Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Night That The Lights Went Out in Barcelona

View of Barcelona from the top of the arena
It was the first night of our Mediterranean cruise. Well, actually the cruise wouldn't start until the following day; we'd arrived in Barcelona a day early with our friends Bob and Sandi, who were, like us, celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary. (We've been friends since college and intentionally scheduled our weddings two weeks apart so we could attend each of them.)

It had been a long but glorious day traipsing the streets of the old-made-over-as-new-as-possible bustling port city after checking into our modern high rise hotel in the heart of the place.

Deb in Barcelona
Building architecture varied wildly, from ancient to modern, often times standing side by side. One of my favorites was the Hemingway-esque bull fighting arena remodeled into a unique shopping mall. It was pretty incredible. Once a place celebrating death for sport, it now is the epitome of urban 21st century life, filled with trendy restaurants, upscale boutiques, a movie theater, and quaint little ice cream shoppes.

Although the arena retained its original round shape and traditional red brick edifice, the inside had been completely transformed into six stories of ultra modern shiny chrome and glass for your shopping pleasure. One tremendously long escalator transported you from the bottom seemingly into the sky, depositing you on the roof of the arena to enjoy the gorgeous panoramic view above.   

Bull fighting arena turned shopping mall
Poor Chuck, never a shopping enthusiast, in the spirit of tourista conceded to dutifully follow me from floor to floor as I explored every nook and cranny. I bought a pair of earrings with a Spanish flair to remind me of our wonderful day.

After meeting up with Bob and Sandi to dine in an outdoor cafe Paris-style, we returned to our hotel and retired around 8 try and remedy a little of the jet lag that was now nipping at our heels.

Bob and Sandi's room was next to ours on the 16th floor so Chuck and I bid them good-night and began unpacking. I settled down to a book in bed while Chuck fiddled with his computer at the desk as an hour passed uneventfully.

Suddenly, accompanied by a sound like a trunk falling on concrete, the lights went out. Not just in our room, but across the entire floor of the hotel. It was black dark, and soundless, at least at first. Like we'd fallen into a hole into the center of the earth. Totally eerie, let me tell you.

Then in the silent tarry darkness of the room, I hear a faint "Uh oh" from my fella. It had a guilty ring to it.

"Chuck, what exactly do you mean by 'uh oh'?"
"Um ... I think maybe I did that."
"You did what?"
Pregnant silent pause here. 
"Blew the electricity when I plugged in a charger that didn't want to fit."

Yikes. We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto. American electrical gizmos are apparently not compatible with Spanish electrical sockets.

By that time we could hear people stirring outside our room, roaming the dark halls in various stages of undress, bumping into handrails and each other, some speaking anxiously in foreign languages, others in heavily accented English, asking, "What happened?" "Is your power off?" "What kind of hotel is this?"

With friends like these ...
Within minutes, Bob and Sandi knocked on our door, confused and discombobulated as the rest of them. Chuck quickly ushered them in and secured the door behind them like he was James Bond hiding allies from Russian spies. Sandi had been sitting on the bathroom counter soaking her aching feet in the sink when darkness abruptly descended so she was still barefoot in her nightgown.

As soon as they heard what happened, Bob burst into uncontrollable belly laughter and Sandi burst into song - a tweaked rendition of a popular song from our youth, "That's the night that the lights went out in Georgia; that's the night that they hung an innocent man ..."

Well, Chuck did fess up to his crime when the authorities showed up to try and restore order. And power. He received a polite but firm rebuke from the electrician who kindly brought him the proper adapter so that it wouldn't happen again.

And for the rest of the trip we got serenaded with that infernal song by our friends who will never let us forget.


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