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Famous Hostels Ambassador: Backpacking Barcelona

Posted at:4 August, 2015 in Ambassador Blog

July 28 (cont’d)

It is amazing how my ears pop every time the fast moving train I am on enters a tunnel…

… That must be quite a pressure change when the air cannot escape freely as the locomotive cuts through the atmosphere inside of the tunnel.

The train pulled into Barcelona Sants, which is the main train station of the city.  I had to catch the metro to get to the hostel and found out that one single ride was €2.30, but that you could buy a ticket with ten rides on it for €9.95.  Deal!  I got on the metro and got off a few stops later at a station called Liceo.  The station is on La Ramblas, a bustling street with people selling everything imaginable.  The Kabul Hostel is a short walk from the station.  Kabul was busy when I walked in and made friends with the two girls behind the front desk.  We talked nonsense until a line-up accumulated behind us, so I went to check into a private room.  A private room!  Yeah!  What a treat one of those is from time to time!  Sometimes, it is just really nice to be able to leave all of your things laying all over the place, not have to wear earplugs at night, and sleeping naked becomes an option!

Plaça Reial.

Plaça Reial.

Kabul Hostel Barcelona

Kabul is a hostel in the center of downtown Barcelona.  It would be hard to get any more central.  There are six floors of rooms, a fantastic terrace on the 5th floor to hang out on and chillax, and the décor of the entire building is very nice.  There is a pool table, a fooseball table, two bars and plently pf places to lounge.  One of the coolest things about the hostel is that they have a free dinner at 8:30pm.  In a large sitting area, people line up for the free meal that is dished out until the food runs out!  Pasta.  A prison sized cauldron of ravioli fed a lot of hungry foreign mouths.  On the terrace they barbeque burgers and have deals where you can get a hearty burger and a beer for €5.  Kabul’s slogan: ‘Easy to find, hard to leave.’ If you’re backpacking Barcelona, Kabul is absolutely the place for you.

Backpacking Barcelona: Pub Crawl!

Marijuana is sort of legal in Barcelona.  A think it is funny that in the relaxed mentality of Spanish culture, now you can also smoke pot in coffee shops.  That should be good for production here.  Funny!

The staff talked me into going on the pub crawl in the evening.  There were three bars and a night club on the crawl, but I only joined them for two and had a walk through the city alone to finish off the night.  There is something cool about Barcelona and I wanted to feel it a little.  Everyone loves this city and the energy that it produces.  At 3am, La Ramblas is still a very busy with hawkers wanting to sell you anything you could ever imagine, a high percentage of which police do not like.

July 28

I had a morning task that pulled me from my slumber earlier than I would have preferred…

…I had a mission to find the Russian consulate to ask questions about trying to get a visa to visit the country.  That took me across the city to an area that was mostly residential, and there was the Russian consulate in the middle of it.  I approached it, but not even get to the metal-detector supervising security-guard because I needed an appointment just to get inside the building.  Luckily thought, he was knowledgeable, gave me information though the fence, and wrote down an address in my notebook to find a special office that makes Russian visas.  So, I took the metro back across town (Barcelona is a city of sweltering hot subway platforms, though the metro train itself is cooled with air-conditioning, so it is pleasure to get on the trains).  I found the building from his address and inside a woman told me that I can not get a Russian visa in Spain without being a Spanish resident.  I asked her if those were just Spanish-Russian rules, and if I could possibly get one in another country without being a resident.  She did not have answers for me, but told me the visa would cost around €120 if I had it ‘rush-processed’ which they could get to me in one day, should I be able to find a way to get Spanish residency in the next two days that I am in Barcelona…

Gangster bike crew.

Gangster bike crew.

Tapas is Awesome!

Gisela, Adam and I parted ways and I went back to Kabul to relax and spend some time and chat with people in the hostel.  The hostel was full and the entire seating area was packed again for the free dinner.  It is a great system that they have by offering the free meals because it puts a lot of people in the same room and at the same tables where friendships are made.  Hostels which organize activities that brings everyone together in a social area great for single travelers.

As luck would have it, two friends I have worked with for Hard Rock were in town for the music festival the company organizes every year.  Gisela from the Netherlands who works at in London and Adam from the UK who works in Amsterdam seem to be in some kind of role reversal, but I sure was happy to see them here in the Barcelona.  We met and walked around the city to catch up and then we went for tapas and wine.  Tapas is awesome!  We ate like kings the waiter in our small side-street restaurant, gave us shots of ‘Urujo – Licor de Hierbas.’  Urugo tastes like medicinal herbs, so it is easy to assume that it is probably healthy and would help with the digestion as waiter Alessandro suggested it would.

