Look! The weather’s started to get warmer, those three defiant blobs of snow on my way to to the station have finally melted, and look what came in the post today? My ticket to Primavera Sound, Barcelona’s finest rock festival that’s held in an outdoor arena to the east of the city.
Actually, it’s the first time I’ve done business here with the devil that is See Tickets – in the past it’s just taken a simple PayPal transaction (in Spanish, mind), and a print-out to get me into the Parc del Forum at the end of the past three Mays, but burgeoning numbers of British and Irish festival-goers saw a deal with See Tickets, and the collapse of sterling made it a safer bet for my battered and bruised pounds. But this bright yellow ticket will do for me as this year’s first swallow of spring.
The line-up’s announced on Wednesday, confirmed acts include My Bloody Valentine, Thowing Muses and Kitty, Daisy and Lewis. I’m pretty lukewarm about the acts so far, but even if the line-up’s poor, it’s loud music next to the Mediterranean – in the sunshine. (Well, except last year when it pissed with rain on the final night. Remember that emergency poncho.)
So this week, my jobs will include sorting out accomodation in Barcelona and working out how long I can go for. But it won’t be my first visit to the Catalan capital this year – I’m calling in very briefly to change trains on the way to Valencia in a month’s time.
In less than four weeks I’m leaving my job – more on this nearer the time, but I’m leaving under my own free will and with a little bit of a goodbye payment. Voluntary redundancy seemed like a great idea before the bottom fell out of global capitalism – and in my situation, it’s still a great idea now. What’s changed since, though, are my thoughts about what to do next, and the woeful economic climate’s encouraged me take a break and reassess things, and see a few sights into the bargain.
One clause, though – I’m avoiding flying as much as possible. I hate hanging around at airports, and I’ve made a promise to myself that if I can get there by train, I’ll do it that way. I’ve done it a few times before, and found it a bit of an adventure. The InterRail pass might be my best friend this year. Eurostar, with its inflated fares, is going to be my worst. But that’s another rant for another time.
So, first up – an old favourite of mine, Valencia’s Fallas festival, where they burn things, let off firecrackers, and have a whale of a time. I suspect my potential travelling companions will let me down, but who cares when things like this are happening all over the city?
I’m schlepping out by train, I might as well make a little tour of it, so once the ringing in my ears has subsided, I’m heading onto Madrid for a couple of nights, and then across to Lisbon, then back to London.
At the moment, I’m wondering whether or not to make a stopover in France on the way home – it’ll be a 27-hour trek from Lisbon to London and a pause in Paris could be just the trick. It’ll all depend on available trains and whatever, but I might just gamble on there being enough to do for the solo traveller in Lisbon to stretch it out to three nights, and emerge at Ebbsfleet or St Pancras in a state a whole day later. We shall see – I’ll need to sort it out this week or Eurostar will make even more undeserved profit out of me (and the lovely person who bought me some vouchers last year).
But I’m pleased that ticket arrived today – because it reminded me that this long, long winter’s coming to an end; and something exciting’s on the horizon…