(Translation: Besotted, Bemused… and Livid at Opium).
And onto popping about (and sarah-ing) (see what I did there?) Spain day two.
I’d say we arose at daybreak to get up and out to seize the day so to speak, but that would be a lie. Upon retiring the evening before the aspect mostly exciting us was the ability to have a sleep in. So with no alarms set, we awoke at the just-acceptable hour of 9.05am.
After a giggle for a bit when Sarah joined me atop my bunk bed, we showered, back packed-up and set out for our day (at 12pm. How glorious was it to decelerate for a morning and just dawdle before departure?).
First stop was of course, the penis – the Torre Agbar, a glitzy phallus shaped affair erected in the more eastern CBD side of the city. (I mean, we couldn’t give it the shaft, could we?). A 38-storey skyscraper, the brick prick was built in 2005 and is said to be a prime example of high-tech architecture at a 130 million cost to construct. Owned by the multinational group Agbarit serves as their corporate headquarters. And as Whatmans will always do when facetious photo ops turn up, we spent a fair while taking somewhat silly straddling and such shots (although Sarah proved bloody not-on-point with her photos – literally. When reviewing the copious number of images, we realised she had been so fixated on getting my positioning exactly right, that she’d chopped off the top of the …. So I was having a hug of just an oblong building. What a knob). We nicknamed it the Disco Dildo ™, rather chuffed at out hilarity (and were a tad disheartened to find that pretty much all before us had also deemed it a dildo. But no matter. We claimed it as ours for originality).
From there we headed down (well, to the left, down, back up, along and right around – my map reading dexterities were also slightly flaccid this AM) back through the Barcelonan Old Archy, through the Ciutadella Park and along the marvellous marina. Already having clocked a fair few km’s, we pondered our primary plans to plod on up atop Montjuic – yes, no, maybe so? As with us Whatman girls, giving in was never to be the go so we trekked up to the top and gazed out in veneration at the view (and took a few more puerile pics pashing up on a boulder-like breasted bust of course).
Upon the decision to descend we looked around for the nearest set of either stairs or sloping. In our survey we saw a low lying barrier before a clearing in the bush; “Off road?” I said to Sarah. And of course she was on board.
Bless the people around who were so concerned for our welfare as we pretty much gallivanted down the steep gradient that was the side of the mount. “I think it’s a little dangerous,” a Catalonian chap called as we squatted and made our way through the muddy track. “Nah it’s all good mate, we’re from New Zealand,” we said, which was met with an, “Aah,” and a knowing nod of the head.
But we got down with no injuries involved, brushing off the caked mud on our calves and chucking away the water bottle that had gotten a bit munted upon its catapult from Sarah at the top down to me at the bottom. We got a fair few flummoxed and stupefied stares upon our materialisation from the inclining savannah, whereupon we twittered like tweens and trundled down the rest of the way.
A pit stop for a hamburger for Sarah (which we fell about at when it arrived – it was literally beef patty and bread bun, nothing else) and a shared mojito went down a delight, before we roamed back into the Gothic Corner to revisit the gelato store from the previous day where Sarah had gone to town. (seriously, gelato looking like fluffy loaves of bread). And this time even I indulged in a little cup and we had a cute cousinly chow down and chat as we cheersed spoons and discussed life matters (I.e., boys, relationships and such).
Insertation here: it is rather remarkable the Italian presence in Barcelona what with Italian cuisined restaurants and what not. I remarked on such to Sarah who was also quite surprised, and we vowed to Google upon reventure into wifi to get the specifics on why (we didn’t; we were far too busy shading in our eyebrows and such lark. But I just asked PMS and he gave me the go. So apparently rather than the Italians busting in and surmounting Spain like I had assumed, it was actually the other way around with the Spanish hustling over and subjugating Italy in the Middle Ages. Hence the influx of gelaterias to this day. Cheers WikiPMS).
After a bout about H&M (Sarah had never been before so was in a wonder world as we went up the one, two, three, four storeys. “Wait until you get to Primark,” I remarked. We each got a significant stash of apparels and attire and took off up to menswear – so strategic, the females floors had lengthy long-waiting lines, but the male one was more a wasteland – and commandeered the big double sized changing room to try our hoards. A fair few successes were met with, “Sarah, you deserve it!” and, “Pop, you totally deserve to treat yourself”, which had us leaving with a bulgy bag of new purchases) we hit the wy-wy and walked the 40-odd minutes to our hostel. Previous proposals of a lay down and kitty kip were dashed upon seeing the time – 8pm, with an ETD of 8.30pm meant no time for rest, repose or respite – mate, it was a mere Coke Zero refuel, a power shower and a speedy suit up before heading back out the door.
