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Sunday
Feb152015

Vale

One thing to keep in mind about Barcelona is that Spanish (or Castellano, as it's called here) will only carry you so far. The local population's native Catalán, which sounds and looks like a combination of Latin, Spanish, Italian, and French, is the dominant tongue here and there's an ever-present dedication towards making sure that tradition never dies. You can be a fluent Spanish speaker and not be able to read a menu.

Another thing to know about Barcelona is that Antoni Gaudí's amazing architecture is the star of the show. His style cannot be classified. It's not modern, or post-modern, or gothic, or anything really. We've had such a good time tracking down all the various structures he designed back at the turn of the 20th century. Grab a drink, tour a Gaudí. Grab some tapas, catch a cab to the next location. You can't see anything like this anywhere else.

Most of my time here, however, has been spent at La Taverna del Suculent: a Catalán tapas bar just a block down from our hotel. I am absolutely obsessed with this place. The same three girls are there day and night and at this point they seem like acquaintances.

The atmosphere is just what you expect, the booze never stops flowing, the food is fantastic, and the mood is completely relaxed.

I've been here five times in three days and I feel like I'm still just scratching the surface. We just had a cheese plate that completely blew our minds. My wife thought it was easily the best she's ever had. Two dollar beers on tap. Three dollar glasses of cava. You could spend two hours eating and drinking here and walk out paying less than fifty bucks. You almost feel guilty.

-David Driscoll

Saturday
Feb142015

La Vida Mediterránea

No time for words today, and nothing much new to report. Life is good in Barcelona.

Tapas.

Flamenco.

Papas.

Just hang out at the counter and order some more.

-David Driscoll

Friday
Feb132015

No Hay Listas

Going from the frigid Paris streets to the Mediterranean coast makes for quite a transition. Both the weather and the attitude of Barcelona are much more temperate. After arriving late yesterday evening, we asked our hotel concierge if he knew of a good restaurant close by. He said, "Yes, go outside, make a left, then go into the first place that looks good." I almost laughed out loud. He wasn't being a jerk, but he wasn't kidding either. The idea of listing the best restaurants in the neighborhood isn't something the locals are interested in doing. Yelp? Please. Don't embarrass yourself in Spain.

We walked through the narrow and brooding alleyways of the Gothic Quarter until we happened upon a wonderful tapas spot and squeezed our way into the bar. "Hay una lista de las bebidas?" asked my wife, hoping to glance at a drink menu. "No," said the waitress. "What kind of beer do you have?" I asked, speaking Spanish with a French accent and tripping over all my words. My brain had yet to make the switch. "The kind that comes out of the tap," she answered. Again, no trace of sarcasm, but really making it clear she had no interest in the details either. My wife ordered a glass of cava. What kind? The kind they had in the fridge. I ended up with a glass of vermouth. Which vermouth? The dry one. "We have a sweet one, too," our bartender said, giving me the choice. "Esta bien," I said.

This is my kind of place. Barcelona is drinking to drink. Pretense with your food and alcohol is absolutely not allowed and will be dealt with quickly and curtly.

-David Driscoll

Thursday
Feb122015

Barthelona

After a week in Paris we said to ourselves, "I've never been to Spain. Have you? No? We've never been to Spain." How hard can it be to get a train ticket to Barcelona? Not very hard, it seems. Six hours later (after non-stop beers and gin and tonics in the bar cart) here we are drinking cava and dry vermouth in the Gothic District, nibbling on olives from the bar. I wasn't planning on taking photos tonight, but I couldn't help snap a few iPhone shots.

Compared to Paris everything in Barcelona is a flat-out bargain. Everything on this table cost as much as one glass of Champagne at a nice restaurant on St. Germain Boulevard. No joke. This place is just dangerous, both for my cholesterol and my liver. More thervetha please.

-David Driscoll

Thursday
Feb122015

Paris – 5th arrondissement 

The Latin Quarter of Paris is known for its student life, long streets full of tiny bistros, and its lovely open air market on the Rue Mouffetard, which Hemingway joyfully referred to in his memoir A Moveable Feast. We were definitely in the mood for a moveable feast ourselves, hoping to snack our way from the 5th back to our hotel.

Cheese please. And some Chablis. Actually, while you're at it, just bring us the bottle.

Getting old in Paris means you only get better looking. The older ladies on the streets of the 5th were bringing it, putting the young university kids to shame.

Bringing it. Furs, colors, shoes, baguette.

Time to refresh. From now on when I order Campari out I want my own private little ice bucket and my own canister of spritzer. A man could get absolutely spoiled here.

-David Driscoll