"If you get caught between Barca and New York City (I mean, Seattle…)"
My three weeks in Barca have now come to a close (SOB)… and what a lovely strange place it was. Mostly strange because it felt so familiar, so comfortable… I could easily imagine spending lots of time here, and hope to return to do so, un día muy pronto.
During extended travel, it was a constant challenge to live voraciously, to explore relentlessly, to take the proverbial imaginary Dana-Bull by the horns and immerse. Now facing the keyboard to relay my experiences, I recall how my moods changed from elated to despondent, my perception of my knowledge of Spanish shifted from god-awful to… well, slightly above god-awful… and how the more time I spent in Internet cafés, the less time I spent relishing the cities. Well, since tonight I have obviously opted to recount rather than relish, I will stop with the excuses and start the storytelling. ¡Vale!
So for those of you who enjoy vicarious travel tales, some ramblings and observations of mi viaje de Barcelona, while I can remember them (which is a feat in and of itself…), clarified and classified:
Los bebidos Clubs Freaky Cabs Chicos Goths KARAOKE (!) La Comida (the food) La Música
It is with great regret that I must inform you that the Three Imaginary Girls beverage of choice (Absolut Mandarin) is sadly absent from the Barca bar scene. However — a most delicious substitute: a vodka limón, Absolut vodka poured over ice with schwepps lemon soda. The bebido is huge and strong and delicious, perfect fuel for the boogie Barcelona nights, ohmy! (see "clubs," below).
And then the Sangria here, in such abundance. I was told that you´re not supposed to eat the fruit… but fuck that shit.
((I have taught this expression, as well as, "It's the shit" to my Euro classmates. I think they were a bit baffled by the duality of "shit" in these polar contexts. Languages are always so baffling, I suppose. yes, my phrase has been catching along quite well with the Euro kids here. igDana = slang ambassador.))
Unfortunately, Sangria can also lead to quite the "resaca" — I am sure you can all figure out what that means…
Another lovely option: cava, España´s answer to champagne. So good, so crisp and bubbly and cheap and soooo tasty. Wow. (Zephyr, I am thinking you would be in serious bliss for this one). Or plain old vino, which can be purchased here for so cheap it´s nearly frightening (48 cents for a glass of "vino tinto" with lunch).
So one evening, after tapas with my classmates (see "comida," below), we went to a bar, and after swing-dancing with some strange man, attempted to go to my first Barca club, called Salsitas. 3am, we approached the door… DENIED! Apparently, they were¨"cerrado" for new entrants (see "chicos," below). What, at only ¿¡¿¿3am??!? Was this not the legendary BARCELONA, of lengendary club fame? Hrmph.
We left, off for an early (4am) bedtime, after freaky cab ride home (see "freaky cabs," below). Friday night, I had higher hopes. We were heading to an international student dance party at a club in the Barri Gótic called "Enfants" (see "goth," below). Now I know what you´re thinking (or at least, I know what I was thinking…) International Party! Fellow travelers!! Hot guys with accents!!! ¡Qué bueno!
Sadly, so NOT the case. TONS of people, 30 min wait for drinks (see "Los bebidos" above), and really lame music. Like Kylie Minogue kinda bad music. "La la la, la la la la la. I just can´t get you outta my head." Ugh.) I have been to many lame clubs in my day; I didn´t need to leave the US for this! So by 3am, we left… with such a buzzkill, I just went to the Easy Internet café for an hour or so (it´s super cheap late at night!), and then home by taxi (see "freaky cabs," below). By Saturday, I was desperate for some gorgeous dancing, and I wasn´t settling for anything less! My Barca posse went en masse to Otto Zutz, allegedly the SHITE in Barca as far as clubs go. And you know… it WAS. ¡Finalmente! A club worth writing home about… So… we walked in to a dead club at 1:30, after a round of drinks at a bar (guess what we were drinking?) We checked the space out &·151; awesome (all the Europeans love to point out how "American" this word sounds). Two levels with dance floors, one with a lounge… downstairs, techno, upstairs, gorgeous hip-hip. Amazing sound system. Expensive drinks, but not really, as the 8 euros got us enough Absolut in our limón soda to create two or three US drinks. Zowie. So the club got going; I was soaring, dance floor bliss. It was awesome fun. My one classmate Inge was an amazing bar companion; long after the other two went home, we danced, mocked others…
((humorous aside: checking out the dork with the high-waisted pants who kept leering at us, Inge proclaimed, "If he´s from Belguim, I´ll kill myself," and having the guy come over within 10 seconds and revealing himself as… of course, from Belguim. Happily, Inge spared herself and is still with us… (hi Inge!))
