The Bus Ride From Hell...

Barcelona Travel Blog

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Is there any place in the world that I belong more than Spain??? Hmmm… I don’t think so. Spain, Spain, Spain. What Europe has in style, Spain has in funk! The knee-high boots and trendy coats that I’m so used to seeing have been replaced by multiple facial piercings, dreadlocks and “drullets” (dreadlocked mullets!)

Got the overnight bus from Nice, which was without a doubt the most insane public transport experience I’ve had yet!!! It’s always hard to sleep on the buses, I mean, it’s not particularly comfortable being crammed in like that with nowhere to move and stretch, but we were trying anyway. Just as we were all relaxing, 2 little old ladies get on the bus screaming and yelling at each other. They sit down separately still yelling, and then together they start abusing another guy on the bus because his seat is a little reclined... One of them is even bashing on the back of his chair. This all went on for the longest time, and one of the crazy ladies was sitting right in front of me so there’s no chance I can fall asleep. Eventually they stop yelling at the guy, and go back to yelling at each other (this is all happening in Spanish…) and basically irritating everyone else on the bus. It seemed like they went for hours, but finally they shut up just in time for someone else to start… It was a really windy night, the weather was terrible, so it wasn’t exactly a smooth ride, and personally, I think that if you’re worried about your safety on the road, the last thing you want to do is distract the driver. But, apparently that’s not how you do it in Spain. So, the guy who had been involved in the brawl with the old ladies starts going nuts at the driver, he’s actually at the front of the bus in a huge dispute with the driver, they’re screaming and yelling and there’s hands flying everywhere (nobody is holding the steering wheel any more) and we had no idea what was happening because again, it was all happening in Spanish. So then, another guy who was sitting with us is trying to explain to us what was happening, but for some reason he was still explaining in Spanish. We did establish from his hand signals that they were fighting over his driving skills. In the end, the driver cracked it, pulled the bus over to the side of the road, and started yelling into the intercom thingy (we could only assume that what he was saying was that if the other guy didn’t sit his butt down soon we wouldn’t be going anywhere…) The guy who was sitting with us got up and went to play peace keeper at the front of the bus, finally got everyone calmed down and we were on our way. Needless to say, we didn’t get any sleep that night.

So, when we finally arrived in Barcelona at about 2am we were exhausted. We had booked a hostel in town, and turned up there hoping to at least have a couch to chill on until we could actually check into our room. The guy that was working the night shift at the hostel was far too busy entertaining some girls and smoking joints to care about the poor lowly backpackers on the doorstep, but did let us throw our packs into the luggage room (the disabled toilet…) before he threw us out and told us we couldn’t come in until check in time (12pm). So, we figured that being a Thursday night (well, technically Friday morning…) there would be bars and cafes open on Las Ramblas that we could go and hang out at to pass some time. But no, of course there wasn’t. I was shocked to find that everything was closed. The only people out on the streets were the prostitutes, and the dudes trying to sell single beers, everything else was dead quiet. We headed down to the water to sit and relax for a while, and it was absolutely freezing. We were tired, hungry and cold, but had nowhere to go for another 8 hours or so. When we were bored of sitting by the water and worried about falling asleep and getting mugged (Spain is notorious for thefts, particularly Barcelona), we went for another walk, still nothing to do, but finally at about 6am we found a café that was open, so had coffee after coffee to pass the time. A couple of hours later when everything was starting to open we went somewhere else to get another coffee, just for a change of scenery, and as we were leaving the guy (who spoke no English) offered me a job in the café (another customer translated for me). He must’ve been impressed with my cup stacking skills. I was so tired that I briefly considered the offer!

So yeah, pretty much spent the morning killing time until we could finally crash at the hostel, fell asleep on the couch in the common area while we were waiting to be checked in, then crawled into bed for a siesta. When we had slept enough to resemble normal people again, we headed out and just wandered around town checking it out a little. Didn’t get up to much cos we were still pretty flat.

