Friday, December 22, 2006

A short holiday in Spain - by Jude

We recently went on a short ‘package’ holiday to Spain; it was cheap and you get what you pay for! It was a noisy hotel with loads of people round the pool consuming lots of alcohol (very noisy), a quantity of screaming children (twice as noisy), loud music in the evening (very, very noisy), and traffic about 30 feet away ARRRGH! It was a bit like Mexico, kind of grubby, rubbish and dog mess on the streets, and odours of I knew not what but didn’t much like them.

The first night down to dinner was a disaster, the food was a self service buffet, hot and cold, and it was rubbish!! I’m not that picky but this was stuff I wouldn’t feed a self-respecting Labrador! There were burgers which I don’t think were real meat, sausages in batter, soggy fries, salad which had seen better days, and mashed potatoes. It was basically a mass of carbohydrate and fat with no taste to it. I was so disgusted I just had salad that was so bad that I left it! Ended up eating my left-over lunch which was a hot dog we’d made with nice French bread that morning. To be honest at that point I felt like going straight home! The clientele were nearly all Polish, German, Dutch or something else? And the Brits that were there seemed to be the heavy drinkers with small children!

We ended up going for a walk and then back to the room and making tea with our camp stove that we’d cooked lunch on! Good thing there was a balcony! We bought some brandy and had a few so had no problem sleeping when we eventually went to bed. I lay there listening to all the wonderful noises emanating from the rooms above, below and either side! It was a wonderful cacophony of sounds: talking, toilets flushing, children doing the 100 yards dash up the corridor, air-con cutting in and out, showers, drunks shouting somewhere downstairs, drunks shouting across the street, the distant strains of disco music, and none of it music to my ears! It was all most disconcerting for someone who at best hears an owl too-wooing in the middle of the night, or a fox barking. Added to the pleasures of hotel noises was the uncomfortable bed which seemed to slope down to the left, so I had to lay on my stomach cus if I lay on my side I seemed to roll over anyway! What more can be wrong .

Needless to say I was not amused when Bob woke me by stumbling to the loo at 6.45 a.m, probably half an hour after I’d got to sleep! We decided to attempt the breakfast (given that all food was included in our price), we didn’t think they could fuck up eggs too badly. It wasn’t fantastic, there were hard-boiled eggs and sweet rolls and stuff so I stuck with bread and butter and jam, Bob had eggs. The coffee machine was crap; on pressing ‘white coffee’ it discharged a foamy looking liquid into our cups which, according to my taste-buds had little resemblance to coffee, and had no milk in it!! I guess the milk department in the machine had run out! We left the dining room (we called it the canteen) and retired, disgruntled to the room where I made instant coffee with the camp stove. The weather was overcast so we decided to pass on the beach and go to Barcelona, one of Spain’s biggest cities, by way of the train. It was about a 40 minute ride up the coast. We stood all the way because it was so busy, but not a real problem. Just before Barcelona a blonde female ‘busker’ got on and proceeded to set up her music box and loudly serenade us with a variety of Spanish songs, and in doing so, drown out the station announcements! This was not helpful if the station sign had whizzed by and we’d missed it. Miss Busker then came round for donations! I mean on a train for christ’s sake! Then she jumped off and (I assume) jumped on the next one, and I guess she jumped on and off all day! Our next entertainment was a quite well-dressed woman sitting on the floor of the carriage wailing in Spanish. From my negligible Spanish I picked up that she had no money and that she was hungry and something about her heart! I definitely picked out the word ‘corazon’ which I know is heart, so I began to wonder whether she may be begging money for a heart operation, or whether she was saying ‘Have a heart and give me some Euros so I can get a burger!’ She was also of course mentioning vast numbers of ninos and ninas (children) of which she probably said she had a dozen or so which are also starving but actually couldn’t bring them with her today because they were in school or with the baby-sitter. And who knows maybe it was all genuine and maybe I’m getting too cynical in my old age!

Barcelona was big and full of wonderful buildings, shops and market places. We wandered from here to there, not really knowing where we were going, sat in a little café in a plaza and had coffee, wandered some more and ended up in a huge covered market. It was quite beautiful the way the market traders lay out all their products, there were stands with fruit, veggies, salami, sweets, bread, fish, meat, spices, dried fruits, eggs, and a lot more.

