so we eat on the train, which is showing a terrible film starring samuel jackson called 'the man', about a bumbling flatulent dentist that gets mixed up in an undercover gun bust. almost the entire film takes place in one car, and further investigation shows the baddie is played by luke goss. yes. luke goss. we got into town fairly early and so dropped bags off, et some more cheap shop eats (barcelona, unlike valencia, has supermarkets) and hit the segrada familia. you don't need me to tell you about the segrada.. it's that stupidly massive thing they're building that's going to turn into a big jesus robot and attack islamabad... or something. the muslims won't be able to defend themselves because they're not allowed to make images of mohammed so the catholics will win, making them right. it won't be ready for another 125 years, but i'm sure it will be fully operational long before then, to introduce another cliche. on with the trip. after that we headed back into town, and went to the other cathedral, the grumpy one worried about being decomissioned. it felt it; gloomy, ancient and traditional. the cloisters were closed which meant we couldn't experience the cloister fuck (hahaha). laurence knew his way around which meant i didn't get to figure things out as much as i did before and was much more lost than before, which was already quite lost. we found a toy shop, and they didn't sell pokemon, which i had started to have a massive craving for, but they did have a reasonably priced travel chess set, which we had been looking out for. wasndering around some more anonymous but popular back streets, we couldn't find the veggie buffet laurence needed, but we didn't find a similarly styled veggie tapas place around a corner, where we et and et and played chess. i lost, knowingly. it was dark when we finished and we headed back to the hostel to see what was going on. the living room was nicely full of people - a carload of croatians and two norwegian girls for laurence to practise his silver tongue on. the guys were very blokey, passing around large bottles of beer, and talking about the race (or whatever) they'd driven across europe to see (which is pretty decent),and one was an ultra cool digital artist, showed us some of his pictures on the internet. he was our new best friend, the others didn't seem artful at all; funny how there's always one nice person in any crowd (not that the others were unplasant, just blokey and uncool and clearly interested in the norsk dames). there was talk of going to 'this cocktail bar', so when we were kicked out about midnight or one, we headed back into town, by actually quite the stupidest route imaginable, starting off north when we should have been going due east.our group got dragged apart over the extended trip, two of the croatians fell too far behind, the other two bearing down on the girls excessively. we kept up. however when we got to the square where the cocktail bar was, and got a flyer for an indie night across the placa, and the cocktail place was 8 euros to get in.. we made our excuses, said we'd wait for the other two to catch up (which we did, but they didn't) and went into the indie club. it was free entry with the flyer and we didn't buy a drink all inside, which i think is an excellent deal. it was packed and boiling hot and a monday for gods' sake. the music was pretty good - rock and roll, punk, rock, through some prodigy, even played crack hitler by faith no more. not their best song, but they clearly have a thing for that sort of thing. there was a great cover of la bamba too.. we danced. oh, we danced, it was great. it's what i go to school for. we left when we'd had enough, walked home through a ethnic area of takeaways and kebab shops, none of which we partook in.
the next day we had breakfast from the bakery downstairs and went to parc guell. from the heights there, the most hilarious squat i've ever seen right in front of us - a banner read, 'why do they call it tourist season if we can't shoot them' i worried that i might be a tourist and get shot by anarchists. i guess we were; we did touristy things even if we didn't think we thought like tourists, i felt dirty.
we wandered around parc guell for too long - i'd developed a couple of blisters on my feet and was trying to take it easy, slowly and with frequent brakes. parc guell is another place i don't really feel the need to describe - on one hand, words fail me, and on the other, it's well documented. just a few more gaudi houses and a tortilla bocadillo. walking round, through and out, we found a fountain on a hillside in the shade. the fountain was off but the pond/reserve was still full and it was truely beautfiful, if reminiscant of a playstation game where you have to push blocks around to open the door to the next room. we fell asleep by it, listening to the birds and the odd couple walk by. eventually a dog jumped in the pond and woke up laurence, and disturbed me enough to wake me up with it's subsequent actions. feeling better, we walked back to the tube through an area that seemed to consist entirely of squats. we went to the cloisters again, now open, and very pretty. we went to look for something to eat, but none of the options seemed as good as the moaz on the ramblas. it was good, as always.. i'm getting wary. they're not too big yet, but we did see another couple of them in barcalona and they're ambitions are becoming quite obvious. soon, maybe even now, i will be unable to enter one simply because there's so many. when we got home, the two norsks had left and seemingly been replaced by two dutch girls. also a chinese/canadian lad and an american jewish girl, who was vegetarian and travelling on her own.. if only i hadn't had enough complicated feelings for too many people already.. what? what would i have done? given her my email address? told her to visit me sometime? this is all beside the point. we all (except shlema) went to another cocktail bar, and laurence and i went in this time. it was ok. some mild humour but largely irrelevant. the point is that backpacking is great because of the people. somewhere around here, i got an email from reed, saying they had some work for me starting when i got back - result.
