dissabte, 28 de març de 2015

A weekend in Barcelona with Kitty, Daisy & Lewis included


Als 90 vaig anar a Barcelona molts cops, per molts motius – és una ciutat molt interessant que m’encanta. Però des del naixement dels nostres fills i altres factors, hi hem anat molt poc en els últims anys, ja que tenim altres prioritats. A banda de les manifestacions i altres actes de la PDE i a favor de l’independència (als quals intentem no fallar), crec que només hi hem anat 2 cops amb els fills en els últims 10 anys, i sense ells, cap. Però l’altre dia vam decidir fer un cap de setmana de parella (sense xiquets) per a “fer alguna cosa diferent”, cosa poc habitual en mi!

Malgrat tenir una llarga llista d’hostels per a triar, vam decidir quedar-nos en el centre més cèntric possible, a l’Hotel Continental, a les Rambles mateixes! Bàsicament perquè no m’agrada perdre hores comparant i mirant, i aquest era el primer que vaig trobar, i, segon, perquè m’agradava l’idea del buffet i cervesa “gratis” 24 hores al dia, i last but not least, per ser l’hotel on Orwell va quedar durant la guerra civil. L’hotel, una mica car pel nostre pressupost, però un dia és un dia, i molt xulo. Habitacions netes i bones – encara que suposo que no eren de color rosa quan estava Orwell –el buffet excel·lent, i l’ubicació immillorable – a 20 metres del Metro de Plaça Catalunya. 
Vam dinar en un petit restaurant al Carrer Santa Anna, La Lluna. Us ho puc recomanar, menjar bo i normal (res de plats quadrats amb invents revolucionaris), i quantitats adequats, i moltes opcions per a vegetarians. I l’edifici, molt interessant.
Evidentment vam passar una bona estona al FNAC i al Carrer Tallers (botigues de discs), però la part més interessant va ser passar tota la tarda, i diumenge de matí, voltant el barri de Gracia. Quan la Sílvia hi estudiava a Barcelona, hi anàvem molt però ara feia 20 anys que no hi havia anat a passar temps. Infinitat de botigues interessants i petits bars i comerços, una Barcelona molt diferent del que normalment veig quan acompanyem els visitants de família i amics a veure els llocs emblemàtics. Vam trobar moltes llibreries i botigues de discs – pels que voleu llegir en anglès, aneu-hi al Hibernian al Carrer Montseny!

La visita coincidia amb el fet de que acabo de llegir La Plaça del Diamant, per fi, tant en català com en una traducció a l’anglès. Aquest llibre m’ha deixat sense paraules – un altre dia intentaré escriure alguna cosa – és el millor llibre que he llegit en molt de temps! Així que evidentment, hi vam tornar a la plaça per a fer una foto (20 anys desprès d’una altra foto que no trobo) amb la Colometa. Per cert, si això fos a Anglaterra, n’hi hauria souvenirs, botigues, visitor centres, rutes senyalitzades per atreure “turistes literaris”... 

Dissabte a la nit vam anar de concert ! A més, un concert de peu, com anàvem quan tenia 20 anys ! L’idea del cap de setmana i concert era com un regal per a l’aniversari de la Sílvia i vaig triar un grup que no coneixíem però que era evident que ens agradaria – els Kitty, Daisy, and Lewis. Blues, rock ‘n’roll, soul, amb continus canvis d’instruments i un bon toc d’humor negre, una passada! 2 hores de peu, com en els vells temps, però aquest cop se'm van adormir els peus! En acabar el concert vam comprar el seu disc (en vinil, of course), i vam fer fotos amb tots tres :)

