I am back in a land of parrots and jacarandas. And life seems much easier now.
Before I go any further, I just want to warn you that this post is all about the weather (I must not forget my Canadian roots).
Turns out I am a wimp. Turns out the weather affects me far more than I ever thought or admitted. I will not weather the weather and I will fly to Barcelona if I have to.
After an unnaturally long and hot summer (for a Canadian), including a standout night of42-degree hell, I decided to skip to Europe instead of subjecting my sweaty, exhausted, dusty self to more humid heat.
The European chapter started off so perfectly, my luck was bound to run out. I met up with my brother and went to a beach dance party in Croatia, we went swimming in a (albeit freezing) waterfall in Bosnia, and went out at night in t-shirts in Belgrade. But then I arrived in Ljubljana, Slovenia, to grey skies that would follow me for what seemed like weeks (in reality: 12 days).
In Slovenia, I met my Tasmanian friend Jeremy and greeted him with cold and rain (to remind him of home?). We still managed to enjoy a mucky visit to Ljubljana castle and walking in the city in the rain (deluge).
But then it was 8 degrees in Bled, Vienna was windy and rainy and my feet never quite dried (sorry to the people in the cinema watching The Hangover 3 who didn’t want my wet socks hanging off the back of the plush seats), and when we crossed into the Czech Republic, it was flooded. Beautiful and interesting and amazing, but flooded.
I wonder what Jesse and Celine would have done in Vienna had it been rainy and cold.
When we got to Prague, we got a bit, em, lost. For 2 hours. With wet feet (hello, worst blisters in the history of life!) and soaked backpacks (we thought they were safe stowed under the bus!). After a day of cold and wet and being lost and frustrated and very very hungry, we finally found our hostel, took all the stuff out of our bags to hang them to dry, and went to the local restaurant-bar.
I haven’t ever been so happy (wine on an empty stomach?) to sit in a smoke-filled room waiting for a plate of meat to arrive. It was warm. It was funny. Every single person was smoking. At the table next to us sat five or six old men playing cards in their patterned knit sweaters. Smoking and drinking beer. The bad day ended with giggles and alcohol and barely any veggies. The lesson here: this too shall pass. But mostly: don’t trust Google maps’ directions in the Czech Republic.
The plan was to keep going north, through Poland, as I have a writing residency arranged in Denmark, and it makes geographical sense (and I want to go to Poland). Instead, I booked a not-so-cheap-but-screw-it flight to Barcelona.
When I got to the Prague airport, the destination screen indicated the weather next to each city. Everywhere was sunny. Including Warsaw. 25 degrees and sunny. Everywhere had a little sun. Except Barcelona. Hilarious! (Not hilarious.) I started questioning my choices, my life, my decision to leave Jeremy for a potentially-false promise of sunshine. But then I remembered that no: this choice is the right choice because it’s the one I made. This is where I was supposed to be. Thank you, Robin Esrock for this.
And when I landed and it was hot and the sky was blue without the slightest sign of a cloud, I knew, yes, this is where I was supposed to be.
I feel good in Spain, except that I constantly feel bad not knowing Catalán and my Castillano is pretty rusty to begin with. But after a week, though I haven’t remembered any of the past tense, I may well have adopted a hint of the (affected?) th th th of the Barthelonan accent. To get there without going too far, I just pretend I’m Liv Tyler with her pout and lispy speech. And I leave the ‘s’ (or ‘th’) off the “gracias” in the hopes it sounds a bit Catalán.
Barcelona is colourful. It’s hot. It’s lively, but it really comes alive after 11pm. And it only rained once.