It’s a beautiful, sunny day in Barcelona and I’m sitting on a wooden bench in Park Guell, one of the most famous (if not THE most famous) park in Barcelona. In front of me, there’s a stunning panorama of the city and the famous Gaudi’s bench which looks like a long snake.
Amusing things are taking place in front of me so instead of exploring further on, I’m watching. The main path, leading from the entrance to the park right to the place where I’m sitting, is full of tourists and all sorts of street entrepreneurs, as I call them.
They are proudly presenting their goods widespread on wide scarves laid on the ground. You can buy colourful scarves, selfie-sticks with or without Bluetooth, clay figures of Gaudi’s works, cold mineral water, jewellery. Tourists are strolling between those goods, they haggle, take selfies, occasionally buy some souvenirs.
Suddenly, I can feel tension in the air. The street entrepreneurs cast meaningful looks at each other and then next second, hurriedly pick up their large scarves with goods and run as fast as they can, holding so many things. I stare at the empty space near me in awe. What has just happened?
I don’t have to wait long. Police car approaches, parks on the path, and two policemen get out. They quickly move in the direction of the guys who have just escaped. 10 minutes later, when I feel like going somewhere else, the police is gone and guess what?
The path is getting filled with the street entrepreneurs again. I’ve spent approximately two hours in Parc Guell and have seen such situations five or six times. My guess is that the police knows about the guys selling stuff illegally, but somehow tolerates it. I don’t believe the police couldn’t find them since it was blatantly obvious where the guys were hiding, and it looked more like cats chasing a mouse game than police trying to get hold of petty crime perpetrators.
Some two, maybe three metres in front of me an interesting occurrence is taking place. A Polish couple approaches a selfie-stick seller. He is wearing black jeans and a blue T-shirt. She is wearing a nice, flowery dress and ankle-high, suede, peep toe booties. I am wearing my absolutely comfy summer trekking shoes from Decathlon. They used to be blue, but after walking in Park Guell, they are grey-yellowish from the sand. I feel for this girl’s shoes.
They take a quick look at the selfie-stick exhibited evenly on a big scarf on the ground and start walking away. The swarthy seller calls after them in an invitation to haggling.
-Please, please! Come, come! – the couple looks absolutely indecisive, but the trick works and they turn back to the seller. The blue T-shirt guy asks:
-Ile? – and points to the selfie-sticks.
-Five Euros. – Replies the seller and invitingly points to his collection of mutli-colour selfie sticks.
The couple comes closer and the following conversations takes place. For the ease of understating, let me call the Polish guy as Blue, the lady as Girl, and the selfie-stick guy as Seller.
S: Only 5 Euros!
B: Four, four Euro. – the guy shows four fingers and waves his hand a couple of times.
S: No, five Euro.
B: Four Euro. – This is repeated four times in exactly the same manner before a change comes.
B: Two za four! Dwa za cztery! DWA ZA CZTERY. – slowly explains the guy speaking louder and louder.
S: No, five Euros per each. – replies the seller, demonstrating how to extend the selfie stick.
B: No, no, I show you. – The guy takes two selfie sticks and shows eight fingers. The seller grins and says OK. Then the girl comes.
G: Powiedz dwa za pięć! Dwa za pięć! – She then takes out a 5-Euro banknote and points to two selfie sticks. The seller is not too happy.
S: No, 5 per each.
B: Nie! Dwa za osiem! – he replies to his girlfriend.
The couple stands indecisively for a few seconds and goes away.
I was so amused by watching their attempts to communicate with the selfie-stick seller. The funny thing is that the girl didn’t seem to understand even his boyfriend’s intention to buy two selfie sticks for 8 Euros and in the end, they wasted a pretty good opportunity to buy what they wanted. For comparison, a selfie-stick in a shop with electronic devises or in my hostel cost 20 Euros.
