Barcelona and a String of Bad Luck (Week 35, May 27 - June 2, 2019)
By the time we’d worked out our dates, lodging in Barcelona was so sparse and pricey that we ended up staying only four nights. To be honest, I’ve always preferred Madrid, so I wasn’t too sad about it, but I hadn’t been in years and was looking forward to giving Barcelona another chance.
We prioritized Gaudi, and got a babysitter to do a day of packed sightseeing that WP would not have tolerated. Although it turned out that she was a big Gaudi fan! The first time she saw one of his buildings she looked surprised and pointed emphatically -- “Oh! Oh!” When we went to Parc Guell and she saw the roof of one of the structures, she got extremely excited and started doing her bird flapping motion and sound effect, followed by her washing machine motion and sound effect. I think she gets it. Then she ran down a hill and split her lip.
We had a lovely evening with a couple of business school classmates of mine who now live in Barcelona. And we drank vermut. We had planned a night out our last night in town, but...
The Bad Luck
It was bound to happen eventually. And in some ways it’s amazing that it hadn’t happened yet. We had very bad luck.
It started on Thursday when WP woke up from her nap. She didn’t look right. I couldn’t place it, but she was kind of sweaty and aimless. I took her temperature: nothing. So we stuck on her shoes and rushed out the door. We were headed to a private clinic across town to get WP her latest round of vaccines. We were a bit late on a couple of them and weren’t going to be in another major metropolitan area for a month, so the timing was important.
We got in the cab, and half a block later Willa coughed twice and vomited. All over me. Extensively. She looked up at me quietly. I explained in Spanish to the cab driver what had just happened. He pulled over. We got out, and walked the 100 meters home.
(Side note: this was the nicest cabbie in all of Barcelona. He was beside himself that he did not have towels in his trunk that day, he felt awful, he punched all the buttons on his phone to try to get the app to not charge us any money, he wanted to use whatever he had in the trunk to mop me up, I had to say over and over that we were just going right back home to shower. Thanks, cab man.)
So, WP throws up on me four more times in two hours and we obviously miss the appointment. We were scheduled to go to the beach for a night the next morning to break up the trip to the French countryside, where we were headed for two weeks. The vaccines are too important to miss. We change our train to the afternoon and get another doctor’s appointment.
I check my email and learn that the pool at the house we’re headed to in France will not be ready when we arrive. Two days ago friends we were scheduled to visit in July had to change their plans. I start to dislike checking my email.
All goes well at the doctor’s office. We get the vaccines (WP is a champ) and we catch the train. We get off in Perpignan and follow the signs to get our rental car.
We are stymied. The police are there. The exit is fermé. The police officer speaks very little English. But she seems to be saying that not only is that exit fermé but the Europcar office on the other side of it is also fermé. Apparently there was a bagages abandonnés and they’ve evacuated the station. There is another exit on the other side, but under the circumstances this does not help us.
It is 6pm. The Europcar office is scheduled to be open until 7:15pm. How long can this last? We sit on the floor. Eventually the bomb sniffing dog passes us. We can leave. We relocate to the Europcar office, about 30ft from where we had been trapped. The grate is down. It is 6:55pm. We wait 20min, knowing it is no good. I don’t like to rely on stereotypes, but I ponder whether it seems likely that a rental car employee in the south of France is waiting to return to work for the final 15min of her shift. It does not seem likely.
Our hotel that we were supposed to stay in that night on the beach is a 20min drive away in a small town. I ask the cab driver outside what it would cost to go there. He admonishes me for banging into the door of his car with my bag and tells me €80. Of course that’s one way, and we need to be back in Perpignan in the morning to get the car. The hotel at the beach says that under the circumstances it is better for us not to come. I look over the roof of the cab at the Appart’city Hotel. I hang my head.
For €68 we get a tiny room with a balcony with no furniture on it that overlooks a parking lot. I lie facedown on the bed while WP climbs on me and Mike goes to buy doner for dinner. At least there is a fridge and WP’s milk won’t spoil. WP refuses to eat anything but french fries for dinner. Mercifully she falls asleep easily while we drink sodas on the balcony without speaking. I try not to try to remember whether the beach hotel was supposed to be nice. The point is it was at the beach. We are not.
The next morning we don’t eat breakfast, we don’t get coffee, we just get out of bed and go to Europcar. They are unapologetic about not returning to work and leaving us stranded. They don’t seem to understand why we think our predicament was their fault. But they upgrade our car. We leave. We go to a different beach. Just for a few hours. We eat a croissant, and Mike has moules, we drink rosé, just to remind ourselves that we are in France.
We drive on and make it to Merviel. The pool has a tarp over it that is covered with a foot of standing water and leaves. WP starts crying while we are being shown around and I miss half the tour. But the house is beautiful and we are happy to be there. The next day we buy four bottles of white wine and a kiddie pool.
Things are looking up.