Barcelona (and the Ugly American Tourist)

I’m sitting on a balcony in Barcelona, Spain. It’s fucking awesome. We came here on a wild hair with some friends with no real purpose or agenda. We are staying in a nice part of town. There is a street sign 5 feet away that says “Carrer Dels Cecs de la Boqueria”. I have a double cappuccino, I slept ’til noon and, needless to say, I am a happy man right now.

I’ve never been to Europe before, although I have been to England and Ireland many times as well as Australia, Mexico and a few other countries. Never Europe before, though. This city seems very European to me. There are people from everywhere speaking every language. The women are ultra fucking hot. My wife says the men are, too. Getting out of the States, it is nice to see thinner people. All of the women are thin, it seems. The only chubby people are tourists, usually Germans and Americans, from what I can tell.

Last night was our first night and we got pretty hammered. We were warned repeatedly about pickpockets and last night we got our first taste of that. First they tried to get me. I was drunk and they acted drunk and were all like “Dude, where are you from?” I was being friendly and the guy sort of “danced” with me. I grew immediately uncomfortable and pushed him away. My wallet was in my front pocket and as soon as we got away from them I had the presence of mind to check my inventory. I was fine, they didn’t get anything. Then (unbeknownst to me) they did the same thing to my friend. He also had his wallet in his front pocket but they got his. By the time he noticed, they were gone. He was drunker than me and his pants were looser. We both felt pretty stupid. The unfortunate moral of the story is that you can’t assume that friendly people are friendly here. The next time they try that “dancing” stuff with me I’m gonna knock the guy on his ass and kick him in the head. I’ll pretend I’m drunk so it seems like an accident.

There was a thread on UTI a few weeks ago about the “ugly American tourist”. I’ve seen fairly few Americans and you can’t really tell people’s nationalities from looking at them, in a lot of cases. So I haven’t seen (or been!) the ugly American tourist except for when we landed in Spain and were going through customs. We got off the plane and, being a bunch of Americans, we queued up politely in line to get our passports stamped. The line was ridiculously long but very orderly. Then masses of EU people came down the stairs and the whole place immediately turned into a mob scene. Utter chaos. They had like 10 stations for checking people in but only 2 were staffed. No one directed traffic, there was no organization, nothing. Chaos. So there are like 2000 people all cramming together trying to get through the gate. The Americans in the group were not happy and I realized that sometimes, perhaps rarely, the “ugly American tourist” is right! I’ve never seen that sort of utter, unmanaged chaos going through customs in the states. Americans, and probably everybody, have a deep sense of fair play and we are not happy when people start pushing and shoving and cutting in line. We expect the authorities to keep order. Any rational person would have 1) opened more stations for checking people in and 2) provided order in the management of the queues. My thought was, yeah, I might be an asshole but you people are retards.

But, of course, it all worked out fine eventually. There is more to tell but this is getting long. More to come!

Barcelona (and the Ugly American Tourist)

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