Mediterranean Sea Sailing Long Distances Spain

Barcelona – About jezebels, the US Navy, and Robert de Niro

Pablo and Isabel traveled from Madrid to Barcelona, celebrating their twenty’s wedding day. Isabel used to live here for a while, speaks Catalan fluently, and knows all the places a typical tourist doesn’t go. First, we walked up the famous tourist mile, La Rambla, when Isabel stopped in front of a hotel. She peeked through the glass framed door and said, look at those two white stones plates decorating the wall. Each had two oval-shaped dark spots that stood prominent out of the decor. Well, that’s what we thought. The story, however, played in a different league. During the Cold War, the US Navy visited Barcelona regularly, including an aircraft carrier that found space in the harbor. The fine white dressed crew looked like Richard Gere in the movie ‘An Officer and gentleman,’ she said and were heartily welcomed by a branch of work that puts a room and a bed in focus. So the guys with some urgent needs went to the hotel, a brothel back then. Two prostitutes stood in front of the door on a white stone plate each and waited until a room for the next customer was vacant. Soldiers lined up on the sidewalk and got in when one of the ladies knocked with a shoe on the plate. Over the years, the white cover vanished and left two oval marks chiseled by high heels. The outlines are so precise that one would believe a machine did it. The Cold War ended, the horizontal business became less erected, and the house was converted to a hotel.
A few meters further on, Isabel and Pablo entered a side street. A typical small passage, just wide enough for a small truck to pass. Close to the wax museum, Isabel turned right into a dark alley we wouldn’t go to usually. A mistake! It’s home to one of a unique cafe. Inside it is almost pitch black and one better stops, let the eyes accommodate to the low light. The café looked like a cave. Some tree trunks underlined the nature atmosphere. It all has the appearance of a sit-inn or smoke-inn of the hippie area with low tables, oversized cushions, or furs on the few chairs. Well, that was my first impression. Isabel said, wait a minute and listen. The cave is home to an acoustic dragon and other obscure folks that movie watchers might know from the sequels ‘The lord of the rings’ when Frodo or his friend Sam did something they weren’t supposed to do, and an obscure creature in grudge responded. I think we will go there again when either Beate or I feel like bad-tempered dragons and need some relaxation.
Pablo had already texted beforehand that they wanted to have a fine lunch with us in a typical restaurant in Barcelona. We had no idea where to go when we stood at a street corner and looked at a large barbecue. Here, so Pablo, the restaurant sold delicious chickens to people passing by, the best in Barcelona. I wondered why he told us the story, as the house was very narrow and old by the look old, 1835. The place is called Los caracoles – the snails.
Isabel said the grill isn’t used anymore, but the restaurant is one of the best in Barcelona, and we’re positive that you will like it too. That said, we walked in. A narrow aisle was all I saw at first – a small bar at the left and a large open kitchen on the right-hand side. An adequate big charcoal grill glowed red and spread a smell of a place one wants to be, often used by a chef how knows his business. At the end of the small passage, we were supposed to wait. Again, I asked myself where we were? Pablo and Isabel are experts in the Spanish kitchen, as they can tell stories to almost every menu. Frankly, that made me trust in their expertise. A friendly all over the face smiling waiter welcomed us, and Pablo introduced his two German friends to him. I don’t know why the waiter seemed to be delighted about Los Alemanes and let us deeper and deeper into the house.
My first impression was as dead wrong as it could be. The house grew bigger and fascinating by its rooms, old furniture, and decoration. The walls were packed with photos, often black and white, showing the families who ran the restaurant in the fifth generation by now.
I hate writing about the pandemic, yet I like to mention it for the sake of truth and that I was a wee bit worried about where we will be seated. The waiter led us in a small cozy room and pointed at a table right in front of a wall. A few people sat at tables to the right and left, talking in damped voices. He asked if the spot was fine with us, and I said instantly yes. Back to back to others, people of our age, no cheerfully yelling, just enjoining lunch. It can’t be any better. Allow me a word to my German readers, nobody never ever asked for some strange tests in the restaurants in Catalunya.
Pablo spoke of the menu and didn’t forget to mention what Spaniards do when eating out. They are known for socializing, an excellent idea in my opinion, and sharing food is the basics to it all. So, caracoles made their way on the table, a bottle of wine and bread. Talking to our Spanish friends is like coming home, wine and dine, sharing all the excitement of the bygone weeks and, of course, the newly gained impressions. Next was an enormous paella, Barcelona edition. The waiter dropped by here and then, making some jokes. Once he couldn’t resist the temptation, nodded to Pablo and me and said, you guys talk a lot. We smiled and continued what we could do best, swapping more words.
In retrospect, I can’t put my finger on it and name the kick-off to the next step. Was it the waiter who got inspired by us, as he had to say a lot too? Anyway, he was delighted with me. My name is Juergen, como Juergen Klopp, I usually say. Here, the words opened doors literally, and he showed us around. The building got everything old, and traditional one can imagine. There is a massive table for King Arthur and his Spanish friends, another open room, two stories high, with a dining table on ground floor, staircases around to top level. At the ceiling hung dozens of Jamon Ibericos, with what looked like tiny upside-down umbrellas for grease collection.
The tour ended in front of a wall, and the waiter said, Juergen, I want you to look at this. He took the photo and handed it to me. I looked at a happy, smiling guy right between two women. Call me an idiot, but all three people didn’t say anything to me at first glance. Beate got next to me, a brief look, and yelled, oh, Robert de Niro. I knew I had seen that guy before, I thought, a bit slowly, admittingly. I asked the waiter if he would like to take a pic of me, Beate and Isabel, to tell the story of Juergen, como Klopp for future customers. He laughed but was only interested in real celebrities. We were about to go when we ran into a lovely lady. It turned out that she was the boss. She spoke very well English and was as talkative as Pablo and me. In a nutshell, three soulmates and conversationalists ran into each other. I asked her about Robert de Niro. He was in Barcelona for shooting and dropped by in the restaurant.
Did you hug him goodbye I asked. Sure thing, she said. Okay, I replied, I have to embrace you too. You can imagine our talks and doings drew the guests’ attention, and I hugged the lovely lady too. So, I summoned, I can tell our friends that I embraced the woman who hugged Robert de Niro. People thought that funny, the waiter too, as he quickly added, hug me as I have hugged Robert. A great restaurant, Los Caracoles, I knew it the very moment when I stood in front of it.