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How I Ended up Working for a Barcelona Pub Crawl

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I knocked on Yasmin’s Barcelona door in the early afternoon.  I had spent the morning adventuring in the Olympic Village, after checking out of my hostel with a RyanAir ticket to Gothenberg, Sweden and my backpack.  I made some Swedish friends in Rome last year and stayed in contact with them.  Now, I was finally going to see them in their homes.  I had been planning this leg of the trip for months.  In Rome, the Swedes swelled with the pride of their fine country and its fine people.  For the next couple of weeks they would show me why, I thought.

As I walked towards  Barcelona’s el Gotic district, where I had spent most of my time since arriving, I thought about how I would get to Gothenberg and then Jonkoping, where I would be staying.  The night before my wallet had been stolen with my cash, debit cards, and identification cards inside.  This certainly added a level of difficulty to the trip but I was pretty certain I could still make it.

I knocked on Yasmin’s Barcelona door.  She opened the door and, with a smile, invited me in.  She was just moving into this new flat so I asked how I could help.  After hanging a black shelf that ran the length of the longest wall and assembling an Ikea table I was starting to get hungry.

For the past four days I had been wandering in Barcelona’s el Gotic district.  The bed I rented for my first four days in Barcelona was on Escudellers in the heart of el Gotic.  The buildings began where the one lane street ends.  At night I was sleeping on the third floor in an apartment that had been repurposed into a hostel by adding five beds to each of the bedrooms.  Below the window of this hostel there was a party that lasted until the sun rose over Barcelona.

Now, here I was four doors down and one floor up helping a new friend from Angelholm, Sweden move into a flat in Barcelona.  I could hear the street festivities below.  I could smell the fresh samosas that were being sold out of cardboard boxes.  My new Swedish friend asked when I was leaving to see my other Swedish friends in Sweden.  As was true of most of the people I met from Sweden, Yasmin was certain I would enjoy my adventures there.

Then I told her my story about getting robbed at the end of Barcelona’s main promenade, La Rambla.  She told me that if you haven’t been robbed at least once in Barcelona then you haven’t really seen Barcelona.  We both laughed and then she got serious.  She told me that she knew what it was like to get robbed here and it was not fun.  She offered me her couch, if I assembled it first, so I reconsidered my trip to Sweden.  Without any money the trip to Sweden was going to be slower than I had hoped.  It would also mean meager eating and free transportation.  Once in Jonkoping I could have someone from my family mail me my new debit card when it arrived at my home.  This was one option.  This ended up not being the option I chose.

In Yasmin’s flat above the narrow street in el Gotic, Barcelona I assembled a couch.  Then, that night Yasmin, James, Walter, Yvanna, Davíd, Jim, Emilie, and I went out together to see the city’s nightlife.  While we were out James told me that he knew a guy who would let me work for him doing pub crawl promotions any night of the week.  I was hoping to get make some quick cash while I waited for my debit card so the next night I walked over to the Victoria Pub.

I went into the pub and found James’ friend, Jason, who had moved to Barcelona from California.  He told me to meet him outside the bar in about a half hour.  When I came back there was a small group of people outside the Victoria Pub.  They were also working for some quick cash.  Most of them were either travelers or new arrivals in Barcelona.  No one had any plans to do this work long term.  A few of them had been doing it off and on for a month now for extra money.  Jason made it very clear that we could take this seriously or not.  To him it made very little difference.  If we brought people in to the pub to sign up for the pub crawl then he paid us for each person.  If we did not then he paid us nothing.  He handed each person in the crowd an unopened box of cheap sangria, told them to have fun, and we dispersed.

When I got to Placa Reial I sold my Sangria to an old man from Barcelona for a fair price.  I wandered the Placa, full of glowstick salesman and club promoters, reading the flyer I had been given about the “pub walk.”  Jason warned the group of us that the police do not allow “pub crawls” in Barcelona.  However, they will allow “pub walks.”  So, with what information I had I came up with a pitch and began talking to everyone in Placa Reial.  I started with the salesmen and other promoters because I knew they would tell me no while I worked out my pitch.  After talking to fifty or so people I saw a group of American girls sitting on the edge of the fountain.  As I talked to them they grew interested in the pub walk.  I escorted them to the pub to sign up and get a drink.  Then I went back to work in Placa Reial.  I made twenty-two Euros that night but, more importantly, I talked to a lot of people from around the world that night.  Most of them had no interest in a pub walk but a lot of them had a few minutes to share a story.

