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Ibiza Fort

Ibiza, Spain-Europe Day 5

What a difference a good night of sleep makes. I felt like a new man waking up in Ibiza. Kiana and I grabbed a quick breakfast down on the beach and moved our bags over to the hostel across the street. The hostel was the most hippyesque place I have ever stayed, to give an example, the room we stayed in was littered with Che Guevara posters and quotes. It was neat.

Che Hostel

Che Hostel

A bit later in the day Kiana and I walked into the center of Ibiza Town and visited the sites. At the highest point in the city is a historic fort built about 1000 years ago that was conquered and reconquered numerous times. Shortly into our visit to the fort, the heavens opened and Kiana and I were caught in a downpour. We took refuge in town at an ATM where we met two Americans from the University of Maryland travelling through Europe. It was nice to meet up with some Americans and have a taste of home and familiarity. We all grabbed some pizza in town and made plans to meet up downtown later that night.

Ibiza Fort

Ibiza Fort

Kiana and I returned to the hostel to recoup, grabbed some food down the road, and met up with the DC guys back in town. This is when the day’s madness really began. The DC guys had pubcrawled their way around town and Kiana and I had pregamed at the hostel, suffice to say, we were all ready to party. Our first stop of the night was down at Pacha, one of Ibiza’s superclubs with the intention of finding a cheaper way in than the 50 euro cover at the door. We arrived around 11:45 and clubs in Ibiza dont really even open til midnight. I went up to the bouncer at the head of the line and told him it was our last night in Ibiza and asked if he knew of any way we could get cheaper tickets. He suggested checking the dock as they might have 30 euro tickets. That was still too much, and we were still feeling bold.

Seeing as Plan A failed, it was time to try Plan B. We decided to walk around the building and see if there was another way in. Our first real opportunity was an open door on the side of the building, but seeing as the club hadn’t opened yet, we doubted we could hide in the club undetected long enough for it to open. Opportunity 2, the liquid courage we’d all drank was starting to really take affect, and in any other situation this idea would have never left the ground. Next to Pacha was a ritzy sushi restaurant that shared a wall with the club. We snuck into the sushi restaurant under the pretense of going to the bathroom and were promptly asked to leave.  Attempt number 3, try the back door. The back door was locked and a security guard started yelling at us so we had to run. Clearly this was not meant to be.

Dejectedly, we walked next door to a little bar and all got massive steins of beer. Two steins later, we had all forgotten about our failed club capers and were making friends with the other randoms in the bar.

Flash forward, we’re walking back from the bar, get lost, manage to get wifi from the front of some random house and navigate home.

Bruce Willis Vodka

Barcelona-Ibiza, Spain-Europe Day 4

My first real day of Backpacking Europe. Kiana and I woke up, showered and packed our bags to be out of the room by 11am, a checkout time we later learned is nearly universal. Our first stop of the day was back downstairs to the hotel where our parents were staying to continue using their free buffet. The buffet caper went off without a hitch and none of the hotel staff knew or cared that we were using their buffet and not staying there.

After our crime filled breakfast, Kiana and I walked to her friend Julia’s house to drop Kiana’s backpacking bag off while we went to Ibiza, since she would be returning to Barcelona afterwards. I kept mine, as I would be in Madrid afterwards. Bags dropped off, Kiana and I took the train to the airport and wandered the terminal before our flight.

The duty free shop in the airport sold 9 euro vodka that Kiana and I stocked up on before our trip to Ibiza. Not only was it only 9 euro, according to the label with Bruce Willis’ face on it, its the “best vodka he knows of.”

Bruce Willis Vodka

Bruce Willis Vodka

The flight to Ibiza went smoothly, it was only a 30 minute flight, yet the flight crew talked on the intercom literally the entire time, which made reading, listening to music, or hearing yourself think tough. When we touched down at Ibiza airport, we disembarked onto the tarmac and walked along the runway to a waiting bus that drove us the remaining 200 ft to the terminal entrance (it didn’t make sense to me either). The Ibiza airport was a truly international crowd, with a handful of Americans sprinkled in.

