Posted by: facetothewind | July 17, 2010

And now for something completely different: SPAIN!

Barcelona is not Germany. Profound, isn’t it? It’s all I can think about walking down the streets, thick with humanity, people dancing tango in the park, sexy and sultry.

There will be more to come about this amazing city and my sardonic comparisons. I’m really enjoying the change and the company of my friend Scott and our new friend Jonathan who showed us around today. But I’ve traded my Germanic anxieties for a whole new set.

For now, enjoy knowing that it is chock-full of tourists. It is hot and humid. It’s dangerous at night with a creepy element in our neighborhood. The food is fantastic and expensive. The people are friendly and warm. I’m loving the smiles, the ease, the slow pace, the willingness of people to be photographed and the lack of staring.

Life in Barcelona is lived in concrete slot canyons where the light barely makes it to the bottom. They are fascinating places, distinctly European. Dense populations of people are stacked up in 19th century Catalonian architecture. It’s absolutely impossible to make sense of it with a map and you’re lucky if you can find the same place twice. Petty thieves abound — I’ve already lost my iPod and I don’t even know how. Just gone.

Our B&B is absolutely awful. Our proprietor is insane and living out some sort of overworked victim complex while running an obviously illegal lodge in an apartment split up into rooms with padlocks on doors. We are tucked into one of those grand concrete canyons amid rivers of tourists lapping at the walls day and night. It’s like Venice if the canals were made of people. Noisy doesn’t begin to describe the decibel level and can one measure smell levels? Our hot room fills in the evening with the the smell of pork and hot, rancid oil, perfume from next door and the sounds of people partying and getting drunk on the street. Gangs of drunk tourists parade below our balcony. Cars honk their horns when they get stuck in the alley and dogs bark. There is no air conditioning. So we battle with leaving the doors open for air and closing them for some quiet. Now a whole Italian family has moved into the room next door and have taken to banging on the furniture, whistling, and spraying on perfume while their children yell.

Oh why do we travel?

We travel so that we never will complain about the mundane and angry moods when we’re stuck at home.

I promise, dear lord I never will complain about my boring life at home. Now the baby has fallen and hit his head on the floor and is crying hysterically and the mother has sprayed on another coat of perfume. I promise. Really, I promise, I will never complain again. I’m clicking my heels so furiously that it might even look like I’m doing the tango.

— Dorothy



  1. Barcelona sounds like I imagine Purgatory to be. I hope you’ll go on to some other more pleasant cities in Spain. Bummer about the iPod!

    Thanks for making me feel not so bad about being bored in Pai.

  2. Well, David, really the problem is summertime. Traveling to Europe in the summer is asking for scads of tourists and overcrowded conditions. The time to go is any other time — late-September through May. Whole different experience. But you already know that. Still, enjoy the food and ambiance as much as you can! (maybe you can change B&Bs — that sounds like it would be a huge improvement)

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