Rio… it’s nice, but it’s no Barcelona

So guess who just got back from Brazil? Yep a little bit of studying Portuguese in Rio de Janeiro, a bit of Carnival in Recife / Olinda, and then some travelling around the south, to natural wonders like the island of Ilha Grande and the spectacular cascading beauty of Iguazu Falls…

So anyway, there I was, sitting on the beach in Ipanema, with my amiga, Karina (with whom I used to live a couple of years back in Poble Sec – in Flat number 2), probably – along with Copacabana – the most famous city beach in the world, when we both looked at each other and went… “meh”.

Not too shabby... but wouldn't you rather be in Catalonia?

Not too shabby… but wouldn’t you rather be in Catalonia?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice spot, but I guess in Barcelona we are just too damned spoiled. Ipanema, with the Dois Irmois mountains rearing up at one end and its long stretch of natural sands, is certainly more beautiful than Barceloneta, or any of the Catalan capital’s other city beaches; but here in Brazil the sun was too hot, the water effing freezing, and the people – both I and Karina agreed – a lot less easy on the eye. (I don’t care how small your thong is, if you’re 120kg it ain’t sexy). Karina was somehow less fussed, but I also couldn’t help wistfully recall that in Spain topless sunbathing is also a lot more common (in Brazil it’s illegal in fact, as far as I can tell).

So having set these two great coastal cities up against each other, let’s look in a little more detail at the pros and cons of both, a bit like in my Amsterdam vs. Barcelona post, from a couple of years back.

Weather

Well I was only in Rio for three summer weeks, and whilst I like the heat it was too def. too hot even for me! Sitting on the beach before 4pm, without an parasol, was akin to torture. Plus, when the sun wasn’t beating down, it rained a helluva lot. Meanwhile Rio de Janeiro’s mild winters might be nice for some people, but little in terms of changing of seasons (at least from what I understand) strikes me as being a bit boring. Barcelona meanwhile has got just about the perfect climate. Loads of sunshine, but only a couple of months where the mercury can rise a bit uncomfortably high, plus just enough of a winter for you to appreciate summer all the more. One, nothing, BCN.

Looks

This is a no brainer. Rio may have those majestic mountains and dramatic beaches, but architecturally speaking and even the nice areas look like Barcelona’s ghettoes, whilst its ghettoes (of which there are many) are, predictably, puss-filled eyesores… albeit fascinating ones, with surprisingly good vibes and parties. The legendary Copacabana district is just mile upon mile of high rise flats and hotels, whilst Centro has at most “a scattering” of nice-ish buildings. Overall I’d say Rio scores a paltry and highly disappointing 2/10 for architecture, vs. a pretty much perfect 10 from Barcelona, which combines Gothic beauty and modern marvels (W-Hotel, Torre Agbar, MACBA and @22) with its signature Modernista look, orchestrated by Antoni Gaudi, Domenech i Montaner and chums. What’s more Barcelona also has the coast, Montjuic mountain plus Collserola range in the background, so even when you factor in Mother Nature in Rio’s favour, I’m scoring this Rio 5/10, Barcelona 9.5/10 – and therefore 2 zip to BCN.

Nightlife

Things get a bit closer in the nightlife section as Rio has a raw energy and excitement that Barcelona simply can’t match. The nightly congregation in Lapa district of both princes and paupers intent on revellry, the sheer unpretentious authenticity of clubs like Rio Scenarium or Democraticos, that are not following any trend, but are busy being uniquely Brazilian, are hard to beat. And then of course there’s Carnaval… a party beyond a party that stretches into a way of life for almost four weeks (forget the official “four days” cited by your guidebook). Still the entrance fees for some of the clubs – ironically the most boring/identikit ones – were ridiculous, you have to take a taxi everywhere (and Rio is huge!) for safety reasons, you have to present your ID at almost every club so they can log your details (tedious!), plus you get a bullshit card for drinks and have to pay on the way out (crap system!). Overall I think I prefer Barcelona’s nightlife for accessibility, price and diversity, but I’m gonna call it a draw because that’s just me getting old and lazy.

