The beach at Barceloneta
“I first visited Barcelona just under four years ago. It was an unplanned visit but one that would set me up to fall helplessly in love with the place. I was on a four-month sabbatical from my job in London to focus on my ‘other’ life as an artist. I had started off in a small village in France but it was there I realised it wasn’t the peace and quiet or nature that was inspiring me but the vibrancy and energy of a city. So I headed to Barcelona. I arrived in to BCN at Arc de Triomfand had a while to wait for a friend so I grabbed an ice cream and sat by the exit to the metro watching the city fall in to its afternoon routine. Coming from London, where everything runs at an acutely fast pace, I felt an extension of time in the way the people of BCN went about things.
The streets of Barceloneta
After I met my friend we grabbed a drink in the back streets of Barceloneta, an area which would soon become a real favourite of mine, and decided the only thing to do as a new visitor to the city was to head to the beach and jump in the sea. We quickly stripped down and threw ourselves into the water diving in and out of the waves. At one point I turned back to look at the city around us and felt a further sense of adoration for the place. Something about being in the water surrounded by the throngs of a city, but more than that, a sense of energy from the place that I couldn’t quite place yet. I felt it had welcomed me with open arms instantly. No judgement. Read the rest of this article…
“When the temperatures start to rise, many in Barcelona head out of the city for the traditional August break. But for me, it’s the perfect time to enjoy balmy days and sultry nights, seduced by the weather and the sound of the cicadas.
Ocata Beach - © Jose Canovas
Barceloneta beach is undoubtedly the most famous, but being a tall foreigner there are one or two hazards I prefer to avoid. It can be hard to sink into the sound of the waves if the local beer-sellers decide I’m their perfect lady for the day. They are always incredibly polite, but it can get wearing being asked twenty times in thirty minutes if I’d like a nice cold beer. Plus, I really don’t drink beer under a hot sun. So for the beach life I’ve taken to heading to Ocata, far from the crowds, and within easy reach of Plaça Catalunya on the train to Blanes. Within a short time, I’m whisked away on a clean and air conditioned train to the beach, where the beer sellers are far less persistent. The view from the train often seems like being on a boat, as the train magically glides above sea-level. It stops right at the beach, where you step straight onto the boardwalk down to a clean sandy stretch. It’s a way to really unwind, floating in the warm waters, snoozing on the towel, and I never have a sense of the ‘body police’ patrolling for those of us without a perfect Hollywood figure. I can pick up pieces of fresh coconut from the friendly vendors without being constantly hassled. There’s also plenty of beach cafes and showers. The whole affair can roll into a leisurely day out, complete with a picnic. Read the rest of this article…
So what is vermouth?
“Vermouth (pronounced ‘ver-məθ [UK] or /vərˈmuːθ/ [US]) is a fortified wine flavored with various dry ingredients. The word “vermouth” comes from the German word wermut for wormwood that has been used as an ingredient in the drink over its history. The modern versions of the beverage were first produced around the late 18th and early 19th centuries in Italy and France. Vermouth was consumed as a medicinal libation until the latter 19th century when it became an important ingredient in many of the first, classic cocktails, such as the martini.” Wikipedia
Cala del Vermut, c/ Magdalenes, 6
Now my knowledge of vermouth is limited to say the least. I always associated it with the Italian red vermouth, Martini Rosso. A foul drink as I remember. A drink from a different era. A drink my parents drunk at dinner parties. I’d tasted it, but generally it was to be avoided. Maybe in the odd cocktail, but on its own, no thank you.
And then I moved to Barcelona and was taken to my very first ‘vermut’ bar, Cala del Vermut, where they serve their own label, Catalan brewed, Spanish vermouth on tap. It comes in a tall straight glass, with ice and a green olive. It was fantastic. I loved it. The perfect apéritif. And at €2 it is an absolute bargain. Read the rest of this article…