Monday, March 28, 2011

6am flights, Pubcrawls and Gaudi: 21st Birthday weekend in Barcelona

Weeks ago my 2 apartment-mates and I planned a trip to Barcelona, which happened to fall on the weekend of my 21st birthday. The cheapest flight home we could find was at 6am Sunday, my birthday. Every American's 21st birthday has an expectation of drunken antics, which is what I wanted mine to be, and my being drunk on an early morning flight back to Seville is not something I thought I could handle, but I was assure everything would be fine. Fortunately, I was wrong.

Our plan was to spend about half the day in Barcelona on Friday when we landed, sleep in a hostel, then store our stuff in the hostel, go out Saturday night, grab our stuff and run to the plane. It shockingly, all went according to plan.
Friday afternoon we landed around 2, and got to our Hostel around 3. We had a very pleasant walk down La Rambla until we actually got to the street of our hostel, which was flooded with prostitutes. Correction: it was flooded with old prostitutes, at 3 in the afternoon. Needless to say, we were NOT liking Barcelona very much. Our hostel however, was not anything like the street it was on. The actual block and the blocks after were not ridden with hookers, so we did feel safe there. The hostel was nice and clean and had very helpful staff, it was a very nice surprise and a great first hostel experience. Once we put our stuff down we set out to get something to eat, where we stumbled upon a fantastic pasta place and made some new friends, who told us what sights to see/clubs to go to. The rest of the day was spent walking, and by rest of the day I mean until 2:30 in the morning. We walked all the way to La Sagrada Familia, which was breathtaking, and before that wandered around the city with some of my friend Hannah's friends and saw the Gaudi houses. We then took the hour trek back to the hostel, ate, got ready then walked down to the beach to go to Icebar. After an hour walk, and realizing the bar was open for 20 more minutes and 15 euro, we cabbed it home to get at least some sleep before the most insane day ever.

Saturday was amazing. We started off with a free tour of the Gothic quarter, where we got some cool history of the city, and saw the other cathedrals and squares that you may not see on your own. After a delicious vegan lunch in the Placa de George Orwell (also know as "placa de trippy" known for it's nighttime drugs) we took a metro to Parc Guell, the park that Antoni Gaudi designed. It was literally like walking into a Dr. Suess book, I was on cloud nine. The rest of the day was spent people watching and shopping around Las Ramblas before my birthday dinner in la Placa Real. It was about a 40 minute wait, but the line was worth it, the food was wonderful, and the sangria knocked us all on the floor. We ordered half a liter, which is a good sized pitcher, Hannah and Ellen each has a glass and a half, I had four, which I think was a great start to my night.

We decided to go on the pubcrawl that was offered by the same company that ran our tours, it was only 12 euro for entrance to each bar with a free shot, and it was near our hostel, so we could leave early and get to the hostel. The pubcrawl was really fun, we made some new friends, including 2 Canadian med students studying in Dublin, a guy on his spring break from Georgia and our German tourguide.

Speaking of Germans, as soon as the clock turned to midnight everyone who knew it was my birthday yelled and screamed as I took my first shot as a legal eagle. Two German men immediately started talking to me, and gave me some of their beer, because they knew how important the 21st was in the US. One of them, Danilo, taught us how to say "do you have a phone number" in German, which is clearly something I'll need later in life. The rest of the pubcrawl was a blur of shots, pictures and random European people singing happy birthday to me, I couldn't have been happier. At around 2 (well 3 because it was daylight savings time) I was lead to the hostel where we got our stuff, and then was lead to the bus to get our plane. After a little sobering up, I made it through the flight in one peace, and was awake just long enough to walk into my apartment door at 9:00. 21st birthday well spent.

And now, a very long sidenote. Why I love hostels:
Sometimes my friendliness walks the line of friendly and creepy, I like to know everyone's life story as soon as I meet them and I will remember you the next time we meet, even if our first encounter was brief. The great thing about hostels is that everyone is either alone, or with a small group of people, and are normally new to the city you're in. Everyone is friendlier than they should be, and asking someone where they are from and why they're in your hostel is normal and accepted clearly I was in heaven. I love learning about people, which is why I want to go into Psychology, that way I can get paid to be nosey. We met some interesting people in our hostel, the woman who worked the desk was from Sweden and was just traveling around before the settled down, there was a boisterous girl from England who was in Barcelona "on holiday" and loved hearing about life in NY. I have a feeling I'm going to be a cruise person when I get old, because I'm gonna want to sit at the assigned table and pry information from the other guests. For now, I'll stick to youth hostels.

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