the next day was our last, and we went up to the tibaldo to see the view of the city. there's an entirely innapropiate fun fair up there, but out of season; not that we were thinking of going on the rides, some of which were running. the view from there is pretty much essential, as is the church at the top; the best reverb ever, it made object feel so soft. we got kicked out though, as laurence was telling me the entire plot of the matrix (these two things might not be connected). we were hungry, but not enough to eat at the stupidly expensive cafe up there. there was a notion to walk back down, but we realised the cable car tickets we'd bought were returns so used that instead. going back into the underground, we noticed a massive advert for the science museum and it's rainforest/mangrove type section. we turned around, going in every cafe to see if they had something appealing on the way, but none did until we got to the museum, which didn't either, so we settled for another cheese baguette. sigh. the museum was stupidly good, and had an award to proove it - best european museum (or was it just science museum?) 2006 (i guess the british got it a few years ago or something.. how do they even judge that?) but it was really cool. all hands on, interactive stuff. how physics works, how biology works, how waves work, lots of teenagers running around - and then at the end, a massive glass wall with a bloody section of rainforest in. crikey knows how they got it in there. there was a beautiful bird flying around in there... yellow and black, cawing every now and again. i felt really sorry for him. it wasn't big enough for him and he was probably alone, so he was fucked in both holes. all the time flying aroun those few trees, looking for someone, not understanding he was in a massive glass box in barcelona. i hope his sacrifice was worth it. it rained every ten minutes or so, and he'd found a place to sit high up where the sprinklers couldn't reach him, the canny bastard. so there's always that. it was great, but needed to be even bigger. but then that just means even more distruction somewhere else... argh.
and that was it. picked up our bags from the hostel, pickled peppers and cheese and bread and fruit from the supermarket, and said goodbye to those friends we'd barely made, and left for the airport, or rather, left to try and find the bus to the airport. which we did eventually, stuffed my bag into the hold - i'd wanted to only bring hand luggage, but i still had my manicure set and self harmy knife from when i had to run back home to get them to get laurence's card out of the ticket machine at london fields, and you can't take that stuff on the plane. i polished off the peppers and cheese and bread, and we went through into the departure lounge for the next few inevitable hours, broken by the joy of a genuinely great toy shop. we were too tired for much chess and the game was sloppy. eventually we were let on the plane, and i fell asleep for most of the time, waking up in middair somewhere and wondering what was going on. carol (laurance's mum) was there pick us up and took us back to rugby. i tried staying awake, because it's only polite to do so while someone's driving, but it was impossible. we got in about four, and carol poured me a night cap brandy (like i needed help sleeping, but it does make it more comfortable after travelling) which turned out to be somewhere in the region of a half glass - i had a few sips and poured the rest back in the bottle.
the next day didn't really start, just sort of happened, i was on the couch with yashi when loz and carol got back from the osteopath, and we went out to rugby. first stop was the indian shop, then carol's frined that runs a low fi 'i can't believe it's a shop' out of the church/community centre (i wish there was more of a seperation but there you are), with the best samosa's i've ever had, made by his wife. then the inevtiable supermarket, then blockbuster's. we got out v for vendetta and the prestige. went home and it was time to make tea. carol was watching some awful cooking program for some reason, given that it was mostly meat. when graham got home she had a go at him for not taping her program.. such is life. dinner was good, then we weatched the prestige. carol fell asleep during the credits, so there wasn't much hope for explaning it to her when she woke up an hour in. then we played ico and shadow of the colossus into the small hours... you know that point, where you're doing something you love, but you just can't anymore..
and no one said the eurovision semi finals had been on that night.
friday hung out with loz's nan, then watched v for vendetta (not a patch on the comic, the love interest ruined it. why do they change things? the comic wasn't perfect, alan moore said as much, and maybe it needed to be more relevant to today's world than thatcherism, but they did not do it justice), i found out that i wouldn't be starting the job on monday, it slipped back a couple of days due to holiday absence of the hr manager.. i gritted my teeth and told myself it was ok. and i came back to see a hawk and a hacksaw with the hun hangar ensemble, avec ian and james. and i pity anyone who didn't get to see that tour. brilliant, quasi danceable jazz-folk.
the joy doesn't end there, however, despite me being back in london, because i woke up in the morning and found out it was eurovision! i got on the phone and called everyone in london; and somehow it was more succesful than my groucho marx party. dips, crisps, and pasta 'n' pesto, and muchos alcoholos. i'd also spent a very pleasant afternoon with adrian, after bumping into him at tottenham court road, on my way to pick up my jeffrey brown tshirt from gosh, and buy geek stuff (the last issue of phonogram, pokemon starter set). the night ended with agames of munchkin and pokemon
on sunday i was woken to the sounds of the party being cleared up. i joined in as best as i could and mooched about a bit more. i bought a tooth brush to replace the one i'd left in valencia a week ago (ew...) and felt the dramatic need to watch a musical. so out went the invites again and out came hedwig and the angry inch, which i watched in the excellent company of rachel. ian fell asleep, the poor thing.
and i as said goodbye to rachel that night, i thought, what an awesome holiday this has been.