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A bit of Dali, a bit of Jewish history...and a bit of good old fashioned airport hell

SPAIN | Sunday, 23 October 2011 | Views [1207]

I had an absolutely delightful week in Barcelona - wandering around its streets, visiting the amzing fruit market and watching the Magic Fountain at night. It was all very civilised, going for walks dressed in skirts and put together outfits around hundred year old beautiful buildings after the sweat, mud and craziness of South America. Particular highlights included getting up early on a Sunday to stroll around the Gothic Quarter and watch traditional Catalan dancing circles - not a gimmick or fake touristy drivel but an expression of tradition and community which I really enjoyed and the Fat Tire bicycle tour Jordan and I did of the city. Slightly challenged by the fact that none of their bikes were small enough for my 5 foot and a half stature (and when you're that short, yes the half foot counts) I spent the tour mounting and dismounting every time we came to a stop thanks to my legs not being able to reach the ground and requiring a jump and run start to push off. After awhile, I started clinging to poles and trees to stay upright when not in motion. Hardly elegant but no 8 wire solutions rarely are. Led by a lovely Irish girl, it was a great way to see the sights and explore the city - I'm keen to do future bike tours in new cities.

While the sights and scenery of Barcelona were great and I am already planning my return to the amazing city, my favourite memory is my mini Texas reunion with Maria and Clemens. Maria was a fellow year long exchange student from Spain, whilst Clemens was an Austrian exchange student who spent the Fall semester in Texas. They fell in love in Texas, managed long distance during the second semester and are still happily together. In a stroke of luck, they were transiting in Barcelona, en route to Maria's hometown of Pamplona after attending Clemens' sister's wedding in Austria. We had a great evening together drinking, reminiscing and proving that time and distance doesn't break friendships in an awesome fairytale themed bar. I'm so happy we got to see each other and that the Texan flag I've been carrying around for months finally came in handy!

Following our Texas meetup, Jordan and I had our Last Supper, where we both acted maturely and civilized (evidence below) Sad to say goodbye after two and a half weeks of fun travels together, we ended our time walking back to the hostel rapping sexually explicit songs to each other and taking sappy heart photos at the Arc de Triomf.

Two mature, civilised people at dinner

The next day I was off to Girona in northern Catalonia, where I was catching my budget Ryanair flight from (not so budget, as some of you may already know) Girona is known for one of the best maintained Jewish Quarters in Europe - 'the Call'. I had a lovely afternoon in Figueres, birthplace of Dali, where there is an excellent Dali museum and an even better time the next day, ambling up and down the tiny alleyways of the Call, enjoying the Jewish History Museum and visiting the breathtaking Cathedral of Girona - for my first ten minutes in the nave all I could do was stare up in wonder at the beauty of it all. I had hemmed and hawed about paying the entrace fee to go into the Cathedral, concerned it might be money spent for a church that wouldn't be that amazing but it was the best money I spent during my trip in Spain. It's the largest nave in the world and going in with no real expectations meant my mind was blown.

All day as I wandered up and down Girona, I thought to myself how nice it was to have a full day to explore Girona and how great night flights were. Anxious not to repeat the debacle of missing my flight to Chile at the beginning of my trip (thanks to a combination of last minute tipsy fuelled decisions about changing flight times and a STA travel agent who should have told me to stop being silly and just get on the flight) I left for the airport hours early, hugely excited about seeing Alex and chliling out in England for 2 weeks. I walked up to the check in counter, handed over my details and was met with a look of horror from the check in agent. My supposed night flight had taken off at 10.35 that morning and I was stuck out in the boondocks with nowhere to go.

It was a stupid mistake with no excuse but the reason why I mucked up so badly was that months ago, when hurriedly booking the flight in Colombia in a busy hostel with a 15 minute limit on the computers, I'd remembered it as a night flight. When I printed my flight details out, it said check in at 10.35, departure at 11 and my conviction that it was a night flight and total obliviousness to the 24 hour clock system used in Europe meant I blithely assumed I had a late night flight. Oh how wrong I was, and how expensively wrong at that = One hideously expensive airport motel and brand new flight later. Matters were not helped by the RyanAir website being down. My increasingly panicked attempts to buy a new flight numbered closed to 20 before frenzied with worry that I'd be stuck in Girona forever, I frantically dashed back to the airport to buy a flight in person...which was of course more expensive. The lovely irony of it all was that I was fully prepared to sleep at the airport and not waste my precious euros on a bed for the night but realised I needed a computer to sort out my flights. Because of RyanAir.com being down, and ending up having to buy my flights at the RyanAir agent in the airport, the computer proved to be something I didn't need after all but by that point I had paid my dwindling euros to the hotel.

I was slightly less  enamored by Girona after the debacle, not that it was Girona's fault in any shape or form, and had a sleepless night, awaking at the rack of dawn to ensure I got on the god damned flight. Successful, I flew to Bristol, England to recharge my batteries and enjoy my first time in an English speaking country since the beginning of June.

Tags: barcelona, catalonia, dali, figueres, girona, jewish history, ryanair, spain



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