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The second part of my trip to Barcelona was when the fun really began – said in the most ironic of tones. After a full day of walking the previous day, we got up feeling like athletes with a full itinerary. Mathilde had read an article on the latest trend in the city – ‘Drunch’ (lunch with a drink or two) and we set off in search of one of the recommended cafes that just so happened to be a block away from our hostel. Timeline in Gracia offers all you can drink Bloody Mary’s and Bucks Fizz. With this – plus a baked bean tapas set to give us that energy kick to enjoy the rest of the day – we were sold.
We got just a little lost trying to find Timeline, despite it being so close by. When we did finally find it – it was already shut. Vintage shopping was also part of our plan, but again, none of the nearby shops were open. Moral of the story is this: most independent shops and restaurants in Europe are closed on a Monday. So, if you can help it, don’t plan the majority of your activities on that day.
We carried on minus our Drunch to the famous Boqueria market where photos of coloured juices were snapped and a whole lot of testers sampled – one of my all time favourite past times. After getting our food fix, the next market on our list was Encants – a famous flea market (or so we had read).
Unfortunately, it took us quite a long while to get to Encants and on arrival, it resembled nothing more than a metal scrap yard. It certainly took the meaning of flea market to the literal level – I am pretty sure the old rugs hanging on a metal pole made a very cosy home. Nonetheless, we tried to stay there as long as possible to justify the efforts we had gone through in order to find the place. A coffee was needed soon after we escaped and unfortunately for us, the nearest stop for miles happened to be a very fancy restaurant. Neither of us could afford anything more than a coffee, despite the waiter coming over and asking us if we wanted food on several occasions. Two very posh old women then came and sat next to us and asked if we were getting food. We must have looked hungry.
I realise I haven’t yet mentioned our hostel mates – something that took up pages in my diary – written in scribbles to get it all down. It’s common knowledge that you will always have one slightly odd hostel roomie, wherever you are in the world. We were unlucky enough to have not just one, but five weird and not so wonderful contributions to room 2B. On arrival, we were greeted by a 40 year old man in his bed, who took to grabbing my leg as I tried to climb up the top bunk above him and didn’t move from his bed for our entire stay. His bed must have been a lot more comfy than mine. Although we took to moaning about him on our first night, he was a saint in comparison to our later ‘mates’, who greeted us as we were about to go out that night.
While sharing a $1 carton of wine (something I highly recommend purchasing when stopping off at the local supermarket), we were disturbed by the delightful foursome from Northern England who barged into our room and clambered into their bunk beds to “get a kip” before they “’it the town”. These four men, old enough to be our grandfather’s failed to comprehend the fact that sharing a hostel room requires a little self awareness and compassion for your fellow room mates. Shouting at each other across the 1cm distance of their bunk beds and throwing up far too near my bed at 4am was not the appropriate way to act, and we realised that the main error of judgment when booking this hostel was just that. There was no ‘youth’ in front of the hostel sign, something I will now always be sure to check on future travels. Had these men been in their teens or twenties, their behavior would at least have been a little excusable. Either way, the arrival of these hostel guests as we were getting ready to go out ourselves, only seemed to make our night even more cursed. Here’s how:
After drinking that wine cartoon like Bacchus himself in order to quickly swerve away from the beasts, we headed for the tube to go to a Apolo, a club that was recommended to us by the hostel staff. The fact that Macaulay Culkin was supposedly a regular when in town was of course another reason to run there. Of course, by the time we got on the metro an announcement declared that we were on the final journey of the night. Getting home later would be fun. Not only was Apolo empty and far too pretentious for our liking, it was raining and we had to walk back into town to find somewhere else. The Gothic Area had promise of fun bars and after walking for 40 minutes to the centre, getting lost countless times and asking many a local where to walk too, we made it! We went to the nearest bar we found, which happened to be Red Rocket Bar, with cheap drinks and red lighting.
Any idea of a lie-in was greatly interrupted the following morning, with our idiotic room mates waking us up at 7am, wanting to know ‘where the creatures of the night went, ay’. We were the creatures, and boy did I wish it was still the night. After they stomped out to go to their football match, we got ready to escape for the day – this time to the Gaudi Park. It was definitely nice to walk around it, but I recommend you go in the morning if the weather is warm on your visit. There were far too many slopes and hills to walk up for it to be completely enjoyable in the heat. The rest of the day was spent coffee shop hopping and lazing around new haunts in Gracia – somewhere I would really love to live if I were a local.
We asked the receptionist at the hostel what she would recommend we do that evening (it was our last night). In hindsight, we should have asked her if we could move hostel rooms – but that would have made our trip far too comfortable, but clearly we like drama and bad luck. Anyway, we were told to go to Metropolitan Gallery of Barcelona where fireworks would be going off that night. It had a spectacular view of the city, but we later found out that the firework display only occurred every other weekend. Maybe we misheard her – or perhaps there was a larger language barrier between us than apparent. Wonderful.
While we managed to take some nice photos and enjoyed a coffee with some very elegant Spanish locals, we knew we had to think up a plan B pretty quickly. Al Waha it was! Our last night at the Lebanese (our Lebanese) restaurant saw us get a full dessert for free and a very warm welcome on arrival. After slowly bar hopping our way back to our hostel, and having another night from hell with our noisy hostel pests, we packed up the next morning and said adios to the wonderful city of Barcelona.
It was so much fun reading my diary and reliving it all (great and bad) and I definitely recommend traveling to Barcelona – although if you’re planning on going to a hostel and are younger than 25 – make sure you go to a youthful sort. You don’t want any football loving, beer guzzling old nuisances to disturb a second of your fun (and sleep)!
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