Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Barcelona Days - Chapter One

Barcelona has the most beautiful people I've ever seen in a city. Even the old people here seem to have some sort of sexy/spry vibe going on. We have rented a flat here for five weeks through a guy named Gerard who we met on Couch Surfing. Gerard is spending the five weeks we are occupying his flat hitch-hiking through Iceland with pretty much just his tent. His housemates just moved out a week ago and he is happy to have help with the rent while he is gone and we are happy to have a place to nest for a bit, cook and save on expenses. Having a little space isn't a bad thing either.

The situation is better than we could have imagined. We are literally right around the corner from the awe-inspiring and sandcastle-like Sagrada Familia, Antoni Gaudi's basilica that that has been under construction since 1882 (expected completion date is 2026). Gerard has cleaned the flat to an immaculate level and actually went out and purchased food for us. With the help of his father, he researched our parking options in the city and finally recommended a garage just around the corner where he helped us negotiate a price of 200 Euros for the five weeks. It is an unexpected expense but there is virtually no free parking in the city so we are happy to have this option. He also arranged to have his sister and former flat-mate come over to meet us so that we know we have resource options, emphasizing that we should use them for recommendations and "not just in case of something bad." All three of them sweetly and affectionately tousle Vaughn's hair.

We have come hoping to improve our Spanish but Catalan is the predominant language spoken here and in some cases it is very different. Gerard warns us that the Catalan identity and pride (and disdain for the rest of Spain - remnants of the Spanish Civil War) is so strong here that some people may actually pretend not to understand us when we speak in Spanish. Nonetheless we cheerfully say 'hola' and bravely cobble together sentences when we need help.


After taking some down time and a day to explore part of the city, we decided to set out today to try and find a boogie board for Vaughn and a beach that wasn't too touristy. Jacob has wanted to get Vaughn a boogie board since France and we've not had any luck finding one for a reasonable price. Randomly, we stumbled upon the Spanish version of REI and plunked down 20 Euros for our board.

Finding a beach was a bit trickier since waves were practically non-existent. After dismissing our first few beach options we finally decided to just park and get out. We had to walk a little distance down the beach since our first stop had a pretty significant drop off. On our walk we were stopped by the lifeguard who told us that we couldn't use the boogie board for reasons we literally could not understand. Crestfallen, we made our way a little further down the beach and set down our towels. You would think we would have noticed earlier but since we were so close to the water it wasn't until we had settled in that we realized we were at a nude beach. We decided that we were too weary by the whole process (it had been maybe an hour and half since we initially left the house) to move and start over so we decided to clue Vaughn in and stay put. Vaughn took it in stride although for the life of him he could not understand why anyone would "put themselves in such an awkward position." The water was fantastic and warm and we had a great time swimming (clothed) until a second lifeguard explained to us that it wasn't just that we couldn't boogie board, we weren't allowed to swim altogether. It had rained in Barcelona the night before and I gather they close the beaches for two days each time after a good rain because the water gets dirty. Gross.

We stayed and hung out in the sun for a bit until our neighbor to the left decided that he needed to jog back and forth in front of us for the 20 yards of beach. When he stopped jogging and started doing jumping jacks (possibly to impress the woman to the right of us?) and we decided we'd had enough of our naked Richard Simmons and it was probably time to pack it up anyway.

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