Barcelona at last!

Trip Start May 31, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Spain  ,
Wednesday, October 25, 2006

We got up early in the morning to finish up the packing we'd started the day before and to try and leave everything tidy in the apartment. We finished everything in time for a quick breakfast before we left to the airport. The day before we had said our goodbyes to the people we managed to meet; some till next year and some others till who knows when...maybe never. Nonetheless we promised to keep in touch after an e-mail exchange and quick and painless goodbyes.

We drove to the airport with Ed's parents who, during the drive, gave us safety tips to keep in mind in Barcelona. After the bad experiences with theft, we didn't want to go through anything like that again.

We had booked our flight in Vueling Airlines, a Spanish low budget airline targeting young travelers, and whose corporate design was very young and modern. So much so that instead of the typical boring inflight magazine, in each seat pouch there was the Spanish version of Rolling Stone which kept Ed and I entertained for the 30 minute-long flight. I learned that Paris Hilton's new CD was "tuned" by British activist and sought-for graphic designer Bansky; instead of her face in the CD cover, Bansky managed to stick in a poodle's one noticed until a few hundred copies were sold. Brilliant.

We arrived in Barcelona at 13:30. We had the entire day ahead of us, but the next big challenge was finding a hostel. We were aware that hostels in Barcelona weren't the cheapest. So for the next 2 hours, we walked around the airport from the information booth to the tourism booth to the phone booth in search for the cheapest accommodation in the center of Barcelona. Amazingly enough, after only six phone calls to the hostels listed on the map given to us by the sour tourism-info lady, we found a 35€ a night room in The Ramblas.

So with our heavy backpacks we tried to get on the airport shuttle which didn't work out because the ticket-selling machine broke when it was our turn to pay. So we ended up sharing a cab with a nice English woman who was in a hurry, and upset about not being able to take the airport shuttle, she offered to share a taxi to Plaza Catalunya, close to where we were headed.

After we were dropped off, we had to walk about 15 blocks with our amazingly heavy backpacks. Doesn't seem too much, but when you're carrying 15 kg's on your back, and your arms start going numb, 15 blocks seems like the Road to Compostela.

We finally got to our hostel,which wasn't the fanciest, the prettiest, not the friendliest but anywhere to be able to rest was fine for us. There was no time for resting though; Ed was tired but I was eager to go walk the Rambla, Barcelona's most famous walk.

By now it was a little past 4pm, but the sun was bright and the weather was great for walking. La Rambla was a boulevard filled with tourists from all over the world. I don't think I'd ever seen so many people from so many different countries in one place....well, maybe I have, but it's been a while. There were street performers, plant and flower shops, artists advertising their works, stands selling sparrows, mice, turtles, ferrets, baby rabbits, souvenir shops, break-dancers, live music, street gamblers.

We walked by a market which immediately caught our attention. Mercat de Sant Josep was a fruit market but it had other things too: chocolates, vegetables, dried fruits, fish, poultry. Any ingredient you need you can most probably find here. I've never seen so many different fruits and vegetables, and some I'd never seen before, and all looked scrumptious. Not like the small colorless and odorless veggies or fruits you find at a supermarket. Different kinds of natural juices were sold in placstic glasses for 1€. I couldn't resist so I got the fresh coconut and strawberry juice. It was the most delicious drink I've had in ages. I went back for a blackberry one soon after the first one was gone. We also got a small basket of plump strawberries to eat while we walked around the huge market. There was a chocolate stand which had all the types of chocolates one can think of:, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate, chocolate cookies, white and dark truffles, chocolate cherries, chocolate oranges, chocolate mints, chocolate bonbons, chocolate covered almonds, chocolate toffees, chocolate in sticks, in bars, in chunks. I must've looked interested because the woman approached me and asked me if I needed anything, to which I replied: "I'm eating with my eyes, thank you." She giggled and looked away to the next potential sinner.

We left the market and continued to walk down La Rambla. It was getting dark so we decided to walk a little more to find a supermarket and get some dinner. The closest supermarket was in Spain's biggest department store: El Corte Ingles. We got some French bread to make avocado, crab meat and tomato sandwiches. And we got a bottle of sangria to celebrate our arrival. We were too tired to do anything else. And even though it was only 8:00pm, we couldn't wait to get in bed.
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