Saturday, July 23, 2011

Ecstasy and Lightening

The ride to Barcelona wasn’t particularly interesting. Maybe I couldn’t see the wood for the trees because I was quite stressed out but I don’t think there was much to look at until we got within 30km of our destination and the highway began winding over the mountains and unveiling cliff side beaches, picturesque marinas and small seaside towns.

I was grumpy because of how excited Courtney was to leave Benicassim. Neither of us had liked it but at the end of the day I chose it and I dealt with it and I did enjoy the music. For the most part Courts had been very good about the whole thing, tolerating most of the insanity and coming to see the few bands I saw. When we left though, he was ecstatic, yahooing and grinning ear to ear. I was glad to leave but his response just made me feel guilty for having chosen such a destination in the first place. As soon as he was free of camp, he declared he was never ever going back to a non-metal festival again, which again just made me feel guilty and a bit like I’d ruined my only chance at including him in things I like by starting off with a bad example.

Once we were on the road, Courtney’s good mood turned into happy riding – which means fast riding. It’s the norm here to go well above the speed limit and we’ve heard that in some places you can actually get a ticket for not speeding at the same speed as everyone else because you’re holding up traffic. Speed cameras are preceded by a massive sign warning you they’re coming up so everyone goes nuts until they see one and then goes nuts again as soon as they pass it. In this case though, I was having trouble holding onto and seeing the phone, which we use for GPS, and a couple of times I could only just figure out where we were supposed to go as we passed the turn off.

In hindsight, Courtney was happy, we weren’t riding dangerously, everything was fine – we’ve done a million wrong turns before – but because I was struggling and already grumpy, it was extremely stressful.

I also knew we needed to stop at an ATM but we never really managed it until it was too late. When you’re already stressed to the max, being yelled at by an angry Spanish toll booth operator is not fun. Eventually his colleague told him to waive the 4ish Euros and let us through for free, but a couple of minutes later we were met with another toll booth. This one was only a few cents and the operators were much more tolerant of idiot tourists and waived us through, telling us which road to take to avoid more (which thankfully was the road we wanted anyway).

Some toll roads, such as the first, you take a ticket, ride the distance, and pay when you exit - every exit has a booth. You pay depending on the distance you travelled and what vehicle you drove. Others, like the second, are just one offs, you pay as you go through and they’re usually cheaper. The problem with the first is that when you come across one, it’s already too late. You can’t turn around, and you can’t exit the road once you’re through without paying. They have gas stations but the gas stations don’t have ATMs like they do at home. So you’re screwed and we’re yet to find out if they have some sort of massive fine for going through without paying or something nasty like that.

We made it through, of course, and the views of the coast were amazing. The campsite is too, with a massive pool on one side, the beach on the other, and a supermarket, creperie and restaurant in between. It didn’t even bother us when, the very first night, there was an extremely loud thunder storm. Once we secured everything, it was kind of amusing – kind of – because we were floating. The ground was so dry that water was taking forever to soak in and the parts of the tent that didn’t have anything heavy were literally floating an inch or more off the ground. It was like sleeping on a water bed and despite a few very minor wet patches, we discovered just how waterproof our tent is, with no major leaks.

I guess Mother Nature had just as bad a day as I did.

Penelope_nz's Barcelona, Spain photoset Penelope_nz's Barcelona, Spain photoset