We had some time, so we walked around the Gothic Quarter, peering into shops and marveling up at the buildings. We passed a few food places that seemed promising (vegetables!!), which I made note of for later. We also passed a restaurant with a sign for churros con chocolate, which my companions decided was necessary.
We went in, got seated, and ordered churros. When they arrived, both boys were both very perplexed as to how to eat them. They came plain, with packets of sugar and two saucer cups full of hot chocolate. Dylan opted to dump all his sugar into the chocolate and stir it around, and Noah opened his sugar and sprinkled it onto his chocolated churros. It was highly amusing.
|Good job, Dylan.|
After beaucoup de wandering, we headed to the Cristobol Colón statue where we were to meet the Appalachians.
|All of this reminded me of El ángel en La Reforma en el D.F., México.|
We finally came across Kate, who was one of the three people Dylan had been traveling with. She said they had all just gotten showered for the first time in days, and all of her stuff had been stolen in Pamplona. Pamplona sounded awful. I hope the city isn't so bad when there isn't an insane tourist event happening.
It was decided that the beach was in our future (and I was all for spending the next few days lounging along the Mediterranean from the other side of it), so we started walking that-a-ways. It was a pretty far walk, but seeing as how we'd put on at least a few hundred miles by foot at this point, none of us seemed to mind. We happened, by accident, upon the Roy Licthenstein sculpture I'd read about and had wanted to try to find on purpose.
|I find this immensely creepy.|
So, having failed at finding a beach to enjoy, we walked back into the city instead, to find food and beer, possibly in that order, though probably not. As we were walking back, some guys start yelling at us, and I only think it's strange that we're being yelled at when I realize that it's in English. We'd inadvertently run into Will (the other Appalachian) and two other Americans. Random. This became a theme in Barcelona. There were only a handful of us, but no matter where we went, we ended up running into each other. Kate went off with them, and we ended up going back to a vegan restaurant I had found online, Juicy Jones. Vegetables! I realize it sounds like there were vegetables all over the place, because I keep writing about them. But there were no vegetables. Anywhere. All anyone had was iceberg lettuce, and I was craving actual food so bad that any time there was a chance for vegetables, it was a big, exciting deal.
|(Dylan makes the best faces).|
Then we found the cheapest freaking drinks in Barcelona, as evidenced by the couple across from our table who had at least sixteen empty bottles on their table. Everyone ended up staying out all night; I was ridiculously sleep deprived and opted for a 2am bed time.
|Intense travel planning.|
Just off this alleyway was the cat statue, which was our main landmark while we were there, guiding us back in the right direction whenever we were turned around.
Having spent so much time raving about our amazing sangrías the night before, everyone was in the mood for some this evening. We walked through some dark alleyways until we happened upon this little food cart bar, tucked between two buildings. We got giant cups of sangría and Kate wandered onto Las Ramblas to have her portrait drawn by one of the street artists. We decided to be annoying and interrupt her concentration face.
The next morning was the last official morning in Spain. The original plan was to fly out of Spain the following evening, and have most of the day to check out the list of things I had planned on seeing in Barcelona. But, neither mine nor Noah's credit cards would work on the Ryanair website, so Dylan was kind enough to book the flights - and booked the wrong ones. Now we'd have to be up by 4am to be on a 630 flight to Paris - way too freaking early, and cutting out a whole day of Spain, along with any chance I had of completing the original plan (which was rock climbing in Mallorca). So, the new plan was to find somewhere to go climbing in the city.
