Or, Barcelona bars & cafes.
An Americano is also un grande cafe solo i.e. a large black coffee. A cafe amb lait (which I pronounce by pretending it is a cafe au lait) is a milky coffee. It’s important to get these things sussed early on. Dos cervesa, por favor is easier but also less important. Also, the latter is in Espanol rather than Catalan. Here, in no especial order, are some of the bars and cafes we visited.
At the top of Las Ramblas, this is an old-school cafe. So old-school that I can’t even bring myself to call it “old-skool”. This was where we tended to end up when we needed a little pep up mid afternoon/early evening. The coffee is excellent but the real joy are the waiters. We had plenty of fun playing “spot the waiter who is merely in his 30s” as the majority were older. They were all fast, slick and professional. When I ordered dos cafe amb lait, y un torte he ran down a list with practise, doubtless guessing I would go for the chocolat. When it arrived he handed me the slice of cake and gave the chap a small fork as “you may have a little”.
Cafe de l’Opera
Another old-schooler, more old time waiters but this time halfway down Las Ramblas. It has some lovely fin-de-sicle interior work and a great chocolate lime green paintjob.
In the Gothic quarter, this place has dark wood furniture and peeling distempered walls along with quite a metro crowd stopping in for a drink or two. The service is variable but the bar snacks are delicious. They did a superbly filling vegetal sandwich with goat’s cheese, along with a great hummous option. The beer is Damm, which is fine, and the coffee was good.
Cocktails with serious punch, and very filling bistro food. They also did good veggie food, happily producing dishes sin pollo for me. Another good interior, dark and mellow, with comic book pages decorating the toilet walls and velvet curtains hiding things. The second visit was a bit let down by an Irish bar bore and his pal but we just moved on.
Not a bar or a cafe but an Indian restaurant. This is one of my “known places”, somewhere I go back to when I return to a city. That’s often on the first night, when we’re still settling in and I don’t feel like searching out some place in a backstreet. Milk, for example, is up a narrow backstreet and the chap was suspicious of my map-reading until we found the place.
Placa Villa de Madrid, where Govinda is, was all dug up when I was last here in 2001. Now the rennovations are finished part of the square is still excavated, revealing remains of the Roman city beneath.
Govinda does a mighty fine Thali, and the owner will spice the meal up for British diners. A medium here is a mild back home, mind.
Everywhere else we stopped in were just cafes or bars near where we were when we got hungry. As always, I enjoyed a fair few queso bocadillos, which is my default choice when faced with little or no veggie choice. Barcelona is a city which suits grazing: you can wander for hours and nearly always find a place to stop when you have the need. And I love any culture which doesn’t eat till 10pm at the earliest. (She says about to go downstairs and start cooking at 9pm.)
At some point, I shall rave about modernista architecture. However, in the meantime here is footage of the Magic Fountain playing up to Rachmananov. I love this thing with a childish glee. You may be able to hear my little squeaks of amusement.