…and she even saved me from the incredibly ardent romeo who wanted my body but insulted my command of the Spanish language (oh the humanity!) (see "chicos," below). So after fleeing said chico, we headed to the main street (Diagonal) to catch cabs home. After 6am. (see "freaky cabs," below)
And the final insult, my final night in Barcelona… my friend Antonia and I were kicked out of a cue for a dance club at 4am because we tried to sneak into the club an hour earlier…? Yeah, es verdad. Fuimos a este club por que nuestras otras amigos estaban alla… (okay now more in English) and the club had a line (or as we like to call it here, a "cola"). I detest colas. Antonia tried to convince the bouncer guy he should let us in, but her powers of persuasion proved fruitless in this case… so we drunkenly (ahh, mojitos, see "Karaoke," below) attempted to walk in with the front part of the line, again to no avail. Drat!
So… we left for another place, and then decided we really did want to hook up with our friends at the club, so we went and waited in the line. After 10 minutes or so, when we approached the front, he came up to us and told us in Spanish (at least I think he said this, me of only a 7 out of 10 for auditory comprehension) that we had to leave the line. We asked why; he answered, "Os sabéis." — you know why. Yep. True story. Apparently I have been black-listed from one of the zillion dance clubs in Barcelona. ¡Aye dios mio! Good thing I was fleeing the city the next day…
Okay, so a quick note to summarize the oft-mentioned cab situation. The public transportation here (the Metro – "you were waiting there, swimming through apologies…") is amazing. But it shuts at midnight. So if yo
u want to get home late, a taxi is the best option. Two problems:
- The taxi drivers NEVER seemed to know where I lived, which was on a tiny sidestreet, but off a major road. I have had to argue — in Spanish, drunk, in the wee hours of the morning — with nearly every cab driver, in an attempt to get home. Um, I have lived here for mas o menos A WEEK, and these guys are CAB DRIVERS, fer chrissakes!! But I have to navigate??!? That´s just sick and wrong.
- And to add insult to injury, most of these said drivers likewise hit on me while getting lost trying to find my apartment. "Guapa, come sit next to me; I want to practice Spanish with you," crooned one of them (en Español, claro), tapping the seat in front of me. Um, no and EW!!!! The next one went so far as to ask to take me out for a drink. He was like SIXTY. I am a lucky, lucky girl. (and, I need to take a cab home after I type this article, woo hoo!!!)
So, for the most part, it´s the cab drivers and the skievey guys on La Rambla who have made it most evident they find me "guapa." A few other amusing incidents with chicos here…
- El niñito: Now, I have nothing against younger men… but if this kid was older than 14, I will eat this keyboard. He ran up to me in the Plaza Catalunya (where I was having coffee with classmates) and embraced both of my cheeks and started chatting with me. After a moment…
"¿Cuantos años tienes?" he asked.
"Muchos mas años que tú," I replied.
"¿20?" he asked, incredulous.
"Sí, tienes razon, tengo 20 años," I laughed.
He kissed my cheeks and ran off (showing respect to his elders, I suppose).
- El bailador: Swing dancing drunk to old disco tunes in a tiny bar in el barrio gotíc. Señor Swingdance tries to swing the tradition kisses on the cheek good night into a little more action, but is dissatisfied with what I have provided, apparently. Him: "I will now think you are a bad kisser, because you won´t use your tongue." Me: "Dude, I so don´t care."" (all en español, claro).
- Besos boy: You know your Spanish sucks when you´re at a dance club… it´s 5am… the cutest skinny Argentinian boy introduces himself with both hands on your cheeks and his face all in yours…. and what he says is, "You know, your Spanish is really terrible."
Finally, something (somewhat) highbrow in my schedule: the Barri Gótic, this amazing area in downtown Barca, near the water… it´s the old medieval section, with buildings dating from 500 to 2000 years old… meandering old streets with gorgeous art nouveau design, astonishing churches (especially the main gothic Cathedral, holy GOD but it was awesome!), all filled with cafés and shops and art galleries and museums and street performers and… oh my, it was sheer Dana bliss.
