Lost in Translation

Online blog of life in Barcelona for a English guy making a life for himself out here and trying desperately to have a good time, become fluent in Spanish, and most of all - not be constantly mistaken for a tourist!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Train tickets and bird poo

Well, yet another humongous break inbetween posts. I really haven’t got the hang of this blogging business clearly. I’ve seen blogs that people update almost by the hour, whereas mine doesn’t trouble the servers over at Blogger at all. It not as if I’m bored or haven’t done anything interesting to write about. Perhaps I’m just too busy to bother! Yep, that’ll do... I’m too busy having fun to bother writing about how much fun I’m having while not writing about the fun that I should be having fun writing about. Jeje. Well, to address this lack of posts, I figured I’d get one down today as I’ve got a busy weekend planned, and today’s been a bit weird in places.

It all started quite normally when I was woke up at 830 by the workmen doing the renovations on the flat directly blow us. The banging starts at this time every day and continues non-stop until about 6pm. It’s the only reason I’m glad I’ve got a job to go to! And with today being Friday, I have my extra short working day of just 4 hours in the office. That thrill-a-minute rollercoaster ride came to an end at 2pm when I decided that I should go to the main station to collect my tickets that I previously booked on the internet for a trip to Valencia tomorrow morning. I was originally going to spend the afternoon on the terrace at home in the sun, but my theory being that I didn’t know how long it would take for me to get the tickets etc and leaving it until 5 mins before the train pulls away from the platform on Saturday morning struck me as a slight risk, when I’ve been excited about this weekend away ever since I booked it and didn’t want to ruin the whole thing through laziness. I’d been mildly impressed by the efficiency of the Renfe website when I bought my tickets, so I was hoping for a smooth collection too. However, little did I know when I arrived at the station, that while Renfe puts on a good show on the internet, the set-up at the station is like something from 1970’s Russia where people had to queue up to order a loaf of bread, then queue up to pay for it, and then queue up to be told that they’d sold out and could you come back in 4 months time and place a new order!

Anyway, Sants station in Barcelona has ticket booths along the entire length of the station, so I naturally just went to the one with the shortest queue. The girl there told me I actually had to go to another window at the far end because I was collecting tickets for travel after today. I was pleased by this as I found that the queues there were amazingly non-existent. I didn’t think it seemed right but didn’t want to question it, and was just about to stroll up to a window, when I turned around to discover there were hundreds of people clutching numbered tickets in their sweaty palms waiting their turn to be seen too, all glaring at me for looking as though I was going to try my luck at a window and demand to be served. Obviously, I backed away slowly, trying to look as though I’d meant to do this all along, and I really did know how the system worked!

To be sure I wasn’t going to join the mother of all queuing systems for nothing, I took a numbered ticket (in order to get the nearest number possible) and then, instead of sitting and waiting, I went to the information desk which was helpfully labelled with a very large sign in English saying “BRIEF QUESTIONS ONLY!”. (Evidently there had been trouble in the past with someone asking for ridiculous amounts of information and they had now decided to put a stop to it!!) I asked the guy, as “briefly” as I could, whether the place with the huge queue was really where those people with the foresight to have bought their tickets on the internet, really had to now suffer and wait to collect them. His answer was a very brief “yes”. “Thanks” I said, briefly.

Back in the queue I set about working out how long I’d have to wait. I had nearly 200 numbers in front of me, and judging by the length of time some people were taking at the booths, I calculated that, if I was lucky, I should be out by Christmas. In the end, after nearly 2 hours of waiting, the excitement at the thought that my magic number was near to flashing up was almost too much to bear, but I made it through, and had a very polite guy sort my tickets out for me. Job done in the end.

It was sunny and warm when I’d gone into the station, but it was cloudy and a bit miserable when I left, so any possibility of kipping on the terrace had gone out of the window. I set off walking home, and came within an inch of being pooed on the head by a passing bird. I saw “something” white suddenly drop infront of me, and when I looked down, discovered that it had caught me with a glancing blow down the shin of my jeans. Luckily it was only a mini-poo and a quick wipe got it all off (although, later when it dried, I noticed it had turned my jeans white like toothpaste! Jeje)

The rest of the day was pretty ordinary. The workmen were still banging away downstairs, so a sleep was a non-starter, so instead I went to the gym. After that, I realised I’d left my camera charging cable in the bag at work, so I had to walk back to the office, which luckily the caretaker was still on duty, and let myself in to get it.

It’s late now and I’m knackered, so I’m going to leave it there. I feel a bit like Arkwright at the end of Open All Hours…. “Eeee, it’s been a funny old day it has”.

Tomorrow it’s Valencia and the humongous Las Fallas festival. CAN’T WAIT for that!!! Jejeje.

Nite nite.


At March 21, 2007 9:54 AM, Anonymous Tim said...

So how were the fallas? Loud? Impressive? Irreverent? Just plain fun? The public need to know


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