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Old 06-20-2007, 03:03 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Location: hic et ubique
spain: land of the ham sandwich

just got back from spain. me and two friends, ben and dan, all our first time in spain. all we had was an airplane ticket to and from madrid, and a loose plan to see the dali museum. three stupid americans, a few words of 7th grade spanish, no reservations, no clue. comedy ensues.....

the trip started at 0130 hours a.m. in the morning, went to dan's house, and dan and i drove the three hours to phoenix and met ben at the airport. our flight was delayed out of phoenix because of philadelphia being a sad excuse for an airport, and we were going to miss our connecting flight to madrid. hours later, we were running from concourse A to B in the futile hope our plane hadn't left on time, but it was philadelphia airport, so it was there and we just made it by moments. once we boarded, we sat on the runway for another 1 1/2 hours, then took off and next thing i knew, we were in madrid.

DAY 1: madrid

breezed through customs like food through a baby. this sets the tone of the trip, as everything we try to do requires hardly any effort. went outside to see if we can get to downtown madrid, with no clue what or where downtown madrid was. saw a bus for a hotel, asked if it was downtown, guy said not really. went back into the airport, found out you can make a hotel reservation for 6 euros, so we ended up making a reservation at same hotel as the bus we didn't get on and the next bus would be in an hour. found out the metro leaves from the airport, so we get on metro to madrid. found the hotel, which was smack dab on grand via and went out walking. we hadn't eaten in about a day, so we popped into a busy little cafe/bar. i wanted to try jamon de iberico and figured it was my only shot so i ordered three bocadillos de jamon (ham sandwich) and coffee. super tasty ham sandwich and the best friggin coffee i've ever had. i can no longer drink american coffee, it's just black shitty water. we walk on with no plan, just seeing what madrid has, decide to go to the prado. saw some goya, some el greco, some valasquez, but overall, pretty underwhelmed by the prado. if you never see it, you aren't missing anything. hungry again, we stop at a cafe, and get another bocadillo. ben and dan head back to the room, i try to score us three bus tickets to barcelona. three tickets in hand, i return to the room and fall asleep. i wake up and there is screaming outside our window. a huge crowd is there, it's the premier of shrek 3, and cameron diaz, justin timberlake, antonio banderas, michelle geller and freddie prinz are there, right across the street, so we watch them sign autographs and smooze the crowd. that's as close to cameron diaz as i'll ever get, and it was awesome. went out for dinner, had some more ham, walked around, had a late night coffee. madrid is clean, but lacks a certain....charm. it's almost plain. the architecture is beautiful, the people are nice, but is is not distinct. it is "europe." walking back to the hotel i made eye contact with an attractive black chick. as soon as she said hello, i realized she was no ordinary attractive chick standing in a dark doorway on the main street at midnight. a hooker from ghana, she offered to suck my cock, but with such enthusiasm, so ernestly and sincerely, i could only admire her dedication to her chosen profession. she took her job seriously and customer satisfaction was her main priority, i could tell. i reluctantly declined, feeling bad of depriving her of the feeling of succsess of a job well done, and layed in bed awake from the super strong coffee until i finally succumb to sleep.

