Travel Broadens The Mind

It is a near miracle if I end a holiday without at least one near death or slightly dodgy/worrying experience. In Holland it was ‘The Battle of Sparta Rotterdam’ where a ‘friendly’ football fixture was infiltrated by rampaging Feyenoord fans, resulting in bloodshed and an armed escort back to the train station. In Swansea I was relieved of my handbag and ‘pretend held hostage’ for my pin number. In the Scottish Highlands I almost drowned when my kayak started taking on water and then sunk. In Belgium (at the Spa Francorchamps racing circuit to be precise) I fell down a hill – luckily my arse cushioned the impact. In Florida there was the hurricane and on school camp (Wales again!) there was ‘the quad bike incident’.

Until now my fiance has remained relatively unscathed by my penchant for holiday doom, though he has been a bemused/concerned onlooker on a few occasions. Until this year. When we went to Barcelona. And I accidentally took him cottaging.

We’d decided to walk up Montjuic (though in the end it was walk a bit, cable-car a bit) which is a maa-hoo-sive hill covered in parkland, nature and all that stuff, overlooking the city. There is a graveyard up there that I wanted to see (yes, I like graveyards, it’s not *that* odd) and a couple of museums and a magic fountain with pretty lights. I had a map and it had served us well until we got, as Ray Mears might say, ‘turned around’ and took a left too early. Thinking about it, I did notice the middle-aged bloke who was stood near the bushes a little further up the path give me an odd look as I ditzily studied the map, as did the young lad who drove his scooter to a stop at the bottom of the path, but I figured they just thought me a stupid lost tourist. Scooter Man set off up the path and a few seconds later, having decided to go thaddaway, myself and N followed – well, not literally ‘followed’, but went in the same direction. At that point the two gentlemen greeted each other with a furtive nod and proceeded to walk into the bushes.

In all honesty, N was pretty much oblivious to it all and it was only after we’d realised that we’d taken a wrong turn and decided to double back, necessitating passing ‘the bushes of love’ again that I told him what was going on. I don’t think he really believed me. Preferring to suppose that they were two, totally platonic, nature-lovers who disappeared into the undergrowth in a fairly remote location to study rare butterflies or some such. That is until I called on The Knower of All Things that is Google, which revealed that yes, the delightful woodland glades of Montjuic, particularly near the graveyard (which is stunning by the way), are well-known and highly thought of in outdoor gay sex circles.

So, depending on your preferences, consider this tale (and handy map!) either a friendly warning and a ‘things (people?) to do’ suggestion. While I’m not in the least bit offended by the concept, I do think some kind of sign-post would have been nice to prevent unsuspecting tourists stumbling across such private (*ironic face*) moments. Though perhaps our presence served only to increase the frisson felt by these Mediterranean pleasuremongers. In which case, Middle Aged Man and Scooter Man, you’re entirely welcome! And if it didn’t, I’m sorry if we put you off, you might want to think about lobbying your local MP regarding my sign-post idea.

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Silent Sunday