A Day in Spain spent Mainly on the Plane – Aga-Boom in Barcelona October 2018

Aga-Boom BillboardThe theme for my weekend getaway with Aga-Boom was “Late.”

Here’s how it all went down:

Friday October 19, 2018

As is often the case, Aga-Boom trips start with Iryna sending a message asking if I’m available for certain dates. In this case, it was a one day show at a clown festival in Barcelona (or Barcelona adjacent as it eventually turned out) and it was on a Saturday so I wouldn’t have to schedule tests around my time away (I’m looking at you, China!). Easy peasy.

So I get my flight tickets, which is a whole thing because the festival booked them under their own email which meant I had no access to the reservation. Not exactly a bad thing, just weird. And because they booked me on Ryan, at least one of my flights was guaranteed to be at some godawful early hour of the morning. That’s okay, been there, done that. One of the positives, aside from seeing my friends, is that Zack agreed to meet up with my folks and pick up some new clothes for Monki we’d had shipped there, plus some stuff for me, so that was cool (it also meant new underwear, but that’s a story I probably shouldn’t tell on an unsecured line).

Anyway, the day arrives, I have my boarding passes (in Spanish because the festival booked them – see above) and it was all good. Of course, this also meant I was fling out of Vilnius so the pre-travel travel was going to be a thing. And this is where the “late” part started. I was up by 6 on Friday, made myself breakfast (at Rasa’s rightful insistence) and had no problem catching the bus to the train station. Made it to the train at 8:20 and was on my way. I’d planned it perfectly. I’d get into Vilnius at 9:30, catch the 9:45 shuttle to the airport, and be there in plenty of time for my 11:25 flight.

Sure.

The train was 20 minutes late getting to the station and i watched the shuttle pass us by as we were pulling in. You’d think this wouldn’t be a problem, but the airport shuttle operates on a random and completely inconvenient schedule. You’d think, since it was a dedicated track and only took 7 minutes one way, they could run it every 20 minutes or half hour, making it useful for anyone who needed to get to or from the airport. Nope, that would be asking too much of the city planners. So when I didn’t make the shuttle, my choices were to take a bus, CityBee, or cab. I opted for a cab because I really wasn’t sure which bus to take (I’m pretty sure I know which lines go there, but making sure it was heading in the right direction was slightly problematic and asking a bus driver any bit of information here is akin to trying to get an answer from the Voynich manuscript and not nearly as friendly). CityBee would have been fine, had there been any cars nearby, but the closest was an 11 minute walk and then I’d have to navigate myself to the airport – and after my last effort doing that under a time constraint (see London) I wasn’t so confident. So a cab it was. I really couldn’t miss this flight and the 10€ it cost, I suppose was a worthwhile investment.

There were no lines so I made it through check in and security with barely a thought but by the time I got to the gate my flight… was delayed. We ended up boarding 20 minutes late and taking off almost an hour after our scheduled departure time. So that was okay. I got to have a little video chat with Rasa and Monki before leaving, since I’d left the house that morning before they woke up.

Three and a half hours later, when I landed in Barcelona, I put on my red nose and headed out to meet whomever it was who was supposed to pick me up. Naturally, there was no one there. Now, the last time I had flown in to Barcelona El Prat Airport for an Aga-Boom show was a year ago Easter, when we were performing at a comedy festival in Figueres and then, too, there was no one to meet me. I seem to have the worst luck when it comes to that. So I found a place to sit, plug-in my phone, and called the number I had. The woman who answered the phone didn’t seem to know who I was, didn’t understand why I was calling here once she did figure out who I was, and  then told me she’d put me in touch with the guy who was going to pick me up. Turns out, he was there at the airport, but he’d seen my flight was delayed. It just wasn’t delayed by as much as the arrival board said, so I found him and it was a short ride to the hotel.

I checked in and ran into Anton and Zack returning from lunch, made a plan to meet up with Zack in a few minutes, got hold of Iryna to let her know I was there, then we all made plans to reconnect at 6pm for dinner and two shows from the festival which Iryna and Dimitri had gotten us all tickets for.

Zack and I headed off for me to grab a bite and just sit and chat. If we lived in the same city, we’d probably be inseparable, but since we only get to see each other on these show trips, we end up doing a lot of talking about mutual interests and mutual friends. And this time was no exception. We talked and talked and made it back to the hotel at 5 past 6 to meet up with the rest of the gang, but once again, I was late. As soon as we got back into hotel wi-fi range, we got the message that they had left for dinner already and to just meet them at the theatre for the first of the night’s two shows.

IMG_2592Not a problem. Except we weren’t sure where it was and it ended up taking us most of that time to actually find the venue, including asking several people for directions (which is quite fun when trying to pronounce Spanish words and doing it so poorly it’s a wonder we were understood at all). We did finally find the place and the show itself was a variety show, with several performers each doing an act. Some were amazing (Mr. Joe’s King Kong bit and the bicycle horns playing classical music were particular standouts) but when it was time to leave to catch the second show, I was exhausted and so was Zack so we begged off and headed back to the hotel. We had an early start on Saturday – it was show day after all.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

These one day shows are a bit of a pain. It means we have to get into the venue, set everything up, do the show, then tear everything down and pack it all away. For me, this means teaching the local crew how to make and hand the paper-drop which is crucial to the show. And it’s crucial this gets done first because we can’t hang or focus lights or set our 30 or so cues without it. So it’s a long day.

