Progression to the Typical

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This blog entry about the events of Saturday, July 03, 2004 was originally posted on July 13, 2004.

DAY 259:  Pablo Picasso, the world famous painter, revolutionized the art world with his Cubist style.  However, he didn’t always depict his subjects in the sharp angles and loud colors that made classical art buffs at the time what to hang themselves.  Like most Modern artists that don’t get really famous until they die, Picasso had an artistic history of painting and drawing things formatively, mostly in his younger years in Barcelona.  Gradually over time he progression his style into the one he is most famous for today.

Jack and I would also leave our “young days” in Barcelona and progress our travels together onto other parts of Spain, but not before one last day in the roots of our time together.

AFTER PUTTING OUR BAGS IN STORAGE and checking out of the dorm room where the Italian bachelor party participants were still passed out, we headed over to the Teatre de Liceu, the second largest theater in Europe, conveniently just across La Rambla from the side street our hostel was on.  I had wanted to see it ever since I saw it on an old episode of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, so I could roam its huge six-story auditorium (picture from a picture since photography was forbidden) done in classical style to provide seats for the theater-going public.  Jack and I paid admission for the non-guided tour, which was guided anyway by a woman — probably to keep guys like me from hocking a loogey off the fifth floor balcony.


“MIAMI’S LIKE CALIFORNIA,” Jack told me.  “Nobody walks.”  Complaints about wandering the city on foot were just one of the on-going jokes Jack had with me, although there was a little seriousness in them.  He wasn’t accustomed to my backpacker lifestyle.  In fact, he didn’t even bring a backpack, but a big rolling luggage the size and weight of a mini-fridge — actually my college refrigerator was smaller than what he had.  Not that his luggage was a major problem, just when we had to walk around with it.  I suppose the difference in being a “luggage roller” and a “backpacker” is like the difference Miami and New York; in New York, everyone is on the go walking.

The jokes continued as we walked to the Picasso Museum (free on the first Sunday of every month), not too far away from the Teatre de Liceu, at least by New Yorker standards (about eight blocks).  We wandered the comprehensive exhibition in several galleries of Picasso’s progression from his formative years into his Cubist and post-Cubist years — most of his most famous paintings weren’t there, but I had seen them in New York’s Museum of Modern Art.  (I walked to that museum too.)  Exhausted, Jack staggered around the artwork and the tourists in summer attire. 

“Ah, look at this one,” I said to Jack, pointing to the painting of a tired figure.  “It’s Jack after walking for two hours.”  Another one of a figure lying down.  “Here’s another.”  But Jack was more appreciate of the other artwork in the gallery; big breasted women.  “Look at that, it’s a work of art,” he said, sitting on a bench all tired.  We both agreed that so far, Spain was a country with awesome bust measurements and a high percentage of MILFs.


A RESTING PERIOD CAME when we found a nearby street cafe to chill out for cappuccinos and (for me and my craving) a plate of olives.  We took a train to find the Museum of Contemporary Art, only to find out it closed at three on Sundays.  In lieu of that museum we just took a leisurely unhurried stroll back to La Rambla, taking walking breaks every so often for Jack.  We used a coupon for a two-sandwich combo at Pans & Company, the chain sandwich shop where I went to use the bathroom in the back, not realizing there was one right behind the table we were sitting at. 

“Even when you go to the bathroom you like to walk,” Jack joked.


FOR A LAID BACK GUY WHO’S NOT USED TO WALKING or rushing, what happened next was a nightmare.  We only gave ourselves thirty minutes to get to the bus station, only to discover it would take thirty-five, even with the rapid progression of public transportation.  No taxis were available on La Rambla so we took to the Metro subway — easier said than done with Jack’s big mini-fridge of a suitcase.  Transferring from one line to another through underground tunnels was an ordeal going up and down flights of stairs.  It didn’t matter if I ran faster; I’d have to wait up for Jack to help him carry his big suitcase on wheels up and down flights of stairs.  It was heavy enough for two people to carry, let alone one.  And to think he was traveling with gear as heavy as me (without electronics or a computer) for just ten days through Spain.

We got to the Estacio Nord around 5:05, hoping our 5:00 hadn’t left yet.  In a frantic run through the station, I asked around and a bus conductor put us on a bus that he said was the right one — but when we departed right after I talked to a Canadian couple who believed they might be on the wrong bus too.  We theorized that although the bus would go to Valencia, we were on the wrong one.  Luckily Jack used his Spanish to ask another guy, and luckily our wrong bus was stopping off at the other bus station to pick up more passengers.  Our correct bus was there, waiting to depart and we switched in the nick of time. 

