Sunday, February 27, 2011

Homeless in Barcelona: Part 6

Hello, Readers, and thank you for tuning in to trumptettravels - the true accounts of my 11 year adventure on cruise ships as a crew member aboard Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises, Carnival Cruises, Costa Cruises, Cunard Line, P&O Cruises, Premier Cruises and the Holland America Line.  I started this blog in 2010 to share my experiences of working on a cruise for those who want to work on a cruise or for those cruise-a-holics that are curious what goes on behind the smiles and professional attitude you see "front of house" on a  ship.  I've got a great reception so far with hits from all around the world.  Thanks for your interest!

Previously I was writing about how I got stranded in Barcelona, how I nearly got mugged by five Moroccans, how I slept in the bushes and it was only my first day!  If you want to start from the beginning, click here: Crew Member Stranded in Europe.

When I last left off I had just narrowly avoided being mugged by 5 sketchy guys from Morocco.  At the last moment some British tourists ended up walking down the deserted street I was on.  I was homeless in the Med with a wad of cash in my pocket but all hotels were completely booked.

Turning onto the heavily populated street of the Ramblas I rethought my attempts to find a hotel.  I had checked everywhere around in the city, tourist kiosks, phone books, cab drivers, anything possible.  No hotels were free.  I went all the way down to the Christopher Columbus statue (point nearest the water) and realized there was one part I had never been.  There is bridge that goes over the water to a place called Maremagnum.  I thought is was an area where I might find some peace and quiet and a hotel bed to sleep in.  I was wrong.

Maremagnum is a whole complex of bars and nightclubs that starts getting busy around 11pm.  As I go tthere and had no place to sleep I hopped from place to place having drinks, chatting up Barcelona's finest and doing a little dancing.  I surprisingly had a blast considering I was by myself.  I could do whatever I wanted and say whatever came to mind and I didn't know a soul there and more than likely wouldn't return.  I guess that's why some people feel so liberated on vacations - no one from the office is there to raise their eyebrows.

Well, the party was coming to a close so I hailed a cab.  I had a few drinks and couldn't walk back to the city. PLUS, I knew there were more than 5 Moroccans there and I had a wad of cash on me from the last contract.

I asked the cab about the closest small city or hotels in the area and he kind of laughed since it was one in the morning. There were no hotels free and other towns were too far.  Well, with nowhere else to go I headed back to the jazz club where I had been treated so well and found a lovely spot to sleep in the bushes.  I hit the small bar next to the jazz club and they were open late for some reason.  I had played there the night before and everyone was happy to see me.  I knew I had to sleep since I had a rough night sleeping in someone's bushes the night before.

I figured the bushed were safe and it was a wealthy area - I just needed to find that apartment building and I would be good for the night, or at least a few hours.  After about 30 minutes it was getting too late.  I didn't think I would ever find the apartment building.  It was finny the night before I just stumbled on it and now I realized how perfect the little ledge was, off the main street.  I had no clue how to find it, even though I knew I was in the right neighborhood.

I gave up.  Exhausted and annoyed, I headed back down towards the city where I hit a very nice wealthy area and found a bench to sit on.  I started to think of what I could do and I closed my eyes.  My head bobbed down and up and I realized this is where I would sleep.  I had my backpack and camera and I didn't know if I would wake up if someone started to rummage through my things.

I took my cash and shoved it down my pants figuring if someone got down there I would know it.  Also, I took my Nikon camera and basically used it as a pillow, keeping it as close as possible. And there, on a metal bench in Barcelona, I fell asleep.  This was my second night in a row sleeping outside.

Alcohol, fatigue, and the semi-conscious state of being woken up created a thick fog that was difficult to navigate through.  I heard something and I knew I should focus, but it didn't mean anything to me. "Que dormis." I heard in a deep man's voice.  "Que dormis aquis?"  I opened up my eyes and saw what I thought was a very beautiful woman.  For some reason it still didn't click to me and I was really trying to figure out what the question was.