Where to? Well you see, the fabulous Fabrizzio’s Terrace team put on a free dinner every Saturday for their staying somebodies and had invited us along to partake. “We have it at 9pm,” enthused desk girl Camilla when we had left that afternoon. “Honestly, just come. This is your home in Barcelona.”
Unfortunately, at 9.23pm we were still peripateticing about the series of streets. On stumbling upon the bloody Sagrada Familia not only once, but twice (fast becoming not so awesome as infuriating, it must be said) in out attempts to find Fab’s (Google maps was on the turps under the free city wifi) we eventually worked out the tangible map (honestly, mature institute, I.e., “old school” is so still the way) and rocked on in (with a stockpile of treats for the staff) for Sarah to score a plate of Mac’n’Cheese as we drunk down some vodka and DC (6.70 euro for a good thirty ounce! Winning at life). (As well as a quick Skype to Deb and Mel for Mother’s Day).
Bulgarian boy Chico was doing a little bar bob so we clambered on crew to participate. At 10.30pm Chico, Sarah, myself and three other lads – names escape me now, but one was an Italian living in Ireland, another from some part of Mexico, and the third, well, who knows? – took to the pavement, swindling our pre’s as we went, to Chico’s suggested saloon.
The next few hours made like a spanner and bolted by in a medley of mojitos (our new cousinly thirst-quencher of choice), plates of popcorn (free upon order at the bar, what champs), ordering from a Red Hot Chilli Peppers Anthony Kiedis look-alike (who hustled me a free bevvy, such a lad), a multitude of selfies and much laughter and the lark. Rather than roam around to the thereafter tavern as first formulated we stayed there for a fair while (until about 1.30am) whereupon we bade farewell to the boys and headed off to the one, the only… Opium.
Let me expound, enlighten and explicate.
So Opium is “the place to be” in Barcelona. The dance room has been performed in by names such as David Guetta, Bob Sinclair, Avicii, The Black Eyed Peas, Bob Sinclair, Jason Derulo… you get my gist. Apparently (Sarah and I wouldn’t know, as you shall ascertain) it has a number of zones and spaces that are accentuated by futuristic lighting in reds, blues, pinks and purples that upon amalgamating create an alluring atmosphere, with the “large mirrors on the wall reflecting the colourful electric energy of the club” (cheers, Opium website).
Many a people had recommended it to us, namely one PMS. “Make sure you go to Opium if you want a big night out in Barcelona,” he’d emboldened, bolstered and buoyed up. “You’ll have a great night.”
So after Google mapping the supposed route we bade Bulgarian boy Chico valediction at the hostel and headed to Opium. Or so we thought.
I’m not going to go into a play by play of what the next three or so hours comprised, but it was a full on fuckfest. Like the most ballsed-up, shambles of a farce, mischance, misfortune and cataclysm of crap.
And we never found Opium.
Upon Google Maps having a tanty and quitting mid mapping, we attempted to find it from memory (no mean feat on six shared cocktails). When we realised we had no inkling of where we were we asked a passing bunch of coppas for aid.
“Down there then to the left,” they sez. So off we went.
Well. They either misunderstood, misdirected or were having a laugh. Because Opium was not that way at all.
After half an hour of walking left as we thought was right, we stopped in at a SUPRMERCAT (to come) to ask for succour (as well as buy a mango for me and a pack of Oreo’s for Sarah).
“You need street Marina,” the man on the till declared as he scanned through our goodies. “Go right for a long while then right onto Marina.”
After a further half hour of this, grumpy Pop and Sarah started to surface. “Fucking hate PMS,” I groused. “Fucking telling us to go to Opium. I fucking hate him and I fucking hate Opium.”
“Yeah!” Sarah averred. “I fucking hate PMS and I fucking hate Opium.”
And so began the cursing of the two.
We wandered about for another hour or so before deciding Opium was a [horrendous word here that I shall not even spell out] and so was PMS for telling us to there and we were giving up, propelling in the drying cloth and heading home (well, to the hostel).
