Barcelona Travel Log — Day 7 and 8 — Twice the fun

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Last night ended up a bit later than expected, so Clara and Jeff opted for bed rather than staying up and trying to scratching together a blog post. So, here is an abridged version of the weekend events.

Day 7 — Family and food

Today was going to be a relaxing day of hanging out with Clara’s grandma and later meeting up with a family friend. Jeff had been warned before leaving for Barcelona to get ready to eat a ton and Day 7 was the eating marathon he had been training for all summer. It was great hanging out with Clara’s grandma and great aunt and wow did we eat a ton of food. So much so, Jeff fell asleep as soon as we got back to the hotel. What a lightweight.

If the feast of the afternoon wasn’t enough, we got up and moving to meet up with a family friend of Clara’s, named Monste, for a bar night of hilarity. Jeff has a bit of a bromance starting with Montse’s boyfriend, who is a fellow webcomicista (parental advisory, some of this stuff is a bit too funny for younger kids). All-in-all, this cross-cultural learning opportunity was a blast and Jeff learned some useful spanish words that wouldn’t be found in a phrase book or language class. Many thanks to our new Barca buddies for the laughs last night, just remember it’s your turn to come visit us in Canada now!

Day 8 — Revenge of the Food

We were pretty slow getting up this morning after the late night and Jeff’s belly was cranky enough that he decided to skip breakfast: apparently Jeff and Octopus don’t go too well together. With everything and everyone sorted out by noon, we were off again for a late lunch at the Sagrada Familia with Clara’s aunt and uncle.

A list of things that cannot be flushed

Not shown here: chainsaws, bears, babies...the list of approved items goes on.

One quick random point before getting on with the story–the number of accessible bathrooms here is unbelievable. Jeff has never, ever had a problem finding an accessible bathroom, even in small restaurants. While the accessibility may be a bit hit and miss around here and some of the ramps are kind of scary, we’re definitely blow away by how many great unisex accessible bathrooms there are around town. In the bathroom today, we found this hilarious sticker above the toilet of all the things you are not allowed to  flush. Most of it makes sense, but what are some of those other things? Is that a banana? An old-school straight-blade razor? Q-Tips? This leads us to wonder if they have had so many people attempting to flush these objects that they had to post a sign. Furthermore, does this mean anything not listed is allowed to be flushed? Discuss amongst yourselves.

A modernist hospital in Barcelona

Attention Americans: This is what socialized medicine looks like! Jealous?

Anyway, after another massive, gut-busted lunch, Clara’s uncle took us around the corner to see a totally bizarre and completely amazing modernist hospital, as seen here. Jeff suddenly feels totally cheated by University Hospital in London. Another interesting tidbit, we were informed today that the Pope is coming to the Sagrada for it’s “official completion” in November, but apparently construction will still be underway for many years after. The spanish have a strange definition of “completion,” but Jeff thinks perhaps he can use this same approach toward getting his doctorate by September.

This evening, Clara and Jeff decided to mix it up a bit by heading across town to see the ballet performance of Don Quixote. We knew we’d entered a land of magic and excited when we discovered the building housed a theatre on the top floor and a bingo hall on the bottom floor. That’s right, come for the ballet, stay for the bingo. We should also point out the bingo hall had an amazing elevator to get people down, however the theatre had a terrifying stair lift that caused Jeff’s life to flash before his eyes as it jiggled and groaned it’s way precariously slowly up the stairs. Now we know Barcelona’s priorities–BINGO. Clara totally loved the show, particularly the performance of the bartender. As someone who has never been to a ballet before, doesn’t speak spanish, and has never seen or read Don Quixote before, this was an extremely interesting experience for Jeff.

Here is a description of the story, as told by Jeff shortly after the performance. Apologies in advance for any inaccuracies to the story, there may be some imagination/misinterpretation interjected here and there.

