Alright, so it’s January 26 and I’m writing this while sitting on a balcony overlooking the bustling Las Ramblas in Barcelona, wearing a T-shirt and squinting at the screen because of the sun that is bathing me. It’s about 20 degrees and just absolutely beautiful here. The best part: I’m only spending about 3 euro more a night then I was in Athens, and having a heartily better time.
I got to the ferry in Patras last Thursday and boarded Ancona, Italy, bound. The ferry was a newer one than the one I took to Greece and thankfully had security for the dorms area – not that it would have mattered too much as there was hardly anyone on the ship, and I had the entire male dorm to myself. But it was still nice to know that I wouldn’t have to deal with a bunch of drunk Greeks at 4 a.m. again. One downside to this trip was that the water was considerably rougher and I came close to getting sea sick. I never thought I would as I’ve been on lots of boats before, but man… I was really getting dizzy for a while there.
I landed in Ancona and a extremely helpful girl at the train station’s information desk worked out the best route for me to get to Barcelona, and best of all she did it all so I would be on trains that didn’t need a reservation (the reservations are a must on some trains and can run up to 10 euros – even with a Eurail Pass).
The route took me to Rome, and from Rome to Nice (actually just to the last stop in Italy, as a tunnel is out and I had to bus it from there to Nice – but it was a free bus and it was a beautiful ride through the hills that overlook Monte Carlo [Monaco]). From Nice I caught a train to Montpellier. While waiting for the train from Montpellier to Barcelona I got chatting to a couple that I had noticed on the train from Nice and who were waiting for the same train as me.
Right in my guess, they too were heading to Barcelona. As it turns out, they in fact took the train from Rome with me as well. We decided that upon getting to Barcelona we would team up and try to find a triple room and hopefully pay less then what we’d pay in a dorm. It worked. We ended up finding a place without too much trouble (Jenny has a quite handy Let’s Go guide that lists a number of places), and though they didn’t have a triple they did have a room with a double bed for the two of them for 18 euro total (9 euro each) and I got my own little room with a sink and everything for 12 euro. Not friggin’ bad considering I was paying 10 euro in Athens to sleep in a stinky dorm with a bunch of snorers and here I was with my own little room all for myself for 2 euro more (and free showers!).
After dropping our packs and showering we decided to check out the town a bit (it only being midnight and all… the night was still quite young by Barcelonian standards). We grabbed some cervezas off of the shady-looking guys hawking them in the street for a euro each (my negotiating skills are improving and I got five cans for four euro). We basically just wandered aimlessly around the area. The pension (hostel) is just off Las Ramblas, which is sort of the place to be, and the place was truly ALIVE with people everywhere.
I am truly grateful to have been able to hook up with Eric in Jen because (a) they are awesome, and great fun! (b) it’s saving me money, which is totally key right now and (c) it can be a bit dodgy here with pickpockets and stuff, and it feels safer wandering around with them – PLUS! (big plus) Eric is near fluent in Spanish.
Yesterday morning I awoke to some bad news from the guy at the front desk – they were going to be renovating and we could only stay one more nights. Breaking the news to Jen and Eric, we split our day between a bit of sightseeing, getting our bearings and trying to find another place to stay.
The place we found, the place I’m writing this from, is quite cool too. It is RIGHT on Las Ramblas and should be fun tonight when things really get going. We’re all in the same room now, as this is a triple – but it’s only 39 euro a night, which means 13 each, which is still about 5 euro cheaper than the dorm rooms at the local hostels.
Last night was awesome! We grabbed some wine (less than 2 euro a bottle!), cheese and bread and chilled in their room. After we’d all got a bottle of wine into us, we decided we wanted more and some playing cards. So a quick trip out and we were back in the room with more wine and cards… by the end of each of our second bottle Jenny had passed out and Eric and I decided to go check out what Las Ramblas was up to at 3:30 a.m. Well… I’ll tell you what it was up to: two things – drugs and sex. We couldn’t walk five feet without having some Nubian beauty offer us oral satisfaction for 20 euro or some guy whispering “hashish… coco?” It was a bizarre experience, but we had fun with it. We ended up chatting to about 10 “ladies of the night” and at one point we pretended that Eric was Finnish and couldn’t speak any English. It was hilarious – the hooker would say something to me and then I would proceed to translate into Finnish – and considering neither of us had any idea how to speak Finnish, laughter abounded. It was especially rewarding when Eric broke role and started talking to the girl in perfect English. Her eyes nearly popped out of her head. It was great. The title of the newest guide book on Spain – How To Have Fun With Whores For Free, By Eric and Ryan.
Eventually we wandered back to the hotel and crashed, knowing we had to get up in like 3 hours to check out. Well, I slept past the 8 a.m. check out time and woke up at about 10:30 to the sounds of the floor outside my door being ripped up. Packing up and awaking the lovebirds upstairs, we were off to our new home.
I think I’ll stay here until Thursday and then just head back to Italy to catch my flight to London. I’d love to see more of Spain, but really can’t be bothered to give up the good thing I’ve got here (I doubt I could get as good a deal on my own) and I’m having such a good time with Eric and Jen and haven’t really even seen the city yet.
They have a Dali museum which I’m dying to check out but it’s 8 euro and I just don’t know if I can justify the cost when I’m so strapped for cash. (Funny how wine has become an expense).
I’ve taken it pretty easy today – the couple are taking part in a bit of a siesta right now and then I think we’re just going to chill and play some cards – probably making a repeat of last night. Jen, having missed out on the hilarity of the whores last night, is keen to meet them tonight, so we’ll probably wander around again tonight.
Tomorrow I really want to go check out some of the really cool sights here. There is a lot of Modernist Architecture in the city and I want to check that out for sure. To be honest it feels like I’m vacationing, not travelling, and that’s a nice change. It’s nice to just be able to kick back and chill out.