I think I want to be Catholic now, and all of you, my friends, should be saints… well, Catholic without the whole guilt/sex part, claro! I just want to worship their adoration of beauty!! I spent many of my days and nights happily wandering this medieval maze (plus I bought some great boots. Yay for black boots!!)
For my last night in town, my friends couldn´t refuse me any longer. I had to sing. Which meant, karaoke. We found this frightfully wonderful piano bar… so not really karaoke. Perhaps, better than karaoke. Certainly not the Twilight Exit. Absolutely horrid song selection, at least, in English… but I managed to find a few songs ("I Will Survive," "Copacabana" and, at the request of someone, a positively awful rendition of Billy Joel´s "Just the Way You Are") And as if I could adore my new friends more, the fabulous Antonia belted out a bad-ass Bee Gees ("How Deep is Your Love"), sigh. Plus, mojitos with fresh mint. Definitely not the Twilight. Ahh, how I miss the Twilight…
(aka, what´s with all those x´s here anyways?)
Those wacky Catalans have their own darn language, so while I was struggling with one language here, I kept facing this other weirdness… words that sort of look like Spanish… only with all sorts of x´s in place of other letters. Happily, this usually means they are serving lots of chocolate… luscious, magically delicious chocolate. The crowning glory of their adoration of this sweet browness, in my opinion, is their version of hot chocolate — rich and creamy, it´s so thick you need a spoon to stir it and eat it. Think liquid pudding, only far, far better. Best eaten with freshly fried churros. Oh my, fully redeems those Catalans for all my language indignations (and then some…)
I ate pulpo. That´s octopus. I didn´t know how to say "chewy and suction-like" en Español. But that´s what it was.
At the risk of sounding disgusting, those are hearts. Um, I´m not sure of what animal. I just knew I wouldn´t be eating any. Ew.
Wow, but they sure do love their ham here, aka jamón. It´s hanging from every ceiling of every restaurant. Like, the hole leg, hoof and all. They have little cups that dangle from the bottom, to catch the pools of blood that drip. En serio.
Ahh, were I a better imaginary girl (like Liz), I would be reporting back news of all sorts of shows from España. Instead, I didn´t see a single live show in Barca. I can´t believe it. I suck.
I did manage to see Luna in the sticks of the Pais Vasco… and to collect some other amusing musical anecdotes:
- One of the German guys at my school, upon learning that I write about music, started singing Alanis Morrisette in the street (to impress me?)… and you know, I can´t think of anything much more drunkenly hilarious than a thick male German accent belting, "I´ve got one hand in my pocket…" Ahh, isn´t it ironic, doncha think?
- I did find this groovy bar called "Sidecar" (which I believe is pronounced with three syllables here) where they appear to have live shows… and their flyers look nearly identical to the Croc. Freaked me out a bit. I went once, but just sat in the bar area… they played great music, all circa Dana´s CD collection 1989-1994. Wacky time warp: the Breeders, Frank Black, Sugar, the Stone Roses, the Charlatans UK, etc etc…
- But for the most part, the music around here really sucks. The radio stations suck. The music in the shops, bars, and cafés sucks. I have heard more resucsitated horrendous old American songs than I care to recall. Um, what´s up with the apparently fascination with Phil Collins over here…? If I had a Euro for every time I´ve heard him… well, I could probably afford to stay over here for far longer, that´s for sure. Phil Collins, Don McClean´s American Pie, and, oddly, the old Christopher Cross classic "Arthur" theme song. "When you get caught between the moon and New York City…" Indeed!
- Oh, and the biggest Spanish hit I can detect is this oddly catchy cover of "Sister Golden Hair Surprise." If only my Spanish comprehension were better, I could tell you if the words translated (but I can´t, sorry).
- And right now, a guy sitting behind me in the Internet café is singing along with the "Bohemian Rhapsody" on the café radio as well. That is pretty much what I have for musical entertainment.
- Oh, and to my great shame, I have not yet learned to Salsa. Me
h! Something to anticipate in Madrid, tal vez…
Which is where I´m writing this epic article… I must return to the world of my vacation now, already in progress, so that I will have future fodder for further articles.
besos to you all!!
chica imaginaria D.