This time it was made much easier on me because when the rest of the team had arrived the day before, they had gone to the theatre check out the space and then decided to actually build and the wall and get the lights hung! What a relief! (Sure, Anton and Zack hadn’t been happy about it, but I was) Especially since this was Spain, which meant a 3 hour siesta period in the middle of the day (time I would normally have liked to use to get my lights set). As it turned out, we were able to get the cues all roughed in before our long lunch break which meant we could come back and get in a cue to cue and maybe a rehearsal.

So with a good morning of work behind us, Zack and I decided to go into Barcelona proper. It turned out where we were performing was actually a nearby suburb called Cornellà de Llobregat and when I asked how far it was to get to old town Barcelona, I was always told “a 15 minute metro ride.” Since Zack had never been there and I’d last been 6 years earlier, We figured why not? The plan was to go to town, have a quick looksee, grab a bite of lunch and make it back in time to catch our 3:45 ride back to the theatre to finish up the day. The best laid plans, eh?

We only got a little lost getting to the Metro station. We were told to go through a tunnel and I thought they meant a pedestrian tunnel while in reality, they meant a street. Of course, Zack knew this, but he figured I knew what I was talking about (silly him) but we got there eventually and made it to the heart of Barcelona with relatively no problems.

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We took some pictures in the Plaza de Catalunya and then headed down La Rambla to try and get a brief tourist feel. We picked up a few trinkets, oohed and aahed, then headed back, hoping to stop for something to eat. Of course, since we didn’t have much time, we decided to hit up Burger King. They were running this horrendous promotion called the “Nightmare King.” I’d tried it the night before and since we didn’t know if it was going to be in the US, he figured he wanted one. Except at the location in La Rambla, they were out. No worries, we’d head back, pick one up at the BK around the corner from the hotel, and still be good to go.

And thus our own personal nightmare began.

I’d forgotten to make a note of which station we had left from, but I knew the platform where we had come in, so I figured we could just go on the opposite side and voila, problem solved. But then no trains came. So we went up to ask and the information desk guy gave us a possible train to take, albeit different from where we had thought. Then Zack, in infinite wisdom, looked at our tickets which happened to have our departure and return destination on it. So back we went to teh information guy with this new bit of data and were informed we had been in the right place the first place. He said take any train and all will be well.

Okay, sure. So we go back to the platform, grab the first train which comes by and keep Our end of the line trainlooking out for something familiar passing by the windows. Eventually, we reach a stop and don’t immediately continue so we wait for a few minutes. Then I look around and notice we’re the only people in the car. I poke my head out the doors, which have remained open this whole time, and see that this train isn’t going anywhere, as any forward movement would be impeded by a large building directly in front of us. We had, literally, reached the end of the line on this track.

Shit.

Out we went to try and find our where the hell we were and, more importantly, how to get back. The information desk was on the opposite side of the turnstile so if we went through, we’d more than likely have to pay to get back, not a great option. So I called the hotel and asked. They confirmed the station name and told us which train we should get on, but of course, trying to find any information as to which track to wait by was not easily forthcoming. Instead, I popped into the little cafe and asked the patrons. A couple knew where we needed to be, but it seemed they were having a slight argument over which track was the correct one.

Finally, we settled on track four. I double checked everything on the Google Maps app on my phone and was told that the train should be there in a few minutes. Great. When the time came, a train did arrive, but it was on a different track. I started to panic but Zack pointed out that that track stated it was heading towards Barcelona while we needed to go away. Sure enough, our train arrived shortly and it was only one stop to where we needed to be.

We weren’t too late, yet. We had called to let the rest of the gang know what was happening, so that was fine, but still it sucks being late when people are waiting on you.

But we still hadn’t eaten.

So off the train and over to Burger King – this time by necessity, not choice. While waiting in line (and yes, there is some Universal law which states that the more in a hurry you are, the slower the people in front of you must be to decide what they want and the people working behind the counter to actually prepare it for them. We also realized that from our 4pm call time, we wouldn’t have a break for real food (the venue had some fruit and snacks but that was it) until after the show came down and we packed everything away, which meant about 8 or so hours. So we needed to make sure we were covered.

IMG_2615

The Nightmare King is a calorie bomb!

We both got Nightmare King meals. To go.

The group picked us up outside the Burger king and we made it back to the theatre, not too late. We started on our cue to cue, making adjustments and setting levels until generally preparing until it was time for the clowns to put on their make-up and do the show. The show itself went off pretty well. With these one and done shows, it’s always a crap shoot how the tech is going to work, especially in places where there might be a language barrier. I never worry about the clowns, they’re funny regardless, but from my end, there’s always a bit of trepidation.

Thankfully, this time we were pretty spot on. I think if we had had one more night, it might well have been the best teched show I’d done for them. Ah well, this is life on the road for ya. As it was we got a standing ovation, there was a long queue to get pictures with the cast after the show and we were packed up and back at the hotel by 1am.

On the downside, this meant I had about 3 hours before they came to get me for the ride to the airport and the flight back home. Zack, very nicely, stayed up with me (since I wouldn’t have been able to sleep, being terrified of missing the plane). He went to bed around 3:30, I showered and met my ride and made it to the airport just fine.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

The flight back, however, was a little awkward in that in my row, I ended up playing “Armrest Dominance” with the guy next to me, even though there was an empty seat on the other side of him. Not sure exactly what that was about, but whatever. In the end, It was fine, I made it back to Vilnius and then via train back to Kaunas and finally by Citybee back home… about 55 hours after I’d left. All in all a fun, fine weekend, even if, at times, it seemed nothing was ever going to be on time.

Red Nose Bandits in a lighter moment.

Categories: Adventure, Cities, Friends, Personal, Theater, transportation, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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Rob Wolf

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