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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Whiskey Daredevils Tour Diary

Posted By on Wed, Jul 22, 2009 at 11:00 AM


The Whiskey Daredevils just returned from a road trip in Europe. Frontman Greg Miller fills us in on what happened.

Day 13: Barcelona, Spain — off day

At 6:30 a.m. the jackhammer starts. Then a machine that sounds like a pounding anvil pile driver from a Roadrunner cartoon kicks in. Just when it seemed impossible that the noise could get any louder, it sounds like a giant is swinging a metal garbage can on a rope filled with used auto parts. Or maybe the Jetson’s robot maid is being run over by a four wheel drive Monster Truck. “Good morning!” at the Your Choice Hotel.

Ken opens the window to the deafening noise, and then we see we are located directly across the high walls and razor wire of a maximum security prison. Meanwhile, the construction crew continues to bang as much shit around as possible. We have to get out of here immediately. As Ken and I discuss the plan in our double room, I hear Leo clearly chime in “We’re up if you guys want to roll.” The interesting thing is that Leo is in another hotel room far down the hall, and it sounds like he is sitting right next to me. The walls must be made out of tissue paper.

As a treat, I had reserved two rooms for us in a 4 star hotel for tonight. I figured we deserved a good night’s stay after two weeks out on the road, and it would be a perfect way to unwind by spending a day in Barcelona. The hotel is located right across town, so we should be able to check in quickly and get down to some serious relaxation. This part of the story might seem impossible, but I’ll tell it to you like it happened. It should have taken 20 minutes to get to our new hotel. That’s not the way it played out through. We spend the next three hours getting checked out of Your Choice Hotel and getting across town to the 987 Hotel. Even now I’m not sure what went wrong. Poor directions, lack of sleep, one way streets, a giant tour van, and a suddenly indecisive Christoph work together to make everyone frustrated by the time we finally find the chic 987 Hotel.

The rooms had been booked through a Cleveland connection that hooked us up with a Barcelona connection. I had sent emails back and forth with “Carlos”, a man I had never met or spoken with to get two rooms locked in at a ridiculously low rate. Carlos had assured me weeks ago that not only did we have the rooms, but that one of them was a suite. This would be outstanding.

Leo and I head back to my room to meet up with Ken and freshen up before going out. I enter The Best Shower in the World and bask in the glory. If we are going out, we have to have our wits about us. This may be shocking to read, but Spain is different than Cleveland. The night starts around midnight with dinner and clubs stay open until well past sun up. I have walked home in sunglasses from Big Nights Out in Spain in the past, and it’s a lifestyle that suits me well. However, we have a decent drive tomorrow and a pretty big show, so we decide to just go out for “a while”.

We start drinking and eating all over town. We plow through 5 bottles of Rioja and eat a lot of tentacles and jamon. Before we know it, it’s about 4 am and we have been all over the map. It’s been a great night, and Barcelona is definitely one of my favorite cities on the planet.

When I check in, I find out that Carlos had locked up the suite. Great news! I also discovered that Carlos had only booked one room. Oh yeah… There is a convention in town and every hotel in Barcelona was sold out. Tired and defeated, I let loose with a tapestry of profanity that may still hang over the city like a shroud.

As an aside, why is it when you go anywhere and need a room there is always a “convention”? Seriously, I hear that every time I need a room last minute. “Sorry Mr. Miller. Normally we would be able to accommodate you in unequaled opulence, but due to the convention, you’ll have to sleep at the City Mission or by the Bus Station.” I have been employed professionally for about 20 years. I have never been to a convention. Who the hell are all these people attending conventions? Why is the hotel business not the best ever? Every fucking time I need a room all I ever get is excuses.

I have to really bust some ass to find an additional room in town that is to the level of this hotel. It’s not like I can walk into this room with Ken, and send these guys back to the “Your Choice” hotel. I have to take care of them. Finally I find a hotel room with three beds across town at a place that is allegedly 4 star. After all the uncertainty and waiting, everyone is very cranky with me now. They may need a reality check since I have just personally thrown down to cover their 4 star hotel across town on a same day booking. In theory, this should be the best room they been inside in the last 2 weeks. (At this rate, it better be…)

Christoph, Leo, and Gary drive across town with Ken as navigator to their hotel, and I check into our place. Ken will stay with me, and I take his luggage upstairs. I open the door to find what might be one of the 5 best hotel rooms I have ever been inside in my life. The room is a refurbished grand apartment from the 1800s. Ornate woodcarvings decorate the 20-foot ceilings. An enormous rain shower the size of our van welcomes you with 3 water sources, gorgeous tile work, and upper end bath products. Floor to ceiling doors open up to a terrace to reveal a view of Gaudi’s Church of the Famaglia. The 15 foot white curtains blow in the breeze as I stretch out on the day bed to watch people on the sidewalk below. The room is as big as some apartments I have lived in. It’s awesome.

Christoph’s plan is to try and regroup. He will check into the hotel and remain stationary while Gary and Leo rejoin Ken and I to investigate Barcelona. We all want to see as much of the city as possible, so we decide to meet at Gaudi’s cathedral first. It becomes a whirlwind day where we manage to pack in 2 cathedrals, 2 smaller churches, the pedestrian open market of Las Ramblas, the marina, and the farmer’s market. Of course we stop at tapas bars every hour or so to “refuel”. It’s about 3 hours into our wandering around that we get our first of a series of increasingly disheveled messages from Christoph…

When Christoph first got to the hotel, he parked the van in a loading zone directly in front of the place. Barcelona has the same problems as most European cities. These places were built in the Middle Ages, when city planners were not planning on giant tour vans roaming the streets. Parking is always an issue, but here in a big city like this, it’s impossible. It’s like trying to park an 18-wheeler in Manhattan.

So Christoph arrives at the hotel, unloads his luggage into the room, and immediately starts pounding beers in a nearby cafe. Meanwhile, the hotel is VERY interested in having this giant van moved from in front of their entrance. By the time Christoph returns to the hotel, he has purchased more beer from a nearby store and is drinking at a pace most people would refer to as “heavy”. The front desk calls up to the room…

“Would it be possible for you to move the van?” they leave as a message on the voice mail. Christoph ignores them. It was about then that he decided to add some cognac and coffee to the mix with the beer. The front desk calls him again. “Would it be possible for you to move the van?”

“NO way! I’m drunk. Move it if you want.”


The van stays exactly where it is for our stay in Barcelona.

While this is going on, Gary starts to feel sick. This is not unusual, as he seems to be sick with cold/flu symptoms 15 days out of every month. He heads back to the hotel, and Ken opts to head back to our place. Leo and I decide to stay out and be left to our devices. This entails us going to tapas bars all over town interrupted by a brief stop while Leo heads into a Peep Show by the wharf. “It fucking sucked… I was about to see some pussy when I ran out of change. Do you have any change?”

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