Which set off a whole new set of a shitstorm.
Barcelona City Free Wifi came in to allow us to map a method home using the metro (our earlier vows of not using any transport the whole weekend was shot to shreds). So upon the line we climbed (having a great giggle at an extremely drunken middle-aged female in a very short skirt who was slapping up on a fella as her friends cheered her on) (as well as me suddenly feeling the sensation of someone stroking my back. “Sarah,” I whispered. “Is the guy caressing my back hot or should I pretend I can’t feel it?” “Pop, it’s a girl,” Sarah said) to the stop we had been cognisanted as ours to get off.
It was upon great relief to get out into fresh air and have Siri declare a mere 800metres to our staying place. It was upon Brobdingnagian desolation for the bitch to then do a complete turnabout face and tell us it would take 41 minutes to walk there.
I’m sorry to say that both Opium and PMS were damned, blighted and blasphemed beyond belief. Ridiculously so, it must be said. We set off following the way laid out and after walking for a fair I suddenly saw some very recognisable peaks rising above the buildings just ahead.
“Sarah,” I began very cautiously. “Does that steeple thing ahead look… Familia to you?”
We were back at the fucking Sagrada Familia.
For those of you who do not know Barcelona well, this would not mean a lot to you. But after having walked a good 40km that day already (seriously, a bloody marathon mate) to find ourselves back here and so far away from the hostel almost had us in a thundercloud of despondency.
“I fucking hate Opium and PMS,” I seethed. “It’s all their faults.” “Yeah,” Sarah aggressively agreed. “Fuck Opium and fuck PMS. And fuck the fucking Sagrada Familia.”
If this sounds a little bellicose to you, can I please relay the situation? It was 4am. We were cold. The snifters had well and truly (almost) lost their spell. We were back at the blood Sagrada Familia. Wifi was unreachable and we had no data. And we just wanted bed.
“Should we just settle down here for the night?” I asked Sarah. Only half joking. As she seriously contemplated the cosying up on the curbside a taxi pulled up and we waved him down.
‘Help us!” we despaired. “Where is our hostel!”
But did he speak a lick of English? No. No he did not.
But the lad he was dropping off did.
Enter Carlos, our Bolivian saving grace.
I cannot tell you the love I have for this sweet 22-year-old soul. He was our angel, our liberator, our caballero in radiating breastplates (I.e., “knight in shining armour”).
He mapped out our journey. Led us to the metro. Clicked us on with his card (shhhh, don’t tell the station masters). And took us the whole half-hour way home, right to the door before turning back to go home.
I think I fell a little in love with him.
(After my absolute tantrum when we came out of the station and realised we were a street over from where we had been when Siri went wayward and took us 41 minutes back into the city centre).
But we were home! We rejoiced and sung out with glee – 5am, so a five-hour slumber before up to check out. It would have to do.
We tiptoed into out 12-person dorm and undressed and what not to rest our insanely weary heads. As I lay down to go to bye-byes (I.e., coma out) the worst possible thing that could possibly happen happened.
The lad on the top bunk opposite me started to snore.
This was like the loudest, most trumpeting sound I have ever heard. And it was relentless. On and on and on and on. After five minutes of tossing and turning and making loud “hurmgh!”-type noises, I couldn’t take it anymore,
“OI!” I bellowed. “STOP SNORING!”
He didn’t wake up. He just proceeded to snore louder.
I’d say I almost started to cry, but that’s a lie. Because I actually did start to cry.
I’m ashamed to say I yelled roared out yet again, screeching at the stranger to please just shut up. In response the girl from below bunk to the left hollered out, “Stop yelling at him, you’re keeping us awake now.”
What ensued was a few minutes of dorm room disputing, with half an half garnering for each “team” (snoring lad still asleep, btw).
Eventually it settled down and we all drifted off to sleep. Just before 6am.
So suffice to say, Sarah and I were not on top form come the next morning as we packed our packs to depart. “Fucking hate Opium” was a common phrase as we handed in our keys, back-packed up and headed down the way to Fab’s (yes, yet again. We just couldn’t keep away). When the supermarket was shut we had planned to stop at was shut, we blamed Opium. When we found out La Boqueria Markets (markets dating back to 1217 entered from the west side of La Rambla) were closed on Sundays, what I had been looking forward to doing that morning whole heartedly, we blamed Opium. And when we discovered that H&M was too not open on Sundays we rose our fists to the sky and cussed Opium (luckily H&M actually was in business and we got to go back and buy the dress I had been “thinking about” (I.e., totally going to buy but needing to return with my NZ credit card to put it on) and yet another bikini (is having purchased four in the last week a tad excessive? Especially upon returning home in the middle of winter?) to cheer myself up).
