Yeah… I know… so I was only back in Amsterdam for a day and a half, but since I didn’t get a chance to go to Spain last June, I decided I needed to now while I could. So Friday afternoon I headed back to Schiphol to board my flight for Barcelona. I slept later than I planned and was afraid I might not make it in time, because as I got riding I realized my back tire on my bike was flat, but not having time to do anything about it, I rode on. I’ll deal with that when I get back. I still made it to the airport with plenty of time, though….
By the time I got in, on the bus to Plaça Cataluyna, and to the hostel, it was about 17:00. I booked at BCN Loft because it was cheap (€20 a night) and in a good location right off La Rambla… well, I come to find out, their office is right off La Rambla. They own several apartments around town in various areas, and that’s where you stay. Luckily, mine was right on La Rambla, with a balcony looking out onto it. It was actually quite nice, and the other people in there were very cool, a group of German girls, and a mixed group of French. After getting settled in, I went out to wander around and get some food for a bit before heading back. On some nights the hostel organizes bar nights that everyone staying in one of the flats can attend, which they were doing that night, so we all went. It started with drinking some sangria or beer at the office (which is available all day long, along with internet access… it really is a pretty cool hostel…) before everyone headed to the The Red Room, where they had prearranged for us. There were free drinks for a couple hours or so at the bar, which was good because the regular prices were out of hand. Unfortunately, the free drinks were mojitos, which i can only handle so much of before the sugar gets to me. But it was a good time, and eventually everyone started getting their groove on the dance floor. Around 4 am, there was a bus that we could take to another club. It seemed way the hell out of the way, because we were on the bus for a long time. It was alright when we got there… very clubby, though… music tended more toward techno and house… but got a bit trancey at times.. but it is Europe. I have to learn to accept that… We had to stay there until at least 5, because that’s when the metro opened back up.
The next morning I did some wandering around, starting on La Rambla again, the major road of downtown Barcelona. There’s a lane for traffic on either side, but in the middle is a large pedestrian walkway, about the size of 4 lanes of a road. Flanked on the outer sides of La Rambla are buildings with many restaurants, many of which have seating actually on La Rambla (though not without a price), and flats above, such as where I’m staying. It’s a very entertaining street, because in addition to the restaurant seating and standard souveneir stands, it’s filled with people doing various performance art, paintings, sometimes music or acrobatics and break dancing… but primarily it’s the living statues that draw the interest. Some of the costumes are quite elaborate, and it is often very hard to tell that they are actual people. They’ll stand quite motionless for quite a long time until someone drops some money in their hat or bucket or whatever, and when someone does, they’ll somehow perform (or pose for pics with kids.) I don’t have many pictures, because, as a performer myself, I don’t feel right about taking their pictures without donating to their till. That’s why they’re there and all… to earn some money… so if I want a picture, I either donate, or at least wait until someone else does and take that opoortunity at the same time… but here are some of the one’s I did get…
Eventually I found my way to the Gothic area. I really liked the vibe there… the architecture is fantastic, and there’s lots of musicians playing. There’s something about walking around the streets near the cathedral while hearing hammered dulcimer player get played. Almost like a sound track… it can be very surreal at times… I’m glad I found that, because the vibe I had gotten before was different… not bad, but… well, around La Rambla IS a tourist street… But of course I would never judge a city by that, so I’m glad I got some of the other elements of personality of Barcelona.
I ended up at the beach, La Barceloneta on the Mediterranean, where I grabbed a box of Sangria, took my sandals off, and walked around. Before long I was pleasantly surprised to find out it was a topless beach. It was slightly less pleasant when I walked too far to one side and realized it was not topless… it was in fact nude… but most of the participants were male… I walked back the other direction. That evening, many from my room and the one below (also a BCN loft) went to the bars.
Tip for drinking in Barcelona… find the people passing out flyers for bars… most get you a free drink of some sort… We started at Travelers Bar, but left before long because it was kind of small, they were very worried of noise complaints from neighbors, and after our free drinks, they were kind of expensive. So our herd picked up some Swiss girls on our way out and headed to another bar. Can’t remember where, because I was just following. From there, some of us found a club down by the waterfront next to the IMAX. It was like 3 different bars upstairs in what appeared to be a mall… very clubby, but fairly decent music, and if it sucked, you could just move to the next one.
Tags: Barcelona, beach, Europe, Spain, Travel