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A week before Learning to Drive in Barcelona

6th July 2015
Bacalao al pil pil con pebrots de Padrón by Bil Sinclair

A glimpse of how life is lived here.


Caught up with a friend from the States en route to Italy.

We headed to Bar Bodega Quimet for a few vermuts before grazing around and settling awhile in a tapas bar, Gastarea, on Carrer Verdi, which I’ve never visited before, to enjoy a couple of montaditos before tucking into plates of bacalao al pil pil and pebrots de Padrón. I’ll be back.

After a stroll, and a relaxed cocktail at La Cigale, we ended the night in one of my favourite drinks bars, El Cine on Carrer del Torrent de l’Olla.


First thing, met with an esteemed international theatre and opera director to discuss his forthcoming visit to the Edinburgh festival.

Later, after spending an hour or so on a novel in progress (Heavensfield), and an hour or so on a non-fiction book (How to Eat like a Local in Barcelona), I met with a trusted friend at his parents’ apartment in L’Antiga Esquerra de l’Eixample. We discussed plans for a very special tri-lingual wine-tasting I’ll be hosting in November.

Entrance to an apartment building on Carrer Provença

Entrance to an apartment building on Carrer Provença in L’Antiga Esquerra de l’Eixample


Today that once very special design store, Vinçon opened and closed its doors to the public for the very last time. I didn’t go along. I’d read Quim Monzó’s piece in La Vanguardia and… well, for slightly different reasons…couldn’t face it. Something about being here, in Barcelona, has now died.

Vinçon, Barcelona


In the evening I met with the film-maker, Justin Donlon, at Gredos, a granja, or snack bar, across the street from Verdaguer metro, to discuss my role in a planned documentary about the artist, Geoff Harwood.


In the evening, we met up with dear friends at Gredos and went along to a Beer Festival in Poblenou. It was a good do, and a grand time was had by all.



In the evening my better half, her son and I met at Bar Oller for a drink before traversing across Gràcia to a 22:20 screening of Isabel Coixet’s, Learning to Drive at Cines Verdi. We dropped into Bar l’Amistat, where we had morros and zarajos, before calling in at Lucania II, where we hoped to spend time enjoying slices of delicious pizza. However, it was really very busy, as always, and the clock was against us. We ate what we could but, at the end, had to ask for a doggy-bag. But it was still delicious, excellent pizza, which we scoffed surreptitiously during the movie.


The movie, Learning to Drive, starring Ben Kingsley, and directed by local dirctor, Isabel Coixet, was ok, verging on good. The acting, camerawork and editing all superb. But for me, the script lacked a certain necessary tension.

Enjoy Barcelona.

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