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During my travels, my compensation for free accommodation for one night, was for me to write a daily travel diary. Of how I got to my next location, the people who would host me, the food I was offered and everything else. Below you find the archives of the highly extensive reports. Know that English is not my native language and most reports were written at high speed around midnight. Enjoy.

Thursday, 27 December 2001
--> Barcelona (E) Christmas story part 1

“Eeh… Gerben, can you write something for I told everybody I’d be off the line for two weeks. Come on, be a good friend, hehe!” When Ramon asked me this question, my predictable response was: “But I wouldn’t know what to write!” With Ramon resistance is futile, so here it is.
The Christmas Story:

reported by Gerben and assisted by Mirjam, Justine, Irena & Munk

These are the days of reflection, wonder and calm. We’ve had that and more. This is the most bizarre Christmas I’ve ever had. Better yet; will ever have.

We, my friends and I, have traveled from Zwolle to Barcelona (Winter Wonderland) by car to spend Christmas with Ramon.

‘Our’ penthouse in Barcelona is suited for three hundred persons but is inhabited by six people. My father works with an American company of which the European headquarters are situated in Barcelona. The apartment is located in the area called Sarría, north of the center.

Because we live in Holland my dad has to have a; ‘so why not use his pied-a-terre when he’s not there?’, I thought.

When Ramon asked me to spend Christmas with him somewhere in Europe, the plan was born. And here we are.

I met Ramon at the School of Journalism in Zwolle. The place, it seems, where kindred spirits meet. He’s the tameless energy, I am the voice of reason and soon we ruled the place.

Now he’s out and about and traveling the world. I’m still stuck in Zwolle trying to graduate. But hey, that’s life! I don’t envy him; it’s good to see he found a way to do the things he likes best. I could never do what he’s doing now.

Anyway, here we are. Christmas in Barça.

Three shiny happy men and three beautiful women in one apartment. We all looked forward to this small holiday, Ramon too. And it’s amazing to see that amidst the chaos these six characters create, every one of us seems to find peace of mind.

We spent Christmas Eve in a church to warm our souls with a Roman-Catholic mass, and the next evening you could find us on the dance floor of the Baja Beach Club. How’s that for a contrast!?

Today Ramon went for a ride on a bike with Irena, Mirjam and I have been reading, Justine took a looong bath and Munk is working on his hangover (in his case that means sleeping).

Tonight we’ll have dinner at a lovely little Italian restaurant on Plaça Reial called Santa Monica. It will be the first time that we’ll be eating out.

Hey, this is supposed to be low budget remember? We’ve been cooking our buts off this year. I’ve spent many hours in the kitchen with Irena pretending to be a chef. But to be fair, I make a great paella.

I haven’t been able to do something useful today. So shoot me.

As you know Ramon, Irena, Justine and I went to the Baja Beach Club last night. By the time we got home the sun had already come up. After the exhaustion of the all-night dancing the girls somehow found the energy to start a quest for a chocolate croissant at 7.30 in the morning.

Ramon and I decided that this was too much for us at that moment and we took a cab home, leaving the ladies waiting in front of a closed bakery.

It was the cheapest cab-ride ever because the apartment was only one block away. We had already taken the metro from the city-centre to the north (the advantages of staying out late) and a ten-minute walk was the only thing that stood between our beds and us.

We just decided that it was too darn cold to walk.

Remember that the girls had been dancing all night and that we had too join them to keep the Spanish flies away from them. :-)

By the time we arrived (these Spanish cab drivers only know the way home) we noticed that Munk was still awake. He made us a coffee and at the moment the brown pot of hot gold was served, the girls entered the room, their arms filled with croissants.

They had convinced the owner of the local bakery to open early (poor guy). All the ingredients for a perfect ending of a bizarre night were present: sunrise, coffee, croissants and friendship.

Tomorrow might be just as good…