There are many things that make a city memorable. History, art, culture. And then food, music, and most importantly, people. Barcelona told me goodbye with as much energy as it said hi. I spent the last few days soaking in the energy that the city had to offer. Gorgeous views of the mountains and seas. A super efficient public transport system. I stayed at a hostel, like I always do, getting to know the local people and meeting more travelers from across the world. A super small but functional room (more like a large walk-in closet) with a twin bed, a tiny table, a wash basin, a window overlooking the west, and a reasonably good internet connection. The hostel was in a nice neighborhood, with parks, cafes, and a huge fruit and vegetable store. Most days, I was happy skipping meals and eating the juiciest of grapes and oranges instead.
I had an early morning flight back to Germany. Although the metro runs until late, it doesn't run at that hour. However, the hostel people told me that there is a bus running every twenty minutes that would take me directly to the airport. Although they mostly spoke Spanish and some broken English, I was able to figure out which direction to take the bus from. They told me something like bus is €2.15, taxi is €25.
So 3:45 am, I stepped out of the hostel after leaving the keys in a box, the door closing behind me. I walk up to the bus stop. It is absolutely dark, and for some reason, it feels more like a midnight in India than US. Occasionally, a person is walking by. There is a cool breeze blowing that is so comforting. Occasionally, a car would pass by. I admit I am a little nervous. Although I am a bus person, I am wondering if it was a good idea to be waiting at the bus stop alone at that hour. There is no guarantee the bus would show up, and since I do not have a phone, there is no way I can call a taxi. What if someone attacks me? What if I never make it to the terminal?
The minutes ticked by slowly. The digital display overhead showed a couple of names of places, date, time, and temperature in yellow. The silence was getting unnerving, despite the cool breeze that was so comforting.
Suddenly, at 4:03 am (3 minutes past the scheduled time), I saw bright headlights and heard loud music. My bus appeared out of nowhere and suddenly braked in front of me, to my utter relief. I hopped on to it to realize that the bus was full, with hardly any space to stand. Loud Spanish music was blaring. The driver was saying something in Spanish. It felt like I had hopped inside a party-bus. Everyone was talking loudly. The driver handed me my change with one hand, the other hand on the wheels as he took sharp turns. If you have seen Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris where Owen Wilson hops inside a car and goes to a party every night, you will know what I mean. A midnight party bus with rambunctious people carrying heavy suitcases and playing loud music drove me to the airport. The bus was completely full with airport passengers, with hardly any space to stand. It was past 4 am. I wonder if the city ever sleeps.
I was almost tempted to stay on the bus and go back to Barcelona. This city is like a magnet. It draws you in, and makes you want to stay here forever.