European Vacation Day 4 Madrid to Barcelona

The day started out writing postys to various people. After checking out I headed to the one place I knew I could get a good meal, why the Museo de Jamon of course. Coke is more expensive than beer in Spain. I first ordered the Serrano then felt it best to order another sandwich as I figured when am I ever going to have another opportunity for such a great lunch? I decided on chorizo and the bartender shouted out my order to the butcher who sliced up a sandwich in no time. It was only after biting into the bocadillo that I noticed they make eggs & bacon, fresh thick cut bacon, damn. That would have really started off the day right.

I was about halfway through my bocadillo when suddenly a commotion broke out with the group next to me. There were two men and a lady and all were passed retirement age. One of the guys grasped the others shoulder and I thought he was trying to throw down and get in the other guys face. As it turned out, one of the fellows passed out and was slumping over. The barkeep jumped around the counter and took hold of the situation. By take hold I mean he propped the past out Spaniard and promptly slapped him several times until he came to. I had several possible outcomes and I didn’t think that was one of them. Surely this guy had a mild heart attack or something. After a few moments he was ok enough to light up another smoke and start his day. I hit the door after finishing up my Coke and bocadillo.

The deal with trains is you can get a pass that lets you ride them, but you still have to buy a seat, a reservation. I went up to a couple places and got this all confirmed. I noticed everyone was in two really long lines, but there was a much shorter one. I decided to just risk it and plead ignorant tourist and hopped in the shortest line. Good move as I was right at the front desk and asked for Barcelona ticket and handed the man my pass. It was still 10€ for my ticket which I still don’t really get; I figured I had a free train pass. I headed upstairs and found my terminal.

The seats are numbered but the train wasn’t really full so I just hopped in a window seat. To my joy and what would turn into a trip staple, a single mother with her infant sat down across from me. They showed a movie and handed out headphones. The movie was in Spanish for some odd reason, but I was able to pick up on it a bit. You know the worst time to start a foreign language is high school which is when students start in the US. Why aren’t we teaching starting in 1st grade, so that kids grow up without an accent in two languages? In TX hell anywhere really Spanish would be a great language to know. I hear the arguments about how they should integrate and learn English and you definitely can make the argument that you are better off knowing English.  All I’m saying is that most people in the US will have to know Spanish. You can fight it and think that the problem will get solved, that we will really invest in buses to take them back to Mexico as well as building a fence. Really that sounds great and really worth it. People need to be more realistic. The time for a wall and all that was once the borders were established, not hundreds of years after.

I stared out the window deep in thoughts about Spain and how lovely it looked. It seemed to remind me of Oklahoma or west Texas. It was strange seeing the highways and the few cars on them, the highways seem to be the route for buses and trucks. That seems like a much better idea. I was soon fast asleep.

I arrived in Barcelona and was hit by the cool ocean breeze. I wondered around and found myself a nice bar. It was run by a Chinese guy who spoke Spanish so that was a bit odd but I was able to procure a beer. I stared at a map trying to figure out where the hell I was going. Barcelona made no sense; it was just a random group of streets that changed names depending on where you were. I was never able to figure out which was up and ended up being lost most of the time. It got quite scary there a few times when I walked thinking I was going the right way only to find that wasn’t and had to backtrack. After following a pretty hot girl for a few blocks, I finally encountered an internet café. After a few moments I located a hostel chain that seemed to cater to backpackers.

I headed out and still got lost. I also walked the same road up and down several times and no doubt walked a mile out of my way. In all I would say I walked six hours so that could have been 20 miles or more who knows, but as dumb as that was, I did see most of Barcelona. It seemed newer more modern vs. Madrid. Also it appeared that most everything was closed. I’d walk by a building and they were closing up. They have a much healthier work/life relationship going on in Europe. Places close for lunch or after so that they can eat with their families or sleep. Work to live not live to work…

After passing a Spanish jail I was on the right track. I had gone most of the day without eating or drinking much other than a beer. I was super thirsty. I had an empty water bottle and noticed a faucet. Two men beat me to it and I didn’t think anything of it until one of them addressed the sink. He washed his hands first then up to his arms so I’m like, ok this isn’t a shower bro. I was wrong, this dude proceeded to stick his head under the water, his scalp scraping the faucet. At this point I was out of there and crushed my water bottle in disgust. It’s like, I get that this is public but I was standing there w an empty bottle, they knew what I was waiting for. Just wave and let me go first. I totally would have but then again I wouldn’t bathe in public like he did, I’d just get water and move on.

I found a small grocery store and checked it out. They resemble a c-store but grocery if that makes sense. Trader Joe’s that sort of place, not a lot of wasted or redundant items. Towards the back they did have bottled water. It was different in that there were 12 packs, but you could take out as many as you wanted. I picked up what I thought was water but it was a no cal no sugar lemon lime carbonated bliss. It was great and I thought it was a soda but it just had flavors. So good.

I finally found the hostel after a few more blocks and passing several old churches. It was getting dark and id heard that Barcelona wasn’t as safe as Madrid. I opted for the 4 bunk option so I had a key but shared a room with 3 other people. It was only 30€ so not bad. They had 2 showers and a living room, most importantly a balcony, a few stories up with a great view. I opened the door to an Italian watching handball on the telly. I almost walked into the wrong room but I was soon set straight. I picked a bottom bunk and headed for the couch. I was soaked in sweat and needed shower but I knew I had to cool down or just sweat after shower. The Italian left and I found bullfighting on the TV. It was a replay of that Sundays fight. It was amazing and I wished I could have seen it live.

As night closed in I hopped in the shower for a much overdue shower. This was a real hostel and thus no towels so I had to drip dry on the balcony. My new Finnish friends offered me an Estella Damm and we talked on the porch joined by our other roommate a German fraulein named Nadia. We basically talked about where each one of use was from and some of the silly things about the countries. The Finns were from different coasts and they said that there was a different dialect depending if you were eastern or western Finland. They were also tired of old churches. They said they go on holiday quite a bit and old churches are all they really see and so they are bored at all these amazingly crafted buildings. I hope to get that jaded about traveling and/or touring churches. The German complained at how conservative and boring it was to live in Munich. I related that it gets hot enough in Texas for paint to peel. We all seemed amazed to be together on a balcony in Barcelona.

The hostel arranged for everyone to go out if you wanted, but I didn’t. I was so tired and frankly a bit scared. I got totally lost during the day, what may have happened drunk and at night…the world may never know but I hung on the balcony for awhile. I headed down to the computer and TV room to get some addresses and correspondence. I figured that mom and dad were appropriately freaked out and concerned that I was lost or feared dead.

Since the room is shared, anyone can come in at any time even 3 am. So there I was sleeping to the sounds of the city when the lights flicked on and in strode a dude wearing only Speedo undergarments. He had to sleep up on top of my bunk and arrange a few things. I roll over and his crotch is right up in my face. That is just a perfect topper to the evening.

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