I’ve been lucky enough to celebrate my birthday in new and amazing places for the last four consecutive years: Seattle, New York, New Orleans, and now Barcelona. Who needs birthday wishes when your life is already a dream come true? I woke up with high expectations for day though my past birthdays seemed to be impossible to outshine.
We packed our belongings and said bye to Sitges and Manuel’s extensive collection of dolls. Oh, that’s right, I forgot to mention our AirBnB apartment owner’s fetish with Ken dolls and Justin Bieber. He had a very large cardboard-cutout of J-Biebs as the main focal point art-piece in his living room. Surrounding Justin sat several overly-buff looking Ken dolls. Though we didn’t think they were normal for an instant, we did think they were innocent.
However, curiosity struck us when we were left unattended after Manuel left his house. I noticed that one doll had somewhat of a happy-trail emerging out of his pants. These dolls were no child’s play-toy. They were ripped like Chippendales and were equipped with intricately detailed schlongs. When we first arrived, Manuel told us he didn’t understand why so many people came to Sitges and said, “it’s not even that fun here!” Well, if you’re sitting up in your apartment playing with sex-dolls all day instead of making friends, I can understand why you don’t think the place is that special!
We hopped on the first train to Barcelona and arrived into the Franca station around 2:00pm. I recommend looking googling that station because it’s absolutely beautiful. I remember learning about it in my history class because it was built during the positivist era when emphasis was put on machine-made buildings, mathematics, and the capabilities of metal.
All the hostels were full so we booked another AirBnB with a woman names Cici. We decided that she really should have been named Anette because she is tiny, vivacious, has a very short asymmetrical hair cut, and looks like she’s a graphic designer from Paris. She gave us a huge pictorial map of the city and a few suggestions of where we should spend the rest of the day.
Las Ramblas, an urban park, is where we decided to venture first. This park is more of a “square” in that it’s entirely paved with a brick-walkway. It’s about one block wide and seemed to be 30 blocks long judging by the way my feet felt after we got done walking the whole thing. Las Ramblas is connected to the gothic-architecture district and hosts a variety of mixed-use buildings. The bottom floors of the buildings are utilized by stores, coffee shops, bars, and restaurants, while the upper floors are offices and housing units. The paved park is speckled with vendor carts, ventriloquists, beggars, and outdoor-restaurant patios where the waiters wave you down with red napkins in order to tell you they have the best food in town.
We stopped at a Tapas bar with a photo-menu because liked the fact that we could see what the food looked like before we ordered. This tapas bar was probably equivalent to America’s “Chili’s” chain restaurant because we spotted several others along our walk. After receiving our tapas selection and our birthday sangrias, we had fun making the meal into an activity by testing, guessing what it was, and discussing whether we liked it or not. They brought me a free sponge-cake as my birthday treat and Aria nervously sang me happy birthday by herself.
On our walk home, we stopped by a liquor store and decided to check out the Absynth isle. Why not try something that’s illegal where we come from? Aria wanted to get an entire liter or Absynth, but I told her she needed to back down on her first night in town. Thus, we each got an airplane bottle of Absynth and a communal bottle of red wine to mix with cherry Dr. Pepper.
For the sake of our health, thank God we only got one shot of Absynth! It had a licorice bouquet, but burned worse than Everclear, I swear! On their porch across the alley, our neighbors laughed as they watched us shake-off the aftertaste of the shots. That stuff is 3x stronger than most alcohol you can buy in the US, but we learned that the supposed hallucinations it causes is mythical. Apparently some guy fed his dog Absynth as an experiment and the dog sat barking at a brick wall for two hours, and thus the rumored hallucinogen was born.
We went to “Nasty Monday,” at the Apollo club around the corner, upon the recommendation of Cici. We stood in line testing out our Spanish with a bouncer. It’s nice when people actually try to talk to you and help you answer back in Spanish rather than simply taking your order or telling you directions to get somewhere. We’ve realized that when people give us the time of day to talk, rather than trying to rush our conversations, we actually remember a lot more Spanish than we thought!
Aria’s friends that are studying abroad here met us at the club. We were the only four people in the facility until around 1:00am. When the DJ started playing a mixture of EDM and rock, the head banging and tequila shots commenced. We rocked out until we couldn’t dance anymore. It was 5:45 in the morning, we couldn’t feel our feet, the tequila had worn off, and it was no longer my birthday. The night was a success and it was time to go home.