Sunday, May 4

Picnic at Retiro

Photos from the last sunny saturday that warranted a trip to the park. I made pasta salad and a strawberry-balsamic vinegar-goat cheese concoction. It was all really yummy but I forgot to bring plastic spoons so it made it really difficult to eat all this non-finger food food. We found some ice cream stands that had little baby ice cream spoons, that was the best we could do and we managed. We sat by the bongo drummers and took in the sun on the steps. I got pooped on by a bird, everyone was telling me that it was good luck and for a minute I was thinking of buying a lottery ticket, but then I remembered I just got shit on which is anything but lucky.

Nude Beach and Sushi

Finally to finish the chapter on Barcelona. The day after the concert, Laura and I woke up late and strolled through Las Ramblas, the Central Market and just took it real easy, avoiding any tourist spots (apart from the two I just mentioned, of course). We had a great lunch at a little Italian place and walked into and quickly out of a number of upscale shops, full of beautiful things our meager allowances don't allow us to enjoy.

While exploring, I was struck by how little Spanish was written and spoken in Barcelona. It's so very different from Madrid, the home of the Monarchy, it feels like a different place all together, not the Spain I've come to know. It wasn't just the beach that was different, it was the people, the culture and the lack of all things Spanish... it was it's own thing, no bullfights, no Spanish flags, no photos of Rey Carlos and Reina Sofia like you see in many shops and bars in Madrid.... muy curioso. There is a real distaste for the Spanish language, Catalan is used everywhere. Laura said she hasn't improved her Spanish as much as she would like for that very reason, people aren't inclined to speak Spanish, they've embraced their own dialect. It is a very isolated culture and language that, like many other regions in Spain, tries to distance itself as much as possible from the capital where the monarchy dwells.

That night we hit the bars with some of her friends, all great people. There is a different breed of bars and restaurants in Barcelona, they're all so inspired and original. Some are kitschy, some sullen, others bright and colorful... there's a wide variety.

So, on to the reason why this entry is titled what it is. I made it a point to spend at least one day at the beach. That day turned out to be Sunday. Laura and I picked up some bikes at a "bicing" bike stand near her house. Bicing is a public transport service that Barcelona residents pay about 20euro/year to use. These bikes are not meant for leisure but rather for getting from point A to point B, you can therefore only rent them for a couple hours at a time. Introduced just over a year ago, it has become an extremely popular mode of transport, they are making streets more bici friendly and adding stands all over the city... the good weather and flat landscape doesn't hurt either.

So, Laura and I mounted our bici's and rode a couple miles along the boardwalk in search of the perfect beach. The nudey and appartently gay beach was the most tranquilo of them all. It was a really sunny afternoon and we just layed out with magazines and met some of her friends, spending the afternoon counting and comparing weiners. A pretty unusual day.

We returned home after a few hours and cleaned ourselves up for dinner, then we met up with a couple friends of hers to eat at a Japanese buffet restaurant and hopefully have a bit of sushi, something I still hadn't tried in Madrid. Now when you hear the words "Japanese buffet" you don't exactly think quality, at least I don't, but is was far from what I expected. The tables of the restaurant are placed alongside a conveyorbelt that transports little tapa-sized plates of food... from sushi to wontons, seared mushrooms to shortribs. F-ing delicious!! We got there right when they turned on the belt and started plating the food so everything was hot and fresh. Quite a find. I have to do some research in Madrid for a similar restaurant.

It was seriously the perfect vacations. Thanks Laura!!

Good times with Laura and Nick Cave

Barcelona's harbor, just blocks away from Laura's apartment.

On Friday, April 25th I cancelled a day of work, which I made up the week before, so that I could catch a flight to Barcelona. The whole purpose of this trip was to see Nick Cave, my rather old Adonis and a great artist. I only got into his music a few years ago, and was overjoyed to hear that he was playing in concert in Spain to promote his new record, Dig, Lazarus, Dig! I bought two tickets at FNAC the moment I got wind of the concert in Barcelona, remembering that I have a friend living there. I got to Barcelona and Laura, that friend, picked me up and we caught up during hours of walking around the city and getting dinner. I could tell right away that we would get along fine. We got dressed for the concert around 8 and headed out with high expectations. The only downside to this show was that the original venue, a small and renowned club called Razzmatazz, had been changed to an arena sized venue on the outskirts of the city. The line to get in was so long, they must have sold three times as many tickets by changing venues. The beer line was completely out of control, we didn't even get a drink the whole time we were inside, it just wasn't worth it. On the floor, Laura and I met up with some of her friends who had also gotten tickets to the concert, they were all really cool.
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, now a group of men in their mid-fifties, played some fantastic tunes not just from the new album, but lots of fan favorites too and even some lesser known greats.