As I was looking at this pretty gal again he/she asked the same question, "Que Dormis? Why do you sleep here?" This last one was in English. It was at this point when I realized I was looking at some type of cross dresser or tranny or who knows what.  It was still dark out and had no idea what time it was.

My brilliant observation was confirmed when he/she added, "Why don't you come to my apartment to #$%^."  I don't know if it was the proposition or the lack of sleep or what, but I sat up and just shouted, "NOoooooo," probably a little too loudly and too freaked out.  I guess I was somewhat justified, though.

As he/she strutted her stuff away I jumped up and started walking towrds the town.  I didn't know where to go, but I thought my little refuge of a bench next to a major city was now ruined and not safe.

I headed down the hill to Barcelona and just headed towards the Sagrada Familia (church).  I remember seeing dawn break on the walk down and wondering what the heck I was doing and how long I could keep this up.  I found a solid concrete bench and noticed people starting to open up shops.  The bench was cool when I sat down and felt nice since I was a little warm.  It didn't heat up because the concrete was so thick.  I lay down and fell asleep and didn't wake up until the sun was out and many people were walking about the sidewalks and pathways around the Sagrada Familia.  At this point I was on very little sleep and I realized I wouldn't be able to spend 8 more days like this.  I diefinately could not be woken up by a tranny hooker ever again in my life so I dedicated the entire day to that mission.

I hope you enjoyed the my posts about my stay in Europe in between cruise ship contracts.  I still have more days in the adventure left so "Follow Me" (on the right) and you can click the "SHARE" button on facebook to show your friends, too. As always, this blog is viewer supported. There are far less ads here than on most websites and if one catches your eye feel free to visit my sponsers.  Stayed tuned for Part 7!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Alone and Homeless in the Med: Part 5

Hello, Readers, and thank you for tuning in to trumptettravels - the true accounts of my 11 year adventure on cruise ships as a crew member aboard Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises, Carnival Cruises, Costa Cruises, Cunard Line, P&O Cruises, Premier Cruises and the Holland America Line.

In my last posts I described how I ended up stranded in Barcelona (of my own will.) If you want to start from the beginning, click here: Crew Member Blog.

I left the restaurant and Barcelona was beginning to come to life at night. With the sun going down I started to have visions of laundered pressed bed sheets and a fluffy bathrobe.  I had spent the last night sleeping in the bushes and my back was sore.  I was probably due for a shower, too, but I figured, "Hey, it's Europe - I'll fit right in!"

Roaming down the back streets of the old town in Barcelona I passed the gothic cathedral, many quanit restaurants and shops, and many hotels.  With 2-3 hotels per block I figured I would have much better luck tonight than last night.  Door after door I went into the hotels (with "no vacancy" on the door) and pleaded for any tyoe of room.  I would've slept in the boiler room if that is all they had, but I was turned away at every hotel.  As I walked deeper and deeper into the old town the cacophony of the Ramblas faded into a thin herd of tourists and eventually only one or two couples walking on the cobbled streets.  I saw a hotel down a dark street and no "No Vacancy" sign on it.

Thinking in was in luck I headed down the street, walked inside and was told there were no rooms.  I asked if the concierge could help me and told him all of my problems.  He made a few phone calls and apologetically explained to me all about the F1 racing and how the hotels were completely full.  At that point a mild panic was setting in and I started to contemplate the Four Seasons or luxury hotels and blowing all my money on one nice night's sleep.

With the clerk unable to help me, I grabbed my backpack and my Nikon N60 (35mm) and left the hotel. I distinctly remember leaving that hotel because it was quiet.  REALLY quiet. and as I turned left, away form the Ramblas and into the more quiet section of the old town, I passed 5 Moroccans who were talking with each other leaning against a car.  I could tell they pretended not to look up or notice me which I thought was unusual.  For me, when anyone passes me at night I look up to see what kind of a person they are.  For them, I could tell they were specifically ignoring my passing.  With the Moroccans at my back I starting walking deeper into dark neighborhoods looking for a hotel.  I noticed the five guys talking behind me stopped.  I isn't hard to imagine what I heard next: the click clack of ten shoes on cobblestones.  I knew I was being followed.

