Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hanging out with an Ozzie, a Kiwi, and a Canuck

I took the overnight train last night from Barcelona. The trip was relatively uneventful aside from being accosted by a French man with two rotten front teeth. He came into my cabin, which I was sharing with an older Spanish woman, and helped me with my bag. He then tried to come into our cabin and stay. The Spanish woman said, "No, no, women only." She then left to go meet with her friend. He snuck back in and pulled out a wad of bills and asked me to meet him at midnight in the bathroom. I told him, under no uncertain terms, to get the hell out of my cabin. He left and I slammed the door and locked it. The Spanish woman ended up changing cabins, so I was stuck alone in mine. I kept the door locked the entire night until the next morning, at which point we were about to arrive and I thought my bladder was going to explode. I cracked the door and peered out. I saw nobody in the hallway, so I quietly slipped to the bathroom. Of course, the second I turned around, there the man was, staring at me. He approached me, and started trying to talk to me. The person in the restroom was taking an eternity, and I began to feel extremely uncomfortable, so I walked past him back to my cabin. He followed me, then as I was trying to close my door he pushed it open, pushed passed me, and slammed it shut. At that point, I was obviously scared. I punched him as hard as I could in the stomach and started yelling for help. Of course nobody came, but I was able to push him out of my cabin and slam and lock the door. I didn't go near the door until we were at the Paris station until nobody was left on the train, and the conductor came and asked me to get off.

My last day and night in Barcelona was a huge success. For the day, I organized a trip with some of the people from the hostal to Montserrat, a monastary in the mountains, about an hour outside of Barcelona. It is the site of Santa Maria de Montserrat, which hosts the Virgin of Montserrat sanctuary and is identified by some with the location of the Holy Grail in Arthurain myth. "Montserrat" literally means "serrated mountain." It describes the peculiar aspect of the rock formation, composed of pink conglomerate, a form of sedimentary rock.

The people in attendance were an Ozzie (Australian), a Kiwi (New Zealander), a Canuck (Canadian), and of course, yours truly (Texan). New Zealand is to Australia what Canada is to the US, so there was quite a bit of banter, and I learned several new terms. Afterwards, we took the train back to Barcelona, and my Canuck friend and I made a giant pot of Sangria for everyone in the hostal. The party was a huge success, and had ambassadors from several countries, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Slovenia, Portugal, Argentina, England, Massachusetts, and Texas. Here were some quotes from that great day:

Guy: "I'm from Lisbon."
Me: "Really? You dont have an Irish accent."
Guy: "Thats because Lisbon is in Portugal."
Me: "Oh...right..."
Canuck: "I think you mean Dublin."

Canuck: "After I talk, people ask me if I'm from the States, and I say, 'no I'm from Canada.' Then, they say, 'Oh, sorry.' I dont understand why they always apologize after."
Ozzie: "Its because so many people dont like Americans, they are afraid you'll be offended."
Texas: "No. Its because everyone knows Canada is the red-headed step child of the US."

lip chap= chapstick
runners=running shoes
togs=swimming trunks
thongs, jandals=flipflops
knickers in a twist=panties in a wad
wanna route love?=have sex
bang on=right on

The hostal experience has been very intriguing. Of course there are times I get lonely and wish I were with someone. And, there are definitely times I wish I had my own room and shower without automatic water shut off. However, I have met people from all over the world in the short amount of time I have been in Europe and have explored much more than I thought I would. I initially thought I would be more reserved and miss out on some of the opportunities of the cities travelling alone, but it has been quite the opposite.

I have now been in Paris, my home away from home, for the last two days. I have been taking in all the typical tourist sites and museums. It is a very different feel from when I was last here as a temporary inhabitant. I am just another tourist: checking my map on every street corner, trying to figure out which metro line to take, and frantically trying to take in every monument in my short time here so I can say "been there done that" in the true American spirit.

I have made sure to hit up my favorite spots- le Tambour (a restaurant by my old apartment) for chevre chaud salad, Fauchon for croissant aux amands, Paul for pain au chocolat (yes, my life revolves around food), and of course a crepe stand for a nutella crepe. During these moments, I feel back "at home" in the temporary life I had here: eating my pain au chocolat in the Luxembourg gardens outside the Sorbonne where I studied; eating a crepe and drinking wine on the steps of the Sacre Coeur while I listen to kids playing guitar. Of course, I loved going to the Louvre and seeing the Eiffel Tower. But, just Being, living life the last few days in the Parisian spirit, that is what I have truly enjoyed and realised I have missed the most about Gay Paris.

One final crazy story of the day. I had just finished walking through the Impressionist section of the Musee d'Orsay and was just too tired to take in any more. I decided to go back to the hostal for a quick nap. I walked towards the nearest metro, of course accidentally walked past it, so continued on to the next nearest stop. I walked down the stairs and onto the platform, exhausted and dripping sweat, when I suddenly heard, "Alex! Alex!" coming from across the tracks. Belwidered, and not really expecting it to be yours truly being beckoned, I glanced over half-heartedly. But, low and behold, there were two girls from my med school class!! Amazing how the little steps in a day can lead up to one giant coincidence.

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