Chapter 37: Back to Barcelona
Me gusta España
Hello from Madrid, and welcome to Backpackin'! If you want to follow this weird trip around the world, add your email below:
Sunday, May 29th
We had an 8:40 AM flight from Palermo to Barcelona, and the airport was 25 minutes from our hotel. For me, normally, I would have packed the night before, wake up at 6:30, drop off the car at 7, hit security by 7:15, and make it to the gate by 7:45.
However, I was not traveling solo, and my definition of packing the night before (and the time it takes me to get going) is much different than that of Mama Ruth and Grady.
Instead, I was woken up to them packing/moving stuff around/whatever at like 4:30 AM.
No bueno. So we grab the car at 5:30 and head to the airport. You know those mornings where you are short on sleep, and a dozen minuscule problems compound on top of each other back to back to back?
4 hours of sleep.
Couldn't find the key drop off for the car.
Had purchased the wrong tickets for our number of checked bags.
Flight got delayed by an hour.
Again, any of these things alone is no big deal. All of them in a four-hour span, and I was a bit irate. However, we did finally make it to Barcelona (an hour late), we ate some Barcelona airport McDank's, and all was right in the world.
Our hotel was fantastic, which was a major plus. 2 separate rooms, nice restaurant and bar, really close to Camp Nou.
I took a solid two-hour nap on arrival, before hitting a local laundromat to wash my clothes. Much needed.
We headed to La Rambla in the evening. For those who haven't been to Barca, La Rambla is the most popular street in town. Miles of shops, bars, and restaurants make it a premiere stop for tourists and locals alike.
La Rambla goes all the way to the marina near the beach, so we checked out all of the massive yachts and stuff on the water.
Barcelona is, without a doubt, one of the prettiest/coolest big cities in Europe. Huge fan.
I was also surprised by how much English I heard in the streets. Place is super international, especially compared to Italy.
We went back to the hotel at 9ish, then I took a taxi to the Gothic Quarter to meet up with Mike. Mike (same guy I was in Argentina with) is living in an Airbnb in Barca for a month. I'll actually be staying with him for four days next week.
Two dudes in their 20s, one Dutch and one American, are living in the apartment next to Mike. The neighbor situation worked out well for him.
We hung out with Dann (Dutch neighbor) before hitting some bars. We went be the St. Christopher's hostel bar first, as it's a popular spot for Americanos. Then we went to George Payne's Irish Pub.
George Payne's is a staple in Barcelona and everyone needs to go when they're in town.
Turns out that they do karaoke every Sunday, and the place was buzzing. We met some girls from Texas who were going to the same club as us later, and we made plans to meet back up over there.
A middle-aged American guy (half-bald, flip flops, walking around like a king), walked up to the bar next to me. This guy emitted Red, White, and Blue vibes. I asked him his name and where he was from. His name was Eric, and he was a former Air Force pilot living in Arizona now. His daughter was a junior at Arizona State, and his son was a fifth-year (probably on a six-year plan) studying abroad in Prague.
Couldn't pick a better city, imo.
He asked if we were just vacationing around, and we told him that we'd been working remote and traveling all over the place. Eric's mind was blown.
"What the ****?! You guys are doing this shit and WORKING? Like you can make money doing this? God **** I wish I was thirty years younger! What do you boys want to drink?"
Eric proceeded to introduce us to his whole family (dude had a lovely wife), before we headed out. Outstanding dude, un placer, Eric.
Mike and I headed to some club (Jubilee, maybe? idk) afterward, and it was popping. Sundays in some places are like Saturdays in others, I suppose. We hung out with the Texas girls for a while before Mike walked home and I grabbed a cab.
Grady has been using a British accent a lot after I started impersonating some Brits that I met in Rome. At 2 AM, I received a text from him with this picture. The caption was, "proper good tea, innit?"
Proper good tea indeed, innit? INNIT?
Monday, May 30th
Huge touristy day. I bought tickets to Park Güell, and we headed there at 10:30. Park Güell was designed by Antoni Gaudi, the same mastermind behind Sagrada Familia.
Tons of cool structures and architecture mixed in with the greenery here. We stayed there for a few hours before heading back by the hotel to grab lunch.
I had to go by the train station to get our seat reservations for Wednesday's train after this.
I use the Eurail pass. It gives access to unlimited train rides across the whole continent. Very useful. Sometimes, especially on high-speed trains, you need to have a separate seat reservation + your general boarding ticket. With every other country, I can buy the pass through Eurail. With Spain, I have to go to the actual station. This is, obviously, annoying.
If you have a Spain-specific train pass, you can bypass this. If you're visiting multiple countries, Eurail is the way to go. Just super annoying having to wait in line for tickets.
It took 2 hours for me to talk to a ticket agent. Meanwhile, Grady (12) was running all over the train station. I gave him some $ to find food, and he disappeared for an hour. He came back with three donuts and a bunch of pictures from a photo booth. Glad he didn't get kidnapped.
I took Grady to the beach area after we got our tickets, and we walked up and down the boardwalk. We tried to rent bikes from the rideshare, but accounts are linked to Barcelona ID numbers.
Huge missed opportunity to make bank from tourists.
We met back up with Mama Ruth that night and hung out around the hotel for a while. I hit the hotel gym then called it a night.
Tuesday, May 31th
WE ARE 5/12 OF THE WAY THROUGH WITH 2022, SO YOU SHOULD PROBABLY START DOING ALL OF THOSE THINGS THAT YOU PLANNED ON DOING THIS YEAR. OR DON'T DO THEM AND JUST KEEP PUSHING THEM OFF INDEFINITELY. IDK.
You're welcome (or I'm sorry) for that.
Anyways, we checked out Sagrada Familia today. Probably the most impressive piece of architecture that I have ever seen. Some fun facts:
Construction was started in the 1870s. It still isn't done. Antoni Gaudi, the original architect, knew he wouldn't see the final product. When asked if he was worried about the long timeline to complete the building, Gaudi said, "My client (God) is not in a hurry."
After we saw Sagrada Familia, Grady and I hit one of the big parks nearby. We then headed back to the hotel, and I spent most of the afternoon/evening working on stuff.
Highlight of my day was hopping on a Zoom call with one of my "Twitter friends," Liam. Dude is hysterical. I also have several "Twitter friends" now. Weird ecosystem.
I met up with Mike and his neighbors, Dann and Brendan (I think I spelled that right), later, and we went to George Payne's to watch the Nadal-Djokovic match. Phenomenal performance by both guys.
After their match ended, I headed home and called it a night.
Wednesday, June 1st
Headed to Madrid today!
We took an 11 AM train to Spain's capital, and arrived around 2 PM. We tried to take a taxi to the hotel, but a road blockage made us walk about 0.3 miles uphill with our luggage. Not awful, but not great. (Also the station was only like half a mile from the hotel to begin with lol.)
Once we got checked in, we ate a late lunch and went to Plaza Mayor. Plaza Mayor is one of Madrid's most famous landmarks, and like Times Square in NYC, locals dressed as Mickey Mouse and Spiderman are walking around taking pictures in exchange for cash.
Spanish Mickey Mouse smelled awful, for those who are curious. That evening I went for a run and found an outdoor gym in Retiro Park (Central Park of Madrid, kinda). I walked around the park til sunset before heading home and calling it a night.
A few days behind, been busy lately lol. I'll send an update of the last few days tomorrow. Ciao 🤌🏼
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