Everyone was sleeping late though, so Noah and I wandered out for food and to see the Arc, which was the one thing I wasn't going to miss while we were here. There was this amazing falafel place I'd found the second night there, Maoz, which was almost all vegan and freaking delicious. We went there for breakfast. I ended up eating there 4 times in 2 days. It was so good, and I was so excited to have a full meal with real food! Will and Kate ran out to a market and then a sporting good shop to grab some climbing gear that had been stolen from Kate, and we were all supposed to meet back at the hostel. We all took much longer than we'd meant to. It's just that there was so much of Barcelona I hadn't explored yet!
|There was a car show, tons of awesome old cars, and this dude was drawing them.|
|See? Everyone climbs everything in Europe.|
|Freaking mountain of backpacks. Not sure why this girl was left to guard them. If someone wanted to steal them all, there's nothing she could have done!|
|Let's go alreaaadyyy|
Will checked out some website and found a spot near Montjuïc castle which was supposed to be easy to get to, so he strapped on his thousand pound backpack full of climbing gear, and we started walking.
We walked for a long time. Like, a really long time. A few hours. Uphill. Towards this castle that we were beginning to think didn't exist. We found a crazy cactus garden with a maze of footpaths through it, leading up into the hills but not providing any outlet toward anything. A man yelled at me in Spanish that the road we were on didn't go anywhere, and the road to where we wanted to go was closed. I relayed the information, and we all gathered around a map of the park to figure out where we were. Eventually, we realized we weren't up high enough and walked through a tunnel which was clearly marked with 'No Pedestrian' signs, and ended up on the edge of a cliff with the most amazing view of Barcelona, ever.
|Wait, where are we? Will and Noah were in charge of the map.|
We walked around one side of the castle walls, with a beautiful view of the sea and the big harbor, and the city off in the distance. It was incredible. We consulted the map, trying to figure out where we were in relation to the climbing area. I look up at the giant castle walls, the bricks, all the little potential handholds and say, "Too bad we can't just climb the castle." Everybody turns to look at it, and we slowly realize, one by one, that there are bolts in the wall. The castle wall was actually set up to be climbed.
We can climb the castle!! We walk down the length of the wall, around the corner, seeing bolts everywhere, but they all look pretty old. And some of them start really far off the ground. After much arguing, it's agreed that the middle of the wall will be safest, where the bolts look newer and less rusted. Will goes up first to get us set up.
Dylan goes next, wearing his converse because we only have one pair of climbing shoes, and they're Will's. He got the Elvis legs near the top and comes back down. At this point, people wandering the top of the castle and walking the path behind us have started snapping photos. Everyone is wondering what the hell we're doing. We're too busy trying to keep the black ants the size of small housecats out of our food and off of our clothes, so we just ignore the gaping tourists. And after Dylan, I go. I try on Will's shoes, which are ridiculously huge, and there's no way I'm climbing in my sandals, so I decide to try it barefoot. I climbed a castle in Spain barefoot. I feel like such a badass.
At this point, we've attracted a huge crowd. All the scattered people that have been wandering the grounds have stopped to watch the spectacle, leaning over the edge of the turret, around the security guard at the top of the wall, and we have a handful of folk on the path behind us, all snapping photos and murmuring as Kate gets in the harness to go up for our stuff. So, her turn up the wall is with an audience, and probably pretty nervewracking. She gets to the top and is unhooking everything, and it would have been such an awesome photo. She's just a few feet away from the security guard, leaning over the edge, and a row of people down the other side, all with their cameras out. But I was afraid the security guard would freak out if I started taking pictures, so we just watched. It took a long time, but she finally got everything down, and when we were all on the ground again, the security guard disappeared. Another younger guy came walking up as we were packing up our stuff. Oh god, they're going to arrest us after all! But he was really nice, and explained that you can climb there, but it's unsafe at the moment, and you have to get permits and permission from all these different places, and we can't just come in and do whatever we like. I apologized profusely and he shook his head and said it was fine, and told us to have a nice day. I like not getting arrested.
It was still unfortunate though, because we'd been looking forward to a full day of climbing, and we all only got one climb in. Oh, well. We still got to climb a freaking castle! And, having learned our lesson about trying to walk anywhere, Dylan and Will offer to pay for the aerial tram back down to the bottom of the hill.
To be continued...