I think Texas went to hell… and somebody forgot to tell us; because, there’s no way it’s supposed to be this bloody hot! The only people excited about the weather in Texas right now are Scott Fisher – Austin’s Fox 7 Weather and air conditioning repair man-woman-persons. Just trying to be politically correct. Scott do something! Anyway, I was thinking about taking a vacation to Arizona, just so that when somebody says “Man! It’s hot!” I can reply… “It’s not as hot as Texas!”. OK, I’ll step down from the weather soap box now.
As I jumped in my black SUV (Super Urban Van). Just kidding. And that’s actually quite creepy. As I jumped in my SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle) this evening at 6:37pm, I couldn’t believe that the temperature gauge showed 111F (43C). WHAT? 10 hours of sitting on black asphalt at my company parking lot will do that to a vehicle. Before I could project any profanities from my mouth, the black leather seats burned my black backside as I was grabbing the black steering wheel. It was at this moment that 2 thoughts came to mind.
A) OUCH! Why did I buy a black SUV with black leather? Because it was October when you bought it. That was my sub-conscious answering the question. I quickly told it to shut up!
B) There must be a patio in Spain somewhere that I could be sitting with a sangria (or cerveza) right now listening to flamenco music.
November 2003. I had been dating a girl in Texas for about 6 months. I really liked her. A LOT. So, what do you do when you REALLY like somebody? You go to Spain with your friends Mario and Chad. Huh? Mario had been to the United States. Chad had been there too. Unfortunately for the 3 of us… I had the most travel experience, and I only spoke 1 language – English. 2 if you count Jamaican as a language. So there we were, The Three Amigos on our way from London, England to Spain. Our destination… the capital of Catalonia – BARCELONA!
View of Barcelona from Montjuic Castle
Like good little tourists, we took the city bus from Barcelona Airport (El Prat de Llobregat Aeropuerto) and wheeled our luggage about a mile after getting off at the wrong stop in the city. Nice. Real nice. We were off to a great start. In case you want some solid transportation advice -There are a couple of different buses. Aerobus Express Bus Service and then the other one. We took… the other one. Don’t make that same mistake. Aerobus is an express service to the city center. More specifically, to Placa Espanya or Placa de Catalunya. Makes life MUCH easier for navigation. These are the troubles I go through so that I can hopefully one day turnaround (albeit 8yrs later) and help others avoid failure… or looking like 3 idiots from Texas. Nevertheless, it wasn’t long before we found our destination and settled into our hotel. I’m quickly realizing that I’m going into waaaaay too much detail about this trip, so let’s zoom out a bit for a more bird’s eye view of the adventure.
If you’re slightly familiar with who I am, you will know that I LOVE to people watch. If you have no idea who I am… I LOVE to people watch. Now that this has been established, I can tell you that one of the greatest places on the entire Planet Earth to people watch – Las Ramblas, Barcelona, Spain. We “rambled” if you will from one end to the other and everything in between. I’m not sure if it was Anthony Bourdain (one of my Travel Channel favorites) or Samantha Brown (another Travel Channel favorite) who said that if you want to learn about a city, go to the marketplace and see where the locals buy (and even eat) their food. In Barcelona, the epicenter of market life is Mercat de La Boqueria. Probably one too many beers inside us, we played “Where’s Waldo?” amongst the various fruit and vegetable stands. In addition to Dublin, Ireland, The Rialto in Venice, Italy, and Saturday morning in Ljubljana, Slovenia city center, Mercat de La Boqueria is definitely one of the most impressive marketplaces I’ve ever seen.
Which reminds me. The FOOD! I think paella is to Spain as BBQ is to Texas. It’s everywhere! And… it’s good! I think I ate paella at least once per day. Chad stuck to anything with the word pollo (aka chicken). Mario was addicted to the cured meats and breads. Food in Spain is fantastic. Funny story. On our last night, we went to a Chinese restaurant by the hotel. Mario is Mexican. Do NOT confuse this with being Spanish. A Mexican from San Antonio, Texas speaks a completely different Spanish than a Chinese lady who speaks Catalonian Spanish in Barcelona. Meanwhile, Tweedle Dum (that’s me) and Tweedle Dee (that’s Chad) just stood there smiling. I ordered carne de res y brócoli. I’d eaten enough paella to last a lifetime, so could make out BEEF and BROCCOLI from my pathetic Spanish skills. Can’t remember what Mario ordered; but, he tried to order chicken fried rice for Chad. The lady was arguing with him in Spanish and there were a lot of arm movements. To make a long story short… poor Chad got a piece of FRIED CHICKEN and a bowl of white RICE. This is what makes travel FUN!