Thursday, April 26, 2012

I'm still alive, guys.

It's been a damn long time since I've touched this blog, and I think I can attribute the absence to problems relating to uploading pictures. For some reason, iPhoto won't recognize my picture format (jpeg...COME ON. JPEG.), and seeing as how I like to visually represent the ongoing surreal adventure that is my life overseas, this blog has come to a screeching halt. I've embarked on some serious travelling, however, and when I come in contact with computers in hostels such as the one I'm using right now, I'll be intermittently updating this thing.

So, ended last week and I was thrown into a mad rush to get my shit together and leave Barcelona. Naturally, I didn't pack until a few hours before needing to leave the damn place. I had to get my luggage to my amigo Juan Luis's nuevo piso -- new flat -- and I don't do well with last minute shit that isn't related to academics. School, I can handle an ominously approaching deadline. Travel and such, it stresses me out. Funny how I'm still always late. Did I get that from you, Mom or Dad, or is it some mystically developed phenomenon? Ehh, who knows.

Point is, Tracy and I went to Dublin and London for a few days. It was Will's birthday on the 18th (happy 20th, sir!); he got into Ireland with some girls in his program on Thursday. First, though, was dealing with the impending doom of baggage fees from RyanAir. A little about this fine airline: They are the unholy cyberus of air travel, with the three heads being comprised of Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalen. Cheap flights, but they fuck you in any way possible -- my Dad tells me they even tried to charge for bathroom usage in the past. BATHROOMS. Really? I'd be so pissed if they pulled that shit off (hah...puns). Ahh, capitalism. So, there we were waiting in a long line of Irish and Spanish travellers in El Prat, gate 52. A cold sweat ran across my brow as I tried to keep my sleep-deprived, anxious mind at ease. Not to my surprise, the stewardess (flight attendant? Not PC?) called me out of line and I had to do the jump-through-the-hoops routine in which I stuff the next month's worth of possessions and clothes into the regulation sized luggage rack at the gate. Some Irish women gave me tips, and suddenly I had the whole front of the line cheering me on. Jesus, it was like pre-op Star Jones settling into a Smart Car. I'd packed terribly, and due to this had a few articles of clothing in my bag I could have done without. 'Flip it upside down!' one woman said. 'Shake it, rearrange the side pockets!' cried her husband. And suddenly, it fit. RyanAir employees looked on scornfully, and I walked back to my place in line with a newfound swagger. Suck it, air Nazis!!

The flight went smoothly, and Dublin was great. I wish I could have spent more time there, and it defintely merits a return trip. We had from Saturday night until Monday afternoon to pack in some pubs, music, Galway, the Cliffs of Moher, and the Jameson distillery. Wouldn't you know it, though, we didn't make everything work. HOWEVER, shit was great. Tracy and I caught the bus from the airport to O'Connel street, the city center. It was definitely strange to walk down the street and hear ENGLISH being spoken, of all things. We wandered for a while, and found Four Courts -- our hostel for the night. Great place, great location a little ways from the Temple Bar area, and reasonable priced around 15 euro per night. We got into a little Jameson which we'd bought on the way, and headed out to meet Will and his amigas to watch El Clasico at a nearby sportsbar called Buskers -- overpriced, tourist ridden spot, but we didn't need drinks or food as we had Jameson and cheaper street food (doner kebab, naturally). Plus, they had giant screens. FORCA BARCA.

And...we lost. Shit. Hate. Depression. Couple that with the fact that I'd put a crack in the lenses of my RayBans upon moving my things around the hostel dorm, I was in a sad state. But, sunglasses are material things which can be fixed, and I couldn't let sports completely ruin my first night in Dublin. It was back to the hostel to change, then out to meet the Irish. And Jesus, they're a friendly bunch. Hospitable drinkers and jokers, the whole lot of them. We hit Fitzsimmon's and THE Temple Bar -- again, both a little pricey, but we made sure to get our money's worth. Return visit pending to Dublin, likely in a few years when I can make it back to Europe, I'll be sure to visit some more out of the way spots. However, I really did enjoy the spots we hit. Great live music everywhere, and friendly strangers everywhere I turned. The next day, though, was even better. We took a bus trip to Galway and the Cliffs of Moher, which quickly became my new favorite spot in the world. Like I said, I'm on a hostel computer right now so downloading and uploading photos is a bitch and a half. I advise you all to check my Ireland facebook album if you haven't yet. It's viewable for everyone.

