We got on the train at around dawn and embarked on our journey to Murcia. Murcia is one of the largest cities in Spain, but it is definitely not a popular destination for tourists necessarily. We were going for two main reasons. One, to visit our friend and her family, and also to partake in one of Spain’s largest street festivals.
Entierro de la Sardina, marks the end of the holy week, where the city throws a massive parade and then burns a giant sardine float. This is a way to bury the past and celebrate the future. It is also an excuse for the people of the town to throw a massive party throughout the entire day. We were so excited.
We got picked up at the train station by our friend’s parents, and although they didn't speak any English, we could tell they were both very kind people and we were so grateful to them for taking us in for the night. We took a quick drive around the city, and eventually she brought us to their house where we would be spending the next two days. If it wasn’t enough that they had given us a place to stay, they also had a full spread of food waiting for us! That was really nice.
The house was down the street from Estrella de Levante, one of the larger beer companies in Spain, and our friend’s mom used to work there so they had crates of the stuff just lying around because they get it for free. After a few hours, we decided to head into town and meet members of her extended family. They started to like us instantly! They all spoke different levels of English, but there were enough people there that we could carry out a group conversation. They were fascinated by us and wanted to here all about our time in Germany so far. We learned a lot about them and about the festival we were about to experience, and we were so excited to get started.
There was only one problem, I had barely slept the night before and I was starting to feel it. It got to the point where I told people I would be heading home to take a nap and then I’d meet them in town. “Olé Will” one of her cousins said, clapping her hands “Olé! Olé Olé Olé!!!”
I couldn’t say no to that, and I still keep this in my head as a mantra whenever I’m debating doing something crazy. I decided to take her advice, and “Olé” I did.
We stopped by an amazing bar that served coffee, and after downing two hot ones I was ready to hit the town. It was me, my three friends, our friend from Spain, her friend from school and her boyfriend. The two girls purchased a bright pink princess balloon so we could find them in case we got lost. They knew us too well. There were so many distractions here, people dressed up in costumes, booths serving tapas and also the fact that festival or no festival, this was still a very new part of the world for us!
Her boyfriend ended up taking us under his wing, and showed us a few spots around the city that not many people new about. He was our go to guy for most things around the city. If you needed a drink, boom, he knew a bar nearby. If you needed food, he knew a good restaurant and if you had to go to the bathroom, he could point you to the nearest pee park (don’t ask).
The rest of the night was crazy, we weaved through the massive crowds of people, got to see a ton of parades and festivities and we snuck into a few bars to watch el Classico, a futball match between Barcelona and Madrid, one of the tensest rivalries in Europe. When we got out, it was nearly dark, and we noticed three people around our age pushing eachother through the street in a shopping cart. When we heard them speaking German, we were so relieved! Finally, some people we could talk to! Almost everyone in this town spoke only Spanish, and you can only get to know a person so well off of “Como estas” Of course I exaggerate, but I can’t really get into to deep of a conversation with my 6th grade Spanish. We ended up talking with these guys for about an hour about all sorts of things, but mostly because it was nice to be able to speak German for a change.
Eventually, we met back up with everyone, and decided to hit the nightclubs. The festival was all but over now, and with all the adults leaving to go home, the city soon erupted into a zoo of teenagers and 20-somethings looking for some sort of an after party. We ended up at one of the most crowded nightclubs I had ever been too, and we crammed into the sweaty loud box to try to dance a bit. My friend was wearing, I kid you not, a wool sweater and sunglasses. Instead of wearing glasses, he had put on prescription sunglasses to block out the intense Spanish sun. The only problem is, now that it was nighttime he had to choose between wearing sunglasses and being partially blind. The end result ended up getting a lot of stares, and he found himself explaining the situation to complete strangers left and right.
We had this inside joke between the four of us that is somewhat important to the trip. Basically, one night we were at a nightclub in Germany during the middle of the week so, to be funny, we walked into the middle of the empty dancefloor with a completely straight face and started fist pumping. This was kind of done in parody to make fun of the fact that no one else was dancing but we still were trying to enjoy ourselves. We then proceeded to request the DJ play the song 99 Luftballoons, a quintessentially German song that I imagine no one in Germany actually listens to. Now we do it in all different types of public settings, but it was about 2 in the morning, and people on the crowded train ride home weren’t having any of it. We were able to get away with it because of the language barrier, but our Spanish friend later told us “You were getting death threats on that train!”
We finally arrived at our friend’s house. She told us not to make so much as a sound, because her parents were sleeping. We proceeded super slowly and quietly through the door, but as soon as we got to the bottom of the stairs, we were attacked by two tiny little dogs. They barked as loud as they could, ensuring that no one was able to sleep through it. I felt so bad about this, but I guess I couldn’t take all the blame.
We eventually got settled into our rooms, and my friend came around to my room asking for the wifi password. I told him I didn’t know and that he should just go to sleep, but he persisted on. He went to go look for our friend who was staying in the floor above us, but unfortunately, her parents were staying there as well. He then persisted to knock on the wrong door, believing it to be our friends, asking about the wifi password. Her poor dad, woke up bewildered to find a shirtless guy at his door, looking for the wifi password. Not knowing a single word of eachother’s language, her dad began to awkwardly escort him back to his room.
After a crazy night, we all went to bed, sad we had to leave the next day, but happy that we had made many friends and a ton of great memories.