But the day looked up. We went to the Cathedral and lit a candle for our late Nanna and Bampga (extremely moving, but also quite gigglesome when I dropped in a euro and instead of lighting up two faux candles – these were battery powered I think, unlike the standard match-and-flame of every other church up until now – it ignited a goof five. Just the Whatman Way, we asserted; just stuff it all up), we roamed back around the Gothic Quarter, went back to Fab’s and hung with the hostel staff including Bulgarian boy Chico and then metroed up to the Olympic Stadium to the Organic Food Fair where Sarah was meeting the family she nannied for to go home to her little village.
Sarah and I walked about the stalls tasting testers and testing tasters for two hours having a subterranean and significant (I.e., “D&M”). It was amazing really – I went for the weekend to spend time with my cousin, and left with another new best friend.
Downtrodden, I headed back to – you guessed it – Fab’s again to hang out for a few hours before catching the Aerobus to the airport for the 11pm departure. (Just for your own advice taking; do not sit with Bulgarian boy Chico watching a movie where a woman gets raped, pillaged and thrown over a bridge before walking alone out at near midnight. Definitely don’t recommend. And apologies to the harmless man who I leapt into the sky at his “hi” and scurried away in fear).
I had been a tad agitated that my plan to sleep at the airport (I had a 6am flight meaning a 4am check-in and visa sign off, leading me to believe booking a hostel was a waste and slumbering at the aerodrome was much more strategic) may not fly, but as soon as I entered the departure hall I came across a little posy of new pals – meet Igme, the Turkish dentist, Francisco, the Portuguese computer programmer living in London (working in none other than Camden Town! Swell! We had a fab convo about the markets) and two Italian chaps – with whom we pulled up cushioned chairs to make beds and get a little shut eye on. (I told them about my hostel horror with the aggravating snorer and Igme imparted me with the terrific to-utilise tool of shining a phone light in the offender’s face; apparently, such an act stops the snoring straight away without even waking the malefactor! Fab! Superb! My new life saver!).
And – I promise it’s over soon! – a last few notings to, well, note.
- My favourite thing about Barcelona? The terming of supermarkets as “Supermercats”. Like, how great is that? (Funnily enough though, the “supermercats” are actually more like dairies, with our understanding of a “supermarket” being deemed a simple “shop”). And “tabacs”? Tobacco shops! Selling cigs and such as well as stamps and souvenirs.
- SO many dogs in Barcelona! All of which were so loved and looked after. Seeing owners out walking their pooches and pups was as common a sight as the tabacs and signs for sangria and such. And we even saw one German Shephard who had no back legs, but a two-wheel contraption enabling him to walk (this prompted a convo between Sarah and I whether it was cruel or kind; there must be so much love for the canine for his owners to cutlery out the dollars for what would have most definitely been a pricey surgery, but was it benevolent to the dog to do so?).
- Crossing lights abound around Barcelona but for them to allow you to cross – no buttons to push! The little man just flicks between green and red on his own accord with you having no need to do nada.
- The taxis in Barcelona are black with yellow stripes, “like bumble bees” I said during the day. “Because they sting you,” I fumed later that night as I hated life – and Opium.
- Outdoor escalators! What a mind boggling concept! When we were on our way up to the Olympic Stadium we came across many of these mechanical movers and it was so odd to our eyes; used to only seeing such contrivances inside buildings, seeing them out in the open was quite a new concept.
- I think I wildly amused many a Spaniard while bounding about Barcelona. Case in point, my night time bus driver. Upon asking him if the airport was indeed open all night, he was all wide eyed at my enthusiasm and “zest and zeal” and queried, “Are you always like that?” “Like what?” I replied. “That,” he said. “All bubbles and smiles and happiness to all around.” I thought about it for a moment. “I guess so,” I responded. “Except for nights when Opium is involved.” He didn’t get it, but I had an ebullient titter.
Now to the last few days in London before heading onto the homeland of Holland.