Don Quixote is a whimsical tale, based in Barcelona circa 2005 in La Rambla. Our tale begins with a man participating in some sort of Live Action Roleplaying game (who shall be known from now on as the LARPer), decked out in some sort of medieval commoner dress. Our LARPer is currently enjoying a dance with the moon, a drug-enduced romp brought on by reading a few pages in a book, which is subsequently stolen by some sort of fairies. His trip is quickly ruined, however, when he discovers he isn’t dancing with the moon at all, but rather, is in the street and is nearly hit by a car. Flash to a busy market in La Rambla, where a pimp, dressed in a flaming red zoot suit, arrives at a busy cafe in search of his newest prostitute. Low and behold, he finds this vixen who fits the description and just so happens to be his waitress. After some negotiation with the bartender, a deal is struck and Mr. Zoot Suit has successfully purchased a new employee. But wait, INTRIGUE! The waitress is not interested and tries to run away to a man who was walking by on a date with another girl but decides the waitress-turned-prostitute is far more interesting, bails on his date (dick) and decides to dance fight with the bartender and Mr. Zoot Suit for the next few minutes. Editorial sidenote: maybe all those “urban” dance movies aren’t so stupid, apparently people in Barcelona circa 2005 also solved disagreements with dancing. Soon after, the LARPer finally re-appears and steals a dance from a woman pertending to be a statute in La Rambla, only to lead to more dance fighting between the bartender, the hairdresser and Mr. Zoot Suit. Oh right, forgot to mention that the man in white who saved the waitress is a hairdresser…apparently.

So at this point, Jeff was following everything just fine, but it’s when the curtain raised for act 2 that everything goes to hell. Now we’re in a subway station, where a mariachi band plays the next few songs and random people, including the LARPer, are dancing around. There is a brief moment where the LARPer is chasing the statute-woman, who is now crying for unknown reasons, but this is short lived and never addressed again. From Jeff’s estimation, this was about 20 minutes of dancing with no plot progression. Flash forward 20 minutes and we’ve moved out of the subway and into a bar, where a crowd clad in Budweiser soccer jerseys are watching the final game of World Cup 2010 on TV. Now, we’re not too sure what has transpired, but we guess there are only 3 possible options: we were in the subway for 5 years and it’s now 2010, the Spanish are future-seeing gypsys and knew back in 2005 that Spain would win 2010 and just never told anyone, or this LARPer guy is like a spanish version of Doc from Back to the Future and that subway was the Don Quixote version of a delorian. Mr. Zoot Suit saunters in off the street for a nice drink, despite the fact this bartender screwed him on that prostitution deal several years early, and everything is great until Mr. Hairdresser and the Waitress walk, rubbing their love all up in everyone’s grill. Mr. Zoot Suit has a heart attack and starts flopping around like a fish, followed by more dance fighting between the bartender and the hairdresser, climaxing with the hairdresser being flung into oncoming traffic and nearly dying. Don’t worry though, he’s saved when the LARPer comes in, placing the hairdressers’ hand in the waitresses hand that casts some sort of magical dungeons and dragons healing spell. Huzzah, he’s alive! Three cheers for hobo-esque stranger in medieval clothing!

Scene change, last of the performance. We’re now at the wedding, where Mr. Zoot Suit, the Bartender and Mr. Hairdresser shake hands, figuring it’s time to stop the feuding and the fighting now that someone has been hit by a car. Why the hairdresser would have invited the men who tried to kill him to his wedding we may never, ever know. Does this mean Jeff has to invite that old woman who kissed him to his wedding? Sidetrack sorry. Meanwhile, the LARPer, who despite saving the hairdressers life got the big snub on the wedding invite. Luckily, no reckless drivers were invited to the wedding to run over the hairdresser again, so everything goes off without a hitch and basically we’ve got assorted dancing and performers bowing for the next 30 minutes. Yeah, the cast really, really milked the ending.

There you have it! Don Quixote, as told by a confused but entertained Jeff. All in all, Jeff gives the show an C- for the lack of machine guns and explosions but an A+ for the hardcore pornography. (Editors note: there was no hardcore pornography, so perverts need not rush to get tickets…unless you’re also bingo fans)

In all seriousness, it was a great show and while this was Jeff’s first ballet, it certainly won’t be his last–he can’t wait to see his next in fact.

Alas, the clock is ticking and it’s about time for another long and satisfying sleep. Tomorrow we’re going to hit the beach, so be prepared for stories of Clara fighting a mermaid and Jeff befriending the crab people and leading an underwater revolution.

– Jeff and Clara