Second Time, Second Nature


This blog entry about the events of Wednesday, June 30, 2004 was originally posted on July 10, 2004.

DAY 256:  Barcelona, has a particular allure unmatched by other Spanish city.  It attracted the likes of wild and world-renowned artists like Picasso and Miro and lured the Olympic committee in 1992 for the Summer Games.  It lured me once before and it was doing it again a second time.

I had come to Barcelona in 1999 on a backpacking trip through Europe with wheat and da Rzz, and this time I’d see its sights with another friend, Jack (aka Jackalz on The Blog), my Uruguayan-American childhood friend living in Miami who had once talked his way out of a police bribe when I visited him in Uruguay in 2002.  He had actually talked his way into coming to meet me in Spain, telling his hard-to-get-a-vacation-from job in a vet clinic that he had to leave for two weeks to go to his brother’s wedding in Uruguay.  (His brother got married before and would show those old pictures if need be.)

Jack’s flight didn’t touch down until afternoon, leaving me the morning to explore and run some errands.  I arrived via rail on my overnight train from Madrid at about 8:30 am and kept my bag in a locker in the train station.  I made my way outside, where I had flashbacks in my mind of the time in 1999 when wheat, da Rzz and I accidentally stumbled upon what looked to be a parade — which turned into a violent protest rally.  I walked by the forecourt where we had been cornered and almost tear gassed and the dumpster we ran by that day when it was in flames.  Five years later, the forecourt and the dumpster were still there in a much more peaceful setting where the smoke had cleared.

Until my rendezvous with Jack, I gave myself the mission to find an English bookstore to get my guides for my onward travel, i.e. Western Europe and the Trans-Siberian Railway from Moscow to Beijing.  (In the meantime I’d get by with the Let’s Go Spain & Portugal that I got from Sebastian.)  A lot of bookstores didn’t have what I was looking for:  Let’s Go‘s Western Europe which, unlike Lonely Planet’s guide, included Prague.  I went from bookstore to bookstore, using Spain guidebooks to lead me to the next store, and ultimately I stumbled upon Altair, a travel specialty store with a huge room dedicated to just travel guides in various languages.  I got Let’s Go Western Europe 2004 and Lonely Planet’s Trans-Siberian Railway.

JACK ARRIVED BY TAXI TO OUR MEETING POINT, the KFC in La Rambla, Barcelona’s tourist-frequented outdoor pedestrian mall (picture above) stretching from the Plaza de Catalunya to the marina, full of cafes, souvenir stores and street performers dressed as statues that came alive if you gave them money.  A newbie to the backpacker scene, Jack came with the American vacation mentality with a huge wheeled suitcase that was about the size and weight of a mini-fridge — his bag for ten days in Spain was bigger and heavier than mine for sixteen months. 

“We’re not eating here are we?” Jack said, referring to Colonel Sanders’ fast food chain.  “It was just a meeting place, right?”

“Yeah, there are tons of places here,” I said.  “Should we try and get a hotel first?” I suggested, knowing we had no reservations anywhere — right in the middle of the high season — and that we should find a place as soon as possible.

“You wanna get a drink or something first?  Pleasure before business.”


We sat at a nearby sidewalk cafe near a street performer sneaking up and screaming at passers-by in a ostrich outfit, and took a break from our travels with some bocadillos (baguette sandwiches), a plate of olives and a big ol’ pitcher of sangria. 

“[Do you have a dead body in there?]” the waiter asked, pointing to Jack’s mini-fridge of a bag. 

“[Yeah, I got two kids in there.]”

Jack caught me up on the quality TV I’d been missing in the States, most notably some skits on The Chappelle Show where comedian Dave Chappelle is dressed up as Rick James calling out “I’m Rick James, bitch!” or when he goes out with performer Wayne Brady who calls out “I’m Wayne Brady, bitch!”  I caught him up with my travels — Jack’s only an off and on Blog reader — all over food and drink.  After our first pitcher, we went ahead and ordered another.  If you do the math, two pitchers for two people equals a pitcher a person.  Needless to say, I didn’t remember much afterwards.

WHEN WALKING TO THE TRAIN STATION LATER THAT NIGHT, Jack filled me in on what happened during my inebriated state.  Apparently I didn’t appear to be that drunk when we met a couple of girls from Colorado who couldn’t hang around too long since they were on their way to Avignon, France.  However, in my stupor I managed to sing them the beginning to the French children’s song, “Sur Le Pont d’Avignon.” 

What’s more impressive than that is, in that period I don’t remember, I was actually coherent enough to find a perfectly-located hostel not listed in the book, the new Hostel Sun & Moon, so new that part of it was still under construction.  I even signed us in under my name and my passport information.  I supposed when you’ve been doing it almost every day for over eight months, it becomes second nature.  After that, both of us passed out in our beds and woke up around eleven that night.  Hung over, we walked to the main train station to get my baggage and to catch up on what I’d missed that afternoon. 

The walk was longer than I anticipated and we ended up getting there twenty minutes passed its closing time of midnight.  Starving, we went searching for a place to eat near La Rambla, but most places’ kitchens were closed.  “This is how we’re gonna die,” Jack said, starving for food to feed his hangover like me.  We searched and searched and luckily stumbled upon a tapas bar that was just about to close its kitchen, and skipped out on tapas by doing the American hangover thing:  a couple of greasy hamburgers.

THE NEXT MORNING I discovered that not only did I sing to the Colorado girls, I managed to write their names and e-mail address down in my notepad and that I even took a picture of them.  I suppose when you’ve been taking photos and notes almost everyday of the people you’ve met, that stuff becomes second nature too.

Next entry: City of The Phallus

Previous entry: Back in the Western World

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Comments for “Second Time, Second Nature”

  • wow, the protest of 1999 sounds scary. glad that you made it out of that without a scratch. it must be very bizarre to revisit a place that you could have gotten killed at. but on a brighter note, your hangover food looks yummy. also, you should contact those colorado girls sometime, they’re pretty cute. =)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/10  at  06:36 PM

  • I love Colorado girls.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/10  at  07:22 PM

  • YES - you make us proud!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/10  at  07:25 PM

  • Colorado, Sacremento…all different area codes…hahaha…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/10  at  07:31 PM

  • Glad to have you back!!!  It’s been way to long…I checked at least 3 times a day for new updates….I hope that everything is okay!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/10  at  11:26 PM

  • u lie! those weren’t ‘hamburgers’ looked more like a greasy bacon N’ egg sandwich.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/11  at  06:16 AM

  • That looks good right about now (breakfast time at my cubical)

    It’s amazing how much you can acomplish while TUI (Traveling under the infulence)! I’m impressed.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/11  at  04:43 PM

  • TUI, nice! not only is the blog a source for your travel adventures but vocabulary as well, good one Td0t

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/11  at  05:09 PM

  • TD0T:  TUI, I like it!

    -Erik TUI

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  07/12  at  12:03 AM

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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 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.

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Next entry:
City of The Phallus

Previous entry:
Back in the Western World


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