Day 5: El Gin Tonic Perfecto No Existe
by Eli Hodapp
After the first good night of sleep I’ve gotten since I’ve arrived in Europe1 I was totally energized for my first full day in Barcelona. It sort of makes me wish the Jawbone Up wasn’t such a complete piece of shit because I really wonder how much I walked today.
Without any real destination when I left, I figured I’d see if I could walk to Plaza Catalunya where I arrived yesterday without Google Maps. I had my iPhone in my pocket as a backup, but I always seem to use Google Maps and GPS as such a crutch that I really didn’t want to do that here. Anyway, oddly enough, I made it there without issue. Barcelona is arranged in a really cool way, in that to one side is mountains and then to the other is the Mediterranean Sea. It seems like you can always see one or the other, so orienting yourself isn’t much of a problem.
Similarly, city streets all seem to point to main city centers, such as Plaza Catalunya which is the central subway hub2 in the city. So, getting there from Barceloneta basically just amounts to following the flow of the streets towards the mountains. It’s awesome how it all works out. On the way there you navigate through the labyrinthine corridors of the Gothic quarter, which are all amazing. Some of the streets are barely five feet wide, and clearly designed during a time when all you had to worry about was making sure two horses could pass each other.
So, I walked up to Plaza Catalunya, wandered around a bit, then walked back to Barceloneta via La Rambla which is this massive street with a huge center area that’s totally open and filled with people who are dressed in costume, selling things, or in actual proper road side stands peddling various tourist swag. The amount of stuff being sold on La Rambla to tourists is seriously just amazing, especially considering I’m sure all the Barcelona branded things are just made in China anyway.
This underlying motivation for this whole journey today was in search of proper kebab, the one horrible European fast food that as far as I know just isn’t available in North America. I walked for miles and miles, never finding kebab, and eventually just gave up and dipped into one of the various bakery/sandwich shops and picked up a croissant and some coffee. Sure enough though, that when I made my way back to Barceloneta that I discovered that had I turned right instead of left after leaving my initial block that there’d be a kebab place about two hundred feet from my door. Oh well.
I got back just in time to get ready to go out with a new friend tonight. We ended up getting some sushi3 and then on to a couple different bars for gin and tonics. I guess the high-class gin and tonic apparently is a thing here. Bobby Gin had one of the best gin and tonics I’ve ever had, served with cucumber which really just elevated the drink to a whole different level. Also, I’m not really sure how to describe the size of these drinks, but they were served in what I’d describe as the European equivalent to a schooner glass that you might get a huge amount of beer served to you in the USA.
When it comes to gin and tonics, they don’t mess around in Spain, it would seem- Both in quality and in quantity.
Oh, and the place I’m staying just gets better and better. This morning I awoke to the person living below us tuning their saxophone, then he spent what seemed like the next hour or so playing vaguely recognizable jazz numbers. The beach, which is only a few minutes walk from where I’m staying, is impeccable. The weather couldn’t be more perfect. Barcelona, as a city, feels alive in every way imaginable.
I can’t wait to see what happens tomorrow.