Well, the adventures in Barcelona went on for a few weeks after this and I will share them with you soon.  Until then…

 

I Got Robbed in Barcelona

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March 31, 2012

 

A curly haired man in a dirty pink dress came running down the knoll.  He was swinging his arms and shouting at me.  “Stop! Stop!” he insisted as propelled towards me.  When he got near me he jumped in the air and upon his landing was planted squarely in  front of me.

When I arrived at the park with the knoll that afternoon my first sight was a group of performers on slacklines.  They tied the line between two trees to create a kind of lineal trampoline.  I was about to take a picture of one of them when the man in the dirty pink dress came running down the knoll.

“You cannot take that picture.  It is a waste of your time.  It is  a waste to have it on your camera.  You have to wait.  Wait for the man in the black pants.  This is his event and he is the only one worth the time and space.”

After this brief encounter the man walked away.  I stood watching the slackliners.  The man returned and asked if I would like to have a seat with him and his friend on the knoll.  He pointed to the knoll and a dark haired girl wearing a headband with leopard-print ears on top waved to us.

I walked with the man as he told me the first of what would be many interestingly difficult stories.  I sat on the hill where I was introduced to the girl with the leopard-print ears.  As we all listened to the man I got the feeling that sometimes even he was waiting to hear what he would say next.  I gathered that the man was from London and the girl was from somewhere in Sweden.

After watching the man in the black pants we all headed towards the pond so we could rent a boat to float around in for a while.  I took the oars and as I neared a small island the man tried to jump to it.  He hit the muddy side of the steep-shored island and fell to the shallow water below.  He pulled himself up to the dry earth of the tiny, tree covered island.  He tightened the bandages on his foot and tiptoed into the trees.

As he disappeared I heard the furious beating of wings, squawking of fowl, and screaming of the man.  The man jumped off of the island and into the boat as I passed by.  Once I had put some distance between us and the island that was inhabited by the nesting geese we began floating again.

Two old men laughed when the man in the dirty pink dress smiled and asked them if they were looking at him because they thought he was pretty.   He made no attempt to look pretty.  He looked like a guy with a hairy chest and unshaven face who put on a pink dress this morning.  The wound on his foot was badly infected and he often walked with a limp.  He not only walked with a limp, though.  He also skipped, danced, jumped, ran, swam and spun with a limp.  He seemed to know someone in every group of people we passed on the sidewalk and if he didn’t he would get to know someone.  Barcelona was a social event for him.

Before the sun went down I headed back towards my hostel to drop off my bag and valuables.  I was planning to meet my new friends at Placa Real after my brief stop.  When I arrived at my room there were five guys from Germany drinking beer and shouting to the crowds of partiers in the streets below.  As soon as I introduced myself they knew I was from America.  They all told me that they wanted to visit the United States some day.  They asked me a lot of questions about my home country.  We mostly talked about the similarities and differences between real Americans and Americans as portrayed in Hollywood movies.  Bruce Willis and the Die Hard series were a major focal point for the conversation.  I explained to them that almost everyone in America is like Bruce Willis in Die Hard, sort of.

Then they headed to the disco and I headed to the Placa.  Performers juggled and twirled fire.  Merchants did the same with their glow sticks.  I met a group of old women selling pottery to fund their travels and a team of Brazilian football players.  Shopping cart races were being held in one corner of the Placa while the football game was in another.

I stayed for a few hours and then I thanked my new friends for showing me a side of Barcelona I could never have found by myself.  As I left the Placa I thought about where this adventure had started.  I had been watching a few people jump on a rope when a man in a dirty pink dress came charging at me.  I spent the rest of the day making great friends and having great fun.  I was only a few miles from my hostel so I hopped on the open footpath by the water and headed off towards my room.

Oh yeah, then I got mugged by twelve unarmed prostitutes at the end of La Rambla.

Here are some pictures from this adventure…

On Gran Via

Fountain on Gran Via

Statue on Gran Via

Barcelona’s Arc de Triomf

The Castle of the Three Dragons in Ciutadella Park (the park with the knoll)

Sculpture in Ciutadella Park

The Fountain of Ciutadella Park

Looking out from the fountain. In the distance is the pond.

The man in the dirty pink dress.