I have a serious problem of saying “no” when it comes to going out: I hate the feeling of missing out. I’ll usually force myself to push through despite the emotional and physical toll it can take. Also, a common way to bond with other travelers is to go to a bar and talk over a few beers. On the nights that I did stay in, I’d wonder what kinds of friendships were forming and what hilarious experiences were happening while I wrote in my travel journal, alone, or Facebooked, alone.
The best night of my trip was actually a night that I almost stayed in. One Wednesday I came
back to the hostel after my Spanish class with every intention of going straight to bed. But when I walked inside, I ran into a couple of friends. “Hey, we were just leaving to go watch the Spain vs. Portugal game at a bar–wanna come?”
A night spent in bed, or another night out in Barcelona–how could I say no?
We walked two blocks from Hostel One: Paralelo (my review here) and managed to grab the last outdoor table at a bar before the crowd came. We all shared tapas and continued to order round after round of sangria and Estrella for the table. Men showed up draped in Spanish flags and one particularly annoying one came with an airhorn (which he used generously) and stood right near us.
At first the atmosphere was light, but after a while, everyone stopped talking as the score stayed unwaveringly at 0-0. The crowd would scream (either in excitement or in fury) as either team advanced towards the goal, but every time, the players would miss. The last of daylight faded as the game went to overtime, and finally to penalties. We literally sat on the edge of our seats. “Wow. Turn around,” someone said, and we looked to see a thick crowd that had built up behind us, blocking the street.
The first round of penalties and still no one had scored. I’ve never experienced such tension like that: people were screaming in disbelief while holding their heads in their hands. Spain was up next, and finally they scored a goal. Everyone lept to their feet and cheered. Their excitement was tempered when Portugal scored, tying the game–but then Spain scored again. Then Portugal for another tie. “This is like an emotional rollercoaster,” I said, and it looked like grown men were about to cry.
Spain scored again to make it 3-2, and when Portugal missed the next kick, the cheers grew to a deafening pitch and didn’t stop until long after Spain was announced the winner at 4-2. Strangers embraced each other, people threw firecrackers out of their apartment windows, and car horns blared all across the city: Spain was going to the Eurocup final.
We dodged the firecrackers on our way back to the hostel and decided that it was only right to go out and celebrate. We got ready and went to Espit Chupitos, one of my favorite bars in Barcelona and a total tourist trap. I’ve only ever heard English spoken here, so elitists be warned, but for two euros per shot (or “chupito”) and tons of shots, it’s always so much fun (unless it’s super crowded–go on the early side and stake out a place by the bar). Also, try not to fall into the bushes outside; they’ll cut up your legs and there will always be plenty of people around to laugh at you.
We tried the King Kong, the Bob Marley, the Harry Potter, the Nipple, and a few others that I can’t remember because at that point it got a little hazy. If it was on fire, we wanted it.
If you go, make sure to buy a Monica Lewinski shot for one of your friends. Trust me, it’s worth the five euros.
We met two Americans who had become fast friends at the airport and were now growing increasingly irritated with each other. They were happy to join our group. “This is how we do it in Michigan!” one exclaimed as he ordered ten shots. He took the first three, then eyed the remaining seven warily. “The rest are for you guys…”
We cabbed to Shoko, a club on the beach. Someone insisted on getting bottle service, so we hung out in the VIP section. I danced on stage with strangers and until the club closed at 3 am. (“Why so early?!” I exclaimed, quickly forgetting life back in the States.) A few of us went next door to Opium, where Nicky Romero was spinning. We elbowed our way to the front and danced right by the DJ booth, slapping the stage to the beat.
After an hour or two, we made our way to the beach along with the other clubbers. There was a lightning storm in the distance, but regardless, people undressed and went running, screaming, into the Mediterranean. Men walked by yelling, “Cerveza! Agua!” One of my friends sat next to me and gave me an impromptu Spanish lesson: “El relámpago,” he said after the lightning bolt cut across the sky. “El trueno,” at the rolling thunder that followed. He let the sand sift through his fingers: “La arena.” We sat there after the storm passed and the swimmers left. We drank Estrella and watched the sun come up, then decided to make our way back home.
Needless to say, I didn’t make it to class that day.