Kiana and I spoke with the Americans and we shared a bus to Ibiza town where we separated. The other Americans getting lost, and us wandering Ibiza Town for hours looking for inexpensive housing. The hostel we were told to stay at was booked for that night so we went across the street to Hotel Maritimo. The room was 50 euro and right on the water, not bad for Ibiza. Finally being able to put down our bags after a long and exhausting hike around town was glorious. I wanted to lay down and never get up. Then we got up. Ate pizza. Returned to the room and passed out for the night.

Today was such an adventure. Its hard to imagine we woke up this morning in Barcelona and passed out in an Ibiza Hotel that night. Ibiza was not at all what I expected. It was a neat place, but it reminded me of Key West with a handful of superclubs scattered around the island. I’d expected a strip of superclubs with a clear clubbing district, something closer to Vegas or Miami.

Barcelona, Spain-Europe Trip Day 3

Today we woke at the hotel as usual, the 5 of us crammed into a little room, had a nice breakfast downstairs and began our day.  Since this was Mom and Ali’s last day in Barcelona we fit in as many paying attractions as possible :p Our first two stops were at two houses Gaudi designed. Walking into a Gaudi house is like walking into a Dali painting. There are very few straight lines or right angles. The houses are frequently an amalgamation of plant and animal forms merged together creating the feeling of entering a fantasy world.

After the Gaudi houses, we accompanied Mom, Sophie, and Ali back to the hotel and said our goodbyes. The chord had been cut, Kiana and I were on our own in Europe with adventures to be had. Adventure number 1, go upstairs and check in to our hostel, so not a huge leap, but a start.

Our First Hostel

Our First Hostel

The hostel was significantly cheaper than the hotel a floor below, with the only difference being a bathroom outside the room. When we checked in, bottle of wine in hand, the clerk offered to open the bottle of wine for us and gave us two glasses. Things were looking up! After dropping our bags off, Kiana and I celebrated our upcoming adventures with a toast and headed out to meet Kiana’s friends for an early dinner at 9:30. Gotta love Europe. Fastforward to 10:30 and her friends show up, fashionably late for Europe. Dinner was great. I had an enchilada and a salad, with a Coronita. I later learned there’s already a Corona in Spain, so Corona goes by Coronita.

Coronita

Coronita

After dinner we went with Kiana’s friends to a cool little expat bar in Barcelona for some beers. The bar was covered with graffiti and punk memorabilia. It was an awesome place that I will definitely go back to the next time I’m in Barca.

Graffiti Bar

Graffiti Bar

Barcelona, Spain-Europe Trip Day 2

Last night seemed like a faint memory walking down the nearly vacant Las Ramblas. Aside from an occasional streamer, all indications of last nights mayhem were gone. We spent the day exploring Gaudi’s park at the top of Barcelona. The park was absolutely beautiful. Gaudi had originally designed it to be a private neighborhood, but the project never took off and the property was turned into a public park. The park is far from a failure though. Its a beautiful mix of nature and architecture with roman columns, mosaics, intricate tilework, and winding paths through the parks flora. One such path leads to an incredible vista overlooking all of Barcelona. Panoramic Picture to come. The park offers live entertainment in several squares offering everything from didgeridoo players to human statues.

View of Barcelona from Gaudi's Park

View of Barcelona from Gaudi’s Park

After the park we went with Ali’s friends to the Picasso museum which offered free admission after 3. The museum was great and with free admission there wasn’t any pressure to stare intently at every painting or read every plaque and sign. Picasso’s early work was very interesting. The beginning of the museum showcased several of Picasso’s early paintings which were incredibly lifelike.

The busy Streets of Barcelona

Following the Picasso museum, we got gelato on the way back to our hotel. After some naps and freshening up, we met up with Lulu’s family on the Barcelona seaside for some dinner. Lulu is another 5 year old that Sophie made friends with on the cruise. The meal was great, we had calamari, some sort of cold fish dinner, seafood paella and traditional Barcelona tomato toast. I found out later the meal was somewhere in the ballpark of $180, which was definitely overpriced, despite the great meal. After dinner Kiana, Ali, and myself met up with his friends for a quick night cap before bed.