People

I’d been told many times that the Cariocas are very friendly, but breaking down the locals into the two genders (I’ll risk the wrath of LGBT campaigners and ignore the ladyboys of Lapa for now… suffice to say they were a little too friendly) and I’ll say the men were only particularly friendly when they wanted to hit on the girls I was with, the gay men when they wanted to hit on me, and the Rio girls were not especially friendly at all. I tend to find in countries where guys aggressively hit on women the whole time (basically all latin cultures, if you’ll excuse the lazy stereotyping) girls are standoffish, because basically they have to be, to stop every mofo hitting on them. This was definitely the case in Brazil where the ladies were pretty lukewarm for the most part. (I’m sure it would be different if I had more Brazilian friends and was being introduced as a persona grata… but most of the time I was hanging around with international people from the language school I was studying at and any interactions with Brazilian women were as a stranger). Anyhow Catalans are not much better… I can count on one hand my Catalan friends in BCN, as they tend to keep themselves to themselves, so I’ll just put this down as a draw too. Who knows, maybe I just need to improve my social skills?

Crime

My biggest gripe with Barcelona is the constant state of paranoid alertness one needs to be in to fend off the plague of pickpockets that afflict the city and shows no sign of abating. This however pales into insignificance versus the very real threat of Rio of being held up by knifepoint or gunpoint. I only really felt safe walking around at night in Ipanema and Copacabana, and even then I’ve been told I shouldn’t have been walking around in Copacabana. It’s not quite as bad as some people make out… I escaped Brazil without incident after 3 weeks in Rio and 7 in the country… but you can never quite relax.

Things to To

In Barcelona there’s always a vintage market, gallery opening, craft beer festival, street party, open air cinema or electronic picnic to attend… plus there’s the beaches, mountains, wine region (don’t forget the winter/spring pilgrimmage that is the Calcotada!). You can never be bored in Barcelona! It’s hard for me to judge Rio on this one… with all the tourist stuff I was trying to do, plus learn a bit of Portuguese and attend all the Carnaval parties I was rushed off my feet! But would there be the same amount of fun events for a resident living year around in the city? I’m guessing no… whilst hipsterdom can be a bit tedious, not to mention pretentious, at times, undoubtedly it has led to an amazing array of original events and new trends in Barcelona that tend to only happen in cutting edge “first world” cities like London, Berlin, New York and BCN. There’s no poetry brothel in Brazil!

Language

I’ve been in Barcelona several years and famously (amongst my polyglottal friends) failed to master Spanish. The lack of linguistic purity in the city (many residents of course speak Catalan as their first tongue, whilst a not inconsiderable number speak Mandarin, Punjabi, English, German, French as theirs) hardly helps matters. Brazilian Portuguese is a very sexy language and I love the Carioca accent. Moreover were I to move to Rio, I would actually need to speak Portuguese… unlike in Barcelona, where English gets me around almost without a hiccup. I’ll give this one to Rio.

So there you go… 5:2 and, even if the scoreline is a fraction misleading, this has turned into quite a comprehensive victory for the Catalan capital. I half expected to fall in love with the samba city and settle down to a new life coaching the Brazilian women’s volleyball team, whilst writing the sequel to Blame It On Rio in my spare time. However it was a case of absence makes the heart grow stronger, and even in the face of undoubtedly one of the most magnificent cities in the world (…and any negativity about Rio is purely relative!), Barcelona simply kicks way too much culo to think about leaving just yet.

I’m Not The Messiah…

I’m a very naughty boy. And I haven’t updated this blog for what seems like hours but is actually months.

And I’m not going to now either. After all it’s Arsenal vs. Dortmund in the Champions League tonight.

So let me draw your attention instead to a little guest post I’ve done over at my good amigo, Rob Dobson’s blog, the excellent Homage to BCN. After meeting him during a cookery class, in which he mocked my inability to chop up veg. let alone rustle up an edible meal, I promised to contribute to his excellent city diaries… and naturally I chose my specialist subject: Barcelona’s nightlife!

So here it is… if you’re wondering what are the top five clubs for late night fun in Barcelona all your questions have just been answered.

But as I was keen to point out at the end of the post, nightclubs are just the tip of the Torre Agbar really when it comes to partying in Barcelona. There are so many fantastic events and fiestas, such as Sant Joan (midsummer’s night), the crazy Sitges Carnival, Primavera and Sonar Music Festivals, and the billions of Festes Majors (street parties which take place in various districts over summer) that there really is never a dull moment in the Catalan capital. A fun new fad for travellers recently, for example, is also to jump on board a hedonistic booze cruise, and drink copious amounts of beer in the midday sun before diving off the side of the ship into the ocean. Totally responsible behaviour.

