The joys of staying in hostels mean that people checking out early in the morning aren’t always considerate of the fact people are still sleeping and often wake you up. Just as those people left the room, the snoring started so I decided to just get up and get going. There weren’t many festival events I wanted to go to in the day, so I decided I’d head to the beach and top up my tan as much as possible before heading back to England.
As I stepped out of the hostel, the clouds were dark and looming. Change of plan, and the day instead consisted of a bit of window shopping, sitting in a cafe planning my next trip and finally venturing to a coffee shop I always passed on my way to the beach. It has the same vibe as my coffee shop back home, so I enjoyed a stroll through the Gothic Quarter to Black Remedy. The prices are more London than Spain, but the coffee was good and it’s close to my favourite pizza shop so I grabbed a slice on my way to watch the start of the evening’s giants parade.
You can follow the parades through the streets, which is a funny sight to see passing if you’re in a shop. I didn’t feel like following the procession, so caught up with it when it ended in Plaça de Sant Jaume and had significantly grown in size! After watching for a while, my anxiety levels crept up, so decided to call it a day and head back to the hostel. Tomorrow was a big day with some events I didn’t want to miss, so an early night was on the cards to be as fresh as possible and enjoy the day.
What actually followed was one of the worst nights sleep I have had in my entire life. The snoring man came back at 1am instead of the usual 8am, and woke everyone up. I have crazy sleep skills, I even fell asleep standing up at a festival once, and he still woke me up. One girl tried to wake the man, but no luck. Another got ear plugs for everyone, no difference. After having a bit of a wobble, I went to reception to ask for somewhere else to sleep for the night.
Next morning I arranged to change rooms for the rest of my stay. Not a chance I could deal with that again! Ready to make the most of the day, first up was the kids version of the giants parade. Crowds gathered either side of Las Ramblas as the giants made their way up, stopping to interact with the kids as they went.
Plaça de Sant Jaume was once again home to the castellers – human towers – so it was of course the next stop. I learnt my lesson from last time and tried to secure a spot in the shade, which was difficult given the crazy level of crowds. There were five teams in this competition, and the towers were bigger than I’d ever seen before, even having some of the single tier ones walking around the square. It was truly so impressive! A small tour group was standing close to me, and the guide was explaining the cultural significance of the castellers to the group, and one man complained the whole time that they were here to see Barcelona not some people climbing on top of each other. I really felt for the guide, but I guess it’s not to everyone’s taste.
As the competition drew to an end, people started to faint in the crowd. The sea of people parted to allow medics through, and it felt like a good time to make a run for it and grab a drink and snack. With the afternoon free, I made the most of the opportunity to chill out on the beach for a few hours. The weather for tomorrow wasn’t looking great so this would be my last beach time for a while! And of course, I had to grab one last slice from my favourite pizza place on the walk back to the hostel.
Quick shower and it was time for the big finish to La Merce – fireworks! Placa d’Espana had been closed off to traffic, and as I arrived, I saw the road to Font Montjuic was already crammed. I found a spot near the roundabout and was quickly surrounded by thousands of people. The firework show that marked the end of La Merce was incredible, and I was so so happy that I had finally been able to experience at least some of the events of the festival after wanting to visit for years. I went to bed so happy, and fell asleep to the sound of…nothing. No snoring. What a blessing!
My last full day in Barcelona was overcast, so I made the most of the weather and went to check out Arenas de Barcelona. Now a shopping centre, it used to be a bullring and is just off Placa d’Espana where I’d been the night before. The exterior has kept most of the bullring character, and inside, the shopping centre is spread over several floors. After having a wander round the food court and resisting the urge to buy more clothes than would fit in my backpack, I slowly strolled back towards Las Ramblas. A bit more window shopping later and I found myself in the harbour for one last Barcelona sunset.
It was with a heavy heart that I packed my bag for the last time this trip. It had been an amazing six months, and after a tough start to the year I was so glad that I’d said yes to the first trip to Madrid with my friends that kicked off this experience that I’d wanted for years. There’d been some real lows, and phone calls to my parents about whether I should just head home, but the highs had been high – I don’t mean drugs mum, chill – the freedom had been liberating and I had learnt so much about myself that every low had been worth it.
With so many life lessons along the way, I’d like to say that I was now more organised. Sadly I realised on my way to catch the airport bus that this wasn’t true because I needed a longer bus than I’d planned for. Thankfully it was just to the next terminal so I wasn’t at risk of missing my flight. A shame really, I’d have taken any excuse to stay in Barcelona.
Until next time, Barcelona!
< Barcelona | #59 |