Thursday, 18 October 2012

The awesome birthday that ended in a trip to the police station

Day 153 23.09.12 Barcelona

Happy Birthday to meeee!   Today is Ali’s 28th Birthday so we’ve got a busy day planned.  Our first stop after a lazy morning is an all-you-can-eat restaurant next to the Sagrada Familia.  We met up with Rob and headed inside to fill up my main 3 food groups of pizza, pasta and ice cream in the shadow of the gorgeous cathedral.  After filling ourselves to the brim we waddled over to the metro station to head into the centre of town for a trip to the zoo.  Yes I am having the birthday of a 12 year old!

The zoo is based inside Ciutadella park and is absolutely huge.  It’s a bit of a strange layout but has a great range of animals to see.  There’s also a dolphin show but having just seen one in Valencia we didn’t bother with the massive queue to watch Barcelona’s version.  We got to see some great sights including a very cute baby chimp and some rather over-excited penguins!  It was a very fun afternoon and I had a great time cooing over all the animals and taking pictures.

After several hours we headed back to the charmingly named rock bar ‘The Bollocks’ for a couple of beers before the ‘Correfoc’ fire parade.  On the way we caught a glimpse of the scaled down children’s version which still includes lots of kids with fireworks on sticks!  This is the Barcelona health and safety I warned you about.  As you can see, some of the children involved are pretty young!  They’re all wrapped up in fire-proof ponchos and masks though and seem to have great fun! 

A couple of 1 euro bottles of beer later we join Rob and find a spot for the proper Correfoc.  Finding a spot alongside the road but with a side street to run down and hide is crucial for scaredy-cats like me!  The parade started with some big fireworks in one of the large squares and then began to move along the huge Via Laietana towards us.  The parade consists of groups of people with drums building the atmosphere followed by groups with fireworks on sticks spinning around and showering the street with sparks.  Lots of (possibly insane) locals run into the parade and dance around under the umbrellas of sparks.  As the parade builds, along come the big floats of demons and dragons spraying fireworks from their nostrils as they zig-zag along the road.  These huge monsters come awfully close and resulted in Rob and I running for cover a few times. Chris on the other hand was very brave and stayed at the front, although we did have to help put out a guy whose hair was on fire!  The Correfoc is an absolutely amazing experience and I’m so lucky that this year it fell on my birthday!

After an hour and a half of the correfoc craziness we had to head off to get down to the beach in time for yet more fireworks over the ocean.  Tonight’s display was certainly a step up on yesterdays and really did wow us all.  It was simply superb.  It was so special to not only see the great colours light up the sky but also for them to be reflected so clearly in the sea below.  Barcelona certainly knows how to put on a show!

Once the show had finished we decided to head up to the rock bar for a nightcap.  Along the way we saw that the correfoc was still going on! 

After a quick beer we headed back to the van.  Sadly this is where my birthday went sour as we discovered that the van had been broken into.  Both our laptops had gone as well as my watch and a purse (thankfully empty).  Absolutely gutted.

We went to the nearby Ibis hotel to ask them to call the police for us as my phone battery was dead and Chris’ not far off.  They informed us the police wouldn’t come out for a break in and we’d have to go to them.  He gave us a map with the nearest police station and I set off there whilst Chris went back to the van to keep it safe as the burglars had smashed a window to get in.  I have to say that the Spanish police were worse than useless and incredibly rude.  Having spoken to them only in English they set about making obscene comments about me in Spanish which they thought I couldn’t understand.  Nevertheless I had to play nice as I needed their help.  After half an hour or so of leaving me in the waiting room while they drank coffee and talked about me, they handed me some forms to fill out for myself instead of questioning me.  They got me to run back to the van and get the van driven over to the police station so they could look at the broken window and then handed me a crime report filled out in writing a 6 year old would be ashamed of.  All in all it was a horrible experience that was not how I’d hoped my birthday would end.  Up to that point however I am thankful to have had a really great day.

We attempted to drive up to Rob’s hotel so he could help us with charging phones and getting everything sorted the following day but there was nowhere to park so we headed back to around the corner from our previous spot.  We patched up the window best we could and settled down for the night.  I can’t say I slept at all but Chris managed a few hours.

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