Unfortunately there are some shit aspects of Barcelona’s nightlife too… such as noise restrictions and, for aspiring Casanovas, horrible male to female ratios in the clubs, whilst fannying around with guest lists can be a pain (but save you money and possibly queuing time at least).

Overall BCN may lack some of the cutting edge cool of Berlin, London and New York, but good luck listening to live bands as you get wasted on a €1 carton of Don Simon sangria at a street fiesta, followed by a Cava breakfast on a stranger’s rooftop terrace, in any of those cities…. I’ll stick with good ol’ Barna for now!

Cinema Under The Stars

Picture the scene. Up high above Barcelona, in the fading light of another dazzling summer’s day, the sweet refrains of modern flamenco guide film lovers towards the grassy scarp beneath Montjuic’s castle walls. Here they lay out their picnic blankets, break out a hamper full of fresh treats from La Boqueria market, and settle down to watch one of the year’s most arresting offerings on the silver screen. Friends share a glass of Cava, couples cuddle close together and fireflies skit like miniature shooting stars through the ink-blue sky.

No doubt that was the vision of the organisers when they conceived this romantic(-sounding) al fresco cinema that screens four movies a week from late June to early August….

Summer cinema season at Sala Montjuic

Summer cinema season at Sala Montjuic

However as I trudged up from the funicular stop that didn’t take us anyway near as high up the mountain as I would have liked, my new shoes pinching my toes harder with every step, I got my first reminder why I don’t visit this festival on any old occasion. My second reality check was the enormous queue of hopeful cinephiles who hadn’t bought their ticket in advance and were now waiting in the (unlikely) hope there would be enough space to admit them (I’d been there before two years ago and that sure wasn’t fun!). The third whiff of coffee was when, having found that rarest commodity at Sala Montjuic, a patch of vacant grass (admittedly way at the back where we could barely see the screen) we were joined by approximately twenty loud American teenagers, who parked their blankets approx. 6 inches away from ours and proceeded to regale all and sundry with their schoolboy/girl humour. Hardly conducive to romance.

Undoubtedly the biggest obstacle to enjoying this festival of cinema however, was just how impossible it is (at least for a fidget like me) to sit on a rock-hard piece of turf for the two hours required to ‘enjoy’ the film. As the scant cushions and blankets we had managed to carry with us on the hike up Montjuic became soaked through with humidity I found myself constantly wrenching my moist ass to and fro in the vain hope of finding a position I could hold for more than 10 minutes, whilst hands and elbows were overstrained and redistributed on multiple occasions as I balanced the pros of sitting up and being able to see the screen, and lying down and being at least moderately comfortable – the latter requiring I glean what was going on from the top 25% of the projection only. After 90 mins I was begging the film to finish. Not that that signals the end of the evening’s ordeal. When several thousand people try to exit one of Barcelona’s least accessible locations all at once, the results were quite predictably chaotic and frustrating. At least for those foolish enough to enter the melee. I enjoyed a good stretch, attempted to pat dry my saturated buttocks and finished my Cava, before even thinking about making the long journey home.

Tips for Attending Sala Montjuic

Ironically enough the film I had gone to see on this occasion, Moonrise Kingdom (a typically pointless, enjoyable, unsatisfying, Wes Anderson diversion), was all boy scouts, and the moral of both that story and mine should be “always be prepared”. With that in mind here are some tips that can make or break your Sala Montjuic experience!

1) Buy your tickets in advance! If you don’t there’s a very real chance you’ll be climbing the mountain for nothing.

2) Even having bought your ticket in advance get there as early as possible. If you want to put down your blanket anywhere near the screen this is essential. Also there is a limited number of those funny little beach mattresses which you can borrow for free, plus also deckchairs for rental. The latter cost 3 euros, but I don’t think you can reserve them in advance, so getting there early essential once more.

3) Arrive by car if possible, or scooter or taxi. That way you can bring loads of comfy blankets, pillows, cushions, mats etc, as well as your picnic. Parking can be a bit of a mare, so see point 2).

