Diary of The Travelling Seanchai :-
Who gets run over by a tram?!
2007-04-15 to 2007-04-17
Ok, if you`re hoping that after reading the subject title and my last entry that that is what has happened to me, you`re going to be disappointed but it did happen to someone nearly as famous but I`ll get to that!
So, after two nights of me getting to know the locals just a little more than I had reckoned for I started to question my capabilities as a world traveller! But I am nothing if not resilient and once more into the breach I ventured!
Myself, Jill and Jen went for Tapas in La Ramblas (which are seriously overrated if you ask me) and we ordered drinks, a Sangria for me and diet cokes for the girls. Well they served them in these ridiculously oversized glasses (say Oktoberfest with me!) but when the bill came out we got a huge shock to find out that these jokers had just charged us 15 Euro for mine and 10 Euro for each of the Cokes!! At least I`d got alcohol in mine! Seriously, most thieves have the decency to do their work at night! But when in Rome I suppose, but according to my landlady, I wasn`t even in Spain!
When I`d checked into the new place the manager asked me if I was English. I gave her the exasperated look that only the Canucks, Kiwis and Paddy`s (Canadians, New Zealanders and Irish for the non-travellers) can give adequately. She recognised it immediately, apologised profusely and sympathised with me because people were always confusing her as being `Spanish` when she was `a Catalan`?! Seriously, they think that they are a country in their own right.
Christophorus Columbus (Christopher to his mates) is honoured in this town with a statue of him pointing out to sea, ironically in the direction he was heading initially before getting rightly lost and finding America. I didn`t know it but he didn`t actually get to the mainland until his third voyage in 1498 and not 1492 as we`ve been taught. In Catalan his name is Cristóbal Colón and that`s what is inscribed in huge letters on his pillar, which is perhaps apt because it could be argued the greatest of his discoveries has, in some people`s opinions, been a bit of a pain in the colon for a lot of people since!
I was very lucky to have arrived this weekend as there was a game in the world famous Nou Camp so myself and the Brummie lads (that`s lads from Birmingham in case you didn`t know) took ourselves off there. It`s a beautiful stadium to be fair and the fans are unbelievably passionate in a ridiculously biased way but I suppose that that is applicable for all football fans (I for one have rarely applauded an opponents goal against Liverpool and unfortunately that`s been an all too frequent occurrence).
I have to say though that there was a grim smile of recognition on my face and an empathy with the Mallorca players when Barcelona scored in the 90th minute for the win, knowing all too well what it`s like to be robbed by someone from Barce!
Another big night for the gang, not straying from the tried and trusted bars and drinks! Uniquely though I managed to get home without my normal interrogation from the locals, I think that they had finally accepted me now and had bigger (American) fish to fry!
I had to move rooms again, and I had a really quiet day, caught up with some reading and my diaries and then that night, I actually had a night off. I know, I know, you`re thinking, `ok, who the hell is writing this because it`s not Consi` but I swear I decided to just pull the plug on the evening early as I`d a full day next day. Ok, I know that you are still cup in hand, staring at the screen, frozen in shock at this revelation but hey, maybe I`m maturing?! Fair enough, even I know that that is a daft statement!
So I took off walking to see the sights, in total I was walking for about 7 hours! I set off the Sagrada Familia which is, I suppose, a church for want of a better description but they have only 60% completed the project. It was started in 1882 and they want to have it completed by 2026 but that is as likely as an Irishman taking the throne on England any time soon. Antoni Gaudi was the principle architect and worked exclusively on this project for the last 15 years (and in total 40 years) before his untimely demise at the hands of a tram!! (Bet you were wondering when that might come in!) Seriously though, can you imagine a tram travelling that fast to kill you these days, let alone in 1926?! A visionary he may have been, but he must have been bloody decrepit not to have seen a tram coming!
I took in the Picasso museum and it was amazing to see how he `developed` from the kind of art that you associate with the Great Masters when he was a kid to the kind of art that you would put on your fridge when you`re kid brought it home from kindergarten with a big golden star! I kind of understood where he was coming from but still it felt like you were seeing the gallery in reverse, a general disintegration into nonsense shapes. I thought it hilarious to see how he had taken Las Meninas, a classically famous painting by Diego Valazquez, and had rubbished it with his own interpretations which seriously had people with triangular heads and a dog which I`m sure I could draw when I was about 4 and trying to keep the colours inside the lines!
I read voraciously and I had finished my current book and after reading `The Shadow of the Wind` by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (really good book if you are interested) I was determined to find a book in Barcelona (you`d understand why if you read the book). So I tracked down the Elephant, an English bookstore where Frank, a Canadian who`d been living there for 20 years, was literally buried under thousands of books. What a character, I spent an hour chatting about books, authors and the pros and cons of settling down! He had great advice about Barcelona and is the kind of guy you should go to first before you start in a new city, I might have had my camera still had it been the case.
Actually as I was going to his shop on the Metro, a Spanish gentlemen told an elderly English couple in distinct Catalan that they needed to watch out because there were young people nearby and his pockets were open. To be fair, at the same time, the youngsters were trying to tell the lady that her husbands pockets were an easy target, which I thought reassuring and disturbing at the same time!
I had another early night as I was planning my next adventure and travel destination. I had planned on going to Andorra, just so I could tick off another box in the places been to column but I had to google places there and I came across a blog and I decided to give it a wide berth!
So I got up, took myself off to the bus station and then literally decided to take the next bus out of there going northwards to France. 45 minutes later I was on a bus to Toulouse which by all accounts is nice but nothing to write home about but then I discovered that Lourdes, the famous pilgrimage site in Southern France was nearby so I decided to follow in the footsteps of my Mam and Dad and millions of others and go and have a word with Mary about why it is that I keep getting robbed!?!
Me, in Lourdes, now you don`t want to miss that story!!
From Victim to Pilgrim in one week!