A Wale of a Time
Well, I got back into NYC last night and I'm still a little off kilter. The whole so called vacation was almost too short to even count as such. I hardly feel like I was gone at all and that's because I wasn't really, only ten days and travel took up a chunk of that time on both ends and the middle. Initially, I was nervous about the hyped up security measures on U.S. bound flights, but it wasn't that big of a deal (and we even managed to smuggle in some pricey jamon Iberico). My general perception is that travelers (and accordingly much of the general population) are just kind of retarded and clueless. I mean, if the news is all about not bringing on carry-ons or any liquids, then why would 95% of passengers in line hold up efficient rule following me with all their bags of crap that need to be gone through and discarded or put in clear plastic?
The more traumatizing leg of the journey was in getting to freaking Wales from NYC. A rainstorm kept our plane on the ground for two hours (long enough for them to turn on the movies to keep us quiet. I refused to watch any out of principle and I almost lost my shit when I noticed that a majority of the plane was watching Robin Williams vehicle [pun sort of intended] R.V. and screaming and howling at every foible. I was like wow, Americans really are inane, which was only proven further on our return flight on Alitalia, rather than Continental, which didn't have individual TV screens and the entire plane was subjected to R.V. again. But this time the crowd was heavily European, and believe me, no one was laughing out loud during the flick. Maybe the subtle humor just got lost in translation. To be fair, the Italian language movie they showed afterward, Three Steps Over Heaven, was pretty schlocky too) so we missed our connecting flight between Gatwick and Manchester.
We got to London early morning and the next flight wouldn't be until evening and I wasn't going to waste a full day sitting in a airport, so we decided to try the train instead (not a cheap option, never mind the huge amount we'd already paid for our plane tickets, and the second leg which was now unusable). It involved four transfers, the longest part being an hour and half chunk on a Glasgow bound train that was filled with Fri. afternoon early weekenders. There was no where to sit or our put our luggage we got to stand in between cars after already exhaustedly traveling for 18 hours by this point. And I got into a minor altercation with a fat drunk guy who shoved and then rubbed against me while passing through the corridor (I knew it was intentional, despite being shoved and pushed up against by the other 20 people or so who'd also passed by us during this fun train ride, because I could see him and all his buddies with their beer cans [I forget about the drinking and smoking culture in the U.K. And I don't care what anyone says about Americans, the British have some really bad manners-I couldn't believe how rowdy and out of control the kids were on public transportation. I never thought I'd say that NYC teens are well behaved, but there, I just said it. There's also a big drinking and smoking culture in Spain, but I didn't see much bad behavior] harassing females who walked past them and pretending to grab their asses. That shit would not fly here, but all the passengers were weird and timid and no one would say anything. On the train back to Liverpool I traveled with James, my mom, my grandma and the stepdude, and these kids were playing cell phone music and blaring sirens and my mom yelled at them. It was a sight).
So, by the time we finally made it to Wales we weren't in the most jovial mood. And while in the back of my head I knew Wales wouldn't be the nearly 100 degrees that NYC was when I was packing, I just couldn't bring myself to put cold weather clothes in my suitcase. I knew Barcelona and NYC would be the same heat-wise so I only brought short sleeves and open toed shoes and in Criccieth it was gray and raining and chilly enough that people were running heat and wearing coats. Bastards. I couldn't even buy an umbrella because there aren't really even any proper stores in the town and at 7pm everything was closed anyway. James had made a big fuss before we left about how we needed to find out if there was an ATM in town because we had to pay cash for our B&B, and I was like don't be stupid this is 2006. Well, we didn't have internet that weekend, which almost killed me (we stayed at a perfectly modern hotel in Barcelona, Banys Orientals, and their internet only worked the first night there and ceased functioning the following five days. My favorite part about Barcelona was the response when we asked about when it would be fixed. You just get a shrug, a disinterested look and "no se" [I don't know] which became kind of comical because you could ask someone in Spain almost anything and you'd get no se and it wasn't that they didn't understand our Spanish and it wasn't particularly rude, it was just that they didn't really know, no biggie, no hurry. We ended up at a random bar on our last night and I was delighted to note after sitting down that it was called No Se. I want the no se concept to infiltrate NYC-havoc would ensue) and there was only one ATM in the town and it was broken.
