When we woke up this morning and our roommates told us it was 2 p.m., I didn't believe them. We almost slept the whole day away!
So we threw on our swimsuits and headed down to the beach called Barceloneta. Almost as soon as we laid out my sarong to sit on, three young men who sat 10 feet away asked us how they looked in the sunglasses they were trying on (vendors approach you trying to sell you sunglasses, tattoos, massages, coconut, and beer, among other things.) The young men kept asking us obnoxiously, "How do I look? Do I look hot? Don't I look sexy?" We tried to ignore them so they would shut up, but instead they came and plopped down beside us.
We found out they were Canadians who were taking whatever odd jobs they could find in Barcelona to earn money so they could prolong their visit. While they seemed to know nothing about the city's sights, they knew everything about the clubs and the beaches. We all took turns jumping into the Mediterranean while one person would stay behind with our valuables.
It seems a lot of young tourists, like these Canadian guys, visit Barcelona strictly to drink and party (and maybe make it to the beach the next day.) All the Barcelona hostels I read about online either said, “THIS IS NOT A PARTY HOSTEL,” or “Come Party at Our Hostel!” The city definitely has a reputation for its nightlife, and I know a few college kids who came here to study abroad just for that reason. I've encountered some of these party-loving tourists who have taken on jobs as "flyer boys" or "flyer girls." They get paid by nightclubs to pass out flyers on the streets. This is how they fund their excessive drinking habits.
Back at the hostel, we met a really sweet 25-year-old, Rose, from Sydney. She had planned to travel all over Europe with her girlfriends for a few months. But then those girlfriends got engaged and bailed out on the trip. That didn't stop Rose from experiencing Europe. She said she gets a little lonely sometimes — especially in the super romantic cities like Paris, where she wishes she had a friend or a boyfriend to share it with. But she's been traveling for nearly two months now and still can't get enough.
I've never traveled all alone in Europe before, but I suppose it would be a very different experience. My brother travels alone all over Europe quite frequently and doesn't seem to mind it. I think I would get very lonely. I always presumed it was easier for guys to travel solo. They have the upper hand because of their gender—they don't get hassled or taken advantage of as much, and they are less vulnerable. Also, I think girls are generally more social and just like the company of friends more, while guys can take it or leave it. Then I met Rose, and she doesn't let any of the above stop her. Good for her!
We invited Rose to come to dinner with us. Together, we navigated through the Gothic Quarter (a maze of alleyways covered in graffiti), passed the Cathedral of Barcelona, and finally reached our Basque tapas bar destination.
All the tapas this restaurant served were canapés, little open-faced baguette sandwiches. They were displayed beautifully all across the bar for standing-up diners, sipping wine, to nibble on as they leisurely socialize. It was like picking out of a box of chocolates, never knowing what you're going to get. I think the ones I tried were salmon, gorgonzola cheese, tuna, and hamburger. We also tried their apple wine and sparkling white wine.
Later that evening, we crowded into this other hostel with groups from three different hostels and passed around cheap boxes of sangria. I met three girls from Dubai, a sorority girl from Virginia, two brothers from Cincinnati, two girls from Norway, and many others I can't remember.
We all walked to Club Roxy, and since it was only about 12:30 a.m., we were some of the first to arrive. I could tell tourists far outnumbered the locals at this club. But who can complain when a club gives out free champagne and plays my favorite hip-hop jams?
I liked talking to Mauro, a Brazilian employee of our hostel, who has been taking us out clubbing each night. He had been so nice to Zoe and me, doing little favors like letting me use his phone and giving us thorough directions and advice. But after buying me a drink at the club he told me, "I really respect your father." I hadn't even told him of my relation to Rick Steves, and usually while staying at hostels I can manage to stay incognito (which I prefer, because answering questions about being the daughter of the “travel guy” can get tiresome). But somehow Mauro found out. No wonder he had been giving us such special treatment. It's nice that he respects my father, but it was also a bit of a letdown. I'd rather be treated nicely just because I'm me.
About This Entry
You are reading "Tasting Tapas and Sipping Sangria", an entry posted on 03 July 2009 by Jackie Steves.