I’m walking down a lane near Gaudi’s house, still in Parc Guell. And I hear some pretty good music! As I walk down, I catch a glimpse of people dancing, singing, playing instruments. An unknown music band is giving a concert, just like that, in broad daylight in Parc Guell. There’s so much energy in it! Those guys are nailing it, jumping, doing pogo, singing with their whole hears. I like it!
Let’s queue to take a selfie!
I’m sitting in Gaudi’s park, having a brilliant view on Sagrada Famila. It’s relatively quiet and peaceful. Suddenly, I hear a weird noise getting louder and louder. It sounds as if a huge school of crabs was clasping its paws. I don’t even have to turn around to see what it is, because the group has entered the square and surrounded my bench. It’s a group of Asian tourists of various ages who pay absolutely no attention to the fact, that they completely obstructed my view. I see a nice line forming in front of me, because the spot is just perfect to take a selfie. Sit down, grin, show the victory sign and bend your head to the left. Now take a selfie. Next! The group takes 10 minutes and walks away.
Let’s just grab this girl and take a photo with her!
I’m sitting (again! Gosh, you must be thinking by now that ALL I do while travelling is sitting down and starting at people. Oh, wait!… That’s actually true. :X) in front of Santa Maria Del Mar. A group of Asian tourists is on the way – I’m wondering, is it the same as at Sagrada Familia? There is also a group of school children wearing uniforms. Two ladies from the tourist group approach one girl, who is maybe seven or eight years old. The lady grins and points to the camera. The girl moves backwards with a plain fear on her face. The lady doesn’t give up and grabs the girl by her arm, takes a quick selfie with the girl smiling brightly and, of course, showing the victory sign. The girl tries to escape, but manages to do so only when the lady lets her go. I’m trying SO hard now not to be judgemental, but people are not a monument you can just grab and force to take a photo!
“No hablamos inglés pero hacemos unas bombas cojonudas”
It’s late evening, streets are dark and I still haven’t eaten anything but toasts in the morning. I see a restaurant which looks pretty inviting. It has widely open windows and sounds of cheerful chats and music reach my ears. I enter.
As soon as I reach the bar, a waiter approaches me and shoots me with Spanish. It’s WAY too fast for my skills, so I slowly say “¿Puedes repetir, por favor?”. The guy replies and I got a sense of what he’s saying. He was asking if I am alone or in a company. I reply and he walks me to my table. And asks what do I want to eat. I have not even seen the menu, but can’t remember how to ask for it in Spanish. And I don’t dare saying it in English, because I’ve just noticed a big sign painted on the wall: “No hablamos inglés pero hacemos unas bombas cojonudas”.
I don’t understand the second part, but I well get the “no hablamos ingles”. So I say what comes to my mind first, a tortilla de patatas! And beer. When the waiter brings me beer and a menu, I ask for a tortilla with chorizo instead. Ha, in Spanish! The atmosphere in the restaurant is amazing. The waiters are basically everywhere entertaining the guests. I am so surprised to see it, because I’ve never seen such a laid-back atmosphere in any pub in any country I’ve been to. I only regret I can’t understand more of it. After my meal, the waiter asks “¿quieres algo de postre?” I say “no”, and he goes on “¿quieres whisky?”, I laugh and say no, and he goes on “¿quieres bailar?”. Ha, that went fast.
I can hardly believe my eyes. It’s mid-november and people are taking a swim in the sea! Some are chilling out with friends, there is a couple of people reading books, playing with their dogs. They are wearing T-shirts or l0ng-sleeved shirts, same as me. It’s so sunny, so pleasantly warm! If only I think of the cold Poland, I feel like I instantly need to emigrate. There are masses of people doing sports on the main pier by the sea. Roller-skating, cycling, jogging, and what not. And they aren’t wearing cold-proof soft shells, but shorts and tops. OMG.
That’s the end of my Barcelona stay. I enjoyed it very much. It has not fell short of my expectations, I feel there is plenty of places to discover and I like the atmosphere of this place. I would love to see it in the spring… :-D