Monday afternoon, we tried to hit the Jamo factory but the tour would have caused us to cut our flight a little close. I opted for enjoying the 12 year distillery reserve, only available at the factory in Dublin. Good god, it was an orgasm in a glass. Walking through the gift shop was just damn painful, as the 40, 50, 60, 100, 200 euro bottles were calling my name, wishing to sit triumphantly on my shelf for years, only to be drank on ultimately special occasions. However, I'm travelling. Good scotch, unfortunately, does not take precedent over hostels, food, and water. Turns out I need food and shelter first. Who knew?

We took another RyanAir flight to London that afternoon, with no luggage woes. It was cold, dreary, and rainy when we stepped out on the tarmac, but who gives a shit. We're in the UK, isn't that always the case? Turns out the place has two qualities for backpackers: terrible weather and a worse exchange rate. I shall overcome.

We stayed at St. Christopher's Village the first couple nights, which was a great place. Your typical self-advertised party hostel, which almost always equates to a great staff, hostel bar, and generally nice faciltities catering to the younger travelling crowd such as ourselves. The place was the bees goddamn knees. Again, I have a load of pictures, and promise to put them on FB or here as soon as I can. This might not be until I get back to my laptop in Barcelona, but trust'll enjoy it more when I have over 1000 images of pure European ecstasy rather than a slow trickle of snapshots of monuments here and there.
Our first night, we were flat out destroyed from the rapid pace of travel in Dublin. It's hard to adjust from the typical Barcelona schedule we'd gotten into of being out all night and sleeping half the day. I'm still working on that. Anyway, we spent the first night at Belushi's, the pub next to the hostel. Had some fish and chips, naturally, and put back a few beers before doing karaoke. I got after a little 'Sweet Caroline,' and later 'Come Together.' KILLED IT.

The next day was all about seeing the city, tourist status. We got some great Mexican food as directed by a map/guide we picked up from reception, and hit up a free tour around the Westminster area. Tips suggested, and we ended up giving James, the dude, a 10 pound note. Great dude, great tour. We saw Buckingham, Green Park, St. James Park, Big Ben (the name of the bell, actually...not the tower. who knew?), the government buildings, parliament, Westminster Abbey, etc. etc. Pics soon...or later...I promise. That night, we had serious business to attend to: The fucking Champion's League semis. Or, as I now refer to them...a steaming pile of horseshit.

We put away two in the first, much to our excitement. We were in the hostel pub again, surrounded shoulder to shoulder by Chelsea fans. Mostly, at least. A lot of Brits, like the two guys we stood next to -- Mark and Nigel (what an English name) -- were just there for some quality football. Great people, though, those redcoats. Bought us rounds all night. I couldn't get a word in when it came to buying the next. However, Ramires had a markedly wonderful goal at the end of the first, Messi somehow missed a PK, and fucking Torres of all people put away the unneeded dagger for Chelsea. We met more friends -- one guy offered his couch if we returned to London, some Indians and their friends bought us beers and chatted sports, and the only other Barcelona fan in the joint shared our pain. Hit up some terrible fast food called Chicken Cottage after that, and it was off to bed as we had to check out by 10 the next day.

We woke up, and headed to our next hostel -- the Hyde Park Inn. Guess where? HYDE PARK. Cool shit, but not the hostel turned out to be shit. But, for the cheapest spot available that night, I was not one to argue. We dropped out things and headed out into the terrible weather. We'd made plans to check out a spot for a quality English brunch, walk the city to a used bookstore, then stop by King's Cross for a Harry Potter photo op before getting after some other places we found on the hostel map.

