With: Miguel (born 1977)
Date: 15 December 2016
Where: El Raval, Barcelona
My dear friend Adrian put me in touch with his friend Miguel when I arrived in Barcelona and we spent two very enjoyable evenings together. During the first of these we drank wine from La Mancha (the inland region south of Madrid; Miguel is from Almansa) until 3am and I learned some Spanish through the medium of 1980s lesbian anthems. Miguel also introduced me to the excellent online resource wordreference.com, where we spent some time trying to figure out what the site means by a 'UK' accent as distinct from a 'UK received pronunciation' accent, but failed.
During the second evening we had a brief walk around Miguel's neighbourhood before passing a convivial few hours in two lesbian-run bars.
El Raval is a neighbourhood in the Ciutat Vella (old town) district of Barcelona. I've been there each time I've visited Barcelona and it's one of my favourite areas. This time I stayed in El Eixample for the first time, so was glad to have an excuse to return to El Raval. We strolled along 'Hospital Street' and inside the old Hospital de la Santa Creu. A month before the hospital was closed down in 1926, Gaudí died here three days after he was hit by a tram. Walking down the Rambla del Raval I was introduced to Colombian sculptor Botero's huge cat.
The two bars we visited were La Monroe (the equivalent of the BFI bar on London's south bank) and a small, friendly backstreet place where we were given free shots. In both cases Miguel knew several of the staff and customers, to whom I was introduced.
Returning to my bike, Miguel pointed out Casa de la Misericòrdia (House of Mercy) poorhouse, which though now used for other purposes still has two distinctive holes on its exterior wall. According to la internet, "Whenever someone wanted to abandon a new-born baby, they put it on the part outside and turned the wheel so the baby went inside. The hole in the wall above and to the left of the hoop served as an eye-hole and a box for alms the nuns collected and used to finance the running of the poorhouse."
I headed back to my hostel at around 2am. Phew, I can't keep up with these Spanish late nights at my age. It's alright for Miguel, he's only 39!
Gracias Miguel for your warm welcome to Barcelona, and especially for stepping into the breach after the person I was supposed to meet that first night blew me out saying she was 'taking a break from dating strangers'. Come on, everyone knows strangers are just 'friends we haven't met yet'! Bon Nadal!