I’ve wrestled with a number of ideas about how best to present this travel blog. The most sensible method would have been to have kept a journal as the trip progressed and typed it up each evening in real time. Sadly this wasn’t possible a) because I’m not sensible b) because many of my evenings were spent concentrating on the tricky task drinking alone at one of Barcelona’s beautiful old squares – form an orderly queue, chicas, I’m pasty – and b) because the journal I bought after two days was promptly lost after three, along with my hostel keys (more on that later). I said orderly! An orderly queue!
So what I’m going to do instead is present everything by the scientifically analysed category of thing – whether that be Gaudi, a chat with a local about independence or a nice trip to see the policía – and then just talk about it. To start I’ll be talking about how much of a moron I am when it comes to certain life skills, then I’ll talk more about the finer elements of the trip.
First things first: it’s an extraordinary city. To describe Barcelona as culturally and historically rich is akin to describing the Sagrada Familia as a ‘jolly nice church’. I don’t cope particularly well with the heat and spent most of the 10 days sweating, but that alone is the only element of the city that I do not miss. The below chart gives a quick overview of my activities over the ten days.
Let’s also get the point-and-laugh bit out of the way first – it was mishap central for a good portion of this trip. Here’s a quick breakdown of the things that I lost:
1. My wallet and all of my money
You know that chest-tightening panic that grips you when you suddenly realise something disastrous has happened and it’s all your fault? “No, this can’t be true,” you try to convince yourself. But it is. Well fortunately I am blessed with experiencing this particular emotion approximately 3-4 times a week. It’s got to the point now where the brief period of hope that floods over you when you run through options as to how it might not be true has shortened to virtually 0.5 seconds.
I’m fairly convinced I was schooled by a young skinny bloke who approached me as I sat and watched an open-air film on the beach one evening. He bustled around me, saying in Spanish that he had lost his keys around where I was sitting. I imagine he lifted it out of my pocket as I got up to let him look around.
Of course I thought nothing of it. Stood on the Metro that evening at about 10pm left hand on a pole, rucksack on the back and wearily observing the stubborn refusal of my legs to even entertain the idea of being a bit less white than a bathroom shop, I did the familiar pat down of the back pocket to reassure myself that yes, despite my cavalier insistence to keep it there in the most vulnerable spot possible, it was still safe.
Cut to the police station the next morning where, at a table specifically set up in the corner of the reception area for idiot tourists who can’t speak proper Spanish, a Steven Spielberg body double took gave me a look of justifiable contempt, before listening to my story. “I’ve seen 27 pasty, moronic tourists like you in the last two hours,” he was definitely thinking to himself. “I hate you.”
Anyway, the report was filed and off I went, but not before I watched Mr Spielberg unleash some more contempt. As I waited for my copy of the report, two light-skinned teenage tourists – bros, with vests and backwards caps – shuffled nervously in and sat down at the table. After a brief exchange which I couldn’t hear, Mr Spielberg offered one of the boys a report to fill in. After about a minute, more words were exchanged. The boys then got up slowly and walked towards the door.
As they did so, Mr Spielberg held their report up from the table slightly and watched them amble out. The very second the door closed, he very calmly tore the report into about 10 pieces. Man, would I have liked to know what they talked about.
2. Hostel Keys
I lost these about halfway through the week, along with my €20 deposit. This was despite the fact I had been told I could leave my keys at the hostel every day, because there would always be someone on duty to let me know. Did I listen? No.
Fortunately they let me have the €20 back at the end of the trip, as I had nothing left to buy food with on the day of my flight.
3. Three pairs of sunglasses
I don’t know where the hell they went. Those things just have a life of their own. I think they used the ear bits to walk out of my room in the middle of the night. It’s also worth mentioning that the following is not how to haggle sunglasses off a street vendor:
CM: “How much are the sunglasses?”
Vendor: “10 euros.”
Not exactly what you’d call smooth. I lost those as well, by the way.
Part 2 will follow as soon as I can get it done. If you have any comments or would like to rip me for any of these calamitous episodes, do feel free…