Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Barcelona!

Wow, what a weekend! Last weekend, I joined about a hundred other Télécommiens (students from my School) on the first weekend abroad of the year, organised by. In traditional fashion, the weekend started with aperitifs in the foyer des élèves, whilst we waited for everyone to assemble on Thursday evening (it was actually a long weekend, thanks to a jour férié on Friday). And in usual style, and despite the best efforts of the lovely people from the BDE (bureau des élèves), the two coaches departed an hour late. The journey would have been fairly tedious, had it not been for the fact that the discomfort of the coach united us in a shared misery. This expressed itself differently in different people. The Italians and Lebanese sang. Loudly, out of tune, and in English… opposite my seat. Others somehow managed, presumably through some pact with the devil, to get to sleep. The fact that the coach wasn’t equipped with toilets didn’t seem to matter too much, as we seemed to stop every two hours for a fag/toilet break that lasted at least half an hour. The highlight of the journey was undoubtedly climbing the Pyrenees towards the Spanish border. I woke up at about 9am (after about two hours’ sleep I managed to sneak in) to the sound of cameras bleeping. I think my subconscious mind must have told me that there was something worth waking up for, but unfortunately, by the time I’d got my camera, I’d already missed some stunning views.

Crossing the border was relatively painless, since there was no passport control; it simply involved slowing down as we passed by one of a row of huts on the motorway.

We arrived in Barcelona at about midday, after a seventeen-hour journey. Upon disembarkation, debate raged amongst my four room-mates as to whether the highest priority should be given to food, drink (another dilemma: caffeine or alcohol first?) sleep, hygiene or sightseeing. As events transpired, they all took their due place, with personal hygiene from a can, and sleep (albeit brief) being postponed until after a spot of sightseeing.

In the afternoon, we took a walk through “Las Ramblas”, the main thoroughfare going from the city centre to the seafront. Despite the best efforts of the confounding sign-posting, we eventually managed to find the Picasso Museum which was well-hidden in the back streets of the winding medieval layout of the Gothic Quarter. The Museum was much as I remember it from my previous visit to the city (in December 2002), that is moderately interesting biographical information (in Catalan, Spanish and, thankfully, English), some interesting works from the early years, followed by some crazy stuff from later in his career. The highlight of it for me was the room displaying some of the forty-plus studies he made of Velazquez’s “Las Meninas”. I am becoming somewhat more open-minded about twentieth century art as I find out more about it, but – and call me old-fashioned – I do prefer to be able to recognise the subject matter.

After visiting the museum, we had tapas and beer in a suitably old-fashioned looking café. As well as enjoying sensibly-priced food and drink, this also gave us the first proper opportunity to practice our Spanish. I am currently at the stage at which I have a reasonable working knowledge of classroom paraphernalia, and can ask how many people live in Chile or the name of a popular dish in Mexico, but we haven’t covered such essentials as “two beers please”, and “I’ll have the one with no meat in it, please”. Oh well, necessity is the mother of invention, as Plato said.

After heading back to the hostel for a nap and a shower, we hit the town. After having a wonder round the Barri Gòtic, we found a popular wine bar that had a reasonable selection of tapas, an impressive array of wine and abysmal service. We then headed on to a very pleasant restaurant where we had more tapas and wine. We then continued to follow the typical pattern of a Barcelonan soirée: we’d taken our tapas (in more than one establishment), we’d taken a stroll, and now we were about to go clubbing, although it was still a bit early, at only midnight. Our first experience was a bit of a disaster: a rather characterless place on the roof of a shopping centre in a large waterfront complex called Mare Magnum. The only saving grace was that we were given vouchers entitling us to free entry and one shot. After a bit more wondering around, we decided to check out “Razzmatazz”, a sprawling complex offering a choice of music in different rooms and reasonably-priced drinks. At about 3.30am, two of us got bored and decided to call it a night, while the other three partied the night away, getting back in time for breakfast at the hostel at 8am after catching the first Metro.

To be continued…

4 Comments:

At 11:21 AM, Anonymous CINDY PENNEY said...

the beaureau of elves? you working for santa?

 
At 8:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 2:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

mmm Dorkey-Rorkey... we need a few more shots of your-good-self - it's all too easy to forget the protagonist of this tragi-comedy. i see many pirate photos (burgled from wwws, sans doute), but sadly not any of your fine physog... come on - peddle yourself a bit (you know what i mean)!
how do you say (en espagnol) "Sir, I've just picked my nose with two pencils and it [the nose] won't stop bleeding" (well, you said you'd acquired a mastery of classroom spagnol...
al-anon

 
At 2:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

what? you deleted a comment? I've just noticed!!!! is this censorship? are you the said "administrator" (as in "it's the administrator - quick - get the machine that goes 'bing'!"?). the intrigue of this site is not just keeping me on the edge, more pulling me off my seat!! maybe it was just too rude.... wasn't mine though, was it, 'cos ive im a virgin to this particular page of your epistle...
al-anon=c2h5oh:o)

 

Post a Comment

<< Home