A Finde in Barcelona: All’s Well that Ends Well | First Night
Hola! My name is Sunny, and I’m majoring in Spanish at Colby College. This is my first time in a Spanish-speaking country. I’m currently studying abroad with PRESHCO and will be updating the fun times that I SPAINed here! Bievenidos!
No, I didn’t misspell “find” - “finde” is abbreviation for “fin de semana”, weekend. Last Thursday, Nov. 01 was All Saints’ Day. Classes were cancelled, so we have a full four-day weekend. Taking advantage of the opportunities, the Preshquitas all went to different places - Islas Canarias, Amsterdam, etc. Edilia (another Preshquita) and I decided to escape to Barcelona - a polemic, cosmopolitan city - and our experience truly reflected Shakespeare’s famous work “All’s Well that Ends Well”. Let me explain. Starting from the transport and stay.
You can basically travel the entirety of Spain and even Portugal by train - RENFE. However, the RENFE website was INCREDIBLY hard to use. We could have booked the tickets in 5 minutes even with the slow internet, but the website keep showing error messages like “there’s already a booking in session” “ticket not available” etc. When we go back and redo it, the Cookies track our searches and makes RENFE significantly raise the price for the original tickets we were going to book. So after around 2 hours at La Bici (a chic cafe right outside of where I live), we finally nailed the tickets at a fairly reasonable price of 80 something euros. The to train is the AVE (high speed train) which takes only 4 hours, while the return train, madre mia, 10 full hours. But hey, when you’re young dumb and, mostly broke, gotta do what you gotta do.
Next, the stay. We first looked at our cheapest option - Couchsurfing, which I have used before with a mix of good and bad experiences depending on the host. I messaged a couple of people, but sadly, none of them were available. From there, we started looking at hostels and Airbnbs. Admittedly, it’s my fault for not reserving the place until the week when we were gonna leave. But somehow, I always seemed to be caught up in something - yes, like going to that spontaneous Halloween party on Oct. 31 and catching the train to Barcelona in 9 hours. But yes, we did reserve the Airbnb so we wouldn’t arrive hungry and tired and homeless in Barcelona. Tired and hungry, maybe, but not homeless.
21:15, Nov. 01, we arrived at BCN-SANTS station! As we rejoiced, a terrible fact also began to gloom on us - our Airbnb was NOT in Barcelona. It was located in Manresa, a city 2 hours outside of Barcelona. When I looked up the address in Cordoba, it seemed like the place was only 30min away, but I must’ve put in the wrong direction.
My anxiety level is inversely proportional to the battery level on my phone, and my phone was at 20% because the charger had some problems. The host was texting me to see if we would still go, we are trying to cancel while trying to find a place to call the night… and in the end, we decided to go to McDonalds, grab some macarons and look through our options like mature adults.
A host offered to host us at Couchsurfing, but such a last minute offer seemed waaaaaay to sketchy, so we decided to look for hostels. In the end, we chose INOUT hostels - paid, and took the last train there was to get there. Beware, future travelers, Barcelonian public transport - be it ferrocarril, metro, autobus - stop running at 23:00. So if we had missed that one, we really would’ve had to spend the night at the station. It would’ve been a nice sequel to Night at the Museum - Night at the Train Station: Ft. Edilia & Sunny.
We got off the R train at Plaza de Catalunya, and went outside to look for the S train - which they call “ferrocarril”. Dragging my suitcase around in the dark plaza, looking at the shiny signs of DESIGUAL and Hard Rock Cafe screaming to take my money, I breathed a sigh of relief: “hello big city.” Edilia’s from LA and me Shenzhen, so we feel more at home in larger, more modern cities.
We finally found the S ferrocarril, thanks to Edilia’s people skills of nicely asking strangers while I stand behind her fused with impatience and frustration. However, Google Map malfunctioned and told us to get off at Les Planes instead of Baixador de Vallvidrera. It was cold, it was dark, and we were standing in front of a literal hill - no, mountain - when we got off. Edilia directed us to INOUT Hostel with her map because my phone had officially deceased. We walked for like 30min to get from this station to the last, and then up a huge mountain to get to the hostel. It was a true endurance test for my carry-on, because the road was nothing but mud and grass. Also, who builds a hostel in the mountains?!
It was later found out that the hostel was fairly close to the highest point in Barcelona. Holy high (This is a Chinese pun btw. It sounds like “that’s sick” in Chinese).
The housing situation was the typical bunk bed hostel style situation. I usually get the top bunk, and I got the top bunk again. Holy, the top bunk was even higher than the usual ones I’m used to! Usually, I can jump down from the second step of the ladder; for this one, it’s still too high to jump even from the lowest step.
Nighty night, more fun stuff to look forward to on the next day! And not gonna lie, we didn’t do a bad job planning!