sunshine and Arctic Sunrise (2005-04-25 - 10:15 a.m.)
argh, I feel terrible. Was so burnt out yesterday from getting three hours sleep the night before that I was going to go to bed early and hope that the earplugs worked. Then that plan went out the door when a gaggle of British army guys staying at the hostel asked if I wanted to go out for a quick drink. Turned out they meant "three quick drinks and a giant platter of paella" - which was great fun but not conducive to an early night. (I didnīt have the paella, though I definitely will have to try it before I leave, if I can bear to spend the money). Sounds like being in the British army is okay, if you donīt mind digging a lot of holes. Exactly why they make their recruits dig holes I didnīt quite understand, but it figured heavily in conversation.
We had the drinks/paella at one of the little mostly open-air restaurants that are all over the place here. The insides are tiny but itīs so warm at night that everyone sits outside. They are all full of Brits, too. In a way it was a bit embarrassing to be with a party of loud, unselfconscious Brits, but it was a fun night so I didnīt really care.
These places usually have someone standing outside waving a menu to try and entice the tourists in. When I was walking along I would always get bothered in English (because Iīm pale and obviously not local!). Finally I started saying, "non, merci" in hopes that they would leave me alone. Didnīt work too well, though - when I tried that the guy immediately switched and said, "ah, mais c`est un restaurant superbe!"
These restaurants also have street musicians that come and play while you are eating, and then pass the hat around the tables. They all seem to have accordians - theyīre completely ubiquitous. They also come around selling red roses (one of which the army guys bought for me. They didnīt let me pay for my drinks, either!)
After dinner we came back and I watched them play hearts with an extremely pornographic deck of cards someone got from a dodgy shop for three euros. I actually got to bed not too late - about midnight - but I think the Spanish people in my dorm got in about 6 am and they were LOUD about it. A word of advice: donīt stay at the Gothic Point hostel. Iīm moving down to the other one today - hopefully itīs better.
That aside, I really love Barcelona. (And will love it more once I get a nap!) Palms trees are everywhere! I spent the entire day yesterday down by the sea - Iīm seriously attracted to water. Wandered around the beach and booked into the Seapoint hostel, right beside it. Then I spent the rest of the time by the harbour.
The first thing I saw yesterday when I stepped out of the hostel was a giant protest (complete with police with billy clubs, an ambulance, and lots of bongo drums). Obviously I couldnīt understand the chants in Spanish, but the one English sign said, "We want rights and papers". Fair enough, I suppose. It was HUGE, covering the entire street, and a lot more interesting than Canadian protests - lots of singing and even dancing to the beat of the drums.
The other thing I did yesterday was happen upon some kind of Oxfam festival. They had a bunch of stages with dancing and music from difference cultures and lots of games and face-painting etc for the kids. They had a big pavilion of fair-trade merchandise for sale, so I got a fair-trade granola bar for a snack instead of a chocolate bar.
They also had the Greenpeace boat docked there! This one was called the Arctic Sunrise, and I got to take a tour. The tour was unfortunately entirely in Spanish, but eventually I found someone to translate part of it. The ship was really interesting, just as a ship - I really, really want to go sailing on a ship sometime. Any kind of ship, really, barring another ferry or an apartment-sized cruise ship. The control room had a bumper sticker that said, "I brake for whales" and Bob Dylan CDs lying around. They had a solar-powered stove out back (but the girl who spoke English said they only use it on special occasions because you have to keep it polished). It was really interesting, though, and Iīm glad I waited in line to see it.
The other thing about Barcelona is how many kids are around. Maybe itīs because it was Sunday afternoon, but everyone had their toddlers out. It seems like a very family-friendly places.
I tried to buy some food at the Oxfam thing as well, and ran face-first into the language barrier. I ended up with plain pasta with some mayonnaise dumped on top, containing bits of weiner, pickle, and onion! It was also mostly still frozen. sigh. Wish I spoke Spanish...
Oh yes, and I got burnt pretty good. Didnīt wear enough sunblock and was out in the sun all day because I was excited to see some. Needless to say today Iīm slathered in sunblock, but this might put paid to my plan of lying on the beach for the next three days.
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