I’ve become a quote person.
‘Assumption is the mother of all f@*#-ups.’
‘For excessive freedom is nothing more but excessive slavery.’
‘The journey is the reward.’
‘Cut it with an axe not a breadknife.’
And, probably most poignant for this post – ‘happiness only real when shared’ – made famous by the book and movie ‘Into the Wild,’ as if I was to sum up my best moments in Barcelona and Madrid, it would be about the amazing people I’ve met.
I’ll start with a guy I’ll call the Incredible Hulk from my hostel in Barcelona because in his words – ‘I’m quite good at picking things up and putting them down again.’
And I imagine he would be, he’s a tank of a Scottish man who has lived everywhere (Iraq and Antarctica included), globe-trotting the world fighting fires.
But what is most remarkable about the Incredible Hulk is that he is walking-proof that you can make something of your life no matter the hand you’re dealt – oh yeah and he can cook.
Though I did learn to never take him to the supermarket on an empty stomach, unless you want to be served up a large windowless building of pasta for dinner.
Unfortunately he had to go home the next day, but then as I was sitting there on my lonesome eating breakfast who else but Melbourne hipster walks in.
The irony of that was the self-professed hipster decided to spend his only night in Barcelona before his flight to Greece at a hostel called – ‘The Hipstel.’
Our reunion was short-lived and after managing to lose two travel buddies in the space of the morning I opted to join the Gaudi walking tour of his most famous architectural feats, including the dare I say it – never to be completed La Sagrada Familia.
As walking tours go, it was an exceptionally good one, where I learnt trivia-worthy facts such as Gaudi was so obsessed with getting the figures anatomically correct on his masterpiece he covered a still-born baby with plaster for this scene of the death of the innocence.
And for those of you who are Star Wars fanatics… George Lucas apparently got his inspiration for the helmets of Darth Vader and the storm troopers from these Gaudi chimneys.
But the best part of this tour was meeting Australian Rainbow hippy.
It truly was one of those perfect travel days, topped off by a perfect evening where we sat in George Orwell Square known to locals as ‘Trippy Plaza’ because everyone there’s on drugs, eating the best 5 Euro burger and beer combo of my life – or at least I thought so at the time…
If you look closely you can see the patty is still a bit pink.
I knew this but I was hungry and thought to myself surely my stomach is made of lead by now.
That burger reared its ugly head eight hours into my nine hour bus trip to Madrid.
I knew it was coming given I’d spent the previous eight hours hurled over in writhing pain and had a bag at the ready.
But the bag had holes in it, so for the next hour I sat helplessly weak and mortified as the spew trickled down my legs.
I am eternally grateful to the Spanish woman sitting next to me, who helped me get cleaned up and escorted me on the metro to the city – where I had stupidly pre-booked a 14-bed dorm at a party hostel.
It was a low moment, particularly when I couldn’t muster the energy to have a shower and instead opted to climb into my bunk bed and toe-spoon my own ankle.
And sleep was in snippets over the next three nights with the guy on my bottom bunk’s snort-like snore, revellers coming home at all hours of the night giggling and debriefing about their evenings, the Brazilian navy guys trying to root everything on legs, people being so out of it they didn’t even hear their alarms go off, and the guy who liked to doze off to the dulcet tones of slit-your-wrist death metal.
Madrid’s a surprisingly pretty city though and the highlight was catching up with possibly the only good thing to come out of my time in Greece – Spanish guy.
There’s not enough nice words in the English language to describe this guy, he is a true gentleman who spent two nights showing me around.
I only hope one day I can repay the favour.
Apart from him there’s only one other person I want to mention in this post – Essex boy.
Basically Essex boy decided it would be fun to psycho-analyse me one lazy afternoon in the park by playing this game where you have to imagine you find a box, a ladder, flowers and a horse in the desert.
The box apparently sums up your personality, the ladder your life goals/career, the flowers your family and the horse – your ideal man.
Now I know it’s just a game but it was freakishly accurate, particularly my horse which I described to him as – ‘a noble white unicorn, which is quite silly because I know they don’t actually exist.’
Ever since then I’ve been petrified I may never find my unicorn and will instead turn into a crazy cat lady, which is slightly ironic considering this daunting realisation happened while I was staying at…