And then came the rain. Fucking pouring -- cats and dogs is an understatement. It was more like some genetic ancient hybrid of a blue whale and brontosaurus abusing our spirits and dry clothes. We walked for over an hour in this unrelenting acquatic torrent, stopping briefly under doorways along the way only for me to pause, wipe my face, and bitch a little. Okay, a lot. But we got there, and the food was great. Sausage, baked beans, fried eggs, bacon, toast, coffee, and this odd brown sauce that I couldn't quite place the flavor of. I didn't ask questions, although maybe I should have. Soilent green, housecat, I could have eaten anything at that point. We dried off there, and headed out toward the British National Museum. It's free...all the time! Quality. Funny thing, though...I've been overseas for months, and I've had more than my fair share of museums and galleries. It was notable phenomenal to walk around for an hour and see the history of the world (my favorite part being the Rosetta stone), but there was a lacklaster who-gives-a-shit mood to the whole thing. Really, Tracy and I were fucking soaked, and it was a great place to walk around, see the world, and dry off. From there we headed to the whole in the wall bookshop; found one of my uncle Don Winslow's booked -- Savages -- which I was tempted to buy and reread, but I figure I'd let the Brits enjoy it. Movie coming soon, read it and be on the lookout. I picked up Capote's 'In Cold Bood' and Hunter S Thompson's 'The Rum Diaries.' I think they'll carry me through the next few weeks of travel.

Walked around the King's Cross area after that -- which I'm pretty sure is, or is nearby Camden, where we found this place called Drink, Shop, and Do. Awesome little indie bar/shop/dancefloor. Bar and tearoom upstairs, with art everywhere, where literally every piece of furniture, salt shaker, and paintings are up for sale. Seriously, if you get a chance while in London check this spot out. They had a cherry old fashioned they advertised, which sounded awesome given the fact that I can't find any quality bourbon or rye in Spain, but I didn't feel like shelling out the 9.50 pounds. Anyway, the place was great. They have music most nights downstairs, and a great shop out front as well.

Found out King's Cross didn't actually have a platform 9 3/4 after that, much to my disappointment. Tracy was bummed because we didn't go to the Harry Potter experience outside of the city, and we had to settle on heading to the Chinatown/Soho/Piccadilly area. Ended up having a beer and watching Madrid lose, which eased the pain of the past three Barca matches...but not by much. Bayern will undoubtedly crush Chelsea.

Anyway, I'm out. I'm meeting a friend and her parents for FREE lunch at their hotel, which is awesome. And free. And then I'm off to check out other parts of the city. Maybe a pubcrawl tonight in Camden. Pics and new posts to come soon. I'm fucking back at it.


Monday, February 20, 2012


Went to Andorra last weekend. Pretty legit. Want to hear about it? Of course you do. Wait, no? Then why the hell are you reading this?? Whatever.

SO. Andorra.

I was supposed to go on this little weekend excursion through Peter and Aaron’s dorms – the Melon District. It was going to be 110€ for transportation via bus/forfeit (what they call lift passes here)/one night in a hotel/two meals/and photos, whatever that entailed. HOWEVER, they didn’t get enough people to sign up (they needed forty – Jesus, only FORTY – and not enough people were down) and they had to postpone it until a later date. Just so happens this later date is going to be the same weekend that we go to Valencia for an ISA excursion, and I’m not about to miss that (see: Girona). Woe is me, what to do? Ski trip cancellation imminent?

No goddamn way.

The Wednesday before we went/were supposed to go, I met up with a few amigos at L’Ovella Negra – quickly becoming our resident fútbol bar – and was regretfully informed that the trip wasn’t going to happen. BUT ALAS, there was a silver lining! Peter and another guy from Melon, Juan (more on this new amigo shortly), were planning out our own quality weekend on the slopes. We only had a short list of problems: no ski/snowboard gear, no cold weather apparel, no transportation, no hostel/hotel booked, no nothing. Nada. Time to make some serious moves. And really – I love this shit – last minute plans are the best. Lots of hassle, but no waiting and no chance to cancel as there’s only time to go. Just go.

We went.