I eventually mellowed out, borrowed a sweater from my sister, an umbrella from the B&B owner, came to terms with no internet (unfortunately, James had lugged a laptop with him, which was rendered useless the entire vacation. Luckily, his Blackberry, which frequently irritates me, came in handy for at least checking email, not that I ever received any earth shattering messages-I just can't stand being out of the loop) and began drinking like a fish (I didn't begin smoking like a chimney until Barcelona-I seriously think I took six months off my life in one week flat). Criccieth was really about seeing family anyway. Especially since I don't do the multiple visits/holiday excursions per year like I guess most people do. I think I might average one family meetup every two years. I last saw my mom in 2004 and my sister in 2003.
I wasn't really sure what to expect from the wedding. I figured it would be low key and lacking in typical matrimonial pomp and circumstance, and mostly it was. I kept hearing about this "marquee" they had set up in a field and I was like what fuck is that (I forget about these British/American English confusions, and I'm still highly amused by the names of things. Like these friends of my sister were at a pub eating what looked to be mini pizzas but doughier and filled with meat and potatoes [I got so burnt out on meaty heavy food, as pictured on the left, and I was only there for a weekend, one day of which was catered vegetarian wedding fare] and I was like what is that called and they replied, "it's a buster." How can a food be called a buster? Never mind the baps and sarnies. I do like pasties, though. And I'm baffled by the ubiquity of "jacket potatoes." Aren't those just baked potatoes? I guess we don't top ours with prawns and Marie Rose, a.k.a. ketchup and mayo, however). Apparently, a marquee is a fancy white tent. And here I was imagining the bride and groom's names in lights.
I was actually the most impressed by the portapotties, which had blue water, artwork, piped in music, flushing toilets, flowers, real sinks and of course, ashtrays (unfortunately, the women's room went kaput as the evening wore on–I'll spare the graphic details. But if you're craving gross fecal tales, I'll give you one when I get to posting about Barcelona in more detail. Let's just say that spending a couple hundred euros on a meal is no guarantee that the next day it won't end up on the floor of a department store bathroom). The ceremony and music was a little more folksy and hippyish than I'd expected, but it was fitting enough and my mom was bawling, which isn't really the mark of anything since she cries over sappy commericals. My sister's three dogs wandered around during the vow exchange (and not to go scatological on you again but I wasn't the only one who was getting nervous when one of the pups looked like it was about to take a dump during the I dos). I'm no dog-lover, but why not have pets participate.
I'll concede that the setting was picturesque on a long green expanse of grass with the Irish Sea as a backdrop. The sun even came out enough to cause sweating, which bothered me a bit as one of the only good things about Wales was not worrying about sweating. I never got the full story, but part of the field was taken up by some Christian youth group who were holding some camp for troubled teens and some feud had developed between them (as well as a neighboring woman who lived in a cottage next to the groom's grandma's cottage) and my sister's group of friends who'd been camping in the field over loud music and the lights being on too late over the past week. My grandma got into a spat with some Christian teen dressed like Snow White, proselytizing in the town square who said they were going to ruin the wedding. Small towns are great fun.
I managed to drink cava for 12 hours straight, ate that dense fruitcake that English pass off as wedding cake and got a severe sunburn, which one wouldn't imagine happening in Wales (the joke becoming that I was even pastier than the British). Somehow the event turned into a big drunk party and in the middle of the night a scary bonfire was built and my sister went wild throwing things into it and everyone ran and James's glasses got crunched (to survive, he had to buy chunky reading glasses at the airport, which made him look like a weirdo German tourist). We left around 3am, but the campers stayed up until sunrise. Most of my time in Wales was spent feeling incredibly tired and ill, likely from a nice jetlag/hangover combo. It was fun to see relatives and catch up over the weekend, but I was glad to move on to Spain by Monday. My stomach couldn't take another full English breakfast or fried potato.
Next up: mullets are alive and well in Barcelona.