Posts tagged barcelona

what a difference a day makes…

🙂 And having a local to guide me through the maze of Barcelona nightlife…

Baxi and I went out Saturday night, first he took me to this great English pub to watch the Barca match in English, which was very thoughtful of him, as he doesn’t speak English and is a huge football fan. So now I know where to go to watch the UNC vs Duke games! Then we wandered around, had dessert at this fancy Mexican restaurant and then eventually it was (barely) late enough to go clubbing. We got to Porto Olympico at around midnight and strangely enough, it was already hoppin’. Britt and I had been searching for hip hop, and people always said "just go to Porto Olympico" but we didn’t because she had heard it was too touristy and I was usually too tired by the time it came to switch clubs. I loved it! Not only was there plenty of hip hop, the layout was perfect. It’s a string of tiny clubs lined up in storefront-style along the harbor, with plate glass windows so you can see if the crowd is one you care to join, and music pouring out onto the promenade so you know if they’re playing your song.

More than one club was playing great music, so it was hard to pick. I made Baxi take me the whole length of the harbor before settling on a club we liked. We danced for hours and then stopped and rested on the sofa outside another club that was playing even better music. I actually got to hear Dr. Dre’s "California Love" without having to request it. The DJ also played a mashup and when I told him how happy I was that he played mashups, he had no idea what I was talking about. Interesting. Anyway, I’m so glad I finally found a fun place to dance early and with an interesting mix of people from all walks of life. Plus the clubs were light enough to actually see people!

Thursday night was bike night at Paddock Motard Bar, so Britt and I went to check it out. It was pretty quiet, as bike nights usually are in January, but we met some cool people, and saw the coolest tap ever. It’s a Yamaha R6 motor, and the bartender said you can sometimes taste the gasoline in the beer. How cool is that?

different cities

I’ve lived in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, London, Paris, Chapel Hill, and now Barcelona. Plus I’ve visited a few other countries and cities. So my experience is fairly significant. Part of why I chose Barcelona for my exchange was to give it a second chance. I visited in October 2004, and didn’t really like Barcelona or the Catalans whose hometown it is. Yet so many people love this city, I thought for sure I had missed something. So here I am, in the middle of winter, and well, Barcelona is not a happy place.

People in the street are generally very serious and somewhat conservative. I think back to other major cities I’ve lived in and I know it was similar, but I’ve heard so much about Barcelona as a party town, I expect to see a smile now and then. A splash of color. Anything… Yet it seems Barcelona is in hibernation. Sure, the partying goes on 7 nights a week, and by night, I mean all night for those with the fortitude, but word on the street is that the city will re-awaken as Spring returns and be completely alive come Summer. By which time I hope to be settling into my fabulous new job somewhere I have yet to find. So I might never know the Barcelona most visitors have known. Which doesn’t bother me much, as I’m not really much of a party animal anyway. I would just like to see if people tend to look happier here during the summer. I asked a local about it and he said sure, there’s more tourists, so you’ll see more happy people. But not more happy Catalans?

In any case, it’s an interesting comparison with Chapel Hill. My friend Jamie lives at one of those planned communities, Southern Village, and calls it “The Happiest Place on Earth” because it’s so nice and perfect, just like Disneyland. They did such a good job, I even enjoy going there, and I hate all the other planned communities. When I moved to Chapel Hill, I recall being somewhat disturbed by the proliferation of a brand called “Life is Good.” These stickers and t-shirts were everywhere. Being a New Yorker in spirit, I found this rather disturbing. Yes, life is indeed good in Chapel Hill, it’s easy, people are nice, the weather is awesome, etc. But it just seemed so Pollyanna. I got nostalgic for New York, where everyone has something to gripe about.

After this club (see photo), I hate Barcelona. Particularly because I don’t understand how a city known for its fantastic nightlife can have such painfully bad clubs. I hate Latin music. I hate pop. Now I know exactly how much I hate Latin Pop. I left this club almost in tears because I tried so hard to enjoy it and simply could not. One song had the one Latin beat I like, but not even for the whole song. And of course not being able to understand the words (except the refrain of one song- something about a black shirt) makes it worse. I need to relate to the lyrics to get into a song. I discovered this when I accompanied my friend Erin to a house club in NYC. I just couldn’t cut loose because there was no story to dance to. Being a teetotaler makes it even harder to tolerate a club that doesn’t do it for me. The place we went to last Friday was so much better. Small, great music, interesting crowd and it was actually light enough to be able to see them.

my baby Rossi

my baby Rossi from behind, originally uploaded by pinkyracer.

