Priority 1 today is to meet with my new employer and collect some of the course materials so I can start planning my lessons. I head over to the school early, to get it out of the way in addition to looking as eager and committed as I can. It puts me at ease a little, as the woman who interviewed me goes over more details about the class I’ll be teaching (intermediate level adults) and what I’ll be doing this coming Tuesday. My big first day!!
I’ve been staying at this hostel for the past 10 days or so. My stuff is everywhere. I spend some time packing in preparation to move tomorrow. I have plans to meet my new roommates for a quick drink at my new flat tonight, which is a sweet opportunity for me to drop off some stuff early, too. I’ll look like less of a tourist tomorrow if I’m not carrying a backpack on my chest AND dragging a suitcase. My goal is to live in Barcelona without being robbed, but even one of my bigger and local male friends says he’s been robbed 3 times. It doesn’t feel like a dangerous city, but I know I need to stay on my toes.
My roommates are chill af, as expected. Gary, the guy who’s renting me his room, has been a huge help to me in my time here. If I have a question, I ask him, and he’s more than happy to explain. A total gem. The house looks a little more…boyish…than I remember. Dishes, weed, and cigarettes everywhere. No decorations of any sort. But hey, I’m not an overly tidy person, so I can totally handle this. We have a dishwasher which is a damn luxury (and a washing machine! and a cat!). I will not be cleaning up after people, but I expect it won’t always look this way, either.
We hang out on the patio with cervezas and chat. I’m more than ready to move in here tomorrow. It’s going to be so good to have my own space.
I leave to go meet Mazen for dinner. We find a nice Menu Del Dia (Menu of the Day; usually of superb value and include a drink, tapas appetizer, and main for 10€) on La Ramblas (central and famous Barcelona strip). (So many parentheses.)
One of my friends, Jorge, has been living in Barcelona for the last 10 years, but has decided to move to Mexico where his father lives. He’s leaving tomorrow, and is in the stages of doing all the last minute things one must do when moving to a new country. One of those things, is driving out to Sant Cugat to drop off a borrowed guitar to a friend. Sant Cugat is only about a half hour outside of Barcelona and is home to El Tibidabo, the largest mountain in the region. He invites me to come on this little drive so he can show me a cool view of Barcelona. I’m stoked on this, because I clearly don’t have a car and am not sure I’ll ever have another opportunity to go and see it.
Our first stop is the friend’s house. It’s 11pm, and although he told Jorge he’d stay up and wait for him, he’s stopped answering his phone and it’s not looking promising. We wait around for a bit before deciding to go find a restaurant and have a drink while we wait a little longer, instead of just hanging around on the streets of the suburbs. I google map “bars” and we choose the closest one. I’m hoping it’s a sketchy dive bar where all the regulars know each other and we stick out like sore thumbs.
On our drive over we see a family of wild pigs!!! Jorge hasn’t just taken me on a drive, he’s taken me on a safari!! Wild pigs!! We see one big fat one with like 10 babies, all poking around a garbage can in a park. Apparently this is common. So casual, yet so strange. “Careful on your walk back from little Fernando’s house honey, watch out for the pigs!”
We get slightly lost on our way to this random bar, but instead find a restaurant that’s still open, too. It’s getting late so I’m actually surprised there’s anything open here at all, let alone an actual restaurant. We get a table for 2 on the patio, which is beautifully lit and surrounded by a little garden. What a fun find; definitely better than the dive bar I had envisioned.
2 cervezas and some tapas later, Jorge’s friend finally responds. We go back to bring the stuff and stick around to hang out with him and his girlfriend for a little bit, and then head towards the mountain. I get his friend’s info on Facebook. I have now acquired about 5 friends in Barcelona, so I’m improving, but I’m always in the market for more.
The drive up the mountain is beautiful and winding, as you would expect. It’s so nice to see the glowing lights from the houses sprinkled all over the hills of the town around us as we circle up and up. It’s not a giant mountain, but tallest enough to mess with my ears.
At the very peak there is a gigantic, old, classic European-style church, and very small amusement park; both of which are of course closed at this hour. It occurs to me that place must be super accessible to tourists, I just hadn’t heard of it yet. Sometimes I try so hard not to be a tourist that I miss out on general local knowledge too. Oh well, I’m here now.
We see some more wild pigs up here, roaming around the amusement park in search of trash. They seem pretty mean, but luckily they’re on the other side of the fence. Crazy mountain pigs.
We park and walk out to a small look-out point where you can see all of Barcelona, stretching right out to where it ends at the Mediterranean Sea. Is there anything as beautiful as a skyline at night? A city full of lights, in contrast against the empty darkness of the ocean beyond it. I’m an awful photographer and these things simply don’t translate to photos, but I stole some from google just to give you an idea of how fabulous it is.
What a beautiful way for Jorge to say goodbye to his city. I couldn’t be happier that he was nice enough to bring me on this little adventure, and share something so cool with me. I definitely want to come back some time and check this out during the day like a true tourist.