What I did this week:
- Flew out of Lisbon to Barca and moved into our TINY Airbnb. The place really was nice but it was literally the size of a New York City 1 bedroom. And we had to fit 7 of us in it. To say it was cramped would be a gross understatement.
- Went out to a sushi dinner with Matt on Saturday night. The group wanted to get tapas and we just couldn’t do it. We’d been in a group setting for so long and that was exhausting in and of itself, then to add figuring out how to split the bill for a ton of small plates of tapas.. just no.
- Made breakfast for myself the next morning. Everyone else ended up going out to get breakfast and I RELISHED in having the place to myself and being alone for a few hours. I most definitely put on my own music, danced around the apartment and just took a giant deep breath. I absolutely adore my fellow remotes but being in a large group of them 24/7 for over 10 days straight was just too much.
- Continued my solo Sunday by going shopping and then booking a 6pm bike tour all by myself.
- Made a new friend on my tour! Priya is from Miami and had been traveling traveling solo throughout Spain and Portugal for the past month- finishing up in Barcelona. We immediately hit it off and by the end of the tour we were basically bffs4eva.
- Continued our new friend date with honestly one of the best dinners I’ve had on Remote Year so far. Surprisingly, we got a table almost immediately at this tiny tapas place called Sensi (GO NOW. RUN THERE.) where we had duck confit and beef tartare and tuna tartare and ribs and risotto and fois gras and a bottle of cava… But honestly, as good as the food was, the conversation was better.
- Met up with the Balboas for dinner Monday night and in typical Bal-bro-a fashion they wanted to go out. All of our group was exhausted and had no interest in going out, including me. But someone had to represent Kaizen (we have a reputation to uphold after all..) so Ian and I rose to the occasion and went out for literally justt as long as we needed to before crashing face first into our pillows. (Y’all are welcome.)
- Continued my solo adventures on Wednesday with a trip to La Boqueria, one of the best markets in the world. I got myself a fresh juice (or two..) and sat down for a solo lunch at the best “cafeteria” in the market. Admittedly, I was a little intimidated by all of the seafood so I went with the rabbit ribs and chickpea salad instead. Yum. (Can you tell I travel based on my stomach?)
- Left for Pamplona on Friday morning. Because airbnb’s were so expensive and we thought it would be fun, we decided to book with a tour company and stay at a campsite outside of town.
- Was immediately turned off when I arrived to our campsite that night, and it wasn’t just because I still had really bad lingering stomach cramps from Morocco (yes, still. Kill me. It sucked.) First impressions are real, people.
PSA: DO NOT DO DO ANYTHING WITH STOKE TRAVEL. EVER. EVER. EVER. We had quite possibly the worst experience ever with them. Grab some popcorn, because this story is about to get real 💩.
- Was assigned a tent at “check in” (aka a woman standing in the parking lot of the camp with a pen and a piece of paper with some numbers scribbled on it). Unlike the rest of the group, Grace and I lucked out with our tent not actually being already occupied.
- Decided to go into town that night to survey the area and see if we could walk the course. BAD IDEA. We got on the 30 minute bus from camp to Pamplona proper and as soon as we got off the bus we heard people talking about how hard it was to get a bus back. Scared that we’d miss the (last) bus back we literally walked around for 15 minutes and then went back to the parking garage to wait for the bus back.
- Experienced the closest thing to The Walking Dead I’ve ever seen. Aka 100 drunk, impatient, angry young idiots all trying to get on the last bus back (that was, of course, in true Stoke Travel fashion, late).
- Sweet-talked the Stoke ‘employees’ (read: volunteers) into giving us priority on the bus because we were the only people there that weren’t sloppy, drunk and dumb. But when it showed up, it literally got mobbed. Like mosh pit, four rows from the front of main stage at Warped Tour, pushing, shoving, yelling, no regard for human life mobbed.
This was actually the most civil moment of the process. Getting on was literally like the Beatles getting on their tour bus in the 60s
- Managed to get on the bus with the help of the Stoke volunteers but turned around and saw that Kat and Jace weren’t with us and literally had to reach into the crowd, link arms and PULL them onto the bus. Insane.
- Got dropped off by our guide the next morning at the start of the course and then proceeded to walk through it to make sure we understood where everything was, scope out the best place to stand (aka not ‘Dead Man’s Turn’) and overall make sure we were as prepared as possible to have twelve 2000 pound horned animals run at us. You know..NBD
- Didn’t even hear the starting gun go off and only realized they had let the bulls loose when the crowd started to get anxious and false start a few times. But once the crowd starts moving you literally have no choice but to move or you get trampled. In the chaos I didn’t even realize the bulls were REALLY coming until they were literally right next to me. I no joke looked to my left mid-run and was like HOLY CRAP THAT’S AN ANIMAL. A REALLY BIG ANIMAL. 3 FEET AWAY FROM ME. OK WOW.
- Returned to the campsite mid-morning to take a MUCH needed nap.
- Spent the rest of the day at the campsite pool instead of sightseeing around Pamplona. I was mentally exhausted from the morning’s events and honestly at this point in Europe, all of the minor cities kind of look the same. (Pardon the privilege 😬)
- Was in the minority that went to bed early instead of indulging in the frathouse disaster environment that was the Stoke campsite. Was rewarded with a good night’s rest and no subsequent hangover which was good because it took all of our collective patience and brainpower to deal with Stoke Travel’s “check out procedure” (lol jk there was none). Not one of the employees agreed on how to check out, what bus would take us back to Barcelona, when that bus was leaving, or where the bus would pick us up. So that was fun.
- Resisted the urge to burn all of our Stoke gear when we finally got back to Barca and instead took showers at our hostel and went to a nice dinner to remind ourselves that we are in fact civilized human beings.
- Finally got tickets for the Sagrada Familia on our last day in Barcelona and wow Gaudi is something else. To be honest I liked the outside more than the inside, but that’s like saying oh Starry Night is ok but I prefer the Mona Lisa. The outside was incredibly intricate and weird- it kind of looked like a Christmas tree met a rainforest and had a giraffe baby.. if that makes any sense. If it doesn’t, you’re starting to understand.
- Finally left Barcelona that night for a (hopefully) quiet few weeks in Sofia, our last city in Europe.