Friday, December 23, 2011

Barcelona Part One: Who Recommended this Hostel Again? (AKA: Germans be boozin')

This weekend (ahem... i've been procrastinating on meaning to post this for a few weeks now... so, you know, more like 3 weekends ago)I went to Barcelona, and it was so. Much. fun.

The long weekend started on Thursday morning, when the lovely Kyle Frost and myself got to the Bologna Airport at 10 AM for our 11:30 flight. Let Ryan Air antics ensue. Ryan Air = super ghetto. Why do I say this? Let’s break it down.

First of all, in the two week period that has lapsed since we last to Ryan Air to Paris, Ryan Air check-in counters have transferred from being in the main part of the airport to “Terminal Est.” In order to get to “Terminal Est,” one must take an “Airport Shuttle Bus” to said terminal. This “Airport Shuttle Bus” is actually one of those fake train things that has a front section that is a  car disguised as a yellow train and then little carts attached behind it. It’s kinda cool… although it was probably rented/stolen/bought from an amusement park that went tragically out of business. This yellow train should probably only go about 30 miles an hour. Whoever was driving out managed to get it up to at LEAST 45, and ON THE HIGHWAY. Yep, that’s rights… this tiny little plastic not-a-train-but-a-“train” thing goes onto the Italian highway, where Kyle and I saw our life quickly flash before our eyes for about 30 seconds until it gets off the highway… and brings us to the SKETCHIEST LOOKING “TERMINAL” OF ALL TIME.

This place looks like some kind of farm/shed/storage facility and is surrounded (SURROUNDED) by fence topped with several layers of barbed wire. Naturally, Kyle and I get our boarding tickets signed and then get the heck out of Dodge and back on to the little train. It brings us to our actual terminal… all is well. Our flight even lands in Barcelona ON TIME, prompting a standing ovation from the crew and the blasting of some trumpet soundtrack for about 15 seconds. Woopee!

Since we landed in Girona, which is about an hour and 20 minutes outside of Barcelona, we had to take the Barcelona Bus into the city, where we got off at Estaciones Del Nord, and spent about an hour trying to find out hostel. I was pumped, ready for my first hostel experience…

Cut to us arriving at the hostel. It’s called Kabul Backpackers Hostel and is located in the Placa Real right off the main drag of Las Ramblas. It all seems pretty cool—good location, the front door seems legit, there are a lot of restaurants and bars around…

Yeah, turns out this hostel is a weird combination of a frat house, an on-campus bar, and a janky dormitory (for a better picture, all you Badgers imagine the Ratskeller at the Union meeting  Sellery Dormitory meeting a frat house… the image is probably spot on, I guarantee it.)

Placa Real, the location of our highly questionable hostel.

Kyle and I felt like we were entering a club. Biggie Smalls was blasting from the sound system when we entered the place at 3 pm, and there were already several fellow hostel-stayers on what looked to be there third or fourth pint of beer. We get our keys, ignore how creepy the staff seems to be, and head up to our 8-bed, maroon-colored room that has lockers of bank vault caliber. We stuff our crap in them in get out of that club… I mean bar… I mean hostel. Yes… hostel. That’s the one.

First of all, the weather in Barcelona was amazing. Kyle and I could not get over the fact that it was the 1st of December (!!!) and we were wearing light cardigans (!!!).  The sun was shining, leaves were falling and crunching beneath our feet, people were vending fresh fruits and smoothies… We were quite content.

Kyle is excited for cardigan weather...

I'm DOUBLE excited for cardigan weather.
The first night we mostly just meandered, stumbling upon some very cool things, like the Casa Batllo, which is this crazy house that was designed by Antoni Gaudi, one of Spain’s most famous architects. This house is insane—it’s like stepping into a fairytale land. We also spent the night “ooohing” and “aaahhhing” at the Christmas lights on the main streets and around the Placa Catalunya, where the trees were just beautiful.

Casa Bartllo

Casa Bartllo from below... that rhymes!

We went to dinner at a restaurant called Les Quints Nits, which was right by our hostel in the Placa Real. This place was THE BOMB. Not only was the place classy, but the menu was dirt cheap (#Winning). We’re talking less than 5 Euro for a half-liter of the house Sangria (#DoubleWinning), and only 8 Euro for a hefty serving of the best (ahem… only) paella I’d ever tasted. Chips with guacamole dip may or may not have been involved in this affair (hint: they were). It was simply delicious.

For as weird as it looks, it tastes hella good!
As we very slowly made our way back to the hostel, we got solicited by about 15 different club-representatives,  all trying to get us to go somewhere “bumping.” Instead, we returned to the hostel, which essentially was a club. What was more interesting than rowdy drunk Germans at 1 AM? The itsy-bitsy, practically non-existent ladder to my top bunk and how I looked like a graceful ballerina hauling myself into it.  Let’s not go there…

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