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Sunday, August 29, 2004


The Famous Barcelona Nightlife

(This will give you some idea of the hours that Barcelonins keep. I went into a restaurant called Domestic at just after nine pm and they looked at me like I was crazy. Seems the kitchens didn´t open for another quarter-hour or so. The food was delicious, and when I left around ten pm only two other people had shown up).

As for the Famous Barcelona Nightlife-

It´s certainly true that Barcelonins don´t feel any particular urge to go to bed, ever. At midnight, at three in the morning, the streets are fully of people wandering about. My guess is that they are doing what I was doing: looking for the Famous Barcelona Nightlife. Because it´s not very much in evidence.

On balance, Barcelona appears to be no more exciting than Geneva, and let me tell you, Gentle Reader, I´ve seen the nightlife in Geneva and she ain´t worth the trip. Many of the bars are deserted (on a Saturday night!) and the rest, I´m sorry to say, are full of tourists. Mostly Germans (of course) or worse, English stag parties. They seem to like Barcelona for some reason. I don´t know why.

Or maybe I do, since I got grabbed by a hooker last night. Not grabbed by the arm and dragged somewhere, the way Thai B-girls and South African beggars do. She grabbed me round the waist and tried to transact business. I made an excuse and left early. (This happened on the street BTW: La Rambla, one of the biggest streets in the old town. Somehow I can´t imagine this happening on, say, Shaftesbury Avenue).

Maybe I just got the city on a bad night. I´ve heard that most Barcelonins go away in August and certainly, if a bunch of English stag parties are about to roll into town, going away is a pretty good idea. But I went here expecting something of the vibe that Cape Town has, or Prague, or even London sometimes, and I haven´t seen it yet. Oh well, at least the weather has been good...

More on this tomorrow I guess, if there is any "more" to blog about...

UPDATE: Reading over this entry I see I missed out what I found most disappointing about Barcelona's nightlife. It is an overwhelmingly target-poor environment. Single women in Barcelona do not appear to go out in the evenings, either by themselves or in sets (the whole three nights I was in the city I saw exactly two Spanish girls, and they didn't look old enough to be drinking). Again, maybe I picked the wrong week to visit; maybe all the Barceloninas were off in London trying to hook up with Brits...

Saturday, August 28, 2004


Dispatches from Old Europe

For three days and nights it rained without cease, and I had enough. So I went to Barcelona. (This means I miss the fortieth year of the Notting Hill Carnival, but I went to years 35 through 39 and they were no big deal. Pleasant enough if you happen to be in the neighborhood and like rum punch)...

As you can see from the previous post, I have never been to Spain before. Some random thoughts:

In Barcelona they all speak Catalan, which is basically Spanish spelt differently, and with a vaguely French accent. Coming from Scotland, I recognise this set-up. At school they taught us that "Scots" was a language all by itself, and not just English spoken with an accent. Nowadays in the US they say the same about "Ebonics".

The Catalans all speak regular Spanish as well, of course, but that doesn´t mean they will let you speak it. I´ve been having these bizarre conversations with waitresses where I will same something like "un cafe por favor" and they will reply in English, then I will reply in (approximate) Spanish and they come back in English... The only people who are willing to speak any Spanish to me are the Germans. Who are everywhere.

The tapas is lousy. Really lousy. (I know it´s not a regional speciality, of course, but still they could make an effort. Chips in tomato mayonnaise is not "patatas bravas", wherever you are. If the English can cook tapas, anyone can).

The city is full of "Irish pubs", which serve Guinness of course. Most of the Irish pubs seem to serve Beamish Stout as well, which surprised me. I don´t think I´ve ever seen Beamish Stout in a bar in London. Or in Dublin, for that matter.

There are a few things about this city that are just weird. Not weird in a bad way, but more in a sort of "HUHHHHH????" way. For instance, the book vending machines on the subway platforms. Or the way one hundred people will stand in line to get into a restaurant. (Ever heard of reserving a table mis amigos?)

More from Barcelona later, after I´ve had the chance to sample the famous nightlife...

Sunday, August 22, 2004


Three Continents

For my first post, how about this?

Create your own

Here are the countries I've visited, all fourteen of them (if you want to count Monaco and the Channel Islands as countries). Soon to be fifteen, when I go to Brazil next month. Then probably the USA. Slowly but surely, I'm colouring it red...

(Although Greenland will probably stay the colour it is. I cannot imagine any reason why I would ever want to go there).

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