“Oh look! The sun’s just about to set—let’s hurry so we can walk around while it’s setting!” How naive I was at the beginning of the trip. Now, I’d think, “Oh, look, something cool! Even though we have 5 hours, we’re somehow going to miss it.” Remember this—it’s a very important recurring theme of the trip. If it were a literary novel you had to analyze for English class (how English major am I getting right now?), it would be the easiest theme to spot.
First of all, we ran into trouble before even leaving the airport. Yes, I am well aware that it is almost impossible to get lost in an airport unless you are a small, illiterate child; there are 100-foot signs every 5 feet telling where to go if you want to be on track to your destination—but if you lose confidence in your path within those 5 feet, there will be another sign to reassure you.
Instead of the exit, we found ourselves at passport control. Makes sense; it’s a new country, we usually go through passport control, right? Sammy approached first, said “Bonjour,” and answered “no” when he asked if she could speak English. Then, she squeaked “… SORTIDA?!” and he grunted “no.” Oh. We retraced our steps and found the exit 5 steps from where we took our bathroom break.
From the HostelWorld website, we obtained directions to the hostel via either public train or public bus, which is very useful information had there not been an airbus that literally drops you off a block away from the hostel that they forgot to mention. Faced with our limited choices, we made the non-informed choice of taking the train.
There was only one train leaving from the airport but, as very cautious travelers, we wanted to make sure. So, I walked up to the conductor door and knocked loudly. The conductor (who really looked more like a tattooed MMA wrestler) came out, probably wondering who the idiot was that disturbed his slumber. It was then that I realized that I had no verbal way of communication in Spain and instead stood there like a gaping fish. Thankfully remembering I had fingers, I used them to point at the name of our stop. Handy things, these fingers. He just laughed, shook his head, and said si.
The stop after we realized our stop wasn’t listed on the screen, 90% of the population on the train got off. Because I don’t learn lessons well, we got off and followed them. It worked in our favor this time because we meandered our way like lost sheep while following a smallish, red “M” sign that we took to mean METRO. It could’ve meant MUNCHIES but at that point, I was glad to find either. Spoiler alert: we found the METRO.
Exiting the metro was a whole other ordeal because of these damn European street signs on buildings. How do people take directions here if you can’t tell the street name until you’re cruising down the wrong street? Eventually, though, two hours and one sunset after leaving the airport, we make it into our hostel.
What do we do first? Ask for tapas recommendations. And then totally disregard the ones given by our awesome, hippie, reception dude for one that we found in the square nearest to the hostel. More accurately, they found us lingering indecisively by the menu and ushered us in.
We were a little intimidated by the decor at first and almost panicked at having been conned into choosing an expensive restaurant. We were also hugging our purses paranoiacally (did anyone else know there’s an adverb form for paranoia?) so I’m not sure how good our judgement was at the time. The prices were actually feasible; the small dishes ranged from 3€ – 6€; the sangria pitcher was about 17€. And now, let’s get to the part that everyone was actually waiting for… the food porn.
Of course, we ordered a liter of sangria to start Barcelona off right. Not only was this the most delicious sangria I’ve ever had, it was also enough to allow three of us three glasses each!