The egg stall was one of my favourites; it had every type of egg you could imagine including some enormous buggers! They have to have been ostrich eggs or else they weren’t real, cus for damn sure no chicken could have popped those monsters out, they were sort of elongated-grapefruit size! For sure just one scrambled would have fed a family of six! The fruit stalls sold lovely packs of chopped mixed fruit with melon and kiwi and pineapple and mango and papaya, I decided to eat healthy and have one and it was delicious. We bought some rolls filled with Spanish meats and cheeses from a little bakery bar along with oat biscuits topped with pine-nuts, raisins and marmalade (scrumptious), and sat in a big square and people-watched and took piccys of a cat statue….

a male cat without doubt!!!

After that we ended up in the huge main plaza with about 30 million pigeons! There were two little wagons selling bags of bird food and people would buy it and then go and throw it for them. When someone threw food the pigeons rose en-masse from wherever they were and zoomed to the food spot, and sometimes landed on the thrower of the food.

I would normally have done my good deed for the day and bought them some too, but the evening before I’d been watching the pigeons round our hotel and they obviously had a severe case of lice! One poor bugger seemed to have them up his bum which sent him into the most hilarious contortions, and however he tried he just couldn’t seem to reach! In the end he tried doing small jumps one after the other as though he was in the grip of some strange dance, but that didn’t work either, and then he spied a pretty female pigeon and his irritations were instantly superseded by his need to impress! He dashed over; all itches forgotten, flaunting his plumage and his ridiculously expanded chest and told her he actually didn’t have a serious case of ass-lice, he was practising a new and unusual dance especially for her! (Lying sod.). She told him to piss-off and no-way was she billing and cooing with anyone that had just had his beak up his tail feathers! And I don’t blame her!

So there you are, I didn’t fancy being sat on by 10 thousand pigeons and getting itchy-ass syndrome so they didn’t get fed! We moved on and walked some of the back streets between the old buildings, up narrow passageways where everyone seemed to string their washing across their balconies. I wonder what their sheets smell of!

There were plenty of prostitutes hanging around on street corners, one exceedingly chubby one with a tight black bum-hugging skirt about the size of a large handkerchief, a low cut blouse displaying some stupendous cleavage, two tons of mascara, three inches of ruby-red lipstick, four inch stilettos, posing with one hand on her hip and the other picking her nose!! A wonderful sight to be sure! There were all sorts, shapes, sizes, colours and nationalities as would be expected in a city like Barcelona; rich and poor, a feast of different cultures.

During our visit to ‘Pigeon Plaza’ (not its real name) we even saw a ‘Bag-Man’. This guy was obviously one up on Bags cus he had a supermarket trolley. I suppose he was a ‘Trolley-Man’. He seemed to have had a successful day judging by his trolley’s fullness. Not far from him were some quite beautiful statues of horses, so I snapped a couple of those too.

We thoroughly enjoyed our day and decided to head back to the station … but where was it? We asked directions a couple of times and then tried to work out the answers and eventually with more luck than judgement we got there. The best bit was trying to figure out which train was going where because the overhead computer was showing all its times for 14.00 hours and it was now 15.30!! There was no relation whatsoever between the computer and the incoming trains, so we just had to go by the destination displayed on the front of the train as it came in, and hope one eventually said ‘Calella’! It was hot, humid and horrible in the station and we were just starting to reach meltdown and get very pissed off when Hey-Presto here comes a train with Calella on the front! We leapt aboard and heaven it was air-conditioned! No buskers or beggars on this trip and we get to sit down too which was another bonus. We relax and idly watch the Mediterranean slipping by between crumbling graffiti-daubed ruins, and stretches of white sand and … oh noNudists! Sprawled like seal colonies they were, with all their bits and pieces bared to the sun, tits and testicles for the train passengers’ titillation! Quite a sight for sore eyes and best that we were on a moving train or we could have got quite fixated on such a feast of body-parts. We made a mental note to avoid those particular beaches in future!

