis and Mamadou, who came to BCN from Philly. Somehow our shower/heating situation popped up in the conversation, and some minutes later they invited us to shower at the hostel where they were staying! (thank you, guys, you rock!!!)
Later that evening we grabbed what we needed and headed to the hostel to crash its facilities. Hot shower was a BLISS!!! That we were running out of clean clothes (because we only packed for a certain number of days…) was less of an issue than inability to rinse off and wash the hair! Finally nice and clean, we were ready for the night’s party, which was at Nos Vemos. It was supposed to be Salsa/Bachata party with occasional Kizomba/Zouk music. For some strange reason google convinced us it was 20 minutes walking distance from the hostel… When we finally got there almost an hour later, having lost half of the people who decided to join us at the hostel, it was already pretty darn late. But we still ended up having a lovely night, danced a bit and were smart enough to take a taxi back to the hostel.
Now, the original plan was to contact our host, who we knew was out with friends after watching the football game, and join them in the city, then get home together. However, even though I texted him already from Nos Vemos, there was no reply… We were all tired, so we just crashed the hostel in the end and stayed for a sleep-over :).
On Thursday morning we still haven’t heard from our host. Guys were leaving the city and we left the hostel around 9:30am because we wanted to also make the free Gaudi tour at 11am. We woke our host up to let us in, changed and headed to the tour. It was great, although it was relatively cold outside. We got a lovely guide Jessica who seemed to know everything there was to know and a bit more :).
Later that day we finalized our plans… to stay in Barcelona longer! My ticket was non-changeable so I had to get a new one, but oh well – whatever :). We decided to stay at St. Christopher’s Inn – the same hostel we ‘crashed’ the night before. Since we were going to a party that night and had no idea what time we’d be back, plus our host had other CSers staying over from Friday on, we decided to make the move in the afternoon – taking advantage of our all-day metro ticket as well.
We fell in love with the hostel! The food (and drinks, for those who are into that) was cheap, the portions were huge and everything was fresh and finger-licking delicious!
The rooms were warm, everything was new and clean, the entire building was secure, it was possible to lock your stuff and suitcase into a big drawer under the bed. Beds and pillows were super comfy and, best of all, each bed had a heavy curtain (whoever came up with it was a genius!!!) that could separate you from the rest of the ‘world’ in seconds, shielding you from any light and even a bit of the sounds. You ended up in your own little ‘bunker’ of a sorts – with a personal headlight and a socket :). Oh, did I mention: all that and a free breakfast – for 7 Euros per night (in a 12-bed dorm)! EPIC!
After a great dinner we headed to Dio Club for a b-day Zouk party. At least this one was relatively easy to reach because it was within city limits :).
The cake at the party was an additional bonus 🙂 🙂 :).
On Friday Aline was originally supposed to be on the bus to Reus at 8am. At 9am she received an e-mail from Ryanair that her early morning flight from Barcelona to Eindhoven was cancelled due to snow in Milan (I know, I know, we also had a hard time trying to find a connection)… In other words, we were destined to stay in Barcelona longer anyway :).
Oscar joined us for the day. At first we headed to Belushi’s for a few drinks/coffee’s and to enjoy contemplating over the bar’s messages printed on the furniture:
We have arranged to meet up with our host at the Wok Dao restaurant near Sant Antoni market at 3pm, but the guys overslept after yet another night out and didn’t make it. At least his tip for the place was spot on! Wok Dao has 9.58Eur buffet from 2 till 5pm – all you can eat. I was stunned by the number of different things on offer, a breathtaking choice of seafood, vegetables, some meats, desserts… Jamonnnnn!!!! Lol (I’m such a big fan, I even managed to carve out a couple of big pieces and took them with me for a later snack :). Actually, to be fair, Oscar managed to carve out the bigger piece for me :)). Everything we tried was well-cooked and delicious! We stuffed ourselves motionless and headed back to the hostel. It was Oscar’s turn to crash the showers :). We got ready and headed to who-knows-where-the-hell-that-was party of the night at Icarus LaBlue club.
We were supposed to take a train to Molins del Rei then get picked up by Laia by car… Of course, nothing could be as easy – there was some accident or what not on the tracks, so we had to change the train and wait forever. In the end, we were late for the rendez-vous with Laia, but we were still at the party an hour before it started… So we sat around in the car eating chips and salted nuts :).
When it was time to get in, the security guys were giving a hard time to another girl – Diana – who came all the way from Barcelona. They wouldn’t believe she was over 18! As luck has it, she had no ID with her… It took a while of trying to talk them into letting her in, but they wouldn’t. A bit later (Diana still outside) I had an epiphany – to ask the people she was staying with to take a picture of her passport and send it to her. It turned out the mission was even simpler – she had a pdf of her passport in her e-mail, but no internet connection. Laia let her connect to the internet off her phone, Diana found the file, the security were baffled that she was way over 18, and we all finally entered the venue without suffering any losses to the party troops :). Except I suspect the club may be priding itself in just being difficult for no good reason in general…
The party was nice – Salsa/Bachata in the bigger room and Zouk at the back – but it was a shame that very few people showed up…
I also realized very quickly that my dance shoes stick to the unwashed floor in the Zouk room… At first, I simply took them off and wanted to dance in the knee-highs I was wearing – they were much more slippery. However, the barmaid came up to me in the middle of dancing (like the bitch couldn’t wait till the end of the fucking song, this urgent was her mission… Seriously?) and told me I am not allowed to dance without my shoes on! I told her I can’t dance with the shoes on (and ruin my knees after 2 turns? No, thanks) and asked whether she expected me to just sit down for the rest of the night, as well as what was the reason for such a ‘rule’. For all I know, if someone wants to dance barefoot – it’s their own damned business. Remember Nos Vemos – the Salsa party place we walked miles to get to? I forgot the bag with my dancing shoes at the hostel, so I danced the whole night simply in my socks – somehow, it wasn’t any problem for anyone there.