4) Bring loads of comfy blankets, pillows, cushions, mats etc:)

5) Bring a sweater. It may be hotter than Satan’s sauna when you leave home but it can get chilly, esp. after two or three hours of reclining.

For more info head to the official website.

Holi Sh!t, That Was A Great Festival

I’ll be honest. I hadn’t heard much about Barcelona’s very own version of India’s Holi Festival of Colours (in fact I hadn’t heard anything about the original Indian version either), and when someone told me it started at the ridiculous hour of 11am on a Sunday morning I was pretty tempted to sleep through the whole shebang. But fighting all my natural instincts I roused myself and my housemates at an ungodly hour this April 14th to trek all the way to Rambla del Carmel up in the Barcelona hinterlands around Horta. Naturally we arrived a good couple of hours late and when we saw plenty of people heading back home already at 1pm, their faces a badly smudged kaleidoscope of coloured powder, we feared we’d missed the main event. However the Bhangra drums were still banging and there were plenty of smiling faces sticking into a cerveza or two so we decided to stick around.

I'm just off to powder my bros

I’m just off to powder my bros

Lucky we did, because on the way back from the offie, we chanced upon a couple of organisers handing out sachets of coloured powder on the outskirts of the festival. Suddenly groups of youngsters were jumping up and down (House of Pain style) whilse one or more of them would spray the open powder packets over everybody’s heads. All you had to do was join the mosh pit of merriment to guarantee a good dose of colour for yourself!

Managing to get our own greasy hands on some sachets I and my housemates were able to fight fire red with cyan blue (and mix in a bit of bright yellow and green for good measure) as we covered all and sundry with a healthy dose of hues. We’d also, with surprising foresight, come heavily armed with waterpistols (two each, and I had a supersoaker-esque machine gun monster for serious battle credibility) which proved to be a big hit with (nearly) everyone at the festival – and a big annoyance for innocent passers-by. Thankfully there were enough similarly-armed folk to round off the day with an awesome water fight, Songkran-style.

Too young to die? Nah!

Too young to die? Nah!

Overall a very fun day out, even if its growing popularity meant some people went home with clean faces (there wasn’t nearly enough powder for all!). I’m looking forward to April 2014 already… although I’ve heard several rumours about a second edition this year during summer! In which case I’ll have to refill the supersoaker a little earlier than expected…

Just discovered that the event is organised by Casa Asia.

Skiing & Snowboarding in Barcelona

I hate skiing.

And whilst some of these reasons are deeply personal, there are some aspects of my hatred that I find hard to believe aren’t shared by others. For example:

1) It’s fucking cold. Who likes to be cold? No one sensible that’s who! That’s why we invented fire, central heating, duvets, tea and you know clothes and that. Don’t spit in the face of science and deliberately subject yourself to cold unnecessarily. That’s what I say.

2) There’s loads of stupid equipment. Those toe-crunchingly uncomfortable boots, ridiculous goggles, day-glo bomber jackets and shellsuit bottoms, those funny stick things plus the unwieldy skis themselves. As for snowboards even worse. They’re like the shackles of the notorious S21 prison. I don’t like sports with a lot of equipment. Makes everything a huge hassle, and makes everything expensive as hell. If a sport requires more than a ball and an open area to play then simply put, it’s a crap sport.

3) Drag lifts. Who in their right mind wants to be dragged up a mountain by a metal pole wedged between their legs??? Apparently this medieval form of torture though is popular with middle class English, Frence and Swiss folk who must get some kind of thrill from the possibility of being castrated at any moment, or of being unceremoniously tossed off a mountain when your skis hit an insidious patch of ice. The humiliation of being dragged 100 metres over snow-packed rocks on your arse, feet in the air, grimly hanging on to said metal pole for fear of your life in front of your fellow wintersportsmen is arguably worse than either.

Video: A week of this? No thanks!

Video: Or what about this painful episode gleefully captured by a fellow skier?

4). It’s dangerous. Any group of more than six people going skiing / snowboarding for a minimum of one week all but guarantees a hospital incident. From nearly having your brains bashed out by a rogue drag lift pole to smashing your fibulas to pieces on a tree trunk, when you decided to charge off the top of something very steep and slippery, with just some fibreglass planks to guide you, it’s no surprise that people get hurt. For beginners in particular a week’s skiing holiday is basically a sadistic physical and mental assault course, where one wrong move puts you in plastercast.