“This is the last time I’m bringing this bag,” Jack said, sweating.  “That was a big mistake.”  “Big” was and understatement, but at least we were finally in the right place en route directly to Valencia.


AFTER A THREE AND A HALF HOUR RIDE amidst a group of annoying American girls doing their Spanish homework, our travels progressed onto Valencia, Spain’s third largest city.  I was immediately greeted by pickpocket who unzipped the small compartment pocket of my backpack, who only found nothing of value.  Right after we were greeted by good guys in Valencia, Jack’s friend Juan, a fellow veterinarian who had worked with Jack in a vet clinic in Miami for eight months before moving back to Spain.  He had his friends Fernando and Gonzalo pick us up and brought us to our house for the night, the spare room of Juan’s apartment in a quiet residential neighborhood in the city center.  It was a welcome change after staying in that cramped dorm in Barcelona:  two beds in a single room, towels and a shower you didn’t have to share with five other Italian guys.  Juan’s hospitality was extended some more with horchata de chufa, a sweet milky drink made from a root plant, a typical refreshment originating in Valencia. 


“[THERE ARE TWO AMERICANS HERE,]” Juan told a waitress.  “[We need to give them typical dishes.]”  He, his friends Fernando and Gonzalo and his sister Melina took us to a nearby place serving tapas, the typical Spanish snack-sized portion of food.  The waitress brought us an assortment of typical Valencian tapas (picture above), from basic cheeses and cured meats to sardines, paté and mussels.  By 1 a.m. we were doing the typical thing of going to a bar for a drink before doing the typical Valencian thing of going to a nightclub.  The only place worth going to on a Sunday was Acuarella, an outdoor/indoor dance complex frequented by locals — frequented even more on Fridays and Saturdays to the point you can’t move.  It being Sunday, the crowd was relatively small, until 3:30 when a whole group of people apparently off of work got out.  By four o’clock the clubs was a fairly happening place with a mix of Spanish and American dance songs.

Uruguayan Jack, with his suave Spanish fluency, chat up some local girls, with only a few bites.  “Spanish girls love the Uruguayan accent,” Juan told me as we watched the master flirt working abroad (pun intended).

We left around 4:30 after partying the night with toasts after toasts until we left with beer rushing from our stomachs and into our bladders.  “You can piss on the street here,” Juan informed me.

“Really?”

“Yeah, anywhere in Spain.”

With that said, I whizzed on a nearby wall for the sake that I could.  Anything to experience “typical” Valencian life I guess.  And to think I was in a classy opera house that morning.  How’s that for progress?






Next entry: Guidance in the Home of Paella

Previous entry: My First Celebrity Sighting




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Comments for “Progression to the Typical”

  • MIRNA SUCKS. ALLISON and DONNIE are OUT! YES!

    More importantly, I’m FIRST!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/13  at  03:01 PM


  • ERIK - The notion of pissing on the street, does that apply in Valencia alone or all of L’Espagne? Sup with the beyoos in the Museum of Contemporary Art pic? Beyoo.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/13  at  03:11 PM


  • Arrrrr, shiver me timbers, she updated right in front of me.  Greetings from Munich.  Did ya say you were going to Berlin matee?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/13  at  03:13 PM


  • beyo…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/13  at  03:19 PM


  • BILL THE PIRATE:  Hey…  Berlin, yes sometime… when will you be there?  I’m sort of stuck in France until my visas are all arranged…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/13  at  03:58 PM


  • So, are the Spaniards as big of partiers as is said? I would guess that if you’re up till 4am at a club, yes. But that’s just me…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/13  at  05:22 PM


  • NOELLE:  Yeah, it was a Sunday too…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/13  at  05:51 PM


  • Jack: dood..that luggage is HUGE! Did that fit in the overhead compartment?

    ErikTGT: did you know you were get pickpocketted or was this after the fact? Did you kick his ass?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/13  at  06:04 PM


  • This is why I keep coming back. Where else can I find correct semi-colon use followed by big breasted women? Erik, you are the master! And that pun… pure genius! Working abroad… hahaha

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/13  at  10:45 PM


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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by BootsnAll.com. It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

Praised and recommended by USA Today, RickSteves.com, and readers of BootsnAll and Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree, The Global Trip blog was selected by the editors of PC Magazine for the "Top 100 Sites You Didn't Know You Couldn't Live Without" (in the travel category) in 2005.


Next entry:
Guidance in the Home of Paella

Previous entry:
My First Celebrity Sighting




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