Aaron, Peter and I had tapas and some vino on Wednesday night at this place in the Born district called Princesa 23. Definitely going to be going there again. But anyway, we made it an early night because Aaron was going to Paris in the morning, and Peter and I had plans to wake up around 9AM in order to get everything organized for Andorra and leave by early afternoon.

You think that actually happened? Who do you think I am? Waking up the next day went something like this:

Phone rings, 11:56am.

Markus: “Ohhh shit. Shitshitshit. I overslept, man. I overslept. What time is it?!”

Peter: “DUDE. Dude. It’s cool, we’re going to rent the car. It’s noon. We’ll pick you up in an hour to go to Decathlon.”

Markus: “Yeah? Okay. Sounds good.”


Markus makes breakfast.

Markus, instead of packing, makes an Andorra playlist.

Markus goes and waits outside.


So there I was, outside mi casa, and this little four-door Peugot (so European) pulls up with Juan driving and Peter sitting shotgun, both with these awesome shit-eating grins on their faces. This is where I started to get excited. Also, this is where I get in the car. This is when the trip begins.

Pleasantries were had (“Que pasa? What’s up? I’m Markus. Cómo te llamas? Mucho gusto, dude.”), and we were on the way to first pick up Juan’s girlfriend Daniella and then go meet another amigo – Chase – at a Decathlon, one of many sporting goods stores in Barcelona.

On Juan: this guy is awesome. Both he and Daniella are from Ecuador and studying in Barcelona. I knew we were going to get along famously from our first few words in regards to the trip and the rental car, which culminated in this gem: “I like to drive more than to fuck.” Apparently the guy test-drove a Ferrari the Monday we came back to Barcelona. Seriously, if that’s not a sign of buena gente, then I don’t know what is. Anyway, the dude has one gear – go. And that’s a good dude to have along on a ski trip. Especially when no one else has ever driven around Barcelona. It’s a zoo here on the streets.

We spent the next couple of hours on a grueling trek braving the commercial jungle that is Decathlon. If the Barcelona streets are a zoo, this place was the monkey house. It being February, and prime time to ski, it was packed on the second floor – the floor with all the cold weather gear. También, they were out of almost all regular sizes, unless you fit into a youth small or weigh 300 pounds. What is that, like 150 kilograms? I still don’t get the metric system. Neither does America. AMERICA, FUCK YEAH.

Whoa. Sudden patriotic musing. Got lost for a minute.

Let’s get back on track. I spent around 40€ on waterproof pants/gloves/liner gloves/a scarf (bufón – it’s way more fun to say in Spanish)/and XL long underwear. A little loose in the crotch, but who doesn’t like a nice breeze on the coin purse? Haha…coin purse.

So, I was kicking myself for not bringing along an Under Armor shirt and the thermal clothes I have at home – but ultimately it didn’t get too expensive. I was going to borrow a shell to wear over my North Face from Chase too, which ended up being enough to save me from the bitter Andorran winds.

From Decathlon – a thirty-minute trip that took TWO. GODDAMN. HOURS. – we went back by my place so I could throw some clothes in a bag, and we were almost ready to go. Just one more thing…where the hell were we going to stay that night? Chase and I were put on hostel duty while Juan and Peter (Daniella was at home packing) had a couple more errands to run.

Shit got stressful here.

As I said before, I’m all for these last-minute trips. I do everything last-minute, or late, if you want to be a dick about it. However, it seemed a little necessary to at least have an idea of where we could stay for the night. Also, the day was making that terrible transition from so-much-time-to-do-things-afternoon-time to oh-shit-it’s-nightfall-and-we-are-definitely-running-late-time. Looks like I’m back on my hyphenate-a-sentence-as-a-cop-out-for-a-more-concise-adjective game.

We spent the next forty-five minutes getting pissed off at the amount of hotels and hostels that were booked full. Even thought about scrapping the whole thing for a moment – but seriously, we’d already rented a car and bought some gear. No turning back at this point. And, at the very point of uttermost desperation, we found a hostel in Ordino (a short drive from the closest lift) for 20€ per head. YEAH DUDE. IT’S ON.

