Who the hell thinks it’s OK to sleep on a boardwalk bench in the middle of Barcelona where prostitutes, hobos, and rats can jump on you at any second?
Damon & Jo do.
It was mid-April when Damon and I were sitting in his seventh-floor walk-up, *chambre de bonne in Paris and decided it was finally time to invest in a trip to Spain. Through a gazillion Google searches, we found a flight from Paris to Barcelona for €7 (€14 round-trip) and booked it within ten minutes.
Wise decision after wise decision.
After shakily landing in the rinky-dink airplane (shout out to you, RyanAir) in Barcelona, we sprinted out of the airport and were ready to explore Barça at 12AM. Yes, 12AM, midnight. That’s the thing with booking a €7 flight – you arrive in the ass-crack of dawn or in the middle of the night, you pay for every additional service (hence why we didn’t check any bags), and you swallow advertisements as your complimentary in-flight meal. If you’ve ever taken a RyanAir flight, you’ll know exactly what I mean when I say felt like I was more at a trade show than on a flight, but hey, needless to say, we’ll fly for €7.
We took our 40-minute shuttle bus into the city and met a group of Canadian girls who asked if we wanted to split a cab to a downtown hostel…we nearly laughed out loud. First off, we never even booked a hostel, and secondly, who you think tryna spend money on a cab? Not us.
Didn’t matter that it was almost 1AM, or that we hadn’t even booked a place to stay at this point; we weren’t going to spend money on something we could avoid. …and that’s why we ended up walking aimlessly for an hour in the middle of the night in Barcelona.
Starving and in need of a WiFi connection (and let’s not forget shelter) to let our parents know we were “safe,” we found that the only place that fit all of our wants and needs at 1AM was, sadly, the three-story McDonald’s near Plaça Catalunya. We walked in looking like the desperate backpackers we were – dark circles, chronic halitosis, and a huge afro from the humidity..and that was just Damon.
We look around and were immediately mind-blown, first by the futuristic, touch-screen machines where you could place your order, and then by the insane – and by insane we mean bangin’ – food options: chicken wings, gazpacho, and frozen coffee all on the value menu. Damon ordered his McDonald’s usual – “a cheeseburger without the burger” – to which he’d try to defend in Spanish: “What? It’s basically a grilled cheese. You don’t have anything else for vegetarians.” I ordered some chicken wings and papas to fuel up for the night. We mapped out a strategy in which we’d space out our purchases throughout the night to prolong our *séjour at McDonald’s because according to Damon: “Would it really be worth it to book a €15 hostel, when we’ll be waking up at 7am to go explore the city?”
Just as we were making out fort out of a booth by piling our backpacks on the outside seat, a McDonald’s employee broke the news that they were closing at 2AM. We tried charmingly convincing them with our gringo accents in Spanish to stay open for us, but eventually the charm wore off and it was just that time to get the f#ck out.
We left Mcdonald’s without even contacting our parents, showering in the bathroom sink, or deciding on where we’d be heading next. In other words, we were stank-a-licious. To add to the stress of being kicked out, Damon got his very first nosebleed and now we looked like even more of a hot mess. Yeah that part was just weird.
We worked our way to the beach (our new, decided location) taking Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s most famous *calle, which apparently, as we saw, doubled as druggie central at 2AM. We were stopped by numerous sketch-balls who would ask us if we wanted a four-pack of soda, which we quickly learned was code for weed and other drugs. We’d chuckle and say, “Who you tryna play? We ain’t that *tonto.”
As we approached the seaside, we got excited by the idea of sleeping on the beach; it seemed like every twenty-something’s ideal travel experience: warm breezes on the Spanish sand, sexy Latin people taking night walks, and stars in the sky to tuck us in.
Psh, too bad it was practically 3º outside.
It was 3AM, and since the beach idea had also failed us, we decided to walk back toward the city. At this point, we had no phone and no internet connection to find a phone number, nor did we have a phonebook…because, well, c’mon who even uses phonebooks these days.
We had managed to completely strand ourselves.
And so in typical Damon & Jo fashion, we take off our three bags each and we place them on a bench beside us to try and “relax.” We strategically picked the location of the bench; completely out in the open and in the middle of the boardwalk. We decide we can wait it out here till daylight and till McDonald’s opens again. No one would want to jump on us here.
There we were, trying to jam both of our bodies on one small bench; ain’t nothin’ comfy about that. Let me break down how we managed to do this: Damon’s bony butt was lodged inside of the bench and my hair served as his pillow and neck support. Because I have the bigger *badonkdonk, It was decided that I sleep on the outside of the bench where I would keep us safe from danger with by butt cheeks and thunder thighs. I found some comfort by using my backpack in between my legs and his bag as my pillow. The rest of my body was covered in our towels (seriously, it got real) and my granny sweater.
Once we were settled Damon pretended that we were on a family camping trip and started singing show-tunes. I was serenaded in-and-out-of-sleep by the top 10 hits of all show choir enthusiasts. I couldn’t escape the melodies even if I wanted to because we were glued to each other for warmth.
If I could pick a song to describe the moment it would be “I feel so close to you right now” by Calvin Harris.
Did we think to book a hostel after we realized it’d be such a challenge sleeping outside in Barcelona? Hell to da naw. We knew spending money on a hostel to sleep for a few hours would be wasting our time and money during our two-day vacay in Spain. And plus, sleeping outside makes a damn good story to tell when we’re old and crusty and can’t do things like this anymore.
Throughout the night I kept blinking to see if I was really in a foreign place, sleeping outside on a bench, with no protection from the world . The scary reality crept up on me, as did the bitter cold, and the creepers that kept trying to sell me drugs. I look over and baby Damon is in deep, deep slumber. Nice.
We woke up, let me rephrase that, Damon woke up (cause I never actually slept) a few hours later at 7AM to snap crackle and pop our bodies down to Las Ramblas for a food and Wi-Fi scavenger hunt. Truly vagabonds, we adorned our lovely towels, sweaters, and rags to regain comfort and warmth.
One nosebleed, two McDonald’s, and three failed locations later, we were now able to say that we survived a full night on a bench in Barcelona. And das dat.
To watch the full episode click here: Sleeping on a Bench in Barcelona
*chambre de bonne – maid’s quarters
*séjour – stay
*tonto – dizzy, stupid
*calle – street
*badonkdonk – butt, booty