From this day on, the universe decreed, the room will smell like feet. And it did.
As I pulled on my painfully thin clothes, thunder shook the room followed closely by a spear of lightning. Great. It was supposed to be an all-sunny weekend. I stumbled back to my locker cubby and pulled out another sweater. My friends had already woken up earlier that day, unhindered by a night out.
As I stumbled through the streets towards La Rambla, I reached a crosswalk that was in the middle of turning red and sped up the same time a car started moving. Some crosswalks in Barcelona were in ramp form; this was one of them and so I slipped and fell right on my ass. I’m guessing it doesn’t happen often because the car paused as if the driver was trying to decide whether to get out to help before pulling into the intersection. I walked around the rest of the day with odd wet spots down my left shin and up my right thigh.
Seeing as the second free walking tour of the Old City didn’t start until 11, I popped into the large market on La Rambla. It was the biggest market I’ve ever been to since coming to Europe. I only walked down the main sections, but it felt like a giant city contained beneath the tent.
The lady’s face in the left corner is congratulating me on how conspicuous I am.
For obvious reasons, the second walking tour was less enjoyable than the first one—even though the sights we saw had richer history. As I walked through the streets, which felt more like giant corridors, I had the surreal sensation of being within that time period; it was all too easy to imagine a whole city living within these buildings, walking between the leaning buildings.
Barcelona’s history of gruesome deaths in the name of religion probably added to the overall grisly feel of the tour. For example, in the time when being Christian meant prosecution, a 13-year-old girl suffered 13 different methods of torture when she refused to convert. One of these methods was putting her in a barrel along with shards of broken glass and knives then rolling her down a street; a street that is named after her today. To honor this 13-year-old, in Barcelona’s only cathedral live 13 white geese.
And, unfortunately, those are the only photos I took on the tour because it was so dreadful outside.
Afterwards, we all had the same thought to return to the hostel where we collapsed into our beds for an hour or two. Four hours later (oops), we arrived back at MNAC; on weekends, it’s free entry after 3 PM. What we didn’t know, as we dawdled at the entrance for photos, was that the museum closes at 6. We had arrived at 5:30.
My tour guide told me earlier today that one of the best exhibits in the museum was the one containing old church façades that they wanted to preserve before a war got to them. So, hoping to find them in the first exhibit we saw, we ran inside quickly.
A little defeated in what was accomplished this day, we were grateful to run into a girl from our program back in Grenoble who told us about an opera later that night. Finding the opera was a whole ordeal, but is that surprising anymore? Finding out that people under 28 get a 50% discount on tickets was quite a pleasant surprise. Our €21 tickets became just €10,50, giving us the best seats we could have without paying for the 80€ seats.
We completely forgot that the sur-titles were going to be in Spanish and the opera itself was to be sung in Italian. I tried to gain some clue as to what was going on by reading the sur-titles (Spanish is sometimes close enough to French), but that tired me so much that I fell asleep. I would fall asleep at the opera. It was the most expensive, cultural lullaby I’ve ever had.
Since this is the night we all planned to experience all of Barcelona’s night life, we thought that the opera—usually 2 hours—would occupy us perfectly. However, two hours later, once they brightened the lights, we saw on the pamphlet that it was to be a 4h27 opera. Ain’t nobody got time for that. We rushed home to eat quickly and to get ready for our big night out.
There are a lot of choice clubs right down by the beach, many of which are tourist/international bars. I’d suggest you check the Facebook pages for each of them because sometimes they have “code words” that allow you to get in for free. To get into Opium, normal cover fee of 10-12€, all we had to was say “Chaz’s list” and we got ushered in from the back.
Because we brought a camera into the club, a lot of people stole it at some point during the night and a lot of people photobombed our photos. The thing is about Barcelona nightlife is that it’s crazy and completely unlike anything I’ve experienced before. Firstly, there was a huge shift in my nightlife experience coming from the US, where most clubs close by 2AM whereas it’s usually 4 or 5AM in France. In Spain, people are out until 6 or 7 AM. Needless to say, we partied throughout the night with the hypest club, returning to our hostel around 5:30.
Linking up with Bonnie!