Another half hour later, we were on the road. And then, we hit the freeway, which was incidentally packed with bumper-to-bumper traffic leaving the city for the weekend. Jesus Christ, would we ever get out of here??

Yeah. Yeah, we eventually did. And two hours later (Juan drives fast as shit – which scared the shit out of Chase), we were in Andorra -- the tax-free land of offshore bank accounts and top shelf ski resorts. It took us a minute to find the hostel, as it didn’t have a sign. Seriously poor business technique right there. But we found it, and for the first time in a couple months I touched snow. Pretty sure Daniella said she’d never/nunca/not once been in contact with snow. It was a quality moment for all of us.

Anyway, we dropped our stuff off and headed toward a stretch of bars and restaurants in Andorra. We straight up decimated some bocadillos, calamars, y croquetes, and proceeded to find the closest bar as much celebration was in order. I mean, we were in goddamn Andorra. Not only was this my first weekend outside of Barcelona, but we were on the cusp of a flat out awesome trip. Enter: Bar Xaloc. Really had all we needed – music, cheap drinks, cheap shots, pool, and pinball. It was dead, and we made nice with Cristina – the bartender, who even gave us the name of a hotel we could look into for tomorrow. She loved us, as we were keeping the place alive for the night. Bets for buying rounds were made on games of pool, shots were discounted, ordered, and taken, and eventually we were running the music and I was getting impromptu salsa lessons. Shit ruled. Just check out our smiles on the next couples of pics. Did I mention it was Daniella’s birthday at midnight? Cue toasts of “Salud! Prost! Happy fucking birthday!” Needless to say, the next morning was going to be rough.

“Rough,” being a euphemism for “feeling like Robert Downey Jr. after a bender in his more troubled years.” We survived, though. I even woke up early enough to catch breakfast downstairs in the hostel, and Adbiel – the guy who ran the place – not only gave us a voucher for a 10% discount on rentals at a shop down the street, but also called one of his friends at another hotel in town and booked a room for us that night. Seriously, it had to be the one open room in the entire goddamn country. I mean, Andorra is a small country (just a mountain with a name, really), but still. Todo el mundo – everybody -- was here for the weekend. And with good reason, it was beautiful. Cue: photos. They tell a better story than I can.

¡Buenos días, Andorra! View from outside the hostel.

L-R: PeterMan, Chase, Cristina, Daniella, Juan, Yo.

3000m up in the Pyrenees. Sidenote: that's France in the background.

I won, which meant I got free shots. XUPITOS.

"Hey dude, I have an idea. Let's get drunk and arm wrestle!"

La familia de la fin de semana.

Chase and Peter on the first day.


Vallnord Arcalis.

Tight fit.



Chase got tired. Chase sat.

Chilling. Literally? It was 10 goddamn degrees below Celsius. 

It's not every day you can pee on top of a mountain. Pretty sure it even trickled into France.


Just looking at my shoe, ya know?


Storm rolling in, and time to dip out of Andorra. Later!

It seems like every time I go on a ski trip, I forget just how much snowboarding kicks my ass. All the muscles I only use over a winter weekend every year or two wake up and slap me in the face. Chase, Peter, and I took the shuttle back from the lift down the mountain to Ordina, and found our new accomodations at Hotel Casa Vella. For 25€ per person, this place was legit. Apartment-style hotel rooms that would probably go for a few hundred a night in Breck. ¡Qué ganga!

We searched out some food at this place called Vertical Limit (holy shit, best patates braves I’ve ever head – I’d seriously go back just to eat them again), where the owner – Danny (Dani? Dannie?), this dude from Portgual – bullshitted with us and wrote out a list of bars and a club to check out in the nearby town of Arinsal. Sidenote: apparently Peter, in a drunken search for food, tried coming in here last night after it was closed. The doors were unlocked, and Danny ended up giving him a free croissant. Free shit rules.

