After my wallet was stolen I was glad to be leaving Barcelona to catch up with an old friend outside of Alicante. I was still a little shaken up and needed to see a familiar face. As much as I’d loved Barcelona, I wasn’t feeling the love right then. I had arranged to go to the Australian Consulate at 10am to apply for a new passport, then I was going to try to catch the 12pm train to Alicante. As I was checking out of the hotel I asked handsome Spanish guy to call me a taxi. “No taxi, is not possible. You can take the Metro”, he said in his sexy accent and pointed to a sign on the desk. Barcelona really wanted to stick it to me, there was a 24hr city-wide taxi strike. I won’t lie, I was starting to take it personally, “why do you hate me Barcelona?” I thought. Now I had to wrestle my suitcase on the Metro, normally this wouldn’t be a problem except not all stations had lifts. I started to panic, I had to be at the Consulate at 10am, it was already after 9am and I had to figure out how to get there by train. I wheeled/dragged my case over the cobbled stones for 15 dog years/minutes to the metro station which thankfully had a lift. I pushed my case into a corner of the packed carriage and travelled the four or five stops. Unfortunately that station didn’t have a lift and I as I pulled my suitcase up the steps like a Russian weight lifter, panting and gasping, people walked past looking at me as if to say “you should have got a taxi you idiot!”.
The Consulate was about 15 minutes from the metro station. It opened at 10am and I got there around 9:45am, still panting heavily and now sweating like a pig. Thankfully there was a cafe next door, strangely named Croc Bar or Croc Cafe, I wondered if it was because of its proximity to the Aussie Consulate. The waiter looked at me blankly, resisting any urge he may have had to help me as he watched me struggle with my suitcase though the heavy glass doors. There were quite a few people in the cafe and I managed to find a table near the wall where my suitcase wouldn’t block anyones way. The waiter approached me and in my state of paranoia I assumed he was going to complain about my suitcase, I was already stressed out and ready to say “back the f@#* off mate, I’ve had a really shitty 24 hours, I’ve just dragged my suitcase half way across the city and all I want is some coffee and one of your shitty croissants”. Fortunately for me and him, he didn’t poke the bear and just wanted to take my order.
By 9:59am I’d finished my coffee and shitty ham and cheese croissant then headed off to get my passport. I expected the Australian Consulate to be a small set up, maybe just one floor with a couple of security guards at the door, metal detector, five or six well dressed Consulate staff sipping their morning lattes and planning the next cocktail party at Australian tax payers expense. I was surprised to be greeted by the wonderfully friendly and helpful Honorary Consul John Rochlin, a man who wouldn’t look out of place as an extra in the Hobbit. Despite being rushed off his feet with another poor Aussie trying to get a new passport, and being bombarded by phone calls, he quickly and cheerfully sorted out my paperwork. It was going to take 4 days and he arranged for my emergency passport being sent by DHL to my friend’s address in Torrelamata, I was soon on my way. John is not just the Honorary Consul in Barcelona, he is the Australian Consulate in Barcelona, a one man band and on top of that Honorary Consul is an unpaid position, which I can’t understand because the Australian government seems to be able to find money to paid for all sorts of useless shit. As I left I apologised for my unfair assumptions about his cocktail sipping consular lifestyle and thanked him profusely. Thank you Frodo Baggins, I’ll never forget you, you’re a credit to the shire!
Despite racing like a demon to the train station, and having to knock several old ladies and small children out of the way to get there, I missed my train by 5 minutes. The next one wasn’t for another 3 hours. I’d been on such a rollercoaster of emotions I just didn’t have anymore left to give. I resigned myself to the fact that yes I missed my train but I’d sorted out my passport and I was on the next train, so I found the bar and decided to drink for 3 hours, safe in the knowledge I had 5 hours to Alicante to sober up.