Barcelona, Spain Day 3 - Cruise 2

Trip Start Jun 12, 2008
Trip End Aug 25, 2008

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Flag of Spain and Canary Islands  ,
Thursday, June 26, 2008

I hopped onto a shuttle at 8:30 AM this morning after talking with a family from Utah at the shuttle stop for a few minutes.  They counseled me on the sights I plan to see and all the great people who so kindly give me direction (literally) in my life.  I walked up Las Ramblas and there were many open air shops in this center island walking area that ran from one end of this road to the very end about a mile later.  The thing that intrigued me the most were the living statues.  Some wore body paint and painted their outfits the same color to look silver or bronzed, some wore very science fiction mythical creature type costumes and stood frozen until people approached to have their picture taken near them.  Imagine the shock when the statues animated!!  One man didn't paint himself or wear a costume but held his position like a manequin until someone dropped money into his hat and then would animate himself for about 2 minutes with robotic type movements and then would "wind down" into a new frozen position that he held until more money was placed in his hat.  I found him the most intriguing as he would choose positions that would be difficult to maintain and yet he didn't flinch, wiggle, twitch, or sway until the money went in the hat.  Kudos to him, he was a true performer.

I finished the tour of the architecture and sights circled on my map but then the roads began to look different than the map and I got turned around.  By this time the sun was directly overhead so it gave no point of reference and the streets all intersected at diagonals.  I walked into a shop that had convenience store type items and bought some lemon creme filled cookies and asked the man for directions but he didn't speak English and gruffly pointed out of his shop, but the direction he was pointing the streets converged so I was still unsure of where to go.  I stopped another woman on the street corner and after realizing I wasn't an axe murderer she pointed up the street and said where to go.  I speak Spanish, the language of Spain, but in case you aren't aware the people of Barcelona speak Catalán which is a whole different language - similar to spanish but looking like a mixture of French and Italian as well - so communication is slightly tricky.  Many speak both languages, but some refuse to speak Spanish so they don't have to deal with the tourists.  

I made my way up the block in the direction this woman had pointed and found myself still uncertain which direction I was even heading on my map - and I DO know how to read a map.  I saw a man standing by an office/store building who looked friendly and non-axe murderish and approached him with my map in tow.  I asked him in Spanish if he could help me and he immediately spoke to me in Spanish as well.  Yay.  He gave me directions and then we took a minute to chit chat because he had said a few words that I didn't understand and he caught on that I wasn't from Spain.  My accent really throws people, they don't immediately assume USA .  After talking about Chicago for awhile (that is where I tell people I am from as foreigners won't have heard of my hometown) he got me going in the right direction with only 5 blocks to go to intersect with the street I had needed to find.  Perfect.  I now knew exactly where I was and had no more hesitation about getting back to the ship.

I passed some more animated characters on the way back down Las Ramblas and arrived back at the Christopher Columbus statue and eventually figured out where the shuttle stop was for my ship.  There was no sign marking the spot and so even though I knew where I was dropped off I had not clear indication of pick up and 15 minutes later (now with 30 minutes to get to work) hopped on the shuttle.

This itinerary is definitely more frenetic and crazy in port than Alaska or AU/NZ or even Mexico.  There is so much to try and cram in to only a couple hours and then try to catch the right transport to be back in time to work - I've been very fortunate thus far for all the kind locals and fellow travelers who have aided me so that I haven't been late.

Saying thanks for all the assistance - keep up the good work helping those of us in need,

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