Saturday, October 08, 2005

Bars And Bars In Barcelona

A most productive day, but it is one that is unlikely to be repeated. I have decided to actually see some of the scenery outside of bars as long as I am in Spain. It would be a shame to miss it all.

854) Casa Marcelino

This is a small place right across the street from the hotel that I am staying at. It has a narrow topped bar that is taken up mostly by a case displaying tapas. The front of the bar is white ceramic tile with a few of them decorated by pictures of either a wine jug and glass or a bunch of fruit. There aren’t any stools here, strictly a stand-up place with a few business men having a quick brandy and a cigarette before heading of to their offices. Cheerful bright red lights hang over the bar and a colorful spray of flowers sit off to the edge of the tapas case.

There are tan tiles on the wall behind the bar and wooden shelves are mounted on it. The shelves hold a fairly limited selection of liquor and glasses. The top shelf also has some brown clay pitchers and some laboratory looking flasks. There is a single silver beer spigot on the bar. On the wall behind the bar are four more spigots protruding from what is supposed to look like the top of a wine barrel. Wine bottles were being filled from one of them. There were also the requisite hunks of meat hanging back there.

I had a brandy and an espresso instead of a cigarette.

855) El Niu

A narrow bar area that serves primarily as an entryway to a larger dining area in the back. The bar has a steel top with a slight raised edge that made it look like it would be a good place to perform an autopsy. The slabs of ham and sausages in the plastic cases sitting on top of the bar only added to the aura. Bar Man’s mind must still be a bit fried from yesterday.

The front of the bar has wood paneling with metal trim and there is a metal foot rest. The solitary silver beer spigot also was beginning to take on a somewhat clinical look. I felt like I should be wearing a paper nightgown and bending over. Actually, I am being way too harsh. This was a perfectly charming place with a little wine press and wooden pigs sitting on a display case of wine up front next to the door. There were salamis and garlands of garlic and peppers hanging from hooks on the wall.

The bar chairs were interestingly angular shaped black metal with low backs that wouldn’t have looked out of place in the lounge of the Starship Enterprise. Did the Starship Enterprise have a lounge? There were also two large meat slicers behind the bar and that was the last straw with my mind still on autopsies and such. Must leave while I can.

I had a glass of San Miguel.

856) Bar Urume

Having gained a bit of equilibrium I stopped in this wee store-front bar that must have been only about eight feet deep and about thirty feet wide. Another one of those metal topped bars but this one was mostly covered with trays of more benign looking tapas, things like roasted and salted beans and deep fried shrimp. The did have sausages and hams hanging from hooks behind the bar though. The grandmotherly bartender put me at ease though. Arrgh, What am I thinking? Those are the type that pull a hatchet from under their apron.

The wall behind the bar was bright yellow ceramic tile with wooden shelves of liquor. One side wall behind the section of the bar displaying pastries was white stucco and had shelves of liquor.

The guy who was reading a newspaper at a table when I came in must be the owner of the place. He started yelling in Spanish and because I was taking notes and didn’t know what he was saying I just ignored him. It turned out he was yelling at me and kind of got in my face a bit. Apparently he was disturbed that I was looking around and taking notes. What a jerk. I somehow was able to convince him that I was just an innocent tourist by showing him pictures of other bars I had visited and the notes I had taken. I can’t recommend this as being a friendly place.

I had a glass of red wine.

857) Bar Palmo

A small coffee shop type of place with a little seating area in the back and a couple of stools at the small bar up front. The proprietor looked Chinese and I asked her if she was and she said yes.

My Pictionary Playing Partner

She had only a limited command of English but enough so that I ended up spending my time giving her a bit of an lesson in it. She had some Chinese/English dictionaries so I spent my time reading in English the phrases that she pointed out. The dictionary must not have been real good about defining relationships though because I ended up drawing little stick figures to try to show here the relationship between grandparents, parents, and children. Great fun, kind of like playing Pictionary.

I had a glass of red wine.

858) Versatil

We (Mysterious Chinese Woman and Mysterious Sister and I) took the tourist bus up to what turned out to be a largely residential area and it took me awhile to find a bar. The bar top was a heavy slap of wood that looked like it could be knotty pine. The front was a darker wood paneling and there was a brass rail. No stools or chairs though, another stand-up place if you wanted to drink at the bar. Most people seem to prefer sitting at the small marble tables opposite the bar. There was just one beer spigot pouring Esrella Damm and a narrow shelf over the bar holding the liquor. Glasses hung beneath the shelf.

The walls were lemon yellow and had a strange assortment of pictures hanging on them that ranged from an old poster advertising Chateau Rouge, a red wine, that featured a lady in an elegant red evening gown standing on a balcony overlooking a river to a scene of five blue horses running out of a raging sea onto the beach.

