Well, getting to Barcelona was the longest bus ride of my life, 26 hours of joy. The bus was supposed to have wifi, but I’ve learned that when a bus is supposed to have wifi, I seem to only get wifi for about half of the trip.
It was strange, at one point pretty early in the morning, the bus just pulled off into a gas station. It wasn’t a normal stop because the doors never opened and the bus driver never made an announcement. After about 25 minutes of sitting in idle, there were police lights flashing behind the bus. Some police officers came onto the bus and one man grabbed his stuff and walked away with them. I have no idea why. There didn’t seem to be any reason to single him out. I never saw any of the bus employees talking to him.
Many of the times that I’ve crossed into Germany or France, the bus has stopped so that some border patrol officers could check everyone’s passports. At one of these stops, one person didn’t have the proper paperwork or visa and had to get off the bus with the officers. That would be pretty sucky.
I lost 100 euros because of one of these stops. I usually kept my debit card and 100 euros in my passport in case something happened to my wallet. At the stops, I would take them out so I could give just my passport to the officer. At one of these stops, I must have put them down on the seat and forgotten about them. I didn’t realize they were missing until after I got off the bus in Barcelona. Fortunately, the bus wasn’t going anywhere right away, so I was able to ask the bus driver if he found them. He had my debit card but, of course, he said there wasn’t 100 euros with it. But I was more worried about getting my debit card, since I didn’t have any other way to withdraw money, so I guess it’s okay.
Barcelona felt pretty touristy, like Prague. There is a big street called La Rambla that is a strip filled with stores. Most of them are clothes or souvenir shops, but there was a little bit of everything. Every time I walked around this street, it was packed with people. At all of these stores, the owner would stand in the doorway, usually smoking, and then follow you into the store if you walked in. I thought it was annoying. It always felt like they were following me around to make sure I didn’t shoplift. Every other street seemed to be made up of a souvenir shop, a market, and a restaurant. And every restaurant seemed to have the same large picture menu out front, selling the same things. The signs must have been sold in bulk.
The first night I was there, I met Harry. I was on the roof of the hostel, video chatting with my parents when he came up to smoke. He was from South Africa, but was born in the UK. We ended up chatting on the roof for awhile before going to a restaurant and getting pizza that we questioned whether or not it was microwaveable (it still tasted decent.) He was just traveling for fun. He was on a gap of year from school, working in London but was preparing to go to college some time next year. He’s been the first person I’ve met that has been younger than me (he was 19.) Except he still looked at least the same age as me (I seem to assume that everyone is older than me unless they are prepubescent.)
I also met three Egyptian doctors, who shared a room with me. They were doing some traveling before going to America to study for their USMLE exams. In Egypt, you start medical school straight out of high school instead of after college, so they were actually only one and two years older than me. The night I met them, I was in the room about to go get something to eat when one of them said that the hostel was having some event at a bar with free food, you only had the pay for drinks. Since I don’t drink, it seemed like a pretty good way to get free food. And since they were Muslim, it turned out that we were all going for the same reason. After learning that I didn’t drink or smoke, one of them said I was “basically Muslim, bro.” The food didn’t turn out to be very good (it was slices of a baguette with meat, chips, and a crappy pasta dish.) But it still was free.
The next day, the four of us tried to go to the Picasso Museum. However, we all failed to remember/know that it was Monday and many places in Spain are closed on Monday. It only took us getting there to realize that. So we walked to the Arc de Triomf.
On the way, I learned what the Egyptian way to cross the street was. Basically, it meant crossing the street whenever you wanted, regardless of what the crosswalk sign says. So, in short, I learned how to walk like an Egyptian. The Bangles would be so proud.
After going to the Arc, I had to leave so I could catch my bus to Rome. I did budget some time to stop at the beach as well as a store for some things I needed to get before leaving, but I didn’t budget enough. I left the store with not very much time before my bus left, and I still had to go back to the hostel to get my stuff before taking the metro to the bus station. I got to the metro with about 10 minutes left. When I walked to the platform, I heard some other people talking, saying the train was delayed and they didn’t know when it was going to come. It was possibly going to be 45 minutes. Clearly, I didn’t have that much time. After getting out of the metro station, I walked a little bit and found a taxi. I had heard that some taxi drivers will try to greatly overcharge you and I didn’t really want to deal with that but I was desperate to get to the station. I asked him how much it would be to get there, and when it turned out not to be that much, I had him take me. I got there with about 5 minutes to spare. All of this traveling and close calls have been very exhausting.