Rocked gently by the rhythm of the train and absorbed by the wondrous sights we’re lulled into the false sense of security that we’re going to roll into Calella station. Wrong! About 4 stops from Calella our train stops and we’re told we have to all get off! Everyone disembarks looking confused and mills around in a disoriented knot. We hear someone say that the train we were on is going back to Barcelona! The driver’s decided he’s had enough for the day perhaps? He enjoys confusing the tourists? Maybe he’s received a call on his mobile from his wife saying she’s leaving him and he’s rushing home to make sure she’s divided the furniture fairly? His pet hamster has possibly been taken ill and needs a quick trip to the vet? Who knows! We amble round in circles looking lost and are taken pity on by a nice Spanish lady who tells us to cross the track and get the next train. Phew! That was a relief, and lo and behold here comes the train, and it does go to Calella!

The food improves dramatically that night and is actually edible, and Bob and I swap beds because he doesn’t think mine lists to port, and I actually slept ok on his. On Wednesday, with the sun having come out we decide to head to the beach. I have difficulty deciding whether to wear my swimsuit and probably be too hot, or throw caution to the wind and allow my flab access to public view by way of a skimpy black bikini! I decide bugger it, I’ll be cool and not care about my rolls, which by standards here are small, even if unacceptable to me. At least thank god I’m not one of the beached-whale variety. The beach is quite nice, too many people though if you’ve been spoiled by hundreds of yards of empty white sand on the Baja peninsula! More than one other person is a crowd to me. We carefully lay out our towels and observe the waves and the relaxing sounds and smells of the sea, (And a number of middle-aged topless ladies displaying a range of bare breasts, some of which to my mind should definitely not be unleashed for public view, unless you want to be put off your pizza.). There are two ‘leggy’ Polish girls, one blonde, one brunette, a few yards in front of us draped delicately on their backs on two colourful air-beds, they look like models, and not only have fantastic figures but also smile a lot and have a happy air about them. Bob said he likes them because they seem very natural, and nature certainly had done a wonderful job on the brunette’s nipples which seemed to reach out to meet the wind like a pair of wild cherries! Personally I don’t think girls like that should be allowed on public beaches, it’s downright unfair and makes me want to stay under my towel!

The sea was warm and wonderful and we donned masks and snorkels and jumped in. There were quite a few fish of different varieties and we floated around and swam for quite a while until I pointed out a large purple jelly-fish, a bit like a flying cauliflower with a bad hair day, at which point Bob vacated the water rapidly and retired to his towel! The jelly-fish were obviously an ongoing problem because the first aid people had a boat out in the afternoon and appeared to be checking on quantities and how near the beach they were. It’s alright if you’re snorkelling and you can see them but for normal swimmers it would be so easy to swim into one, and they can have a very serious sting.

I only had one dodgy moment, but not due to jelly-fish. It had got a bit rough and I decided to get out of the water, I’d almost made it when a dirty great wave grabbed me quite unexpectedly from behind and sent me sprawling, face –down on the beach. I landed in a heap in the surging water, coughing and choking as more waves rushed in, and then I had the dreadful realisation that my bikini bottoms were no longer on my bottom!! And every wave was dragging them down a bit lower! EEEEEEK! I wriggled backwards in pure panic with a death grip on my ‘bottoms’ (convinced of course that the whole of Calella beach had seen my misfortune - and most of my bottom), until I was in deep enough water to make adjustments! Then of course when I did get out in a more composed and dignified fashion (as composed and dignified as you can on all fours through a mass of shifting gravel and foaming sea), I ambled casually up to my towel as though nothing had happened … and mentally dared anyone to think otherwise! I knew I should have worn my swimsuit!

We enjoyed two days on the beach but Friday the weather changed and neither of us felt the urge to stay any longer. I think we both missed our home in the woods and the peace and quiet. So we loaded the car and made for home. And that was the end of our summer holiday.


At 7:07 pm, Blogger fenwoman said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 3:38 pm, Blogger François said...

Great report, very vivid and some things also very recognizable :-)


At 5:50 pm, Blogger john said...

Jude you give a very amusing & interesting account of your trip. its hard to read and laugh at the same time. LOL. just an FYI, i been following your blog since you posted on the beemer touring site. you two give great accounts of your daily activities.
be well, ride safe and enjoy the holiday season. john


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