Yesterday we joined forces with Brandon from Vancouver (the one who had told me all about his travels on the Trans-Siberian Railway), visiting the Church of Santa Maria Del Mar and the Picasso Museum.
I have to admit that both were a bit forgettable compared to other churches and museums I've seen in Europe. The interior of this Gothic-style church was sparse because during Spain's Civil War its wood furnishings were burnt out by people angry at the Church for siding with the government.
Picasso is not my favorite, but I do admire his talent in a wide variety of styles and his extraordinary innovation. The museum displayed lots of sketches and fewer paintings. As we waited in line to buy our tickets to get in, a man behind us blurted loudly, "I'm from London. Where are you from?"
This ridiculously quirky Brit's name was Daniel. He works as a pianist on a cruise ship. He accompanied us all through the museum. His abrupt, maniacal laugh and shocking random comments made him probably one of the weirdest people I've ever met. Afterward, the four of us talked politics and music over a lunch of paella (a traditional Spanish rice dish).
It's really nice to feel safe in foreign clubs with my new friends, but I'm afraid we buffer each other from real Spanish nightlife. Our new friends take us to really touristy clubs, where we dance with each other instead of with the few Spaniards there (who seem to prey on tourist girls and undress us with their eyes). I feel that American girls are victimized by the stereotype that they find Spanish men especially sexy and are willing to go home with them — or at least dance promiscuously with them. Zoe and I prove them wrong!
As you can probably tell, I've been struggling with how we've been meeting tons of tourists and no Spaniards. It's impossible not to become fast friends with fun backpackers at your hostel or other English-speakers you encounter while you're out and about. This takes no effort, while I'm not even quite sure how to go about meeting locals. We pass lots of young catcalling Spaniard males on the streets, but of course we have no interest in striking up a conversation with them. Spanish girls are much harder to come by, and the few you do see around come in intimidating packs.
When I'm traveling with my family, we are constantly hanging out with locals because my dad usually has many friends wherever we are. I long for that. Zoe and I can make small talk with the locals who serve us drinks at cafés, but we haven't gone much further than that. Usually it's fun to get to know the locals who run your hostel or hotel, but our hostel is run by Brazilians.
The reason I have such a problem with this is probably because I was raised to travel in a manner that brings you as close as possible to locals. Perhaps I should not let this bother me so much, because meeting tons of other young tourists in hostels is a beautiful and fascinating experience in itself.
About This Entry
You are reading "Wishing We Could Hang Out With More Locals", an entry posted on 07 July 2009 by Jackie Steves.