by Ted Welch
Fri Dec 14th, 2012 at 06:30:28 PM EST
I went to Barcelona for the first time about twenty years ago, with a group of students and lecturers. I'd done some research and the first night did a tour on my own: Champagneria, Four Cats, etc. The next night I took my colleagues on my guided tour of Barcelona night-life - a barman letting us out of the last bar at about 3 am. I enjoyed the trip so much I went back on my own soon after. That time I saw one of the best flamenco shows I'd ever seen, up on Montjunc, stayed on for another show and came back down the hill as the sun came up. I got drunk enough (I'm British) to accept a dancer's invitation to join her on stage and tried to dance sevillanos (and didn't do too bad according to a female friend).
It had been a long gap since then, and Barcelona had developed, particularly around the port, where there was a huge new development, but there was still the traditional charm:
I'd found that there was a flamenco show (OK, not very Catalan, but, so far, it's Spain) in the same street as our hotel, but a young guy at reception recommended Cordobes, it was good advice. Even M was impressed by the food before the show and the three male dancers were impressive - and I've seen quite a lot of flamenco:
We were only allowed to take photos or videos in the final few minutes when they performed together:
Later I found that the young guy in the centre, El Farru, the Errol Flynn of flamenco, is already well-known and part of a flamenco dynasty. For any of you who enjoy flamenco as much as I do (it has a bit in common with climbing - the intensity, the concentration, the variation of pace), here he is performing alone:
Again, for aficionados, here is his big brother, El Farruquito, what a character:
Las Ramblas - the main drag:
The obligatory Gaudi
There's a lot of popular support for Catalan independence:
Mas called a snap election last month hoping to ride a wave of enthusiasm for independence and persuade Catalans he was the man to lead them towards separation from Spain. CiU won, but with its worst result since 1980 as voters punished it for the austerity measures it has imposed on welfare, education and health services in a region that already enjoys considerable autonomy. Hardcore separatists voted for ERC and those opposing independence, many of whom would not normally vote at regional elections, backed Rajoy's PP or other anti-separatists - producing a fragmented parliament.
Mas's alliance with ERC, which doubled its number of deputies to become the second biggest party, means pressure for independence will now increase.
Peace in Parc de la Citadelle.
I tried several shots of the Castle of the Three Dragons, but none seemed to match the name, I walked on and then turned back and, with the light going and this tree, this image seemed to fit:
After a stay in a hotel, M returned to work in Nice and I stayed on in a rented apartment (which seem to be better value) for five days. M was alarmed by the look of the street in the "edgy" Raval area as the taxi dropped me off :
But the apartment (Panoramic Atico, through airb&b.com) was very nice, top floor, quiet and well-equipped.
I liked the decor in this bar, and a great glass of rioja for 2 euros which I was able to take to a table right by the jazz concert:
The lovely Picasso Museum with early examples of his amazingly precocious talent:
Picasso's famous Demoiselles d'Avignon in fact refers to a street in Barcelona
Carrer D'Avinyo is now full of restaurants for tourists and the "demoiselles" have moved to just round the corner from where I was staying in the Raval area.
A discovery on this trip (wander those narrow alleys) was La Alcoba Azul, Carrer de Sant Domenec del Call 14, lovely decor, low lights, the very helpful Wally at the bar with advice on wine and other places. There are some seats outside in a little courtyard:
Don't bother with the famous but too crowded, standing room only Champagneria:
Go to the nearby La Galera in Carrer del Regomir, with space, high ceiling, nice decor and plenty of seats:
Traditional expat hangout:
There there is the peace of Placa Reial, just off the busy Ramblas, and just across from the Raval area:
Till next time: