Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Barcelona – Part 1

Homer has a reputation for lofty turns of phrase, and has provided me with the perfect term which aptly encompasses the reason for this prolonged silence, for which I can only apologise. When Lisa tells him that the Chinese words for crisis and opportunity are the same, he proffers Crisitunity.

Unfortunately, Miss Simpson was misinformed; after thirty seconds of delving on the internet – extensive research indeed – it turns out that this is an urban myth. A bit like the one where wiry, adorable, geeky Paul from the Wonder Years became Marilyn Manson and, like that one, I so want it to be true.

You see, my day-job and I have recently parted company due to the godforsaken state of the economy: elements of the critical right there. BUT I have a few things that I have wanted to do for a while and now it seems that the right time has been thrust upon me.
First + second = a crisitunity. *Thanks, Homie* (in a gravelly-Marge-voice*).

I’ll admit that, despite the dominant ‘silver-lining’ genre of discussion, that week - which we’ll call Week R - was fairly shitty (sorry Gran) but, riding on a white charger to my rescue came a weekend in Barcelona with the BSG, booked months beforehand but so perfectly timed. I left my worries behind when Easyjet shut the doors at Gatwick. And then told us that we’d have to wait an hour for a take-off slot. Behind Ryanair. (The BSG did his meditative deep-breathing exercises.)

We touched down in the drizzle. But no matter - two days of eating, drinking and eating and drinking ensued, with a few sights in between. Routes were generally conceived in a join the dots pattern, the dots being the zinc-topped bars where we sought refreshment. Thanks to a finely tuned cultural clock (a very good condensed Rough Guide) we would turn up at each restaurant ten minutes before the rush, but still at a time the late-living Spanish found less funny than the 7pm slots filled by the Americans.


After throwing our cases at the bed in our hotel room we turned on our heels and made a BSG-line for the Boqueria. It didn’t disappoint these two Barca beginners and we quickly found a table in one of the many establishment around its fringe. At 5 o’clock it was a late lunch, even for the locals, but we happily washed down grilled octopus and prawns a la plancha with frosted bottles of cool cerveza, ignoring the rain.

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Artfully losing ourselves in the Gothic quarter we took in some gargoyles, the other Cathedral and followed our instincts towards the harbour. But by golly sightseeing is thirsty work; now it was time for another drink. Again the guidebook came up trumps and led us to a Xampanyeria (Cava bar) in an old garage in Barceloneta which served, unsurprisingly, cava, by the coupe. They had the BSG at cava, and they had me at coupe.

Can Paixano is a crowded, rowdy, standing-room only joint where you have to holler over the counter for your drinks at the perennially patient and smiling staff. The atmosphere is brilliant and the fizz and delicious hot entrepans and tapas are robust and apt foil to the sheer quantities of booze being quaffed: you have to order food with your drinks. The floor, strewn with discarded sandwich wrappers, testifies to this fact. There being no time for indecision you just choose anything from the huge wooden menu boards and hope for the best. We did and weren’t disappointed with plates of sizzling chorizo and morcilla. It’s as cheap as it is filthy at under a Euro for a glass of the house stuff (not surprisingly it is full of international students.) We’d had such fun that in our two-day stay, we made the trip twice.


Then it was onwards, through the thunderstorms, to Cal Pep….

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