Back to the matter at hand, we had a great time in Arinsal that night. The first bar we went to not only had pool tables and a chica guapa behind the bar, but was also in the middle of an old-school hip-hop request hour. Everything from Jurassic 5 to Biggie to Wu-Tang to Atmosphere. From there, we went to Surf – the only club in town – where Danny said he’d likely meet us after closing the restaurant around 3. It was two floors, the bottom being strictly salsa and the top being strictly DJ/typical discoteca electro tunes. And, for a discoteca, drinks were relatively cheap. I’m used to getting my bebidas in before the clubs in Barcelona so as to avoid paying 10€ for well whisky doubles. Here, beers were your typically reasonable 2 or 3 euro and drinks were around 5. Not too shabby – just look at us:

What a bunch of gomers.

So, another late night and another rough morning. But hey, I was on goddamn vacation. Juan and Daniella, having not skied the day before, had to pick up their gear for today. We hit the rental shop again and ended up fitting three snowboards, two pairs of skis and poles, and five people inside this little Euro tin can of a car. Uncomfortable, but it worked.

The second day on the mountain was even better, especially for the fact that we got free forfeit. Since we hit the half-day mark both days, some people were leaving the mountain as we were getting there. And, wouldn’t you know it, these awesome human beings wanted to sell us their lift passes at a discount. I got a 30€ lift pass the first day for 20€ from a dude who’d had enough skiing for the day, and the second day we got them all for free from a couple who just so happened to be the two nicest people on the face of the earth. Or at least the face of the mountain. Seriously, that shit goes for $100 a day in the US in somewhere like Breck, Keystone or Vail. But, we were up on a beautiful mountain in the Pyrenees for fucking free on this heavenly sunny day. Did I mention some kid just walked up to me the day before and handed me a bag of weed? Just handed it to me and walked away. Sketchy – I know – but the point is that I think I’m becoming a magnet for handouts from the Spanish. Maybe some money will come next, because that would be legit. Like, “Disculpame, pero no necesito estos mil euros. ¿Quieres?” God, that would be great. I’ll be ready and waiting when it happens. Because it will.

What was I doing?

Oh yeah, writing about Andorra. Goddamn Andorra! I will return there in my lifetime. After the slopes that day it was straight to the rental shop then straight to Barcelona. We were all dead, and I have to commend Juan on dominating the drive back. Got back to the city around 11pm local time, and I was more than ready to sleep. Strangely, it almost seemed like I was coming home to a city that is quickly becoming so. I mean, it was my own bed in a transitive sort of way. I’m living here for a few months, so I might as well call it home while I have the chance.

Bottom line is, great trip. Great weekend. I’m out.

Adiós, mis amigos.

Monday, February 13, 2012

¡Barça, Barça, Baaaarça!

Monumental shit happened last Saturday.

Every Saturday is phenomenal here -- then again, every day is if you take the initiative. This was a day where I both fucked up, as well as did things right. Keep reading, you'll see.

So, as I mentioned in the last part of my previous post I missed the bus to Girona. While it is true I set a few alarms to wake myself with ample time to make the necessary metro transfers to the meeting point at Plaza Universitat, it's also true that I went out and had a few drinks the night before at an Irish pub called Ryan's. Two other people in the program -- Tracy and Andy -- and I weren't content with a quiet night in, and opted to partake in three or four rounds of 2€ beers and 5 for 5€ tequila shots. We met some Austrians, who were happy to partake in aforementioned shots as we had odd numbers for the three of us. I wasn't aware tequila was popular in the country. The two Austrians chicas -- both sweethearts and both attractive -- told us to let them know if we were going to be travelling through the area. The two Austrians dudes suggested the same. Pretty sure I'm Facebook friends with them now. Also, the Austrian dudes were REALLY into metal., Euro black metal and shitty American tunes a la Korn. We couldn't relate on that, but it was engaging to speak an Irish Barçelona...with Austrians. Those are my favorite moments -- when I find myself in situations where to sheer level of cultural diversification causes me to step back and reflect for a moment. Okay, wait. what was I talking about again??