This is the 125 I need to make my life complete. I’ve been somewhat horrified at the level of consumption in this city, especially downtown, as it seems that everyone is shopping every day. you would not believe the crowds! First it was shopping for King’s Day gifts, and everyone was still on holiday. Now it’s the January sales.

OK, so I like to shop as much as the next Valley Girl, but really. I’m trying to consume more responsibly, for example- choosing things not made in China, so the rest of the world can have jobs too. But here it seems like the culture is all about consumption, whether it be food, drink, or stuff. Consuming a bike is different, though. A bike is a key to hours and hours of amazing experiences. And of course, it’s my lifestyle, so I must live it. 🙂

oh, for the greater good…when all I really want is my bed.

ARIES (March 21-April 19): "During his time in the Senate, former U.S. presidential candidate John McCain has been a strong advocate for Native Americans. As chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, he sponsored or co-sponsored seven bills in support of Indian rights. And yet Native Americans voted overwhelmingly for McCain’s opponent, Barack Obama, who has no such track record. When asked why, Native American author Sherman Alexie said that unlike most other groups, Indians don’t vote merely for their own narrow self-interest, but rather for the benefit of all. They felt Obama would be the best president for America. That’s the standard I urge you to use in the coming weeks, Aries. Stretch yourself as you work hard for the greater good, not just your own."

Highly appropriate, Mr. Brezny, considering what’s been on my mind this week. It’s hard to maintain my values here, while adjusting to a new city with different values. For example, to me, recycling is just the baseline. In Barcelona, it’s a weird thing that few people do. I am going to have to approach my roommate and tell her I want to take the recyclables to one of the street recycling depots. There are some big recycling bins around town, but apparently no recycling with apartment trash. There’s recycling at school, which is nice. And bottled water. People here swear the tap water is poison, but I’ve been drinking it and feeling fine. There’s even some old fashioned taps in parks to refill my bottle at. I paid 60 euros for a Brita faucet filter, and am waiting until my roommate seems to trust me a little more (I think she thinks I’m strange, but then, I am) before I spring this frightening concept on her. How do I convince someone in Spanish that filtered tap water is cleaner than bottled water?

I want to be cool, fit in, but I also want to be me. I don’t feel like myself right now, I feel like a total noob. Which is normal, especially considering I’ve spent the past 18 months in the backwoods of North Carolina. OK, so people from the real backwoods of NC might argue that Durham is actually a rather cosmopolitan city, but you know. Compared to Barcelona, it’s hicksville. So I’m glad I’m here, but I’m back to the feeling I had while living in Paris of being an outsider. No matter how fluent I become, I simply can’t express myself fully in a 2nd language. It never feels "real." Which is why I came out of my shell while living in Paris. I had always been afraid to speak my mind (no, really, I swear) and doing so in a foreign language, even if it was just cursing out a shitty waiter, really helped prepare me for New York City.

Tonight was an exercise in frustration around this whole nonsense of being in a "foreign" country. If the world is so small, why does it cost so damn much to make a call to the US on a cell phone? It’s not like we’re using undersea cables anymore. WTF? I have been trying to find a memory foam matress topper because I am a princess who has a swank CA King tempurpedic sitting in a warehouse in Durham. I can sleep on nothing else. Yet a 2" sliver of foam (ok, special foam, the cheap foam is cheap) costs at least 300 euros. It’s $70 at Target. argh. If I at least had a bike… but I’m waiting until it gets a smidge warmer, because well, it’s a good idea to get settled first and because it’s cold as f%&k. 🙂 I have snow-capped mountains. like, hollerin’ distance away.

Baby Zebra Fireblade

Baby Zebra Fireblade, originally uploaded by pinkyracer.

this is one bad-ass 125! If it weren’t for the awesome Rossi replica 125 Yamaha I’m gonna buy, (pic forthcoming, I shot it with my phone), I’d even consider moving to the dark side. I simply adore black and white.

It’s been torture here. As much as I love walking, and am so happy to finally be back in a city where I can walk and walk, every time a motorcycle zooms by my heart races after it. This is Motorcycle Country, so to not have one here is simply inconceivable! About as inconceivable to me and Britt as “female racers” are to the Spanish. I can’t wait till our first track day!

Tomorrow is orientation at school, so it’s the first day of what I came here to do. I’ve been having so much fun walking around, getting settled, etc. I was lucky enough to find a great apartment share on the 2nd try, pix of that are coming too.