There were a few tables with lime green chairs out on the street.

I had a glass of the Estrella Damm.

Short Interlude

After finishing up my beer we took a walk down a narrow street and found a street fair of some kind going on. It was just setting up so I don’t know what kind of a night it was going to be turning into. Lot’s of ferocious looking floats and marching band.

Not everyone on the street was particularly ferocious though.

Might have been fun to stick around a bit. They were setting up a large tent with a bunch of DJ equipment and many barrels of beer. We had dinner reservations back in town later so we could only linger for a bit.

859) Bar Monterrey

This place had a metal topped bar with an orange tile front and a metal foot rest. The wall behind the bar had brown tiles with a circular pattern. The rest of the walls were covered in light yellow tiles as was the ceiling. There was just one metal and one wooden shelf with liquor and glasses were stored below. Only one lonely beer spigot. There were white globe lights above the bar and mounted on the walls as well.

I had a small glass of brandy.

860) Cafe San Marco

I thought at first I had walked into a tea shop by mistake. No evidence of alcohol at all, just two large espresso machines with cups piled on top and a shelf of tea canisters above them. Well, it might not be Madrid but it is still Spain so, of course, they served alcohol. But it was a very fancy place. The light marble topped bar had greenish gray veins running through it like a piece of good blue cheese and it sat on a dark wood front. There was a brass arm rest but no foot rail or rest, just wooden bar stools. Little pots of rosemary sat on the bar.

The lights above the bar were covered with inverted flower shaped glass shaded lights. There was also a very elegant chandelier up front with similar shaped shades but with ornate glass leaves as well.

Round marble topped tables sat in front of green cushioned banquettes that lined the pale yellow wall opposite the bar. The windows in the wall were covered with pale green curtains. The floor was black and white tiles in a checkerboard pattern with one marble step separating the bar from the three tables up by the large front window.

Everything about this place seemed to say it was a place for old ladies but, strangely enough, the walls were covered with photographs and paintings of Formula One racing cars. A large mirror to the left of the bar had my throat protruding and flushing red until I realized I was just looking at my reflection.

I had a small glass of brandy.

861) Qu Qu

We caught a bus and headed back into the heart of town for dinner. On the way I just stopped in here to take a whiz but a bar is a bar and so I had a drink. It had a nice large marble topped bar with a brown marble front. A wooden arm rest in front of the bar and a brass rail. Small metal bar stools. A very colorful red, white, black, yellow, and gray patterned tile floor. This was a large, loud, clanky bar with a good sized dining area a few steps down. There were tapas on the bar in cases and another similar marble bar opposite of where you could get a drink that had more tapas on display.

Above the bar is an elongated wooden beer barrel suspended from the ceiling. Quite an elaborate affair with a large pipe that must pump the beer into it because this is where the spigots are located. Kind of an industrial looking affair in an otherwise very chic looking place. The walls behind the bar are rose with sunken shelves for the liquor. To the left of the rose wall is a section of white tile with a mural in the center and metal shelves of glasses in front.

I had a glass of red wine.

862) MMOO

This is where we were going for dinner, but there was a most elegant bar up front where I enjoyed my pre-dinner cocktail.

The top of the bar was marble with black sides and a metal foot rest. Modern sculpture like bar chairs. The beer station looked like it could be a museum piece, the spigots were wooden handled faucets and there was a stature of a lady on top.

Everyone in here seems to be dressed in black and acting cool. Luckily Bar Man wore one of his more subdued patterned shirts today and I was wearing my jaunty black cap instead of my usual light blue one. That, coupled with the fact that I was accompanied by two attractive Chinese women gave me a bit of cachet. Life can be good when you are the Bar Man. Oh yeah, by now I just about forgotten about this morning’s thoughts of embalming fluid that had run through my mind.

It was all subdued shades of gray in here with little lights on the bar. The back wall had plants and a large mobile arranged behind a screen that threw dark shadows on the wall. You had to get up close to make sure they weren’t just paintings.

I would have lingered a bit longer at the bar but hungry people are sitting at a table drinking champagne and I must join them.

The meal was delicious and I had a most interesting desert. It was a chocolate covered ice-cream in the shape of a cigar and was most certainly laced with cigar tobacco.

It literally tasted like you were smoking a cigar and left a similar aftertaste that lingered for well over an hour. Not altogether unpleasant if you like cigars as I do. They Mysterious Chinese Woman tried a bite and was not impressed.

I had a martini, shaken, not stirred.

What a day, nine bars hit making 862 for the year and leaving me with 138 to go. My objective is to hit 875 before leaving Spain and this should be fairly easy to do so I can relax my pace a bit and see some of the sights.


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