Up until now I have not gotten to the heart of a cities nightlife as well as I did in Barcelona
Going out with a group of people is a different experience than with a small one. If its a smaller group or a duo, a quieter more relaxed atmosphere is ideal, with a bunch of people, the louder the better!
So meeting a fantastic international group of people on St Patrick’s day set the tone for the rest of the month Barcelona. Also I was detoxing from my self-inflicted Museum Overload in Madrid Syndrome (or MOMS).
It was time to cut loose.and get my drink on.
The Irish bars on that day were a blur. We started out in Barceloneta Fastnet bar at midday. Continued hilarity ensued at my expense, by ordering my beers in my carefully spoken, NZ accented Spanish to the obviously Irish bar-staff.
On to the next Irish bar our group was caught in the middle of a gathering of English that were in town to see the next days football match and some of the native Irish at the bar getting their St Paddy’s on.
The combat was limited to bawdy drinking songs, meters from a children’s playground. Which was more of a curiosity to both the children and their parents. Many pulling out their mobiles to record it.
And right in-between was our table. Covered in embarrassed grins. Pulling our St Paddy’s hats low, caught in the crossfire. Sooner or later it will be on youtube somewhere I’m sure of it.
It turned into a rag-tag UN later in the day. So a Group of Finn’s, Polish, a German, Portuguese, and a New Zealander walk into a bar sounds like a set up to a very convoluted joke.
It was no laughing matter however when on the way to our fourth bar of the evening one of the Finn’s had her purse pick-pocketed right out of her handbag which was then zipped up again. Anywhere else you might be able to blame the alcohol as giving them a cape of invisibility. But no, in Barcelona these guys can pick your pocket in broad daylight, while you are absolutely sober without you knowing until you go to pay for your meal.
I also had a near miss with being pick-pocketed, well it was more of a direct hit but that story deserves its own post.
There were several other bars which were apparently normally dead but had long queues just because it was St Patrick’s day and everyone wanted to drink like an Irishman.
We settled on a bar nearby which was full but had enough room for us to squeeze in. One of the ladies at the bar, already full of Irish spirit, latched onto me and the Polish guy. We exchanged terrified smiles as we were groped accordingly for the next several hours every time we ran the gauntlet to have a cigarette outside. Discretion proved to be the better part of valor dealing with the situation. While our group was leaving and the grabby lady was stalking us, Poland and I both hid behind a recycling point until the coast was clear.
Several more bars awaited but none were as eventful. More pints were consumed, more cigarettes were smoked, more fun was had.
Somehow I stumbled into a taxi and back home at 4am.
To list but a few of the places the people I met during my time in Barcelona shared with me.
Situated in the sprawling waterfront area of Barcelona, it is a fantastic place to taken in the sun, the marina and a few pints. Friendly staff and some pretty epic portions of food to soak up the alcohol. Seriously you need mountain climbing equipment and a friend to take on their nachos.
A tiny but heavily trafficked Cava (Spanish Champagne) Bar near Barceloneta. This place had a fast-moving queue to get in and is a tight standing room only Bar and eatery. You can buy Cava by the glass for a couple of Euro and a plate of mixed sausages to share with it. Its cramped, boisterous and fantastic.
An 80’s throwback bar, covered in memorabilia from the era with a soundtrack to match. You can get a bucket of 5 beers for 10 Euro, or choose from one of the many aptly named cocktails, like the Sarah Conner, the Delorean and the Han Solo, drink enough of them and you might time travel to the next day.
This establishment is like a secret speakeasy hidden in plain view within the bustling Plaza Reial. You buzz the doorman via the intercom to what is seemingly the entrance to an old apartment building. Up the stairs and inside it does nothing to convince you haven’t stepped back in time. When I was there, a live band was playing Swing/Jazz with one of the rooms set up as a stage area. A place where you can sit back and enjoy the ambiance.
Our German friends favorite haunt. This is a dive bar you would not be surprised meeting the Barcelona chapter of Sons of Anarchy at. This bar was figuratively made of metal. The clientele and staff are genial enough. The hanging motorcycles, metal band posters, and decor make it a good place to get a Jack Daniels and plan your next tattoo. I also randomly met a fellow kiwi traveler who actually identified me by my accent. Later my German friend recounted “I met her too and she was telling me how strange it was she met someone from New Zealand here. She was amazed when I told her ‘ Yeah I know that guy, hes like the only other one in Barcelona.”
Tucked away from the main drag in Barceloneta but situated between it and the beach Absenta is a curio filled Absinthe Bar, which for reasons unfathomable to me now I ordered beer at. Im told they offer a wide selection of the spirit and I will be back to try their best (or worst) absinthe on the menu. Unsure if they will set it on fire for me first because I want to retain some liver function for future outings. The decor of this place is shabby chic, very worn in and comfortable, just like you will be after a few of their Absinthe’s.
This is a place you might want to don a nice shirt or your best party dress for. Trust me its worth it. Decorated in a mind-bending hunting lodge meets 1920’s atmosphere, Bocca Chica has to be seen to be believed. Situated next to the Bocca Grande restaurant it’s spread over 3 levels, (including the toilets) there is a main bar area, a second bar with terrace and the jewel in the throne room, the toilets. When I was told I just *Had* to check out the toilets my reaction was skeptical at best. But they are indeed a sight to behold, covered in artwork, mirrors and funky Harry Potter basins with music piped from the DJ upstairs, couches and tables. You couldn’t be blamed for having your own party there.
Barcelona is a place that has a magnetic personality but one where you need to watch your wallet, if not for the pickpockets, then for the endless 5euro pints you will no doubt consume. But regardless of where you go or what you do Barcelona has an unbeatable atmosphere, insane architecture and the happiest people.