DAY 2: madrid - barcelona

after a solid 1 3/4 hours of sleep, we head out to the station for the madrid-zaragoza-barcelona bus. i ask how long it takes, the answer is either 4 1/2 hours or we arrive at 4:30, i'm not sure, but we don't have a schedule, so no big deal. overcast, but warm, we make it to the station in time to go on the street and get a breakfast. i get an egg and potato sandwich and a coffee, so tasty, and i get a ham sandwich for the road. spain is laid back and easy, never a hassle. on the bus i sit next to a handsome lady, strike up a conversation, and she talks the whole way to zaragossa, where she gets off. super cool spanish chick, tells me about this and that, i speak broken shitty spanish, she speaks english, the hours fly by and the trip is great. after zaragossa, as we arrive in barcelona, i ask another chick if we are here. she is from denmark, she lives and works in barcelona, and offers to show us where to go. she tells us the sonar festival is going on, which is a huge concert. she guides us through the station, onto a train, tells us where to get off and look for a hotel, things are easy and awesome. all hotels are full, due to the festival. one hotel only has room for 2, we say 1 will sleep on the floor, they say no, and point us to a hotel across the street. we say we only have two people the third guy sits outside, they give us a room. sweet, this is how we will do it from now on, it's cheaper and easier. we get the room for one night. we stay at the hotel gotic, in the barrio gotic, and it's wonderful. georgeous room, huge actually, like being in a castle. i think it was at one time. warm weather, midevil buildings, cool vibe, barcelona is hipper, more laid back, cooler than madrid. we walk around, get some wine and paella for dinner, and end our day in the plaza de santa ana sitting at a cafe and drinking among a crowd, just like you see in outside magazine, while some guys playing violin and accordian serenade us for tips.

DAY 3: barcelona - figueras

sunny and warm. wake up, ham sandwich for breakfast, we search for a hotel. finally we get a room right smack dab on "las ramblas" the main tourist street. it's like a huge flystrip, attracting all the loud obnoxious tourists who want to "see spain" but don't want to move far or speak spanish or adapt at all. i don't like the feel of it, but we got a room for one night so that's cool. the guy at the desk appreciates that i try to get the room in spanish and is cool. the room is nice. s at allhead to the statoin to get to figueras to see the dali museum. we get a ticket and the vendor tells us the train is about to leave, hurry, to either gate 12 or 13. we run, cruise down the steps of gate 12, and see the train across the tracks. dammit. up the stairs and down and we watch the train leave. next train in 1 hour. i ask the train guy how long it takes for figueras, he is a freindly commedian, tells us 30 hours. ha ha. tells me about 1 1/4 hours. on the train a young schoolgirl joins us in the group of 4 seats. she has a voice like a 5 pack a day smoker talks incessantly, nonstop, no breaks for breathing, to her friend across the aisle. dan and i want to stuff our fists down her throat, and 1/14 hours later, we come to a stop. we wake ben up and get off the train with haste, so as not to be arrested for manslaughter. a small town, only one other guy gets off the train. i ask "figueras?" and he looks mortified and says "NO,SILS".

we watch the train leave and realize it's another hour until the next train comes, but luckily it's siesta time, so everything is closed. we decide to walk around the town anyway, seeing what a non-touristy spanish town is like. we come to a bar, there are people in it. i ask "abierto?" and they welcome us in. i order a wine for me and two waters for me amigos. 80's dance music is on the jukebox, the locals drink and talk lazily, an old women has her feet up on a chair in the next room. this is cool, its real no kidding spain. it's not in the lonely planet, so no one comes here. the huge glass of wine and two waters cost about 3 euro, we pay and leave the spanish mayberry. next train is to figueras, we follow the signs to the teatre de museo dali and it is friggin AWESOME. a maze of a house, optical allusions, crazy art, beautiful stuff. i see one picture that looks like a beaugareu and no shit, is IS. (quick aside. william h beaugeru was a 17th century french salon painter, he is my favorite. i "hunt" beaugeru, meaning i travel to see his shit. there is one in ralieh durham, north carolina, some in st petersburg fla, etc. its a pleasant surprise for me to see this, and at the dali museum no less! i'm such a geek.) we travel 5 hours round trip to spend one hour at a museum, and it was sooooo worth it.

after the museum, we go for food. figueras wouldn't exist if not for dali, it's touristy, gaudy, i'm not a fan. back on the train to barcelona, we go out for dinner, which has ham in it, and drinks at bar marsalla, which is known for it's absithe. thanks to the movie eurotrip, the bar gets filled with young tourists all drinking absinthe. the bar is cool, old, run down, weathered, i get drunk and we walk back to the hotel and "women" grab our junk and offer us a good time. even if they were women, we would still decline. they do not have the love of the job of that ghana chick in madrid, i can see that. even the hookers on las ramblas are fake.