What happened next happened in all of five seconds, but to me it felt like five minutes of slow motion.  It is funny when you are in danger, real danger, how the world seems to slow down and almost stop.  I took note of what I had on my person.  My camera, my last pay check (in cash of course), and some clothes in a tooth brush.  Racking my brain to come up with a weapon I was unable to.

Scanning the sidewalks and buildings I looked for a restaurant, shop, or a rock or weapon on the ground that I could defend myself with.  The gang had chosen a good spot - nothing was available.  I imagined even a lead pipe, a powerful weapon, against 5 thieves with knives and realized without a gun I was in trouble.

Faking a fly was bothing me I swatted at my head once and then again, turning my head slightly the second time.  Yup, they were following me.  They say flee a knife and charge a gun.  I was approaching a small perpendicular street and was on the edge of running for my life.  Acting like I was going straight and to the the right I was going to open the throttle and run as fast as I could to the left.

Funny how all of these details happened in about five seconds and still to this day they are crystal clear.  The street on the left was approaching and just as I was about to make a break for it a group of six British men round the corner, arm in arm laughing and clinking beer bottles.  I immediately turn and do a 180, falling in step with my new blokes.  I just start walking with them and just as I am about to pass the five Moroccans I look up to see all five of them walking straight ahead, but turning their heads and staring directly at me.  They looked like lions who just had their meal taken from them.  Not one was smiling.

I walked for a bit with the Brits back to the Ramblas and still was out of luck. It was still relatively early and I didn't have a place to sleep. Alone in Barcelona at night with every single hotel room completely booked - again!  The most dangerous part of the night had just passed, but you won't believe where I end up sleeping and who gives me a wake up call! If you'd like to know, "follow me" on Google or subsribe to my RSS Feed.  If you enjoyed this post, don't forget to push the "like" button or post a link so your friends can follow me, too.  As always, the blog is user supported by my readers clicking on sponsers posted in the blog.  It is free to do and helps support this blog. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Homeless in the Med Part 4

Hello, Readers, and thank you for tuning in to trumptettravels - the true accounts of my 11 year career on cruise ships as a crew member aboard Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises, Carnival Cruises, Costa Cruises, Cunard Line, P&O Cruises, Premier Cruises and the Holland America Line.

When I last left off, I had just dropped my trumpet in the Lladro shop. I had a really great day in Barcelona. I felt light as a feather without my heavy horn. I spent the next few hours going to tourism kiosks, phoning hotels, and even went to a big internet cafe. If was full of computers and you had to pay at a kiosk to get a ticket and then use the credits up. They don't exist now because everyone has WiFi.

As I looked and looked for hotels things became a little desperate.  I had spent the night before in the bushes in a very nice neighborhood, but I was a little cold and dirty.  I bath and a steak would do me well.

I had no luck at all because the F1 car racing was in town and this was a big deal I guess.  Not to let such trivial matters damper my day, I went to see the Olympic Stadium, the Miro Museum, travelled the subway for a bit and even toured the Gaudi architecture.  Standing in Parc d'Gaul I looked down on the city and the thousands of hotel rooms wondering why there wasn't one for me.  As the afternoon wore on I started to get very tired so I stopped in somewhere and had a nice dinner.  It was some assortment of Spanish tapas I remember with Spanish red wine.

This was my second night without a hotel room in a huge city and when I stepped out of the restaurant it was getting dark.  I noticed some seedy characters standing around on the street corners - night was coming along with everything that accompanies it in this Metropolitan city.  This was just the beginning of that crazy night - stay tuned and I'll tell you what happened in my next blog post.