At about 10pm, I met with Gisela, Adam and two of their friends.  The girls at the front desk of Kabul had told me of the rock bars in town, and had drawn them on a map, so we had our own pub crawl laid out for us.  The first bar we went to was called ‘Nevermind’ that was in a small alleyway.  A man stood outside, looked the five of us over without exchanging words, opened a door and I walked into a black curtain that opened into the bar.

This is the very cool 5th floor loungy terrace of the Kabul Hostel.

This is the very cool 5th floor loungy terrace of the Kabul Hostel.

My friend Carlos used to live in Barcelona, and he had sent me a message to go to a specific bar that is hidden, and you have to ring a doorbell to get in.  We found #3, which was the address of the building and rang the buzzer.  When no one answered Gisela and I tried more buzzers.  A man answered, seemed to have gotten out of bed, and told us in Spanish that the #3 we needed was around the corner.  I wondered how many times he has been though this same scenario at 3am.

It was beach time anyhow, so we bought beer from a man selling the on the street for €1 a beer and headed for the ocean.  Initially in the excitement, we tore off everything but our underwear before we ran into the water.  However, very quickly we realized that skinny dipping at 4am in Barcelona is a much better way to enjoy the evening.  But of course, the problem is that the sand gets everywhere and into uncomfortable spots…  But, it is a small price to pay for a crazy fun time.  Naked swimming rules and will always make a great night better!

July 29

At the hostel, I changed my clothes from last night’s sand coated duds, and the five of us from last night met at La Market Boqueria on La Ramblas that is nearly across the street from Kabul Hostel.  €1 fresh fruit juice breakfast to replenish the nutrients and vitamins depleted last night!  So great.  The four others in my crew rented bikes for two hours for €5, but I splurged and rented an electric bike that propels itself for €15.  Then I made fun of all of my peddling friends on the ride until my electric bike got a flat tire.  Karma is real folks!  It cost me €13 for a new tube for the bike because mine popped with a bang.  So, while my friends spent €5 for their bikes, I ended up spending €28 for showing off…  No one had any pity for me…

I went up to the brilliant roof top bar in Kabul Hostel and managed to drag some of the hostel guests out with me for the night. It was a lot of fun all night, and we got back to Kabul at about 3am, without a man in tow for Laura, one of the girls I befriended.  She was disappointed, but we tried for her.

July 30

I went to the front desk of Kabul this morning to talk to Muhammad who asked me why I was not at breakfast.  I told him breakfast did not make an appearance in my life for the entire time I was in Barcelona.  He told me, “70% of the others here are the same!”

Kabul hostel 8:30 free meal diners.

Kabul hostel 8:30 free meal diners.

Backpacking Barcelona; long-term!

Muhammad has been working at the hostel for years.  There are two guys who have been there for years.  I met Ramón yesterday and asked him how long he has been working at Kabul.  He showed me the top of his head and said, “Well when I started here I used to have hair.” Then he pointed to his stomach, “And I used to be in shape, and I did not have a wife then either.  So, it has been a long time.”

Hostel, backpack, make my goodbyes to the good people at Kabul, off to the train station.  I had to make a reservation for the train I wanted to catch to Bilbao, and when I finally got to the ticket window I found out that the train was full.  The next train was full as well.  There were no more trains.  Oh oh!  I thought I would just sneak on the train and deal with the consequences, but Spain has the tightest security regulations I have found in Europe.  I could not get to the train platforms without a seat reservation ticket, even when I showed the security man my Eurorail pass.

I hoped to talk my way through, but he was on to me.  He told me to check with the information people.  So, I found a man at the information desk and he told me to catch a train to Zaragoza, and hopefully from there I would find a bus to either Bilbao or San Sebastian.  He had no other way to get me there and no bus information.  So, I took a chance on his advice, paid a €10.35 reservation fee for a train going to a random city in Spain.  Since that reservation got me past security I contemplated just waiting for the 15:30 train to Bilboa, but figured that would probably backfire on me somehow, and I got on my proper train at 15:00 bound for Zaragoza.


Famous Hostels Ambassador: Backpacking Barcelona
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