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Travel: I didn't gimp out of stag shenanigans in Barcelona; Presenter Julyan Sinclair is a good sport.

Byline: Julyan Sinclair

Depending on when you got up today, right now I'm either running around trying to find my tie, standing at the altar hoping my fiancAe Simone Luca turns up, or I'm a married man.

Organising a wedding is women's work. I'm not being sexist but show me a man who takes as much interest in the arrangements as his bride- to-be and I'll buy that man a pair of light loafers.

Other than nodding at suggested colour-schemes, we men have bigger fish to fry in the big pond of wedding organisation. Stag do in Barcelona? Couldn't recommend it highly enough.

Organising 15 yobs to go anywhere is no easy task but getting them abroad within a reasonable budget is a nightmare. After agreeing a date and location, Bryan and Cameron - my two best men - thought the hard work was done. Not so.

In a world of E-booking it's hard to find a firm who can cater for a party of 15, nine leaving from Glasgow and six from London so Cameron employed the old-fashioned method and thanks to Ridgeways Travel in Orkney it was all taken care of.

The party was split between apartments on Calle Santa Monica (just off the foot of Las Ramblas) and the Auto Hogar Hotel on Avenue Parallel, which runs parallel to Las Ramblas at an average price of 30 euros per person per night.

On Friday lunchtime we set the pace early with a few doubles in Glasgow Airport. Upon arrival we strolled down Las Ramblas and was stunned by the city's beauty.

The five parts to Las Ramblas (which means dried flowers - you figure it out) all have streets running off in no particular form. As much as I slag off Brits abroad, it was most amusing when the 15 of us sat outside a tapas bar, pulling all the tables together.

Bearing in mind it was 6pm, it's not surprising the locals, who eat four hours later, scoffed at us. Not to mention in our T-shirts and shades in nine degrees and dwindling light we looked preposterous. I certainly did when I was held in my chair and gimp mask was produced.

I've never worn anything more uncomfortable. How people get their kicks from this kind of thing I can't imagine. Since we'd already been drinking for eight hours, I didn't need much persuasion to run up to unsuspecting locals in my mask and the video footage is something I hope doesn't turn up in the best men's speeches.

don't know any pub in Glasgow which would let in a crew as big as ours but the attitude of publicans, restaurateurs and locals in Barcelona made me realise many places in Scotland are disappearing up their own posteriors. Barcelona isn't interested in whether you have the right gear, its focus is on enjoyment. That ethos carried through into our search for 'the dancing'.

Cameron, a fluent Spanish speaker, got us into a club for my funniest ever night of clubbing.

Someone realised they played cheesy pop upstairs and there was a stage with a curtain. The events that followed were probably not as funny as we all thought but to see our staggers get on stage, hide behind the curtain and jump out to roars from the crowd below was one of the funniest things I've ever been party to.

On day two, we gathered on Las Ramblas about noon and after several hairs of the dog it was business as usual. began to suspect the gimp mask had only been the beginning and my fears were confirmed. First came a latex mini-dress, then a naked lady belly dancer fat-suit. Our only near-jail experience came when I climbed one of the many beautifully carved stone monuments in my fat-suit, which resulted in a couple of police siren blasts.

We rolled into the bar area just south of Avd Diagonal where the concentration and mix of Spanish and Irish bars was perfect. When a thirst needs quenched there's nothing like the anticipation of 15 pints of Guinness settling on a bar. We then embarked on another night dancing.

On day three we got round to a bit of culture.

Sadly, Barcelona and Espanyol's football fixtures didn't tie in with our visit but just to stand in the Nou Camp stadium is a memorable experience.

Tour prices are reasonable, as long as you avoid the merchandisers. I was determined to see the famous La Sagrada Familia. Gaudi worked on this for 40 years until his death in 1926 and have never seen a building like it.

Construction isn't scheduled to finish until 2030, and although I know a few builders with a similar timescale none would be fit to lace the boots of those working on this masterpiece.

The trip home was a nightmare, hangovers and turbulence but this was the probably the best weekend I've ever had. There is no question I will go back to Barcelona and explore it more soberly, and I suggest if you get the chance then do the same.

Just watch out for the gimp

I LOVED: Even though it is such a beautiful city, the locals don't take themselves too seriously I HATED: The fact there were so many pick-pocketing kids


Julyan found time for some culture with a visit to La Sagrada Familia; Julyan, right, best man Cameron, left, and the stags start as they mean to go on at Glasgow airport; Julyan in his belly dancer fat-suit with Cameron
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:May 29, 2005
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