Sunday, July 11, 2004

Hola from Barcelona

Tip for novice players no. 57: when the locals are sharing flourescent drinks approximately the colour of toxic waste in the Simpsons from huge glass steins with straws in them, take seriously the waiter's expression of surprise when you and your hostel drinking buddies order one a piece.

I have not had such a messy night in some time.

Fortunately, this was Saturday night and I hit Barcelona Tuesday, thus having covered most of my sight-seeing before writing off a day to a hangover.

I thought I had given my heart to Florence, but hussy that I am I find myself spuring Firenze's delights for Barcelona. This is simply an amazing town.

I am in love with the Gothic Quarter and the turn-of-the-century Modernista architecture in surrounding districts. Gauidi's La Pedrera apartment block and Sagrada Familia cathedral are works of genius and well worth the price of admission. I also adore Barcelona Catherdral and the iron-railing enclosed garden of palm trees and white geese in the centre of its cloisters.

I also like the wonderfully open, fun, friendly, casual style of the place - and eating three course Catalan cuisine in the El Raval or La Ribera districts on an 8 euro fixed-price lunch (drinks and service included).

It´s also festival season and there's plenty of free stuff on in the evening. Friday I went to see some amazing contemporary dance in the square between Modern Art Museum and Contemporary Culture Centre (itself an architectural wonderland - three 18th century facades reflected in a huge fourth wall of glass).

Last night I went with some Americans to see the fountains and light show at Montjuic park before heading off for a fabled bar that served shots from a menu of nearly 100 mixed drinks at 1.50 euro a shot.

Things got kinda messy as we had no idea what was in anything we were ordering. This lead to the lapse of judgement involved in ordering the uber-drinks.

Which lead to me declaring I was "just fine" to get the night bus back to the hostel in the rain without a jacket or umbrella.

I do not think I have thrown up as often, or as spectacularly, in some time. Indeed, I´ve not thrown up through excessive drinking since 1999. The wonderful thing about being extraordinarily intoxicated in a foreign city in torrential rain is the complete lack of shame one feels at the rather efficient option of, when the bus pulls up for a stop that is not yours, leaning out and emptying the contents of one´s gullet into the gutter.

I was, needless to say, a tad fragile this morning. (Should not have started my breakfast with a peach, should have skipped straight to the dry bread which I held down rather nicely thank you).

As Waugh put it: "Please believe it was not the quantity, or the quality, but rather the mixture."

What´s been your biggest night on the town lately?

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