OVER Easter, many university sports teams took flight to Europe to take advantage of the sports tournaments, good weather and cheap drinks. Aberystwyth was not an exception. I was one of the lucky individuals who took part in this opportunity to escape the ‘Aber bubble’. We took the bus to Salou, which is an experience I wish to never repeat.
The first two full days we had there were supposed to be spent playing mini lacrosse games against other universities. We went the first day, leaving the hotel at 9am, and only being given a 10 minute game of mixed lacrosse. We left the sports complex around 4pm. There were minimal staff and a complete lack of organisation. Feeling like we had wasted a day, we did not return the following day, and hit the beach instead. The beaches were a beautiful golden colour, and the sea was not completely freezing in temperature, considering the time of year. Salou is unlike anywhere I have been before. It is very touristy, which is obviously where it receives most of its income, and as a result it is slightly tacky. However, there are some extremely nice places, especially on the seafront to eat and drink with some funky and modern décor. On the last night a few of us decided to eat out at one of these funky restaurants. I had a delicious goats cheese and spinach pizza. Between us, we ordered a 5l cocktail, which was also extremely tasty, and we were all a little tipsy by the end of our meal. This is especially true, seeing as we were given extra shots and another mini-cocktail between us on the house.
On the final full day we had there we went on our chosen excursion. I chose to go to Barcelona which is about an hour from Salou. The rest of the Aber Lax group chose to go on a boat party, apart from a few who didn’t chose any and went back to the beach instead, and I hit Barcelona on my own. When I say alone, I mean I didn’t go with anyone I know, although it was an organised trip. We were all given 6 hours to do what we wished in Barca, so long as we arrived where we were dropped off in time for going home. Determined to go to the famous Gaudi’s house and the church that isn’t finished (Sagrada Familia), I headed to tourist information. The lady was extremely helpful and marked on a map where I had to go. Armed with this map, I navigated myself through their metro (much easier to work out than the tube), alighted and followed the signs to Gaudi’s gardens. These signs directed me up a hill which had multiple escalators built in to it. When I reached the top, the views were breathtaking, as you can see the whole of Barcelona. The house was also very pretty, costing only a nominal 8 euros to get in, although you have to wait in a never-ending queue to get served and the signs to ticket points are scarce unless you come through a main entrance. Having little time I didn’t wait around in the gardens, I headed to the main street to catch the bus the TI lady told me I had to get on to get to the church. It took me about half an hour, five people, and a lot of stress to find the bus. When I get on I have a really bad feeling I am going the wrong way, which is confirmed by a friendly local pointing at my map, but the bus goes around in a circle; right? Wrong. The bus driver kicks me off near the street Diagonal (the longest street in Barca) and another local tells me I am nowhere near the church and I have to get on a metro (again). After not eating since breakfast and all this getting lost, I decide to stop for a much needed lunch break and ask once again for directions and if it is going to take forever I will head back to near the marina and soak up the atmosphere with a gin and tonic. The manager of the restaurant assures me I am in walking distance from the church, and I will definitely make my bus, so I decide to give it one last push. I make it to the church and it turns out I have to prebook tickets for tours or I can pay for a ticket to go on a tour at 5pm, which is too late because I have to be back on the bus for 5pm. So, sadly, I have to just be satisfied with looking at the church from the outside, and I truly believe it will be beautiful once it is finished. I get back on the metro and end up going the wrong way but on the right line so I have to get off at the next stop and get back on. I get back to the place where I first get on the metro and have a walk along the marina and up to what looks like another church. I manage to barter for a can of Fanta Lemon for 35 cents. My last 35 cents. I only just make the bus back to Salou because I see people walking with hotel wristbands on and it turns out I was waiting at the wrong roundabout. I made it out of Barcelona alive.
All in all, I am glad I went to Salou and I think for what we paid we got a fairly good deal, even if I did come back with laryngitis from drinking too much alcohol. However, I doubt I will be rushing to go back. I definitely intend to go back to Barcelona, because I feel I have a lot left to see and need more than six hours to see it. It was good to be away with lacrosse, especially those who are graduating, because it is an opportunity I may not have again.
A collection of photos from the Tour – with thanks to Aber Lacrosse.