Monday, July 23, 2007

wknd recap + blackout anarchy

As a result of the current power outage, I had the strange opportunity this morning to ride through a city without working traffic lights. I crashed my bike and passed by another accident, but for the most part things seemed to go smoothly.

In truth, the bike crash was just a wipeout and entirely of my own doing. I am still getting used to this “new” bike (my previous one, a sweet Rock Climber with front shocks, was stolen), which let's say doesn´t suit my reckless driving style nearly as well. Plus it came with an unwieldy U-lock that has no fixed mounting place on the frame, so is kept around the handlebars—not ideal if you bike fast. So I tried to affix the lock closer to the handlebar T, where it might clank less. What I did of course was negate my ability to drastically turn the bike to either side, which I had to do not 3 minutes later to avoid a pedestrian. So, like an idiot, I wiped out on my own in front of confused onlookers. Luckily I escaped without tumbling onto the ground. My piece of shit bike was ok too. I took a bow in front of the crowd and got back on the horse.

The Eixample neighborhood has tons of traffic each morning, and it was eerie to see cars driving much more cautiously than normal. (Btw, no one had any idea why that part of town is blacked out or when it might come back; the press is reporting massive traffic jams and general chaos, but I didn't see any of that, and we have electricity here in the Raval, so who knows. It would probably be much cooler if we were blacket out too, because then we'd probably go have a drink.) You might think that no traffic lights would translate into traffic anarchy, but most drivers seemed to understand they ran a risk of ruining their day. The one thing that everyone did was edge up into the intersection as much as possible, so as to potentially deter oncoming traffic and effectively force them to yield the right of way. This seemed like a question of critical mass: one car jutting its way forward looked aggressive and dangerous, but 3 lanes’ worth seemed like something to stop for.

Aside from a minor fender bender I passed, it was just another lovely morning in the Eixample. Oh—in both police cars I saw driving around, the officers were visibly amused. I assume they found this morning’s lawlessness a welcome departure from the norm.

I'll try to get to the bottom of this blackout situation. In the meantime, other highlights from this wknd:

1) P, G, S and L are all visiting Bcn this wknd, or longer—having so many friends coincide can be tricky, but P and S know each other (and me) already from Budapest, so that helps. Saturday afternoon was spent at the beach in Castelldefells, where ultimate frisbee practice was later held. L showed up directly from the nearby airport in business attire and luggage. Saturday night saw some good eating and epic partying—first a house party (friends of friends), then Tiefschwartz at Nitsa, a great show at a great venue. Closed down to a full house at 6.30. Tief were celebrating their 10th anniversary and were in a very good mood, and the crowd loved it, even jumping onstage at one point to dance right in front of the decks, to the DJs’ delight, until the records inevitably skipped, and we all had to step down. That type of thing rarely happens without security pummeling you, so we felt lucky. A great moment of the summer.

2) Sunday we strolled through the wonderful Ribera/Borne neighborhood (which is probably already too hip for its own good, but just so gorgeous and so fun that you don't care; in fact, it makes you want to be rich so you can buy the hip clothes here and eat at all the hip restaurants) and ended up eating at a wonderful place in Borne, Origens 99.9, which serves authentic Catalan food in a traditional rustic setting. We highly recommend the cava sangria. Then we hit the beach by sundown and walked up north to Nova Mar Bella, where there were 3 great parties at 3 consecutive chiringuitos: a gay, lesbian, and ‘normal’ one. We ended up drinking mojitos at the lesbian one, digging the house music and the whole scene, which was apparently a warm-up party for Loveball, the European gay and lesbian festival, which is coming to Barcelona the first week of August. Curiously, some young Kiwi visitors we met at the bar were absolutely amazed that there was such a big and public gay party in the city (it didn't seem too bizarre to me-- though the lesbian couples going at it on the beach were hard not to watch)-- these guys have no idea what's in store for them!

3) Then we made it over to the party we were actually looking for, which was mobbed—the dance floor spilled over onto the beach, and tons more people were seated in the vicinity, while the elevated promenade was lined with onlookers as well. Lots of attractive, happy people; a nice balance bw natives and internationals. A few swimmers, a few too many drunk guys pissing in the ocean. Luckily for my professional life, the music was killed at 1am. No one was ready to leave. But, being a responsible adult with a sort-of job waiting for me the next morning, I suggested we let our weekend end there, and get some sleep. Anyway, these ubiquitous informal beach parties are precisely the type of thing that make Bcn so attractive. How many big cities can compete with this? Even without a big party, the chiringuito scene offers music and food/drink with an unsurpassed view-- basically, the perfect vibe, day and night. And sheer amount of beach (4 km? more?) make it so easy to meet up with friends and simply chill out, with plenty of space and no hassle. In short, the beach is Bcn's park. Add to that the Forum, which is not a beach but a multi-use port-marina-park complex that offers a swimming area, expositions, great summer concerts, and a massive, iconic solar energy panel. What else could one ask for?

No comments: