So we head down the street, passing a first hotel with a sign "completo" in the window. We keep walking and come to a second hostel - the proprietor is standing in the street. "You need a room?" "Yeah, for five ..." He looked at us in a calculating way ... then said, "You come in, look at rooms." Pension Manu - small, unadorned rooms, bath and toliets down the hall, a bit noisy from the street - but fully half the price of the Gat Xino and they had room for all of us. Well. We were far too tired at 10 PM to go door to door looking for rooms; we said yes, and here we are.
Night one : trauma then good food. Hard sleep for most.
Today: all out for breakfast on Las Ramblas (three times the cost of any normal café but we could watch the living statues); group stroll through Barri Gotic then split and us to the Picasso museum; lunch at Café L'Academia (I had cold carrot soup with jamon serrano on top and roasted guinea hen); meet with KMS near the beach then watch the Magic Fountain at Mt Juic. Hotel (naps and showers) then out for dinner - after a light meal we returned to the tapas joint we went to last night. Lessons learned: Bodegas Ejarque 2001 cab sauv ace; Picasso still egotistical misogynist; not travelling with high maintenance people who can't handle the unexpected is a good plan (thank God I didn't); tapas bars sell fried calamari, not onion rings.