One Friday a week or so ago, I was keen to go out clubbing. As a teenager in Suffolk, my first experience in a club was very disappointing. This is it? This is the place that I’ve waited until my eighteenth birthday to have the ‘privilege’ of entering? My friends, who were also club novices, were equally disappointed. It wasn’t long before we left. Once I started university in Oxford, however, I realised what I was missing out on. Now that I was in a considerably larger city, I realised clubs could be far better and I enjoyed going out to them, at least weekly.
But, after a while, the fun wore off. Clubs aren’t always the perfect social environments (sometimes not enough of your friends are there and the music is far too loud to allow for a conversation) and doing the same thing every week got a little boring. I’d always try and go to a club but it wasn’t too long before I left again. I should also add that thinking back on this student lifestyle, after so many months away from it, seems so very distant, part of the life of a younger me which it will be strange to return to when term starts again. And indeed, because I no longer visit clubs so frequently (the last time was probably in May), the idea of going to one no longer seems so boring or tedious. Hence why I went out on Friday.
The evening began by running a few errands in Barcelona, then getting ready at home and heading to George Payne, an Irish Bar in the centre. I went with Danny, Danny’s best friend, Danny’s best friend’s girlfriend (who has just arrived in Barcelona from Vietnam), another of Danny’s friends and said other friend’s mum. Confused yet? At first, I was surprised that Danny’s friend’s mum wanted to join us. I certainly know I wouldn’t want my mum to come with my friends and I on a night out, and nor would she, particularly because her club days are long gone and she has never been a particularly heavy drinker. She likes my friends but hanging out with them, considering the considerable age gap (sorry mum) and the lack of things she would have in common with them, is not something she would be likely to do. I soon realised, however, that Danny’s friend’s mum is not like my mum. Although she is probably of a similar age, she acts exactly like one of us. I didn’t feel like she’d give me a disapproving stare as I knocked back a tequila shot. Rather, she was joining in drinking with us. The jokes she made also revealed she wasn’t going to put any filters on the things she said. Danny told her she was the coolest mum ever.
Later in the evening, we were joined by a girl I knew from school. She was in my Spanish class and, like me, chose to study Spanish at university. Also like me, she has chosen to spend a part of her year abroad in Barcelona. It was really great to catch up with her and meet her boyfriend, who has come over to spend the first month here with her before he returns to uni. Sadly, they couldn’t stay for long as they had had a busy day working and, instead of coming with us to the club, were planning on heading home to bed. Danny’s friend’s mum did likewise. Both of them did well not to join us because the club was not the best. None of us really knew the songs and, before long, we were out of there, heading back home in the very early hours of the morning.
We slept in until very late the next day. Danny and I were supposed to join the people we had gone out with the night before for lunch at their apartment. I told Danny I had a lot of stuff I needed to get done (not an excuse, it was genuine), but he would not take no for an answer and literally dragged me to the door until I finally acquiesced and said I would go. I didn’t get done what I needed to, but I didn’t regret going. I enjoyed a nice lunch, climbed to the top of Montjuic and had a sickly sweet strawberry mojito overlooking Barcelona, then returned home, fell asleep on the sofa as Danny and his friends played playstation, then went out for dinner with the motley crew again, before we headed out to a bar near the beach. The bar was incredibly slow, staff were stressed and, after several complaints and questions about where our drinks were, we finally decided to leave, our drinks having never appeared. We went instead to a bar called Maka Maka, which is one of the first places I went to for dinner in Barcelona. They were considerably quicker at bringing us our drinks, but the bar was set to close soon, so we had to order several rounds quickly.
Last weekend, I went with Danny and his mum on a long car trip to Madrid. We weren’t that long into the trip before I started to feel incredibly nauseous. Car sickness is something I used to suffer from when I was younger, but it has long ceased to be a problem, so I was surprised to feel like my stomach was twisted up in knots as we drove along straight, unbumpy roads. Stopping off and having a bite to eat helped considerably, to my surprise, but the trip we were going on involved going up to a campsite fairly high in the mountains, and thus winding roads were a given. I tried to sleep in the car as much as I could (sleep, it is said, is one of the best remedies for car sickness) and was very glad when we finally arrived at our destination.
Danny’s grandmother greeted me warmly, asking me how I was, to which I replied ‘un poco mareada’. She gave me several kisses on the cheek, called me ‘guapa’ several times and asked if I’ll let her come and visit Danny and I in England. She was to fuss over me throughout my stay there, making sure I was warm enough, bringing me endless socks, jackets and blankets when nighttime came and the temperature dropped. After arriving, I also met Danny’s uncle, aunt and two cousins, one of which is also called Helena, a common name here, though in the majority of cases (with the exception of Danny’s cousin) it is spelt without an H.
The campsite we went to is one that Danny’s grandparents go to yearly and where he has spent many a summer. Most of the people there also go the campsite on a yearly basis, meaning that each time you meet them, you see the changes they’ve undergone over the year that has passed. It was somewhat like being amongst one big family, where everyone knows each other, gets along with each other and greets you like a long lost relative if they haven’t seen you for a while. Danny’s grandmother, who is a complete chatterbox, is well known and liked.
I stayed at the campsite for a few days. The temperature there was perfect. In contrast to the city of Madrid (where temperatures are high and uncomfortable), the mountains provided the perfect climate. During the day, it was hot, but the shade of all the trees gave cool relief. At night, it was cold, and for someone who feels the cold like me (the Spanish would call me a friolera), even lots of layers of clothing and a huge pile of blankets wasn’t enough to stop me from waking up seeking warmth. But still, the cold was far from unbearable and I mostly slept through the night. The campsite was also situated in a very picturesque, calm setting, completely devoid of wifi or phone signal. It was thus a great place to go to and switch off, seeking entertainment via traditional means, such as chatting with friends and family, reading and going on walks. Small getaways like this are definitely underrated.