Spent a few nights in Barcelona, met some really cool people, saw some great sites, and lazed around LOTS! I think that we all had a siesta pretty much every day (hey, c’mon, why not when you’re in Spain…) One day we were all having a nap when all of a sudden the streets outside were filled with music that was creeping in through the closed windows. We ran outside to see what was going on and found ourselves in the middle of a huge street parade for Three Kings Day. It was fantastic, there were thousands of people crammed into the streets as an endless stream of floats went by… It was wild, I mean, what better place to get caught up in the middle of a massive festival than in Barcelona??? It went for ages, there were dancers and acrobats and people throwing candy at us and all sorts of other performers.

One of the most amazing things that we saw in Barcelona (aside from the people and the culture!) was the “La Sagrada Familia”… This building has been under construction since 1882, and will probably take another 20 years to complete. The towers are all symbolic and inspired by religion, and it was fascinating to see, even if we couldn’t afford to go inside! Checked out heaps more of the city, sat up at the museum for ages listening to a fabulous guitarist, and had a great view of the town while we were sitting in the sun. Had a great time in Barcelona, and left there thinking that I’ll definitely be back one day… But have to keep moving, so next stop was Valencia.

There was a pretty cool hostel that we were hoping to stay at, so when we arrived there we set out to try to find it… When we eventually did it turned out that it’s closed for renovations at the moment (Why??????) so had to go find another place which wasn’t too hard. We spent a few days there, same old thing really, checking out the sights and wandering around the town. It’s much more laid back than Barcelona, and heaps smaller. But heading there, there were 2 main things that I wanted to do… The Saint Mary of Valencia Cathedral, and the Mercado Central. So one day we headed out to find the Cathedral, and it was well worth the mission we went on to find it (turns out it was only a couple of blocks away!) It’s an absolutely amazing place, and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Contained in this Church (amongst loads of other things…) is what is thought to be the real Holy Grail, the Chalice that Christ drank from during the Last Supper. Is was amazing. I think that I sat in the Chapel for close to an hour, it was just so magical. I think that I must have taken a million photos pf the Chalice, and just stared at it in awe for the longest time. I really didn’t want to leave, but eventually had to say Adios to the Church and the Chalice and move on.

The rest of the time there, well, not all that much to bore you with… The food is really cheap there, so we ate like kings (well, we still made our own food, but we actually made real meals instead of soup and bread!!!) and we drank loads of 85 cent wine. It was terrible, but after a while you stop thinking about the taste. Backpackers, eh? Anyways, moving on…

The hostel was cool, very social, and very colourful. But, as things go, there’s always a time to move on. The bus station was an absolute mission to find, but we headed there one day hoping to find our ticket outta there. The plan was to see Granada and Seville and then head to Lisbon after that. Andrew was going straight to Lisbon from Valencia, so we were going to have to say goodbye from there. Somehow, when we were at the bus station, everything changed and we booked a ticket straight to Portugal. I was very distracted by the Morocco brochures, and started eyeing off airfares there even though it was never going to be possible. Early on I had committed to sticking to Europe on this trip because I know myself very well, and if I see Morocco then I’m going to want to see more of Africa, and, well, then I might not finish off Europe properly. So anyway, we booked our tickets on the overnight to Lisbon and went back to the hostel to check out accommodation and gather our things. While we were back there got talking to one of the guys there and he asked whether we’d seen the Mercado… Aaaaaargh… As I said, there were 2 things that I really wanted to see, and I had gotten so completely distracted that I had completely forgotten about one of them. Oh well, another thing I must do next time I’m hanging about Europe!

So, that’s the end of Spain for now, I promise I will try to catch up on the rest of my blogs soon (Marg, if nobody else is still reading, I take heart knowing that you’re tuned into the adventures!)

So, til next time, love you all, miss you all.

Seh.

xox

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photo by: fivepointpalm