Revisting Barcelona: What Not to Do

I had come to Barcelona with the intention of eating good food, drinking good wine, and walking around cool neighborhoods. And I have done just that, but what I didn’t count on was the crazy amounts of tourists and expense of doing all these things. Drinks are 7 to 10 Euros, dinners 10 to 20 Euros, and beers are 3 Euros. My hostel bunk – one of six in a room with a shared bath is 25 Euros a night – all of this at a 1.4 exchange rate.

The tourists are everywhere unloading on every corner, thronging on Las Ramblas, and crowding every entrance. At night, it’s like loads of them come here to party – could Barcelona be the Las Vegas of Europe? It feels like it with the groups of “hen” parties from Britain and the touters outside bars offering free shots to the ladies. I know..I hear it in your voice…poor Kristin…tough times in Barcelona? Quit whining.

Where is the Barcelona of my memories? Maybe third time is not a charm. I think my lesson here is that without sightseeing and without a traveling companion or local friends, two or three days would have been enough. The good news is that I got two pairs of very cute shoes and a purse – those didn’t break the bank costing less than a meal each!

Yesterday I went to Mont Juic, a very pretty park overlooking the city. It was lovely, fully of marble fountains, museums, and a funicular ride up and down. After I walked in the old city, most shops were closed because it was Sunday, but creeping through the closed in streets feels so…European. It is a direct contrast to the wide open freeways of the American suburb or highway. Even our main streets are huge compared to these 5 meter wide streets paved with cobble stones. The view up is of apartment windows with laundry hanging outside.

I was hunting for lunch and saw a square up ahead. This happened quickly, but I knew exactly what was happening, my six sense tuned after two months of travel… A punky looking man was walking fast towards me, he caught my eye a little and I knew what he was going to do…he walked right up to me faced me with a predatory look, but when he was about to utter whatever he was going to say…I shouted, “F*ck OFF” from my gut. He muttered something and shouted it back. I was shaken a little, but didn’t regret my reaction…I knew that he wasn’t good and knew to be on the offensive.

Thankfully, there was a bar/cafe in the square up ahead. It was past noon and a drink sounded very good at that moment. I asked the cute tattooed bartender if he knew how to make a bloody mary, he didn’t, nor did the other cute tatooed bartender, but the cute tatooed waitress on break did! He made the basics and then I spiced it up with Tabasco and worcestershire sauce. It did the job. I ordered a lovely avocado and feta cheese crepe, creamy antidote to the hot tomato drink. The bar was so cool, very dark woods, artsy walls, great music and good food. It was a happy break in the day.

My dinner was at the corner diner near my hostel – it was the best patatas bravas I have ever had, hot crispy potato wedges. I took a big siesta and then walked along the seaside…the crowds were out but stopped at little lawn concerts. It was usually a band of five guys – lots of guitars and shaking. The crowds were into it, some brave souls even got up and danced. It had the makings of a perfect summer evening…sharp guitar sounds and a warm summer nights with people nodding along with the tunes as they sat lazy on the grass. Fulfilling my promise to myself, I touched the Mediterranean at the beach.

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The night was eventful. The Memphis couple, who spend all their time sleeping together on one of the bunks, were asleep first. I joined them and then in the middle of the night the two young Irish guys came stumbling and slamming in, obviously drunk. Once in bed, the top bunk guy turned on his iPod really loud with gangsta rap, I had to tell him to shut it and fell back asleep. TWICE in the middle of the night, the poor guy feel from his top bunk – SMACK – flesh on the hard floor. After the first time, he slammed his way to the bathroom and then slammed his way back. The second time though, he didn’t return until fully awake in the morning when he told his friend that he had fallen asleep in the wrong room.

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Today is my last day, I will go to Parc Guell and then walking around the L’eixample neighborhood. I have a good recommendation for a lunch tapas place. Then tonight, I head to Granada, a city which the guidebooks say is the one city outside of Barcelona to visit in Spain. I found a cheap airfare for an hour flight versus a 12 hour busride (the bus rides were great in Turkey but after three overnighters, I have an aversion to them right now) and then another hostel right in the old city. I have visions of Bougainvilla growing long over tiny streets and cobblestone alleyways. Maybe a flamenco show at night?

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