If you’re dumb enough to ignore all those reasons then mosey on over to Barcelona Life where they have a guide to ski resorts in the nearby Pyrenees, as well as weekend skiing trips to Andorra from Barcelona.

The nearest resort to BCN is El Moli and you can check out their website here.

Click here for more activities, tours and trips on Barcelona Freak!

The Three Kings Parade

If you are unlucky enough to come from the UK, or perhaps some other bland ultra-“Western” country, your Christmas probably ends the minute the clock chimes midnight on the 25th, whereby you groggily go to bed early and set your alarm so you can hit the Boxing Day sales. Meanwhile, across the entire nation, all festive cheer immediately vanishes, passers-by grumble and swear, shop attendants get lippy and public officials become morose and perfunctory once one.

three-kings-barcelonaFor Spain (and indeed Catalonia) however Christmas is much more about romance than rebajas, and right here in Barcelona you get a full 12 days of festive fun, culminating in the Epiphany on the 6th January, which for non-church-goers out there is the very day the Three Kings are said to have arrived at Jesus’ manger bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Appropriately enough, it’s on this day that Spaniards and Catalans exchange presents, making it a far more interesting date than Christmas itself – at least if you’re a Spanish kid waiting for the latest version of Call of Duty on Xbox.

The eve of Epiphany is also a particularly charming time to be in Spain because in many cities you’ll get to see a lively carnival-esque parade around town of floats, led by none other than the Three Kings themselves. In Barcelona this festival is given a fun twist as the Wise Men actually arrive from their exotic kingdoms via boat… naturally I was keen to check this out and went down to Moll de la Fusta to investigate. Sure enough at 5pm sharp on the 5th January, a vast and archaic vessel (the sort Christopher Columbus might have chartered… and indeed he has a good view of proceedings as this all takes at the port not far beneath his famous statue at the bottom of La Rambla), sweeps into view as the crowds huddle up to the railing to wave back at their royal visitors. It’s quite a cute site, with hundreds of toddlers sitting on their dads’ shoulders to get a view of the Magi. festival-parade(Although my idealistic notion of Spain/Catalonia as the home of free spirited romance was dented by the cheap cardboard crowns sponsored by Samsung!). Next there were speeches by some old Catalan dude and the chief King (I’ve no idea which of the three he was supposed to be though!), which were wasted on my linguistically-limited ears, before the crowds were parted and the Wise Men walked between two barriers shaking hands with wide-eyed children and generally looking pretty badass in some chic zero-BC robes. One fun thing to observe was the kids, aided by their parents, handing their Christmas wishlists to the Kings and their numerous helpers, presumably to be passed on to Santa later (talk about short notice – they have to be delivered that night! – but seems like Papa Noel still has a better logistics set up than Amazon. It’s all about the reindeer and elves).

Anyhow after the initial boat landing, The Three Kings Parade parade starts proper (around 18:30) in a route that starts at the port then heads to Parc de la Ciutadella, up Via Laitena, and then back along Carrer Sepulveda all the way to Placa Espanya. As I’d already received my pressies back in London on the 25th I didn’t hang around for the calvacade, but if it’s sweets you’re after this is when to arrive as they apparently handed out by the bucketload!

For more about traditions in Spain on the day of Epiphany itself (6th Jan) check out this article in the Spain Scoop.

Noise Annoys

Right, time to come back atchya with a bitch and a moan. Maybe it’s because I’m very hungover and grumpy on a dark and wet Friday evening, but today finds me in fine spleen-venting fettle, so prepare for an extremely personal and heartfelt top five – in reverse order – of the most irritating noise polluters in Barcelona.

5) Motorbikes
…or c@ntmobiles at they should be called. It’s pretty obvious that every asshole that rides one of these penis-compensators is so absolutely attention-starved (no friends at school?) that they need to let the whole world know whenever they and their big fat noisy engine are leaving the house – as if somehow their life will become meaningful if they are able to disturb the entire neighbourhood whenever popping out for the groceries. Easily the most selfish, narcissistic and pathetically macho mobiles ever invented, motorbikes and their owners would probably feature higher on this list if it wasn’t for the fact that every time I am disturbed by one of these thundering dildo riders I get a grim satisfaction from knowing that one day they are going to have a serious and painful injury that will scar them for life. It’s called karma.