No explanation was offered to satisfy my curiosity though… If I hate anything more than generally retarded and obviously pointless rules, it’s the absence of some semi-sentient explanation for those retarded rules, even if made up. Damn, tell me that the club is liable for any injuries a person may suffer while inside (even if it’s a lie) and being without shoes increases a chance of an accident, for all I know, but tell me something! Having given myself 3 minutes to be majorly pissed off, I simply took my knee-highs off and then pulled them over the shoes that I put back onto bare feet. Sticky-floor problem – solved (like a BOSS, lmao :D). I was almost wishing for someone to come to me again to complaint about the “no shoes” rule to have it stuck under their noses that I was, in fact, wearing my shoes, fuck you very much for your concern, but I guess I screwed up that pleasure for myself because the barmaid saw me do the trick…
Just about the time I warmed up and forgot about the sticky shoes ordeal (some time before 2am), Aline decided to leave, as there were some people driving back to Barcelona. We had no idea otherwise about how to get back to the city in the morning… I wasn’t too eager to leave having dragged my lazy ass all the way out here and just after getting into the dance mood, so we split up and I stayed till the end. Besides, Diana also came from Barcelona, had no foreseeable way of getting back and was staying till the morning.
As is often the case, the strategy paid off. First, I was used as a floor mop by Fabiano (no hard feelings, maaan, it was great fun, as always!):
Later in the night I finally had one of my Zouk wet dreams come true – to dance with two guys at once (it’s a very different dynamic and I always wanted to see how that would go, but never quite had a chance before :)). So me was happy to have stayed :).
My general reliance on “things usually sort themselves out somehow” wasn’t wrong: nothing terrifying happened on Saturday morning – we got a ride from one of the dancers to the train station and caught an early train back straight to Catalunya where the hostel was :). I threw some of the breakfast into my system and went to sleeeeeep :).
In the afternoon we made it to Park Guell to tick off yet another touristy thing on our lists.
Hypothetically, there was a Zouk party somewhere even further away from Barcelona this night, but we were both tired and it was way too far off. Aline stayed at Belushi’s to chill off, and I ended up going to check out a milonga at Bellos Aires with Diana and her friend. I was very lucky to see them in the street after exiting the metro, because I would never in my life have found the place on my own: it was an unmarked door on a small dark street and you had to go to the 3d floor before you saw any actual people and heard the music and realized you weren’t tricked into one of Jigsaw’s traps, after all. I must say the sight was depressing: the level of dancing and the beauty of it were eons ahead of the Prague scene. In Prague, people simply walk around and do nothing much else. Here – people dance. I wish I could take all of the Tango dancers from Prague, bring them to the milonga in Barcelona so that they can see what Tango looks like… Maybe one day I’ll learn it properly!
Sunday was our really last day in Barcelona. We decided to go up the Montjuïc mountain, met up with Diana and first took a bus, then (having descended way too early) took the funicular up the hill.
We made a few pictures and a video for Zouk is Everywhere (shhh, it’s a secret 😉 ).
We then walked all the way down to the port, enjoyed the sunset, went to the hostel for the dinner, showered and headed to the last parties at Port Olympic. One was at Zich and the other at Salsa (about 50 meters away). Many people walk back and forth between the two. Zich was all about Lambada though, so we stuck around Salsa – we liked the music there better.
The party finished at half past midnight – waaaaaay too early. Some of the ‘last survivors’ went for a dinner in McDonald’s and then we spent roughly forever trying to talk Nyx into not going back to Molins del Rei but going somewhere to continue the night. Actually, it was more like that he spent forever trying to talk the person who was driving him back to stay in the city… Finally peer pressure seemed to have worked, so we all got into the cars and first went towards Belushi’s. Unfortunately, it closed earlier on Sunday… We then walked a bit further and ended up at some gay club that was open till 5am :). Nyx got there a bit later than we did, the person driving him managed to experience a change of mind about joining us and wanted to go back. In the end the ‘compromise’ was to split – the a-social one left and Nyx stayed with us all at the club. It was a good decision to stay there – the music was good, the people were generally nice and unobtrusive (for the most part, with very few exceptions) and we had a fun time there dancing and fooling around. Dani dropped in later on as well, so it was a cool, fun night out.
At the end of the party the very very last survivors (Dani, Nyx, myself, Aline, Diana and some random folk from the club) went to an afterpaaaahhrty bar (which was impossible to find unless you’d know about it). Despite the dodginess of the place, the music was surprisingly good, too!
We stayed there till Aline had to leave for the airport… After that we walked to Dani’s place, watched TV for about an hour chilling on the couch, and finally the guys went to sleep and Diana and I had to go (I also had a flight to catch). At least we had a proper night out in Barcelona after a week of being here :).
I got back to the hostel, had breakfast, finished packing and set off to the airport… Bye-bye, Barcelona! Hopefully, till next time!