A Market in Barcelona

I had a great time with my family today and it was reassuring to meet Lulu’s family and know that if anything happened while I was in Spain they would be more than happy to help Kiana and myself out.

Las Ramblas after Barca's Win

Barcelona, Spain-Europe Trip Day 1

My first day in Barcelona off the cruise ship was exhausting to say the least. We woke up on the ship at 6, ate breakfast at 6:30, and disembarked at 7. As early as all this was keep in mind I also went to bed at 4am the night before. Stepping onto land and leaving the cruise ship once and for all was quite a dose of reality. No more buffets, no more housekeeping, off to Europe to live on bread and cheese and live out of a backpack. Fortunately, we had several more days of buffer sharing a hotel room with our parents. No hostels quite yet.

The first day I didn’t do much, mostly napping. I napped on the table in the lobby of our parents hotel, I napped on the tour bus around Barcelona, and I napped in the room after the tour. That night we met up with Ali’s friends and got some drinks off Las Ramblas. It was fun to see Ali with his friends, I don’t think he has many back in Florida. This was also the night of the European Cup Finals with Manchester United playing Barcelona. Kiana and I joined up with her friends from Argentina in the Arc de Triomf (Barcelona has one too) to watch the game.

 

This was definitely one of my crazier sport experiences. The plaza where the arc stands is about the size of a football field and it was completely packed shoulder to shoulder with people watching the game on a massive projection screen while a band played on a stage next to them. Around the plaza people formed a sea of red and blue playing drums, climbing lampposts, and holding their breath in a collective anticipation of the first goal. I stood with Kiana and her friends drinking Estrella, Barcelona’s cheap go-to beer, available from any random person on a street corner selling them out of a 6 pack.

The Plaza after Barca's First Goal

The Plaza after Barca’s First Goal

Barcelona was the first to put points on the board and the plaza exploded in excitement. People lit off fireworks and flares all around us, right inside the crowd. Others popped bottles of champagne and sprayed the crowd. The fans behind us began to rapidly beat drums and dance about. It was a good five minutes before the crowd died down again. Later in the game, Manchester tied the score at 1-1. A Man U fan in the crowd, foolishly wearing a Man U jersey, cheered. A Barca fan saw him and punched him square in the back of the head. The Man U fan wheeled around and clocked him right back, mistake number 2 for the Man U fan, but who wouldn’t have done the same in that situation? A sea of Barca fans descended on the lone Man U fan beating him to the ground until he lay motionless in the street. It was a sobering moment to say the least. I’d never before seen this level of fanaticism and only now began to understand the level of devotion Europeans place on futbol. The attackers fled the scene and a group formed around the Man U fan to protect him until the paramedics showed up. Several paramedics in neon jumpsuits bandaged the Man U fan’s head and escorted him out of the park. The fight combined with the tied score made the game that much more intense. After what seemed like an eternity, Barca pulled ahead and the crowd was once again electric. A TV crew came through the crowd filming fans and Kiana and I made it into the video, which I later found out was for an Ecuadorian TV show, clip to follow shortly.

Las Ramblas after Barca's Win

Las Ramblas after Barca’s Win

After Barca’s victory, the plaza migrated to Las Ramblas for much merriment. Kiana and I beat the crowd back to the hotel we were staying at and met up with Ali and his inebriated friends who’d been drinking and watching the game at the hotel. As loud and insane as the plaza had been, looking out on the crowd at Las Ramblas from our hotel was a hundred times crazier. Atleast 100,000 people were crowding Las Ramblas as far as the eye could see in all directions. People yelled, climbed everything in site, and lit off enough fireworks to provide a constant staccato of bangs until atleast 4am. Fortunate for us, the hotel provided earplugs to the guests.