Πέμπτη, 13 Ιανουαρίου 2011

Things to do in Barcelona when you're broke

hBeing tired and weary I was roaming the streets of Barcelona looking for a cheap way to eat and contact my parents. And as I was sitting in front of a computer screen at the local Subway trying to email my father for more cash, my wallet disappeared. Somebody had managed to pull it away from my eyesight within a few seconds. So I sent a second email with instructions for my father to send me money via Western Union. Bad choice, since WU is a ripoff, but I could not choose anything better than that. And I was very lucky, because I had stashed my passport and plane ticket at another pocket.
So, in a few words, there I was stranded, tired, weary and broke in Barcelona, trying to find my way around things. The situation looked grimm, and the probabilities of me having to return home early due to lack of cash, where really high, and I had no attention of turning back. In the meantime I was sitting at a sports bar, charging my phone and waiting for confirmation that everything was in its right place, and hoping to find my wallet, with my cashcard. Evil, evil town Barcelona. Petty crime and prostitution are rife. Barcelona is slowly sinking to the beat of moral decay, and enjoying the ride. But this ride is really rough when it comes to the poor of the city.
Local and federal police are gentle when they deal with tourists, but this is not the case with immigrants, prostitutes and junkies. Police violence and arrests are a common sight in La Rambla. Pickpockets are the most common criminals here, especially in parts of La Rambla where there is some traffic and congestion, but also around coffeeshops and restaurants in the area.
Meanwhile the call has come in, and I am stocked with money for the remainder of the week. So I head to a hostal (something like a cheap rooms to let thing, not to be confused with hostels), and spend my last five days in Spain, trying to find the wallet and keep up my hopes concerning my stay in Spain. I spend my days wandering around Barri Gottik, pacing around La Rambla sidestreets trying to find my wallet (which is not in any police lost and found) , and spending my evenings around the areas of the Barceloneta.
The Barceloneta has been fully refurbished into an artificial beach, and the city’s meat packing district. There you will find an interesting mix of characters, from dealers trying to sell you a fix, to street musicians, to undercover police officers, to political activists, and action-thirsty American tourists. Barcelona is a haven for all these guys, since a great deal of everything, from every sort of alternative scene happens there. Reggae, ska, punk and hip hop top the bill, with Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra headlining a gig at the Palau Musica, to local heroes Ojos de Brujo playing for free at a street party in their Barrio.
Money of course was scarce. So whatever I could do apart from walking around was very limited. Buying “stuff” was out of the question, I could not afford that. Food was coming from supermarkets and street vendors. A few beers from the kiosk or the Chinese guys had to do the drinking job, and street artists where the only entertainment. Anyway, whatever works, so be it. Come the fifth day, and I was becoming accustomed to the idea of returning to Greece. Oblivious to what was happening in the UK, I was getting ready to board the train to Madrid.