Archive for the ‘La Merce’ Category

Things That Make You Go Hmmmm…

October 21, 2009

My second night in Barcelona (this time around), I decided to go on a pub crawl, hoping to meet some interesting fellow travellers while at the same time getting to know the nightlife. Well I got to know the nightlife. Just kidding. I also met some interesting people, including a group of Scots and a few Canadian girls. At the beginning of the night, someone asked one of the girls if she was American. Given her repulsed reaction, it would appear that that assumption could be considered a great offense to some Canadians. “Oh my god, I can’t believe you thought I was American. Didn’t you notice the Canadian flag ironed on to my backpack?”, she said, setting him straight. I thought this would be a good time to introduce myself. “Hi, I’m Allison. I’m from New York”, I said, as friendly as can be. “Oh my god. I totally didn’t mean anything by that. I just hate it when people confuse us with Americans. Oh my god, Bridget, this girl is from New York.” “You’re from New York?”, asked Bridget. “I’ve met a few people from New York and they were actually really nice!” “Really?? Imagine that!”, I said in feigned shock. “Yeah, I know. They’re really not that bad”, replied my new Canadian friend, apparently not getting my (NY) sarcasm. After a few cocktails and cheap shots, the Canadian girls turned out to be pretty okay, and the rest of the night was spent with them, the Scots, and my friend Amir (hi Amir!). After the crawl was over (or we were over the crawl), the 7 of us decided to roam around Barcelona looking for a diner. I know. Here we go again. Looking for a diner in the middle of the night in Europe. I realize its just a pipe dream, but a girl can hope. While walking along the port and deciding which Yacht we would crash, we came upon some amusement park rides that were part of the La Merce street carnival. Unfortunately the rides were closed, being it was 5 o’clock in the morning and all. But that didn’t quite stop us. So, the girls excitedly jumped over the barrier and climbed onto the merry-go-round. “Take my picture!”, I shouted, as my inner child emerged to play. Then, after sufficiently tiring ourselves out, we decided to call it a night. I said goodbye to the Scots and to my new Canadian friends, who once again, expressed their delight at meeting a nice New Yorker. “No problem. Be sure to go home and tell all your friends.” and then maybe I can stop defending my nationality once and for all. But alas, stereotypes will live on. And we will survive. Yes we can!

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Barcelona Nights (Part II of III)

October 12, 2009

After a lovely week in London, it was time to return to my adventures on the road. With Susie gone, Mara back in the states, and everyone I had met throughout my European summer returned to their so called reality, I was now truly on my own. The fear of travelling alone that I experienced before I left and at times throughout, was now gone. After 3 months of revolving travel partners, visits with family and friends, and ne’er a moment to myself, I longed for solitude. So, off to Barcelona I went. Note to self (and life-lesson #18 of trip so far): If it is alone time which you seek, do not to Barcelona go. I chose Barcelona for many reasons- familiarity, the culture, the sea. I envisioned long days by the beach followed by quiet nights by myself. Now, anyone who’s ever been to Barcelona will tell you that quiet nights in this town are nothing more than an oxymoron. And just as if the gods themselves were laughing at me, I came to realize that I had arrived on the first day of La Merce, Barcelona’s own Carnival- one of the biggest annual cultural festivals and street parties, honoring one of Barcelona’s greatest patron saints (apparently there’s a lot of them). Picture late night outdoor concerts in every plaza, light shows and fireworks at night, music on the beach, carnivals along the port. And that was just the first day!
After checking in and dropping off my bags at my hostel, which was a converted primary school, (in more ways than one), I set out to find some food. I was starving. As I walked through the streets in a desperate search for food, I noticed that almost all of the shops and restaurants were closed. What was going on? Then I remembered. Ah, siesta. But alas, I finally found a small coffee shop that appeared to be open. At the counter sat the only patron, a boy of 12 or 13, who was talking to the woman behind the counter. When I asked the woman for a menu, after describing what a menu was, she informed me that the kitchen was closed. I thanked her and left. A moment later, the boy at the counter emerged from the cafe and began running towards me. ¨Senorita! You looking for menu?¨ ¨Um, yes, I´m looking for a restaurant¨, I replied. ¨Ok, I show you¨, and before I could respond he was running down the street ahead of me. So, in my broken Spanish and his broken English it was determined that he would help me find a place to eat (or at least help me find a menu). I continued to follow him as he led me down several blocks, eventually coming to a large median in the middle of a busy street, which he of course, being a boy of 12, jumped over. Looking back at me and wondering why I wasn´t jumping the barrier, I thought, why not. So in my sundress, in the middle of the streets of Barcelona, I jumped the barrier. Yes, I did. A few moments later, one of his little friends rode up on his bicycle and my new friend explained what I was looking for and that I was a ´turista Americana´. ¨Ah, you want McDonald?¨ he asked. At this point, I would eat anything, so I replied, ¨Yes, perfect¨. So, after they pointed me in the direction of Mickey D´s, I thanked my new friends for their help and said adios. I then waited for them to round the corner and I headed back towards my hostel (I was hungry but not that hungry, and I didn´t want to hurt their feelings after all their trouble). Back at the hostel I began chatting with a young German student who was part of a school trip. ¨So, are you 19?¨, he asked. Confused, I looked behind and around me, and when I realized he was talking to me, I began to laugh. I thought he was kidding. But he wasn’t. He was serious. ¨Uh, no, I´m not 19.¨ I corrected the poor kid. ¨I´m actually 20¨