4) German karaoke
The general concept of karaoke, as far as I can tell, is to take a song that makes you want to sand your testicles off, with a cheese grater, and then make it EVEN MORE EXCRUCIATING by letting a bunch of drunken talentless gimps howl the chorus behind time and murder the verses with embarrassingly inaccurate versions of the actual lyrics. Imagine when this audio horror is translated to the world’s most cantankerous language and even the best tracks on the playlist make Wet Wet Wet’s Love Is All Around seem like Mozart’s 5th Symphony. Dante would need to update his Inferno. Again I would probably place German karaoke higher, but any torture enforced by those lovely hot-pant-wearing (ex)housemates of mine is alleviated by reminiscing on their luscious legs parading about the house. All is forgiven girls!

3) Guests
It’s one thing to be disturbed by your housemates, but at least they pay the rent and contribute to the bills, and you can tell them “shut the f@ck up you inconsiderate bastard, it’s 5 o’clock in the morning and I have to be up at noon tomorrow.” Guests on the other hand are another matter. Yes, technically speaking, one of your idiotic housemates, in a poorly judged show of human decency, probably invited in said guest(s) thereby giving them some kind of license to be in your personal space… but nonetheless (and please read this carefully should you ever find yourself in my house) YOU DON’T FUCKING LIVE HERE SO DON’T YOU DARE DISTURB ME FOR ONE MILLISECOND OR I’M GONNA STICK THIS PIECE OF SHIT SOLAR PANNELLED LED LAMP I BOUGHT FROM IKEA FOR 17 EUROS WHICH COULDN’T LIGHT UP A BARREL AND STICK IT UP YOUR RECTUM TO SEE IF AT LEAST IT WILL LIGHT UP YOUR @SS.

2) Construction
Aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!! Pretty much my all time pet hatred. It’s soul sapping. There’s just nothing you can do. The drilling, the hammering, the squealing, the whining, it cuts through everything, vibrates in the walls, through your bed, oscillating through your ear plugs right into your skull, where it continues to bash your soporofic brain forcing you against all your instincts to get up… except you can’t. It’s 8am in the morning and you were watching back to back episodes of Game of Thrones until 5:23am and now your dead body, assaulted whilst defenseless in the depths of REM sleep, is caught in a limbo of sonar sufferance, unable to move or break free. You just lie there willing, begging, praying for the drilling to stop. And sometimes it does. Just for a few minutes… just enough for your body to return to a blissful comatose state, before the inexorable inevitable inhuman noise starts up again even louder than before.

1) Ex-Housemate’s Heavy Metal
It’s one issue when something impersonal annoys you, no matter how irritating it is, such as a bunch of yellow jacketed bozos ripping up the road with pneumatic drills. You can go and let them know what you think of their work, but ultimately it’s their job and there probably is at least a half decent reason they’re raising hell at unsociable hours of the morning – and the fact is they’d probably rather be in bed too. It doesn’t help you get any work done, or alleviate your sleep deprivation. It doesn’t change the basic situation that their activity is directly effecting your productivity – and therefore costing you money, as well as stress and annoyance. However somehow you grimace and bear it. Imagine now the very same level of decibels, the same relentless barrage of sound, the same tidal waves of audio terror, directed at you not by some government regulated force conducting necessary public works, but inflicted regularly and knowingly on you by your very own housemate. Then it becomes personal. I mean what the f@ck?!?!? I tried to reason with her. I told her about these new-fangled inventions called earphones that would enable her to listen to whatever she wanted to 24 hours a day without hearing a single complaint for me. I tried to explain that, as well as myself, the neighbours may not appreciate being told what to listen to and when to listen to it on a daily basis… and that in the same way no one appreciates being forced to look at, smell, taste or touch something they didn’t choose to (and you can in fact be locked up for some of these), neither do we, the poor people who live within her speaker range, want to listen to something we didn’t choose to at a time we didn’t want to it. It was ongoing and willful audio rape. The fact that 90% of her music sucked @ss was actually even besides the point, except perhaps that the excessive BPM of her playlists made the noise yet more painful to endure. Despite several well-reasoned showdowns nothing changed. When faced with someone so excessively stubborn and selfish as this, you really only have two options. Poison their cornflakes or move out…

Now, does anyone have any tips on paving over a patio?