Saturday, November 06, 2004


This is going to be a bad post, because I'm going to have forgotten everything we did. Oh well. First, a question: should I call the (relatively nice-and-not-psycho-seeming) guy who gave me his number on the subway and said we should grab a coffee and work on our respective language barriers?


The first thing I noticed was probably the heat. I was wearing a long-sleeved shirt (after all, it was raining and miserable in Madrid when we left and Barcelona is to the north), so I started to sweat buckets as soon as we stepped outside. As any halfway intelligent person (ie. not myself) could have told me, Barcelona is on the Mediterranean. The Mediterranean is warm. Duh. Dummy.

We got a double-decker bus, which meant we all screamed in adolescent excitement and started elbowing each other in soft parts to get the front seats on top. I lost. Sad sad. We did a little drivey bus tour around the Olympic Village while the tour guides explained to us how the city was Very Important and Not Like Madrid, because Cataluña has its Own Cultural Heritage which Madrid is trying to Suppress. I haven't felt so propagandized since reading all those college application brochures back in the day.

After checking into our extravagant four-star hotel (you know, I'd rather stay at like a two-star place and get the 50€ difference back), we went on another bus tour. I fell asleep, of course. Oops. Then we went to the Picasso Museum. I'm not the biggest Picasso fan ever, but it was cool because it showed all the work he did as a child prodigy (age 14ish) and it was hardcore good. Then we went to the BEST CHOCOLATE SHOP EVER and I got something that was kind of like a soft, sweet pita with chocolate cream inside. My knees buckled when I took the first bite and I almost passed out. It was amazing.

We wandered around the city for a bit (by which I mean we got lost on the way back to the hotel) and had dinner, though it wasn't bunnies and snails (typical Barcelona food = bunnies and snails). It was PANS & CO - much better than bunnies. Kori and I, roomies for the night, tried to go out...we were looking for a Japanese/Mediterranean fusion restaurant/bar/club and couldn't find it. What we did find was a balcony full of inebriated Spanish men imploring us to come up. We tried to ask them where a good club was. Then they started peeing off the balcony. We took it as a sign.

The next day we didn't have anything planned with the group. Since Jessica had to leave early to go collect her parents (apparently I am not the only one with a field trip/parent problem), we decided to go look at Las Ramblas.

Las Ramblas is sort of what you would get if you took 1902 Paris, a maximum security prison, and a carnival and stuck them in a blender. It's a big parkway filled with street performers, flower stands, modernist cafes, and kiosk pet shops where you can get anything from a Korean squirrel to a chinchilla to a parrot (SO illegal, I bet). It is also the most dangerous place in Europe re: pickpockets. So that's cool. We wandered around for a bit looking at things and Jessica touristified herself gleefully by paying all the human statues and getting them to do things. I hung back, mortified, and searched the pet stores for bettas. Only found one. I was tempted. While we were wandering, I went and checked us (me, Issa, Gerst, and Will) into our hostel. This becomes important later.

We went to the Parc Guell, too, which was all designed by Gaudi and has the world's longest park bench. It was very well designed, ergonomically speaking. I could barely make myself get up.

Jess had to go to the airport, so I headed back to the hostel to settle. On the way there, I checked my phone and saw that I had a bunch of missed calls, one of which was from Issa. Huh, I thought. That's odd. I called Issa.

Pissed-Off Issa: Allison, we have a huge problem.
Allison: What?
POI: That hostel? It was disgusting. We were supposed to have a room for eight and it was a room for like 50, with only one bathroom.
A: Wait, what do you mean was disgusting?
POI: Well, I was going to stay there because we'd (ed. note: he means I'd, by which I mean me) paid already, but Gerst went off on this huge thing about how he'd traveled a lot of places and it was the worst hostel he'd ever seen, and he started screaming and we stormed out and now we've gotten a room in another hostel. You can come with us if you'd like.
A: Did you get my passport back? (the lady'd made me leave my passport when I checked in - sketchy.)
POI: Um, no.
A: Did you get my money back?
POI: Yeah, well, no. She said since the reservation was made on your credit card, you had to come back and she'd give it to you.
A: So let me get this straight. She still has our money and my passport and we still have a reservation there, but you guys decided it would be better to leave and pay for another place and not get me a spot?
POI: ...We tried to call you...
A: *sigh*I'll meet you at the hostel in fifteen minutes.

We got there, both a little pissed off now. We went in and talked to the lady behind the counter (a different person than the one I'd checked in with). I say that as if we didn't have to wait 20 minutes for her to get off a personal phone call. Which we did.

Mean Hostel Lady: You're Allison Clarke? *she read it off the credit card I'd plunked down on the counter*
A: Yep. We came to get our money back like you said we could.
MHL: Ok, give me your credit card.
A: Why do you need my credit card? I paid in cash. I thought you just wanted ID.
MHL: Right, we're going to give you your cash back and then charge your credit card.
A: ...That's not giving me my money back. You said you'd give me my money back.
MHL: No we didn't.
A: Yes, you did.
MHL: No we didn't.
A: Ok, before we get into this, can I just have my passport?
MHL: We never said we'd give you money back. That's not the rule.
A: Can I have my passport?
MHL: You're not going to get your money back.
A: I'd feel a lot better if I had my passport.
This is where Issa breaks in. "You did say you'd give us our money back. I was there."
A: passport...
MHL: We never said that. That's not the rule. You didn't cancel with 24 hours' notice.
POI: Of course we didn't cancel with 24 hours' notice, how were we supposed to give notice when we didn't see the rooms until we got here?
A: Listen, I'd really like my...
MHL: Well, you broke the rule and now you have to pay.
POI: That's stealing! You're stealing from us!
MHL: You come in here to my hostel and you call me a thief? You're a very rude man.
The MHL got me my passport, after many minutes of grumbled searching. Then she and Issa started screaming at each other again, throwing around accusations of theft, libel, slander, and American arrogance. At one point MHL told me that my boyfriend was very rude, to which I answered quickly "he is NOT my boyfriend". Maybe a little too quickly. Heh. Sorry, Issa.

The long and short of it is that there were many threats of summoning the police and I did not get my 54€ back. So we went to another hostel. It was bad. I was crying. I wanted my money back (the guys covered their shares, but still).

After the new hostel, we tried to go to a Gaudi house, but it was closed until October. Of 2006. Suck. Then we went to dinner at an all-you-can-eat pizza/pasta/salad buffet and I ate my weight. You think I'm kidding, but it was 2 dinner plates of salad + 2 plates of pasta + 2 pieces of pizza + cake + ice cream + fruit cocktail. Oh, and like 5 glasses of Diet Coke.


Then we went over to an apartment some of the girls had rented for the night and I watched everyone else play Kings and laughed at their drunken, stupid selves.

The next day I decided to do the Gaudi tour, because I'd missed it when everyone else went. So I went to the Casa Batlló and Sagrada Familia by myself, which was fun because I got to wander around and see things at random and climb to the top of the Sagrada Familia and not have to worry about stupid hungover boys. Then we went home.

Barcelona = (cheated by hostel owner + incredibly expensive + constant fear of pickpocketing)/(pretty architecture + yummy food) = disappointing, sort of.

And that is probably why I delayed blogging about it for so long.


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