Drunk on the Sounds of the Spanish Night

I am on a night train headed for Barcelona. I dig the rhythm of the train. It is almost enough to lull me to sleep. There were no more couchettes so I rode in the coach section with all the young college students and backpackers like me who would have to sleep sitting slumped in a seat with the green hills of France rolling by the window.

Its morning when I get to Barcelona. Didn’t get much sleep on the train. Lots of people talking and the rhythm of the train is just enough, soothing enough to relax me and just loud enough to keep me awake. In Barcelona I check into a moderate one star Hotel. It is very clean and modern just very small. But I have my own bathroom and shower and that’s all I really care about. I immediately lie down on the bed, exhausted. I need sleep. There are Spanish construction workers outside my window so I put on my earphones to drown them out. The beat goes on

When I awake it is about five. I have a shower and get dressed and go out. The streets are busy, lined with shops, cafés, and restaurants, bars, hotels, and apartment buildings. I was starving since I had not had breakfast or lunch. I am almost ashamed to admit I ended up at Hard Rock Café but I had promised to buy friends shirts from there anyway so I figured I might as well.

Surprisingly enough it’s packed. I try and find a seat at the bar but no such luck. So I wander around awhile hoping someone will get up to leave. The one good thing about a place like this since its such a tourist attraction you hear so many different languages, not just Spanish, there is Italian, French, German, English, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and who knows what else. The new tower of Babel, the Hard Rock Café.

Eventually I grow tired waiting for a seat at the bar so I stop a pretty young Spanish waitress who speaks perfect English and ask if there are any seats in the restaurant? She smiles and I follow her. She brings me the first of two cold beers and then I order some obscure sandwich named after some long dead rock legend. Pre and post sandwich I wrote in my journal and when I wasn’t writing I was listening to the rock music and Billy Idol screaming something about it being a nice day for a white wedding. In between songs I listened to the people, trying to connect the dots.

After the Hard Rock I wandered across the street and into the sun. It was a square like park full of steps, and statues, artwork, people, and pigeons. What we were all doing here together I couldn’t rightly say. The only thing about the artwork and statues was that all the information about them was scribed in Spanish so I was out of luck and just stared. So I walked down another street past more cafés and store fronts and hip clothing outlets. I walked by a hippie couple who made artwork out of aluminum cans, they sat on the sidewalk with their long hair in their eyes selling their creative metal. I walked into a bar playing live music. A young Spanish guy with thick long raven hair sat on a bar stool playing flamenco music. It was cool. He was good. Though most of the customers seemed disinterested. I wandered upstairs as there was an internet café there and checked my mail. Then I wander back down and sit at the bar. I order a John Smith, a smooth Irish beer. The bartender is a beautiful long legged dirty blonde from Australia. I learn that the bar is owned by Australians. Seem to be a lot of English people hanging out here. Now I really begin to dig this Spanish guitar playing music. Its gotten louder or my hearing has tuned in. There seem to be only a few of us in the place who truly appreciate him, the guitarist. Toward the back of the bar are sofas and a big screen TV to watch soccer matches I presume. I order another beer and the hours seem to just roll on. I don’t really talk to anyone but the bartender every now and then. Its strange being here but also perfect and I can imagine if I lived here this is the kind of place I would come after work for a beer. Although I wish there were more Spanish people and less English like me.

The guitarist is then joined by an old Spanish guy in a fisherman’s hat and it seems the guitarist doesn’t really know him but the owner introduces them and seems to say give him a try. This old guy starts bellowing out the most amazing tunes and it’s perfect with the way this younger guy plays his guitar and they aren’t really songs with words I don’t think, more just dirges but you can feel the emotion in his voice! I kept thinking, this is why I came to Spain, moments like this!

After that on my way back to the Hotel I stop at a Starbucks which I haven’t seen or had since my journey began nearly five weeks ago. So I order a café mocha and sit at the bar stool facing the street and pretend to be an artist or just lover of all that is good and beautiful. Its ten O’clock at night and the street is full of people. Where is everyone going? I want to rush out the door and just walk with them, be among them, feed off their energy.

Then two girls came in wearing tight jeans covering their slim legs and little half tops leaving their little navels exposed and dark tans. They sat down next to me. After a few awkward moments where everyone just sipped there drinks the brunette sitting next to me spoke and said she was from Florida and the blonde was from southwestern Spain. They were both very nice. We sat there awhile and talked of our travels. They were leaving tomorrow, the brunette back to Florida, and the blonde home to southwestern Spain. I never did find out how they got to be friends. They finished their cappuccinos and were heading for the Hard Rock Café for dinner. I thought of joining them but then decided I had seen enough of the Hard Rock café. I stumbled back to my Hotel drunk on the sounds and happenings of the Barcelona street night. I still have so much to see, the beach, La Sagrada Familia, and this incredible park designed by the great architect Antonio Gaudi. Tonight as I sleep in my small room I can still hear the flamenco guitar playing in my head and the old mans passionate voice. I can still hear it now.