Friday, October 3, 2008
Most of my morning was spent getting ready to leave for Spain. Packing, tidying my flat, responding to all calls and email messages, cleaning out my fridge and stuffing things into the freezer, running down to Marks and Sparks Simply Food for a baguette, cold cuts and cheese to make myself sandwiches for the flight and then for dinner tonight in Barcelona and before I knew it, it was 1.40 pm and I was in the Tube getting to Victoria to take the Easybus to Stanstead airport.
That must have been one of the longest airport rides in the world as we dodged horrendous traffic. Got to the airport at 4.15 pm for my flight that departed at 6.00 pm. The check in took precisely one minute and then with an hour and a half to browse through the airport, I kept wishing they had better duty free (window) shopping.
Cloud cover over the UK (so what else is new, right?) made my window seat redundant but within an hour and 40 minutes, we touched down in Barcelona. Couldn't enjoy the landing as it was too dark. Immigration clearance took another ten minutes (was the officer really leering at me, or was that my imagination?) and then I was outside the airport into the balmy night and looking confusedly for the aeroport bus to take me to the city.
At this point, I latched on to two English girls who had been to Barcelona before and knew the ropes. They directed me to the bus stop where they were heading themselves and presto, within five minutes, a bus materialized (the fare to be paid to the driver on the bus was 4. 05 euros--thank goodness I had some change with me) and we were off. Through the well-lit roads we sped, many of them reminding me of Madrid, and arrived at Plaza de la Catalunya (Catalonian Square) from where Las Ramblas, the main artery originated. A five minute walk through the crowded street (yes, it was buzzing even at 10 pm) took me to the Youth Hostel where I checked in to find myself placed in an 8-bedded mixed dorm with a bunch of youngsters from Switzerland, Germany and Brazil. They gave me a very hearty welcome indeed and though I was tired, out of politeness, I did spend some time socializing with them while munching on my baguette dinner.
At 10. 30 pm, I was in my bunk, only to be awoken frequently during the night by my young suite mates for whom Friday night can only mean one thing--Party Time!
First impressions of Barcelona? It doesn't have it's Fun City reputation for nothing!