22nd – 30th
My time in Barcelona.
My time in Barcelona was spent getting ready for the festival I had been rushing to get there for. Primavera Sound 13′. I met up with a friend from London, Dave and his brother Bern. We traded our tickets for passes and studied the line-up. While doing this a ran into a friend whose room I sub-letted when he went to India about three years ago. Simon. I knew he was living there and planned to meet, but he was pretty busy.
The previous night, I had met a lot of Nick’s mates in the bar he worked at. About three of them were from my home county, Devon. Already the people I had plenty of friends here, which would only increase with time.
I don’t want to try to sum up the festival in these posts as the trip isn’t about that. Although it was an exceptional year, and probably the best festival I had ever been to. I was there the previous year and booked tickets without studying the line-up based on the strength, quality and organisation of it.
The thought that I had cycled there and had months of this gelatinous trip ahead of me, doing what I liked and when was an amazing feeling.
The one downside to the festival, was that I lost my phone and wallet, so had to go through the standard protocol with that. Reporting it to police, filling out insurance forms, posting things, figuring out how to withdraw money. All of which was stressful and I felt restricted for a while, until I figured out how to get things back together.
These things just take time and effort.
All the spare time I had planned to do things in Barcelona was consumed by this plague of misfortune, for which only I was to blame. It’s a horrible feeling, but you just have to keep busy to insure you don’t think about it and get back on track. I still had my credit card too, which meant I could still buy things, but I couldn’t get hold of cash until I was back in France from a HSBC branch.
The one thing I enjoyed doing the most in Barcelona, was simply roaming the streets in the Gothic quarter. It’s such a fascinating city. I went out on the bike a few times, but by the end of my stay there, I had learned that the best way of experiencing the city was to walk. Like the lady had told me in Paris.
I spent my time, reading, doing a spot of writing and catching up with the French Open (tennis) in one bar I found that playing it on the screens. It was such a pleasure to switch off with a beer and just watch the place move around on the clay for an hour.
I had met a lot of Nick’s friends, and a lot of my own friends from all over the place at the festival. But the time had come to leave, get back on the bike and back on with the trip. From having been wild, living freely and making my own bed of a nighttime, I had got used to security, a fridge and freezer, comfort, walls and a sofa.
I had made new friends, and when it came time to leave I found myself getting emotional deep down. Not wanting to leave. To stay in this paradise, with my old and new friends. They kept saying “Ah go on, stay a bit longer” or “Come back when you like”.
I started thinking about how easy it was to stay. I heard that flats were relatively cheap and I would be able to find work with my experience. You feel yourself mentally falling into a comfort zone when you entertain these thoughts.
Before I could consider it, I said that I had to continue with the trip and that I may come back another time. But it was a very tempting thought, sacking the trip off and spending a summer there. Pure spontaneity. Something I hadn’t ever imagined. But no. I had to keep riding. I would be letting myself and other down if I stopped by the beach for a summer of fun.
When I arrived in Barcelona, I didn’t know what I was doing next. Head to San Sebastien perhaps by train, or bus? Or even by bike, coming back through the Pyrenees. Head to Andorra, skipping a large part of the Pyrenees? Or just get into new territory as quickly as possible. Head back the way I came in and get up into the south coast of France.
I’d spoken to people there, all saying that I had to go to San Sebastien for the food and the views. I’d heard this from so many, combined with my ambition to explore the Pyrenees, I had settled on that.
I looked into trains, but it wasn’t easy or cheap. The bus promised no guarantee of getting my bike there safe, or even on the same vehicle as me. I also knew that if damaged in transit, my bike wouldn’t be covered by insurance. All these things weighed me down as a struggled to make the decision to purchase the ticket. After an hour of not knowing, I went for the bus ticket at €30 and hoped it would all work out fine.
I cycled through Barcelona at 7am in the morning to the smell of fresh bread in the streets and hazy a morning sunshine impairing my vision. It was the kind of episode that would make you fall in love with a place instantly and it made me realise why people pack up shop and choose to live in places like this. I loved being here and didn’t want to leave, but had to to continue the trip.