Jared in Barcelona

Last I left you, I was in Cordoba, somewhere in the central, southern portion of Spain. It was nice and all…but what can I say of it? I was there for a mere few hours, I walked around, saw some old stuff…more ancient buildings and medieval alleyways, and more tourist trap souvenir shops selling “authentic Spanish memorabilia”.

I had bought a ticket for the night train to Barcelona, and reserved a couchette. Remember, these are the sleeper cars that cram four people into a coffin, practically on top of each other. Very close quarters. As the hour arrived, I began to dread the ride. I prophesied to myself: “Verily, there shall be three fat and smelly old men in my car, and behold, the stench thereof shall rise into my nostrils and maketh me wretch”. Perhaps it was the will of the gods to spoil my last ride, or mayhap I was toying with the fabric of space-time with my premonitions, and call me Nostrodamus, but I made the call correctly.

I climbed aboard the train and entered my couchette car, and SMACK! PUNCH! in the face I was hit with nassssty nasssssty BO. And there sat three fat, smelly old men, smiling pleasantly and welcoming me into their stench den. With a grimace of disgust, I dragged my crap in, stored it, and climbed up on my bunk. I faced the wall..put on my walkman…and I tried, really I did…but I just couldn’t stand the smell. I climbed down and made my way to the bar car, mumbling colorful metaphors to myself the whole way there. I sat at the bar and ordered a whole bottle of wine. I figured if I get liquidated, maybe I´ll pass out and sleep through the stench. I poured myself a glass, lifted it to the crowd and pronounced a toast to fat and smelly old men, and proceeded to get ripped. An hour later, I stumbled back to my car, completely wrecked and somehow I managed to climb up onto by bunk and pass out…..I woke up a few times from the stench, but I made it through the night.

So, Barcelona. I had these grandiose visions of getting a nice hotel and spending my last few days in luxury. I planned to use the hotel booking office at the train station to make my arrangements. But there was no booking office. Let the quest begin again. I prayed it would be easy…”Dear travel gods, let my last quest go smoothly, and may I find a nice cheap room, amen”. The gods were laughing at me that day, my friends, oh yes. Every hotel I went to was booked…every single one. I must have tried 15 different hotels, dragging my crap all around the city center. Nothing. Finally I came upon a dingy looking pension that had one dingy room left available, for a lofty price of $30 a night. I had no choice, so I took it. Why, gods, why must I endure these things for thee?

So even though Barcelona is more expensive than I expected it to be, it´s still pretty cool. My pension is right on the main drag that runs through the center of the city, called La Ramblas. This is a median strip full of street vendors and all manner of performers you can imagine. Some of the street vendors are selling birds, live chickens, ducks, ducklings, baby chicks, mice, gerbils, and the whole gambit of rodentery.

Then, you have your books and standard brick-a-brack. But the street performers are certainly the most interesting facet of this avenue. Most of them are the “living statue” types. I am sure you have all seen the people that paint themselves silver and stand on a platform and don´t move until you drop a coin in their box…then they do something mediocre. Well, here in Barcelona, they have taken this practice to the extreme and some of these people have gotten very creative with their art.

There was one guy dressed as a vampire and he laid in a coffin, and when you a drop a coin in, Dracula music starts playin and he rises from the dead, shakes your hand and tries to bite it. Then, there was the ET guy, dressed like our favorite alien, and when you drop a coin in, he holds up his finger and says “ooouuuch” and touches your finger. And let us not forget the Frankenstein guy who, when you drop in a coin, comes to life and chases you down the street trying to make-believe he will strangle you. These are but a mere few of the very creative living statues here. I spent the afternoon walking around dropping coins in all the boxes to see what they would do. Kept me very entertained.

I have been running into a lot of people I have met throughout Spain and Portugal. Strange. It happened three times in the span of an hour…I guess everyone converges on Barcelona before moving on to their next destination. Me, I am goin HOME!

Today I hit the Picasso museum…guess I should take in some serious art before it´s all over…once again.

Don´t forget my party on June 15th, Thursday at Luna Lounge, 7:00pm!

See ya there!


Jared’s Home Coming Party


Hiya all!  Well, as you may have been reading, my trip is quickly nearing its end! Hard to believe, since I have been away for so long.

Now, seeing as I am going to summer camp a week after I get back to NYC, I want to have a little get-together for all willing participants. So, my friends, all who I have known over the years, all who I have recently met, come one, come all to:

Jared´s Coming Home/Going Away Again Party!
When: Thursday, June 15th
Where: Luna Lounge, 171 Ludlow Street, just south of East Houston and Katz´s Deli. (Thanks Rob!)
Time:  Early evening, 7:00 pm to whenever

So, save the date. I hope to see everyone there. I will have pictures from my trip and lots of stories to tell. It will be great to have everyone together.

OK, so on to a brief update:

Dad, you will be happy to know I did NOT go to Morocco. No, not because I was worried.  I had actually bought a ticket and everything, and I was supposed to leave at 9:30 yesterday morning from Gibraltar. So, I get up early, drag my ass to the dock, and lo! THE FREAKIN´ BOAT BROKE DOWN. I don’t know if it was a sign from the universe or something, but there were no other boats from Gibraltar going that day, so I was out of luck unless I wanted to haul ass back to Algeciras and take a boat from there. I don´t think my will was that strong, so I abandoned ship. Oh well, what do I have to complain about? I have been to so many places and seen so many cities, what is one more?  Alas, it would have been cool to cross the Straights of Gibraltar.  Oh well, I will live.

So instead, yesterday I hung around Gibraltar, allowing the scooters to drive me batty. They are like swarms of giant mechanical insects constantly buzzing by. I don´t know how people live with this noise on a daily basis.

I spent the day reading. I finished Lord of The Rings! I am overcome by this book. It is just so amazing and epic. I should have read it a long time ago. Thank goodness I did. It goes so well with my journey. But I am sad it is over. I have grown to love the characters so much, and I am sure you know when that happens, it is bittersweet to finish such a good book. Well, that is done.

Now I am in Cordoba, more towards the center of Spain again. Í am spending the afternoon here and then taking a night train to Barcelona. That will be my last train ride on this journey. Wow. I feel like I have spent so much time on trains these last three months…to think that this is the final stretch. It´s surreal. Cordoba is nice…has a lot of old stuff. Looks a little like Seville, but not as much goin on here. The famous Jewish sage, Maimonedes, lived and wrote his works here in Cordoba.

To Barcelona I go! And then, New York!  Someone ready the bagels and cream cheese for my arrival!  And don’t forget the pizza…oh man, it´s been so long.

I will send a few more reminders of my party….