Friday, March 23, 2007

The Big Easy

One of the nice things about living here is that going out and enjoying yourself is so easy.

It's the hassle factor in London that always bugged me; ordering an expensive cab and wondering if it would turn up, factoring in the unreliability of public transport to get to a film on time or locating and paying through the nose for car parking.

Here the public transport works, taxis are cheap - it's hard work to pay more than €10 from mountain to sea - and the city is littered with huge and cheap car parks. Indeed car parking is that much cheaper following a new law which makes it compulsory to charge by the minute - it's often up to two hours in London. So we picked someone up today from the airport, parked for 20 minutes and paid a grand total of 27p.

And you can get into the best bars without being vetted, negotiating bouncers, being a member or being presumed to be a criminal and having your credit card kept behind the bar.

Last night I went out with some Catalan friends and ended up at the Ideal Cocktail Bar (Aribau 89) which forms a neat triumvirate with my established favourites here - Boadas and Dry Martini.

All are heavy on the wood, the leather, the barmen in white jackets and bow ties who know one end of a cocktail shaker from another. And very fine gin and tonics they mix too.

It rounded off a truly lovely evening which was to celebrate the promotion of one of my friends across government departments.

The cocktails followed one of those great Catalan pica-pica suppers of manchega cheese, serrano ham on tomato bread, small fried fish, patatas bravas and steak and chips, all dished up in the middle served up at La Moreneta (Cartagena 234) which is well worth dropping in on if you are near the Sagrada Família.

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