When I returned to my hostel last night, Germany had left, but USA and Chile were still there.
USA was a little perturbed at her misplacing of her (hostel hired) towel. ‘The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ says you should always know where your towel is, but it’s actually a bit light on the etiquette of hired towels.
While I may have left my towel hanging up on a shower door in a field in the Northern Territory (hardly practical), I do at least know where it is. (It’s a variation of Schroedinger’s Towel – until I go and verify that it is gone, it is still there).
USA went to look for her towel in the bathroom… and never came back. It’s not that big a facility.
Chile and I chatted about travel plans. She will be off to Madrid today. She asked about my travel intentions and where I was returning home. Once again, if it wasn’t for Manchester United, she would never have heard of the place.
She’s not actually interested in football, but her Dad is, and has been bombarding her with football stadiums to visit on her trip, like Barca.
Barca? My nine year old nephew loves football, and I did quite well in Italy getting him football postcards at various points. I completely forgot about Barcelona. I’ve got him a very groovy Gaudi inspired postcard, but maybe I should seek out the Barca store?
SPOILER ALERT: I didn’t
After a light breakfast in a bakery around the corner from the hostel, I set off walking. I was going on a food tour today and needed to build up an appetite.
The food tour started at the St Catherine Market – a perfect starting point. Our host, in the time honoured way of encouraging interaction between the tour group, she asked us all to introduce ourselves by sharing our name, where we were from and what we were most looking forward to on the tour. Simple.
Quincy went first. We also got his surname, that he was from the US, specifically Minnesota but originally from Illinois, specifically Chicago where he had grown up; he was here with his wife, her sister, but his mother-in-law wouldn’t be joining us on this tour and his two daughters were joining us too. You’d have thought that with this level of introduction, the rest of the party wouldn’t feel the need to provide the same detail. They did.
This set the tone for the rest of the introductions. I can’t remember where Chad was from, but he’d lived in California for a while. His wife wouldn’t be able to join us on the tour, and they were in Spain because his son was here for a school sporting tour.
Thankfully, Cynthia and CJ kept their introductions short – from the Bay Area of California and Casey simply said she was from Canada, though she had been on a tour with the same company in Rome last week and had met staff from Barcelona who had recommended she join this experience.
Me? I answered the exam question, and 20 minutes after the introductions began, we were finally able to start the tour. Thank goodness it wasn’t a large group.
I often think Americans are generally more sincere in their interactions than the English, certainly more lengthy with people they’ve only just met and are never going to see again, i.e., life story sharing. Politeness might be stereotypically associated with the English, but you’re not getting the ‘David Copperfield‘ version of my life until I know you a bit better.
The best part of this tour was discovering that the Spanish are big fans of second breakfast. First breakfast is a sweet pastry for a quick burst of energy to get the day going.
Second breakfast is savoury – cheese or cured meats with bread. It’s perfectly acceptable to have an alcoholic drink with it too. In fact, there’s no problem being seen with a drink in your hand as long as you are eating as well.
Lunch is large with multiple courses. Then there is the afternoon aperitivo (a light snack) and dinner, eaten around 9ish is a light meal.
The trip to the bakery was essentially to pick up goodie-bags of croissants and sweet breads. We also got to have a look at the city’s oldest oven. It was to be a QUICK call.
Our tour leader’s face was a picture when she spotted that several members of the group were browsing the cakes and shopping. I was NOT one of them – it was a food tour not a food shopping trip. She tried in vain to cajole the group out of the bakery.
It was the same in the nougat shop. Only by pointing out that they were stopping people from entering the shop was the tour leader able to get the group moving again.
At the beautiful restaurant where we had lunch, those who had bought cakes in the bakery opened their boxes to eat them while we waited for the paella. I thought it was internationally considered to be pretty poor form to bring your own food to a restaurant. Our tour leader laughed nervously and appeared to smooth things over with the proprieter.
The meal continued, and the tour was over. We made our goodbyes, and I headed quickly to the beach.
After a walk by the beach and around the marina, I wandered into the Gothic Quarter in search of a pot of tea.
I took a seat at a corner table of a small tea shop and found myself sitting across from the four Mackems I’d overheard chatting about monkey attacks the day before while we queued to get into Guell Park. It’s a small world sometimes.
None were sporting visible injuries, and there were no tales of killer parrots, so they must have left the park unscathed. (I was actually quite pleased that this was the case).
Of the times I’ve been to Barcelona, I’ve actually never knew about Casa Vicens– and I’m a huge Gaudi fan! Being American, I agree with you that many of us are definitely the “wear your heart on the sleeve” type of people, being outgoing and friendly. I think it’s just part of our culture, and that’s our way of being polite! Hope you continue to have a wonderful time in Barcelona!
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It’s a really nice part of the culture – makes interaction much easier!
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