OHHH YEAH. Missed the bus to Girona. In my half-conscious state at around 4:30AM I'd set my phone alarm, iPhone alarm, and had instructed una amiga to call me to make sure. She did so, at approximately 8:32 and 34 seconds in the morning, and I -- in a state of sheer panic -- realized I would have to haul ass to make the bus. I threw on the first articles of clothing I could find, which thankfully included both a shirt and pants. Here's where I really fucked up: after walking halfway to my metro stop I realized I'd forgotten my camera. This, necessary for recording memories as well as sharing with you guys, seemed vital at the time. I ran back, adding another 5 or 6 minutes to my mad rush to get to the meeting point, and by the time I burst out of the metro and sprinted to where the busses SHOULD have been...I had to call Will only to be informed that I was minutes too late. That being said, I will be taking a day trip to Girona via train one of these weekend. It's cheap, and I will hate myself forever if I don't get to see the Dalí museum. So, that's that. No regrets, no shame. Qué será, será. Although, it was probably a little strange for anyone within a 50 yard radius of me to witness an American shouting a wide vocabulary of profanities into a cell phone at 9 in the morning. Seriously, as you might gather from this blog...I could give Tourette's guy a run for his money.

Anyway, I returned home to explain to host madre how pissed I was and proceeded to sleep -- honest to Dios -- until damn near 5PM. I'm not sure how that happened, but it did. As a result, I felt great, went to the gym, and got ready for an opportunity I couldn't miss a bus for -- Barça v. Real Societat at Camp Nou that night.

I'd gotten tickets at a discount through my friends' dorms. Fifty bucks a seat instead of the typical price, which can be upwards of 100-300€ depending on the match. This night -- a Liga matchup -- wasn't anything special. It was a must win, as Barça is behind Madrid a few points in La Liga, but Societat isn't much of a squad. Either way, we were pretty goddamn excited. I mean, my first Barça game. Fucking BARÇELONA. Shit was about to get real.

I met everyone at the Melon District -- the dorms de mis amigos. Down by the entrance, my friend Aaron and I met this guy Jeremy. The dude has lived in London for 10 years and is not studying in Barça. He's originally from France but we forgave him for that and invited him to join the group. Buena gente.

We proceeded to eat and drink in preparation for this monumental day night in my life. A bowl of pasta and a couple Red Labels (sin hielo -- I swear the Spanish don't believe in ice), we were on the way. What follows is a series of photos from the night, which tell the story better than I do. If some explanation is needed I'll put it in the caption, but this post will primarily be photos. And Scott, if you're reading this: chupalo, cabrón.

Some incredibly good looking man and Tracy.

Jeremy y yo. Note: sangria in hand.

Peter y Garrett.


This place fits damn near 100,000 people, but was only around half full tonight. Still amazing. Still loud.

I'd only ever seen this playing FIFA.

Right after a goal. 


Multiple cameras taking pictures.

I look like Sloth from the Goonies.

L-R: Sam, yo, Aaron, Tracy, Julia, Bryan.

¡Lo fue de la putra madre! Loose translation: it was the shit!

Pretty sure this is a strange Spanish symbol meaning "soccer."

Metro was packed. Seriously, people gave zero fucks and boarded until movement was impossible.

Tracy was not amused.

So, that's it. It was fucking FREEZING. Couldn't feel my legs or face by the end of the match, but there was NO way we could have left early. It was too much of a defining moment in my life. I'm going to another game in March through ISA. Again, 50€, and we (I can say that now, right? I mean...I live in Barça.) play Bayern Leverkusen in a Champion's league matchup.

I've learned all the words to El Himno de FC Barçelona. They sing it before and after every game. También, it's helped me to make a few Catalan friends when I just so happen to belt it out whilst leaving concerts and bars. So, I fucking love sports, and this is a great piece of tradition. The club means more to this city than just a team -- I mean, look at the words in the stadium: "Mes que un club." It was the only piece of Catalan culture than persisted through the Franco years, and it's amazing how intertwined the city and the team are. It's more than sports -- it's an identity which exists in tandem with the unique nature of the city. Pasión, passion, however you say it, lives here.

Life is good, and I hope that things are going well back in the States.