“The bus stops right across the street,” the Tourist Information receptionist told me. “And it leaves promptly at 8:30 so get there by at least 8:15. And don’t forget it’s a black bus.” I memorized everything she said, including the color of the bus.
We were back at Placa de Catalunya after a day’s activities in Barcelona’s Barri Gotic and we decided to buy tickets for a tour of Montserrat the next day. My wife’s knee was bothering her so I descended the stairs to the Tourist Information Office by myself while she sat and rested nearby. I waited in line for a few minutes and then when it was my turn I was greeted by a polite and friendly lady named Maria who convinced me that I wanted to go on the all-day bus tour that included a trip to Colonia Guell in the morning. When I mentioned that we had been on the hop on/off city bus tour the day before she told me that there was a 5 euro discount in each of the coupon books we received for that bus tour. So she reserved my place in line as I sprinted back upstairs to retrieve our coupon books. My wife always keeps things like coupon books because I have a tendency to lose them. So I got the coupons and scampered back downstairs and paid for the tour to Colonia Guell and Montserrat. Maria pointed to the picture on the brochure she handed me. “Black bus.” she repeated.
The next day we arrived at the Placa at 8:00am just because we do that sort of thing. There were already a bunch of buses around but just a few people. Right in front of us at the corner where we were told to go there were two black buses and a white bus. There were also a number of city buses further up the street and several blue and white airport buses across the street. I looked at all the buses within a block and went up to the first black bus. It was going to Girona. Then I walked to the second black bus. It was going on a day-long winery tour. So we found ourselves a bench nearby and we waited. And waited. By 8:29 I was getting pretty nervous. The buses were filling up and making signs of pulling out. Then I noticed a woman by the white bus who was barking orders as she checked her clipboard. I walked up to her and asked her where was the bus to Montserrat. “This is it!” she said as she crossed off our names, which were the only names that weren’t already crossed off. “They are leaving now. Get in!” My wife hopped on board and I followed, yelling as I climbed aboard. “They told us it would be a black bus!” “Well, it’s white today,” she muttered as she walked away to another bus. We found some comfortable seats near the back and settled in to listen to Carlos, our tour guide for the day, explain the itinerary as our bus headed for Passeig de Gracia. We were on our way to Montserrat.
But we were on a white bus.