The blog is not finished! But after the Theft (yes, capital letters), the want/need to update the blog took second fiddle to dealing with the Theft and just finishing the trip sans computer. Since being home, it's been hard to get that motivation to complete it. But I will. Ever so slowly. Please be patient!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Chance Encounters

The following takes place on Days 150-151, April 26-28, 2011.

I had met Jordi, admittedly, online. I’ve become increasingly aware of how easy it is to meet locals who are eager to meet travelers and show them around, through the use of websites. At first I was a bit hesitant to admit that I had met him online, but I couldn’t quite come up with any plausible other reason on how I met him.

IMG_5031Regardless as to where I met him, that doesn’t negate the fact that we clicked immediately. I had actually met him on the day after Sant Jordi’s Day, where we went for coffee, lunch, and he took me around the city including where he used to grow up. Coincidentally, as I found out later, where his baby brother went to kindergarten is the same tiny square that The Amazing Race visited at the end of one of the Detour options in Season 10 < /geek >.

At the end of that day, as he drove me back to Badalona, he surprised me by saying that his partner of 11 years and he had already discussed offering me a place to stay for a few nights, provided I turned out to be a normal person(ie// not a serial killer). I was dumbfounded. And I said yes. As a backpacker, I’m not going to pass up a free place to stay.

And that’s how I ended up being in Sabadell, Spain.

Sabadell is a fairly small city by European standards. It’s about the size of Saskatoon but it acts like Martensville. It’s more or less a suburb of Barcelona, with many of its inhabitants taking the 35 minute or so train ride into the larger city to work. It’s surrounded by hills and farmland, which makes for a very different landscape from the seaside that is Barcelona.

IMG_5159Both Jordi and Esteban were amazing hosts. While I had to sleep on their couch, I wasn’t complaining. One, the company of the two of them, and their dog, was awesome. Not only did I click with Jordi, but I also clicked with Esteban. Two, it was free. And three, it was a lot more comfortable than many of the beds I’ve paid for in a hostel. And not only did they give me a free place to stay, but they also offered me free breakfast and free supper. This whole kindness of strangers thing was a bit overwhelming. Plus, it’s always nice to see a couple still in love after so many years. They met at university, both are computer programmers, and have been together for over 11 years now. How’s that for inspiring?

I spent a lot of the time while the two of them were at work exploring the town. A quick GoogleIMG_5137 Maps search showed me a huge park on the other side of the river with over 12km of trails. I took full advantage of that. It helped that there were a number of geocaches within that park as well. The only bad thing was that halfway through the hike it began to pour. I had expected this as right from the getgo there was a steady rumble of thunder in the background. While walking, with the clouds gathering in the distance, the growing rolls of the thunders, I passed many sheep farms. This made it all the more worth it. The Spanish countryside.

I was definitely in my element. The outdoors, a thunderstorm, a laid back hike through a pine forest, the sounds of the nearby farms just beyond my sight.

IMG_5148I spent another day touring the city itself, enjoying the quietness of it all. Just like in Badalona, I certainly got looks from the locals who are probably not really used to tourists coming to their little town. The waiter at a cafe looked both surprised and excited that there was a tourist from outside Spain visiting.

I got lucky in that I was there during Game 1 of the Champions League semi-final between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. It was amusing to see how into futball Esteban was(FC Barce shirt came on as soon as he was home from work) and how superstitious he was(No champange/cava was allowed to be opened before the end of the game as the last time Jordi did that, Barcelona lost). We watched half the game before I helped Jordi take Lula(or was it Lulu or Lola?), their dog, for a walk as the streets would be completely deserted. Doing so also meant that I missed the two goals that Barcelona scored to officially win the game.

We certainly heard it though.

IMG_5167I did manage to make it back to Barcelona once during those three days I spent in Sabadell. It was my last day in the area(I was catching a bus that night to Portugal) and I needed to go see Gaudi’s other pet project, Park Guell. If I could sum up the park for you, I would tell you to picture what a kids area of a theme park looks like, with the weird, cartoonish shaped buildings and walkways. That’s what this park looked like.

I swear, Gaudi must’ve been doing some sorts of drugs to come up with some of this stuff. Don’t get me wrong, it was amazing to see, but I half expected to find out that someone had laced my water with LSD and that peoples faces would start to melt. IMG_5197

Saying goodbye to Jordi and Esteban that night was one of the hardest goodbyes I’ve had to do in a long time. I couldn’t have asked for better hosts. I am definitely going to make a return trip to Barcelona someday soon to see them again. And if you guys are reading this, when you come to Canada, and you WILL, consider my home to be open to you as well. You have both earned a special place in my heart.

Ah, dammit. Time to stop before I start to tear up.


1 comment:

  1. What an awesome few days for you :) I googled Park Guell. Wow what a place! It looks like the Mad Hatter should live there.