o, obviously people must be getting robbed in Barcelona all the time...those articles on the internet cannot all be made up! But if the last two days are anything to go by, I haven't felt more safe in a city than here! Whether it is in the metro, or the streets or the plazas...no one even comes within touching distance, forget bag-snatching distance! And the government seems to be keen to salvage the city's reputation as is obvious from the large numbers of policemen deployed to watch over busy tourist areas. So, when Herve suggests that I take in a flamenco show at a club in the city, I think why not. But first, I am off to the seaside for the day.
Sitges is a small town by the sea, just 40 minutes by train from Barcelona. A shimmering sun and powder-blue skies greet me at the other end of my journey! I pick one of the cobble-stoned streets leading off from the station heading downwards towards the sea. Dollhouses in pretty pastels line the streets, shops have signs that say it is siesta time for the shopkeeper. The names of the street with an image have been inlaid into the building walls on ceramic tiles. As I walk on, sometimes it is minutes before I come across another person, often another tourist! Maybe this town has no citizens just actors who come in during the days to man the shops and restaurants. Or maybe its just that time of the day and year. During summer, Sitges takes on its other personality and turns into a popular getaway with a throbbing nightlife. It is also well known for its film festival and Carnival
The town has a beautifully landscaped promenade by the sea and a few buildings of note, like a church, town hall and a couple of museums. I do a quick recce and then settle down with a book on one of the benches on the promenade gazing at the book and the sea by turns before its time for my train.
Back in Barcelona and after a short nap, I am ready for a taste of the flamenco. The street outside the metro station was swarming with cops on foot and on bikes. Uh oh! Am I today going to get a glimpse of the renowned Barcelona underbelly? As it turned out, no. It was a rally to welcome back the winner of the Dakar 2011, a prestigious motorbike event as Google informed me later. The star biker atop his star bike was being hugged and clicked by fans. So I had my brush with a mega Spanish celebrity!
I made my way down Las Ramblas which is as abuzz at nigh as during the day. The flamenco club, Los Tarantos is in a quiet plaza called Plaza Reial. I bump into my Ukranian neighbour Nikita who has also taken Hevre's suggestion and dropped in. Many reviews have nicknamed this club as 'not genuine flamenco' and a trap to make a quick buck off tourists, so I am certain I am not going to get an artistic extravaganza. What I do get is a sniff of what the authentic flamenco flavour could be and frankly for just 8â¬ you can't expect more.
After the show, we warm up with a quick coffee and Nikita suggests that we walk back since it's a pleasant night. Of course, he finds it pleasant, just that morning he had informed me that Ukraine was seeing a mild winter this year with temperatures dropping around 0Â°C! I am glad I brave the weather to make the half hour long trek back. Barcelona is still stirring. The cafes and restaurants are busy with the last orders of the day. Gaudi's buildings have been cleverly lit up and look even more dramatic and the gilded tops of the towers of La Sagrada Familia eye the city rushing past.
Barcelona shines in the day and sparkles by night.