The day after our tour of Catalunya en Miniatura, David and I had a houseguest. Vanessa, a fellow BBVA new hiree whom David met in his ongoing training course had a meeting in Barcelona the following morning, and we offered to put her up for the night. After a hardy meal of Fajitas and Nachos (Mmmm), we sat on the terrace chatting.
Unlike me, Vanessa is extremely proficient in the Spanish language, and enjoys showcasing her skills by speaking as frequently and quickly as possible. Pair that with her rural, Southern Catalonian accent, it felt at times like I was taking a Spanish Conversation final exam on crack.
The next morning, since David and I were planning on heading south to spend some time with his family, we offered to take Vanessa to where she was currently living and working, a beachside town (like the majority in the costal autonomous communities of Spain) called Cambrils.
Let's just say I was a bit surprised on arrival. It could be because these settings are all too typical for lifelong residents of the region, or perhaps because David himself had never visited Cambrils before, but astoundingly, he never made a big deal out of this impromptu overnight trip. To me, it was a very big deal.
I suppose more than anything, I wasn't expecting so many tourists. I'd never heard of Cambrils before, you? But the streets, the beaches, and the beachside promenade were all flooded with them! It dawned on me that my time in Spain thus far, though showing many of the attributes of a vacation, hadn't quite been... yet. This was vacation. This was paradise.
Of course, as many of you know, no vacation is without its vexations. You see, I have this little problem when two very powerful forces combined. The forces of which I speak are, of course, hunger and fatigue. Normal, nourished Peter is ready for a new adventure at the drop of a hat! Bring on that cultural, educational goodness! Starving and sleepy Peter, on the other hand, is another story, and an ongoing source of exasperation for my good-spirited fiancé.
We found ourselves, upon our first and only evening in Cambrils, in an all-too-familiar situation. Vanessa's kitchen didn't contain anything too semi-vegetarian-friendly, and we were faced with the mission of seeking subsistence in a carnivorous culture. The Disney World-esque streets and plazas of Cambrils turned to a labyrinthine obstacle course, each turn resulting in a dead end. The grocery store just closed. Meat. Meat. Pizza. Pizza. (OK, I know, I love pizza, but when used as a last resort repeatedly, it loses its appeal. Also, I was cranky.)
At this point, I was on verge of screaming "Where is the Subway!" But as previous experiences have shown me, seeking refuge in familiar institutions can sometimes be more problematic than comforting, as the menu is remarkably distinct region to region. Finally, a beacon of hope. A small chicken kiosk, offering a wide array of chicken-based foodstuffs. I sought shelter behind a sign to avoid the grotesque imagery of several shiny, robust, whole chickens rotating over the rotisserie. The last thing David or I wanted was for me to suddenly lose my appetite for poultry. The mission was successfully accomplished, and a satisfactory meal we had. I give props to David for continuously enduring my psychosis with patience and sensitivity.
As seen above, David and I spent a good chunk of the following afternoon on the beach. Much of that time was also spent discuss the plans for the rest of the day. We could stay in Cambrils, wait for Vanessa to get out of work, and eat with her. Or we could head to Cubelles and take advantage of a free meal courtesy of David's parents. Or we could go discover another Catalonian gem and wine and dine there. Oh, the joys of vacation! The freedom! Each day open, a blank slate! It's a shame that something so amazing, so enriching to the soul, is something so temporary. (Ironic foreshadow.) Ultimately, we decided on adventure, in the form of visiting another Spanish city David had never really seen: Tarragona.