Submission — Viktor Gårdsäter

Welcome To Barcelona

14. April 2013 — MYP No. 10 »My Night« — Text & Photo: Viktor Gårdsäter

I was 19 and the bus had just stopped at Plaza Cataluña. Along with my friends Farzad and Gustav, I grabbed my bag and went for the exit of the bus. It was early evening and the sun was about to set. It was my first time in Barcelona and my expectations were huge. Just as we got out of the bus, we heard someone scream. When we looked up, a man was running away with a big bag and after him came a screaming older man. The bag was too heavy though, and after just a few meters the man dropped it. But instead of running away he just stopped and stared. The older man picked up his bag, yelled something to the man and returned to his wife by the bus. Still, the guy was just standing there, staring. And so did we. Then, out of nowhere, another big man came and threw the thief to the ground and put handcuffs on him. It was like a play. The two of them walked back to the older man and they all just stood there, quietly talking for several minutes. We just stared. Welcome to Barcelona.

“Ooookey, let’s find a hotel…to put our bags”– That was our next thought. This was pre-Iphone and we wanted to be spontaneous, so we hadn’t booked a hotel. I like that, being spontaneous while traveling, too bad this weekend everything was fully booked. Everything. Apparently, we had picked the biggest Spanish holiday of the summer for our travel. We walked to the cheapest hostels in Raval and to the big four star hotels by the sea. The receptionists just smiled at us. “If you had asked eight weeks ago, maybe we could have gotten you something”. It was almost midnight and we started to get desperate.

Hours passed and again we walked the “La Rambla” down. Still no luck. Halfway through, we took a right-hand corner into a small street to check out another hostel.

Then a left turn into an even smaller empty street. We were in the middle of a conversation and didn’t notice a gang of young guys that leaned against the wall in front of us. We stopped talking and so did they. We kept walking, looked straight ahead and tried to look as unconcerned and calm as possible.

One of the guys came up to Gustav and put his arm around him. It looked like he was trying to dance with him. Gustav started to laugh and then out of nowhere the guy dropped a big chef’s knife.

At that moment, you think you would probably just turn around and run like hell. Instead, Farzad said happily “Hey man, you dropped your knife!”. What? His friends were laughing in the background while the guy picked up his knife and pointed it at us. Then, we ran. We didn’t stop until we were back at the crowded pedestrian street. Welcome to Barcelona.

I looked back and there was no one behind us. While we were aimlessly walking and thinking about what to do, we heard a familiar song. It was the song “747” by the Swedish band “Kent”. We followed the sound, which came from a small night open falafel restaurant. The blonde girl behind the counter had a nametag that said “Anna” and it turned out she was Swedish. She barely had any customers so we sat down, ate a falafel and told her about our first night. She instantly replied “I live in an apartment together with eight Catalans, I’m off in 20 minutes, you can stay with us, if you want?”. That’s happiness.

A few moments later, she met us outside the restaurant and we headed towards her apartment. It was almost morning and the first beam of light had reached the rooftops. She smiled at us and said “Welcome to Barcelona”.