The fact that all of us actually made it to visit this wonderful country is simply mindboggling! With a French air strike, nearly 1000 miles of distance between countries, and poor weather all pulling against us we embarked on our second trip.
The first surprise came to us just two days before our flights were set to depart, the French Traffic Controller organization decided to go on strike and forbid all air travel over their country. As many of you may know pilots typically fly over land as long as they can for safety reasons, this is why when you fly out of the East Coast US you typically head north along Canada’s coast for as long as you can. We were very uncertain of the stance of our trip since two of our members were flying out Thursday evening while the other three were set to depart on Friday afternoon all while the end dates for the strike were still uncertain.
Being determined young travelers though, we decided to not let these huge/massive/difficult challenges stand in our way. After a few phone calls and a short trip to the grocery store for “supplies” a.k.a. cider and beer we all met up Thursday evening and started planning. We looked into nearly every option we could think of short of swimming the English Channel. Every direct flight had been canceled and flights with layovers in countries that would avoid flying over France were way out of budget for a couple of college kids.With “Timmy the Tourist” fast at work we had quickly gone through ever mode of transportation from, air, car, bus, train, and betting Dave he couldn’t walk it was becoming a soon-to-be reality. As the bottles of cider started to dwindle and the cases of beers diminished we realized we had only one option, a 21 hour train ride which had two transfers in both Paris and Perpignon, France. Since we were not considered “European Travelers” we had to make all the bookings in person when the ticket booths opened the following day. As we finished off the rest of our drinks we all went to bed quite uncertain of whether we’d all be sitting on a beach in Spain or on a train station somewhere in Western Europe come Saturday.
Friday came quickly, Thursday’s flights had been canceled while Friday’s were set to fly. This meant in order for all of us to make it to Barcelona, two of our friends needed to take the 21 hour bus ride as the other three would fly out that afternoon. The other wrench that played a deciding factor was that since we booked through two separate airlines, not taking the bus trip the two individuals would forfeit those nonrefundable seats.
The three of us bored our flight and after some rough turbulence had landed in Spain. Katie and Dave on the other hand had shown up at the ticket booth first thing in the morning and found that the seats online had been sold out for that particular price category and the only spots left would be nearly 400 pounds per person. The only option left was checking into buses but the only ones available would take over 2 days to arrive so they were worthless. With both their hopes of sanded beaches and sangria in the gutter they left the bus station. After a short discussion, that was when they decided to put the whole trip up to chance and simply flip a coin. “Heads we go, Tails we stay.” While the other three were already up in the air so was the coin. As it landed both stared in sheer amazement as it spun for what seemed like forever. Heads it was! Now off to the train station! Luckily as they arrived they had found out that two tickets had become available for the same trip at 1/2 the price. Both looked at each other and nearly simultaneously smiled and whipped out their debit cards.
The rest of the trip was incredible. Friday night was spent on a pub crawl that didn’t start until 12:20 AM and ended around 5:00 AM. Saturday afternoon was spent on the beach and the utter amazement of finally getting the group back together around noon that day was unbelievable. We spent the day in the crystal clear waters of a “optional” nude beach sipping Spanish Sangria and enjoying the great company around us.
We laughed in the sun as some people got 5 euro massages on the beach while the others just people watched.
Our evening was an adventure that will have to be recounted in many other posts… (but to sum it up)….. A trip to Razzmatazz, a 10,000 person club, had us lost in minutes as laser lights spun around us while fog smoke filled each room. Two members of our group forgot they had spent all their money on drinks and could not afford the taxi ride back to the hostel. These two spent the early morning hours navigating their way through the, lets just say, “less than welcoming” streets of downtown Barcelona. The next morning was the festival “La Merce” and we felt purely immersed in the Spanish culture as hundreds of “castells” as they call them formed human pyramids towering 60 feet high.
As the final day of our trip came to an end we spent some time thinking how lucky we were that we had all made it to Spain and survived it’s fiasco’s!