Diumenge vam voltar més i vam acabar en una fira de roba « vintage » dels Susi Sweet Dress i ho vam passar molt bé – la Sílvia va comprar algunes peces, i ens van regalar una cervesa - i desprès no vam dinar ja que ens havíem fartat al buffet-esmorzar de l’hotel. Desprès cap a l’autocar (ja no ens fiem de Renfe) per a tornar a la normalitat.
(Fotos a sota)
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Living just a 2-hour trip from Barcelona means I have seen plenty of this magnificent city over the years. Having said that, though, most of my time there was in the 1990s, or specifically pre-kids, pre-mortgage, pre-2003. Since our kids were born, I think we’ve only been twice as a family for “pleasure” – though we have kept going to river Ebro campaigning activities and events related to the independence of Catalonia! But, we now have other (economic) priorities! However, much to my own surprise as well as everyone else’s, I organized a (kid-less) weekend visit there recently as a birthday gift for my wife, Sílvia –a much needed and well-deserved break.
We wanted to get away from the tourist crowds we normally see when we do “the sights”, but still booked a hotel right bang in the centre of the Rambles! The Hotel Continental. Basically because (a) I hate searching and comparing all day on internet and have a tendency to book the first half-decent thing I find, (b) it has a “free” 24-hour buffet and bottomless beer barrel, and (c) Orwell stayed there during the civil war –though I don’t think the bedrooms were pink back then... it was a little over our budget, but carpe diem, as they say. I can recommend it, though – perfect location (20 yards from Plaça Catalunya Metro stop), nice enough rooms, great balconies and seating areas, interesting decor, and the buffet and beer!

We did a bit of shopping in the centre – records, books, looked at musical instruments –and then had lunch at La Lluna restaurant, again slap bang in the centre of Barcelona. A great place, really nice building with excellent staff, and good wholesome “normal” food (none of these fancy inventions on square plates) with decent quantities – plus they had many veggie options. Another recommendation for you there!

We then went to the “inland” part of Barcelona, the Gracia neighbourhood which is like a different town, only two Metro stops away but rarely visited by tourists. It’s well worth it, though, for the excellent small shops and bars and cafes, and “normal life”. We spent ages in second hand and new bookshops and record shops again and just wandering the streets. I also wanted to visit the Plaça del Diamant square (20 years after my last visit) to see the statue of Colometa, the suffering heroine of my favourite Catalan novel (more on that in a later post). Don’t tell anyone I recommend this area of Barcelona as the locals like to keep it tourist free, but believe me you won’t regret it! I’d suggest avoiding the socks and sandals look so as to blend in better...

After that, concert time! Yes, we relived our youth by going to one of those sweaty noisy smelly beer-drenched concert halls where you stand up and get crushed from start to finish (I got pins and needles standing up for 2 hours – hardly a rock’n’roll ailment!). I’d got us tickets to see Kitty, Daisy and Lewis who we’d never heard of, but judging by a couple of music videos I checked out, I knew we’d love them – and we did. Two sisters and a brother, constantly swapping instruments and mics around, gave us some good old-fashioned blues, rock’n’roll and soul with a sound dose of black humour. Afterwards we bought their album (on vinyl of course) on the way out and had our photos taken with the band. A grand time!

Sunday morning consisted of stuffing ourselves with a triple breakfast at the hotel buffet, and then more street-wandering before ending up in a vintage clothes fair where Sílvia purchased a couple of things and I got a free beer. Still full, we skipped lunch, and then caught the coach back to our normal lives.

 Photo of Sílvia taking a photo of the restaurant.
 Blurred photo of Sílvia in the cool restaurant, La Lluna
 Buskers in Gràcia
 Yours truly with Colometa - the main character in my currently fave book
 Hobbit-esque windows
 Second-hand English language book shop in Gràcia

 Groovy band kickin' some ass (does that sound suitable?)

 Sílvia (on the right) with Daisy (on the left)

 Interesting decor in our hotel
 Shops close on Sundays in Barcelona -wandering colourful back streets

 Experts in fashion say this is "vintage clothing"
 More windows in Gràcia

 How many cities have graffiti-pictures of authors? Merce Rodoreda, author of the Plaça del Diamant book I mentioned above.

And the final word, from the band themselves:

2 comentaris:

  1. What a fabulous post. I can tell you had a great kid-less weekend.

    ResponElimina
  2. Yes, we certainly made the most of it - don't know when we'll get another chance in the near future!

    ResponElimina