I arrived at Lisbon airport after a night without any sleep to find that my flight had been delayed. This was not a warm welcoming as the exhaustion had now turned into anger and it took a lot of self-control to not join the angry mob of people who were intent on verbally abusing the TAP AIR staff. Finally we were called for boarding two hours behind our scheduled departure time. I got up off the tiled floor I have been lying on for the past two hours and boarded a very cramped bus which took us to our plane bound for Barcelona. As soon as we had reached our cruising altitude I turned to the passenger beside me and told him to wake me up if he needed to use the bathroom. I then slammed my head on the tray table and instantly fell asleep.
Two hours later I was awoken by the air hostess who informed me to stow my tray table and put my seat in the upright position as we were about to land. I wiped the drool from my face and excitedly anticipated meeting my friends at the airport and grabbing a cold beer to enjoy in the hot Spanish sun. I found my friends waiting impatiently for my delayed flight at the baggage carousel. We left the airport and found our way to the centre of Barcelona and to our apartment without any hassle.
We decided to relax on our first day so grabbed a box of beers and sat in the sun in a small park besides what seemed to be the botanical gardens. Everything was hilarious that afternoon which I think may be because of the lack of sleep all of us were struggling from. We downed multiple beers and watched learner driver after learner driver attempt to Parallel Park in front of us which was exceptionally entertaining. We returned to out apartment and slept early that night as we had two more friends coming to join us the next morning.
The thing about our Air Bnb apartment was that it was extremely small so it wasn’t really ideal for five people. The one bedroom could fit a bed and nothing else and the lounge had three of us sleeping in it. Our ‘outdoor area’ looked at the inside of a very rundown apartment block and two people could only fit out there at once. When using the shower the room would get so hot and steamy that you would come close to fainting and come out gasping for fresh air. As I was the only boy in the lounge I let the girls have the couch and I reluctantly slept on the airbed. The first night sleeping on it it deflated almost instantly and I woke up using the self-inflate motor as a pillow which was not the most comfortable. (But that’s enough complaining, we were in Spain after all).
As I had been to Barcelona before I took on the role of tour leader and made the troops follow me to the metro then up the outdoor escalators to Gaudi Park. We could only admire the view of Barcelona from outside the ‘special’ section as it was only open to tickets holders who were willing to pay the 18 Euro fare to walk down some steps and see Gaudi’s iconic mosaic lizard. As it was quite a hike in some of the hottest weather we had ever experienced (in Europe) we decided the next spot to visit would be the beach at Barceloneta. Although I didn’t step foot in the water due to the huge barrier of tourists the cool sea breeze did seem to momentarily put a stop to the sweat pouring out of my forehead and into my eyes. Soon after we found some authentic Spanish paella for the rest of the gang to enjoy for dinner whilst I munched on a ‘hot cheese fantasy’ (it was as good as it sounds). We headed back to our tiny apartment for some drinks before searching for the best club in Barcelona city. What we found was a sports bar called the Black Sheep which was playing the semi- finals of the Fifa World Cup. Not any of our idea of a goodtime so we didn’t stick around for long, instead much to the dismay of our temporary neighbour we took the party home and stayed awake until our memories turned to nothing, drinking beer that was getting warmer by the second.
All I could think of the next morning was emerging my body into cold cold water. After a quick question time with Siri I found the amazing Barcelona Olympic diving pool which was situated at the top of a hill, followed by a funicular ride. The view from this deep and cold pool was incredible. You may even recognise it from Kylie Minogue’s video for ‘Slow.’ No? me either. We spent the rest of the day curing our hangovers and seeing the ol’ clichés tourist traps such as the Sagrada Familia.
The next day we took a train to Valencia where I was to spend the final two days and night of my Spanish leg of my European summer. It was such a relief to arrive and find our accommodation was double the size of our apartment in Barcelona. We were right in the middle of the city and just spent our days exploring both the old and new parts of the Valencia. We saw the historic gates and the town square, we browsed the stalls of the markets for fresh produce and I made my signature vegetarian pizzas for dinner. It was here that we celebrated my good friend Kirsty’s birthday with a day of cool Spanish beers and far too many Tapas.
It was with great sadness that I waved goodbye to my friends the next morning and boarded my train to Madrid and then my next flight to Berlin.