DAY 4: barcelona

cloudy and overcast, for breakfast, instead of a bocadillo, ham on a baguette, i have a bikini which is ham and cheese on buttered toast. awesome. no plans, we go to the beach. it's cloudy, warm, but sprinking, not a good day for the beach. we get there and people are in the water and laying out. must be from the cold northern parts of europe. we take a seat at a cafe and drink coffee, i try some vermouth, the sun burns its way out from the clouds. i've noticed the fashion seems to be jeans around the hips, showing buttcrack. every day, the jeans seem to get lower, one girls walks by with jeans so low you see her whole underwear. i guess the next step is walking around with jeans around they ankles. life is good, relaxed, just going with the flow. we walk along the beach, people are laying out, and in the water. a girl is topless, in an effort to see her tits, i decide to take off my shoes and put my feet in the water. water if fucking freezing, yet there are people splashing around in it. damn. we decide to see flamenco and one of the tourist guidbooks mentions a restaurant. we walk to the restaurant, which is 800 miles away. i need a drink. there is a set price menu, 59 euros for dinner and wine and the show. i drink the bottle of wine, food is plentiful and not too bad, the flamenco show lasts a good 2 1/2 hours. perhaps it's the wine, but i am havnig a great time. the guitarist is playing in a shitty tourist bar, and he rocks. his makes the sex face of all guitarists as his fingers buzz like hummingbirds up and down the guitar, his one guitar doing the work of three, sounding like an orchestra. this guy may be a hack in spain, but he is more talented than most guitarists i know, and here he is, more talent in his right hand than estaban has in his whole body, playing his heart and soul out to a handful of tourists in a little restaurant. unfair world. the old lady dances and her ankles can probably bench press 200 pounds. i'm caught up in the moment and i am having a great time. thank you bottle of osbourne solaz cabernet souvignon 2004. after the restaurant we go to club moog. it's dead when we get there and by the time we leave it's hopping. we meet an irish couple. thomas and his girlfreind exqsplyuthelkopsnkd. i again ask her name, get the same answer. later i ask ben and dan what her name was, they say the same thing. the only thing she said that we could understand was she was "fooked up" and went to lourdes and got a fooking puuube in her mouth. we dance, i buy them a round and while they move on the floor, we leave.

DAY 5 - barcelona to montserrat.

warm and sunny, we check out, have to get a new hotel, we find one close by. it's really awesome, i love it. i get a coffee and a croissant and we decide to go to montserrat to see the church in the mountains. this is only a one hour train ride, should be no problem. on the train we meet a 40 year old lady from texas visiting her two daugters. one lives in spain, the other in london, both in college. mom has makeup, jewlery, big tits. they apparently went out clubbing and partying. all i can think of is hot sex with a mom and daughter, so i try to talk to her. the lady is vapid. her daugters are spoiled snobs, i hate them, but i can't shake the thoughts of sex. clearly mom is here to have fun. not with me though. stupid porno movies are full of shit man. the church was cool, mountains are neat. one looks like it's giving the finger, others look like people. riding the train down off the mountain to the main train back to barcelona, we stop at one level. we are supposed to get off and ride the rest of the way down on the other tain, we miss that, we dicide to walk. we walk down the mountain, through the little town, and it's cool. we see backyards, houses, a town with people living in it doing whatever. the other tourists see the houses from the train and don't even think about the humans who live here every day. i'm glad we missed the train and had to walk through actual spain. back in barcelona, we go out for dinner and drinks. i have lamb, ben has lamb, dan gets chicken. the chicken is raw, i tell dan not to worry about it, and he eats it. inside i wonder how long it takes for salmonella to hit. i decide to introduce us as "el gordo (me), el guapo (ben) and el peligroso (dan)." this doesn't seem to amuse anyone. dan and ben go back to the room, i go out for a glass of wine, alone. our last night in barcelona, we go back to madrid the next day, then home.

