Things (not) to do in Barcelona

As a result of eating fewer cakes, drinking less lattes and going for more runs, I have lost a total of about five pounds in as many weeks. Seems like a lot of sacrifice for a small reward, but at least the number is going in the right direction, and I am no longer dreading standing on the scales as I did in the final trimester of pregnancy. My weight during those last few months was increasing by about three or four pounds a week – I did wonder where it would end. Thankfully, I am fairly confident that I can wear my new (humongous on the chest coverage, due to breastfeeding boobs resembling watermelons) bikini on the beach, without being fearful that Greenpeace might get called to drag me back in to the water.

So we leave in four days for Mallorca; I have bought my miniature toiletries, new suitcase, and aforementioned monstrous bikini. The dog is booked in for kennels, the British summertime is winding down and it looks like we will fly out of Manchester amidst pouring rain and chilly temperatures – always pleasing when you will depart at the other end of the flight straight in to thirty five degrees and glorious sunshine.

And this holiday will, of course, be sans booze. There was a time when I couldn’t imagine going away and not drinking, when I would almost not have seen the point of a holiday if it didn’t include alcohol. And there were many holidays when booze was consumed on a nightly basis and good times were had by all, the wine adding to the general merriment and relaxed evenings that everyone wants from their week in the sun. But in the last few years there were many times when I drank not to be sociable and fun and relaxed, but to get hammered; when I drank alcoholically.

Example; Barcelona, the Ramblas, circa 2004. My travel companion and I hit the beers mid-afternoon, and continued to sink many cerveza de pequeñas in thirty five degree heat (not really relevant – if it had been minus ten, we would still have got as wasted as we did. I’m using the temperature as a bit of an excuse here) well in to the night. My memory is a little cloudy, but I remember sitting in a plaza, people-watching and downing my third or fourth drink. Time then becomes fluid; snippets of conversations flicker through my mind, but vast gaps emerge, leaving me with a staccato recollection of the latter part of the evening.

An argument sprang up between us (there is a theme here, me + boyfriend + alcohol = massive fight) which led to two members of La Policia intervening in what they thought was a domestic violence matter (I was acting like a melodramatic tosser, and my boyfriend was holding on to me whilst he attempted to calm me down; this was construed as him assaulting me). After a lengthy altercation between the four of us in downtown Barcelona, we were allowed to leave, and scarpered back to our hotel, him muttering about my inability to hold my drink, me blaming him for attracting the attention of the police. It was messy, embarrassing. We fell in to liquor-induced comas upon reaching our hotel bedroom, approximately three hours before we had to be up for the journey home.

Plane departure time; 0800 hours. Time we awoke; 0700 hours. Panic. We grabbed the clothes that were strewn around the room, bundled them in to our cases, and ran downstairs to check out. Somewhere amidst the previous evening’s activities, the strap across the top of my Birkenstock sandal had come unstuck, leaving me with a shoe-shaped piece of cork and a flap of white leather as one half of my footwear. In my hungover state of mind this troubled me, so much so that as we raced through Barcelona airport with minus five minutes before take-off, I discarded the sad-looking sandals in to a rubbish bin and veered in to a shoe shop in order to purchase a more respectable-looking pair. Oh, the joy on my boyfriend’s face! Boarding the plane fifteen minutes post-departure time, we received the obligatory round of applause that passengers award to the crap, hungover people who almost miss their flight due to over-refreshing themselves the previous evening.

This holiday will be sans booze, sans drunken arguments, sans broken sandals. There will be no fracas with the local constabulary, no almost-missed flights. There will, however, be relaxing afternoons spent by the pool, bowlfuls of patatas bravas, baskets of pa amb oli, our baby’s first swim, browsing in dark, Mallorcan shops for souvenirs, and a photo album’s worth of happy holiday pictures for my family to return to, time and time again. I can’t wait.

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