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Festivals, fines and fuck-ups: how my holiday went hilariously wrong


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During last year's annual period of post-festival-blues (after a slightly-less-shit-than-this-year Y Not and a very muddy Leeds Festival) my friends and I, fed up of the mud, decided to book a festival abroad.

We barely even needed to do any googling to know that we wanted to go to Benicassim Festival on Spain's west coast, having seen it splattered across social media that year. We booked tickets to the festival in August, then after a quick group chat discussion in aptly named chat 'Benacassim Bitches' realised that at least one of us had enough adulting experience for us to justify travelling to both Barcelona and Paris the week after. We couldn't even spell Benicassim right in the group chat name.

Props to us, we were good at planning. We booked flights to Barcelona, trains to and from Benicassim, flights to Paris and flights to Manchester. We booked hostels and Airbnbs, extra hold luggage, lockers for the festival and ensured the essential supply of glitter was topped up.

Everything started going a bit wrong when we got to the airport. The second we got there, a woman announced over the tannoy that our flight was six hours delayed. Great. Checking the hold baggage in, which held our tents, a variation of suncreams and Angel's big ass boots, we took bets on how heavy it would be. "Sixteen!" shouted one friend. "Thirteen!" shouted another. It was twenty-fucking-four kilograms, which is four kilograms over the limit.

Zipping open the case to try and redistribute our belongings, we grabbed my friend Anna's tent. "Where are the tent poles?" asks Rose.

We forgot them.

Our compensation vouchers to spend in the airport didn't work, I thought I left my passport in a Starbucks when it was actually in my suitcase and our delay meant that the metro wasn't running when we got into Barcelona, meaning we then had to fork out 90€ between us to grab two taxis from the airport to our hostel in Badalona. When I booked that hostel I just thought Badalona was the Spanish translation for Barcelona, and it was dead central. Incorrect.

We finally arrived in Benicassim the next day after a warm, tiring, four hour train journey. The first day was fine: we chilled, went down to the beach, got some paella and over-priced Koppaberg. Our friend Eva had to fly back home due to an overwhelming mix of anxiety and heat, which was pretty upsetting. You the best, Eva - and to be fair, definitely saved yourself a lot of stress in the long run.

The same night, Anna threw up all over her tent and proceeded to mop it up with her clothes. "Are you sure you wanna mop that up with your t-shirt, Anna?" "It's only The Stone Roses." Sound.

Our tents were surrounded by huge black ants and I managed to get bitten by one. Laura got stung by a jellyfish. We all got burnt. This is all before the music at the festival even started.

Cue the music. We're here for the music (and maybe the sun). You'd think that'd finally bring us some solace. Again, incorrect. Here's a quick list: Angel tripped and sprained her ankle so bad it hurt for two weeks, I got my phone stolen while on someone's shoulders in Foals, I got punched in the face by a girl and her friend put his cigarette out on the back of my hand, Sophie had her bag stolen during a bit of an 'operation' during Kasabian - where my guess would be around 50 people also had their bags clipped from them - two of my friends got sunstroke, Anna and I broke our tent zip, we sat and watched Charlotte Church sing 'Killing In The Name' wearing a flower crown at 4am, Rose's roots ended up stained pink like an experimental teenage girl after being covered in glitter, I got thrown onto the shore by a wave like a beached whale and, after discussing for a whole day how much we wanted a veggie burrito - there were none. Drunken me also decided I wanted a veggie burger but couldn't find one, and instead decided to buy a normal burger and then take the burger out so it was vegetarian. I paid 5€ for two slices of bread.

Being a bit of an instagram-obsessive, but having no phone, I decided to head into town to buy a couple of disposable cameras so I could take underexposed and slightly green pictures of like... sand and stuff. "27 exposures!" they said, "it'll be great!" they said. They broke after like, 12 pictures. I don't think Sophie's even took one, just scrolled straight through.

Before heading back up to Barcelona, Angel rang our booked hostel to tell them that there would be one less person staying. "What? You cancelled your booking in April." I think the fuck not. "Oh, sorry. Well, we're full now."

So there we were. Homeless for three nights in Barcelona. Our only source of phone charge: a nearby Burger King. The wheel had broken off our heaviest suitcase. We were tired. We were fat. We'd managed to go through 20 baguettes between us in five days. Then finally, we found a hostel that could fit us in.

The first things we did once checked into our (beautiful) hostel in Barcelona were head to the police station to report theft and to the hospital to get a friend some antibiotics. I think if we'd known initially that the hospital would take four hours to do this, we'd have listened to our friend saying "leave me, I'm fine, go out and have fun!" and left her infected, independent self in the waiting room. But you know, #friendship. To be fair, Barcelona didn't fuck us over too much - in fact, in the notes on my phone where I've written down a scrollable list of mishaps, the only other thing I've got down is that the washing machine in the hostel charged us around 5€ to make our clothes wet and smelly, but not clean or dry.

The phrase "nobody dies a virgin, life fucks us all" that's been circulating the emo side of Tumblr for years rings especially true in Paris. Paris fucked us all. Will any of us ever go back? Yet to be confirmed.

After the last washing machine just didn't wash our clothes, I got a bit TOO excited about being able to wash them in our Airbnb - a beautiful top floor apartment in Jules Joffrin. I was so excited, in fact, that I went ahead and shoved my pink towel in with a load of whites on an accidental 60ºC spin. Sorry, environment.

It's well known that Paris is expensive anyway, but two of my friends ended up spending most of their remaining euros on unneccessary metro fines. One friend was ordered to pay a 50€ during a random ticket check as she had lost hers, and the other friend, after presenting her perfectly valid ticket that had literally just got her through the barrier, was told it was a 'bad ticket' and had to pay 35€. Still confused about that one.

Paris just felt gloomy; every corner turned there was another man trying to con you or 'buy' you - a whole new level of catcalling. It makes the men in white vans shouting "nice tits" seem like the most innocent people on the planet.

Ready to go home, we got to the airport exhausted to find our flight delayed by an hour and a half, and Anna had her whole bag unpacked and drug searched because they weren't quite sure what her portable charger was.

So sure, basically everything went wrong - but it was hilarious. It was an adventure. It became a bit of a game in the end. Although it was a little draining, we laughed our way through it because we're close. You can do - and enjoy - anything if you've got good friends by your side. Personally, I'm a very panicky person - but was barely phased by half the shit that happened because #friendship. Oh - and a LOT of things went right, too.

After a turbulent flight to Manchester, we got on the train back home to Scarborough. "You don't have your railcard?" "No..." "£60 for a new ticket please."

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