DAY 6 barcelona to madrid

we leave the hotel, eat more ham, get on a train to madrid. i have eaten enough ham to make a small pig. i've eaten more meat in the last week than i have in the last 5 months, but my system is fine, i feel great. a testament to the food in europe and a damming of the food in the states. the pigs in spain are free range, happy. they walk around, smoke, go clubbing, sleep, they are relaxed and happy and make good meat. the pigs in the states are grown in a warehouse and treated with chemicals. american food sucks ass and it pisses me off i can't enjoy decent food in my home country. even the "healthy" food in america is chock full of chemicals and nutrient free, where as the unprocessed unpasturized cheese and oily ham in spain is healhty and natural and eating a croisant or pastry for breakfast isn't bad for you in europe, and that's cause the ingrediants. in the states it's chemicals and additives, in europe, it's not. pretty simple really. i sit next to a filipina chick, she is the major domo, personal assistant of a torreador. an actual bullfighter. how cool is that? she is stressed, unhappy. her father and brother live in spain, her mother and brother are still in the philipines, she is trying to work and save enough cash to bring them over. she works 2 jobs. she is stressed because of her job with the matador. he is nice, his wife is a smoking, solipsistic, spoiled, bitchy, nervous wreck who doens't have time for her own kids and only wants to shop. she knows all the matador's secrets of the house and he keeps her cause she is quiet. she doen'st go to the parties cause others try to get his secrets. its pretty much a bunch of industrial espoinage. we talk and she is cool, i make her laugh, i'm glad. i tell her about adding radish to her gazpacho, which she doesn't do, and she tells me i should eat rabo del toro tail of the bull. i have no idea what that is, but i will eat it. dan talks to an american who just started his two month backpacking trip, starting in iceland. he tells me about couch surfing, which i later google, and it's the way to go. cheaper and you meet people, which i love to do. in madrid we get a hotel right on the plaza santa ana, awesome! we go out for bull tail, not knowing what to expect. we order, and it is pretty much osso buco, only with ox tail and no marrow bone. BEST MEAL IN SPAIN! we go back for drinks and to the hotel. turns out being right on the plaza is not a great idea, as it's a party ALL night, even though the cafes and bars are closed, people are out there whooping it up. what the fuck? no sleep, but no matter, i'll sleep on the plane.

DAY 7 return to the usa

warm and sunny. eat a breakfast, ride the metro to the airport, cruise right on through customs, eat two more ham sandwiches for old times sake, get on the plane and fly to philly. adios ethpana, muchas grathias por todo. i am ready to travel again. my new plan is to fly to portugal, go to gibralter, cross into morrocco, make my way across northern africa to eritrea and hang out on the beach at the red sea. i will do this next year i think.

back in the states philly is a hassle. americans are fat and loud and stupid. security is ludicrously retarded and run by people who think they have some kind of authority. apparently even only a modicum of power corrupts absolutely. again our plane is delayed, we sit on the runway for 2 1/2 hours, i manage to get home at 0530 a.m. in the morning.

spain is awesome, unless you are handicapped. lots of stairs up and down the metro. metro is easy, travel is easy, getting food is easy, getting lodging is easy. i really really really like spain. i barely saw any of it, but i talked to as many people as possible, i ate as much as i could, i tried to learn as much as i could. i'm so glad i went, and i will go again. next time i will spend more time, see more of the country, stay away from the more common touristy parts.

spain is cool, if you haven't gone, go. especially if you like ham.

damn, now i want to travel....
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onward to mayhem!
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Old 06-20-2007, 05:36 PM   #2 (permalink)
The Reforms
 
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Location: Rarely, if ever, here or there, but always in transition
any photographical evidence of the memories...?

I'm glad you got to enjoy the sight-seeing...
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Old 06-20-2007, 06:00 PM   #3 (permalink)
part of the problem
 
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Location: hic et ubique
photos will be posted after a while...
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Old 06-20-2007, 06:47 PM   #4 (permalink)
The Reverend Side Boob
 
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Location: Nofe Curolina
Awesome writeup! My oldest sister went a few years back and agreed with much of what you said in regards to the touristy areas.
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