There are billions of bars in Spain. Community. Sense of belonging to neighborhood. Gossip. Chat of the day. When I go out with friends in Spain, we go to a bar first, movie or activity second, and back to the bar. People in Spain love to hang out. Throw away your watch when you come to Spain. Robin Graham, our guest writer and expert from Southern Spain, takes you into an ordinary bar. Not a slick, trendy bar, this is the real thing. And, Granada is known for their excellent tapas.
By Robin Graham
You know when you’ve reached Bar La Trastienda because it says “Bar La Trastienda” over the door, but everything else is telling you to turn around. It’s quiet and you’re facing an antique and slender double door of plain sheet metal. The upper section of each half is a paned glass panel, covered with net curtains which fail to obscure the interior scene.
The light inside is fluorescent and there are two women in white coats, which makes quite an impression. They aren’t alone, surrounded by what you take to be their neighbours. They are all of a certain age and their chatter, when you timidly push one of the doors open, puts an end to the quiet. Over their heads and – now that you’ve stepped down and in off the street – over yours, hangs an inverted forest of embutidos; salchichones, morcillas, chorizos.
Apart from the neighbours, sausages and dark wood counter, all is white and brightly lit. It’s the kind of tiny shop you still remember from your boyhood, and family visits in the mountains of Galicia. The oily scent of cured meats spiced with pimentón; inexplicable lace doilies draped over any available surface; Jesus and/or Mary everywhere you look.
This isn’t Galicia, though; it’s Granada, and this isn’t meant to be a shop. According to The Guardian, it’s supposed to be a bar. You’re frozen at the door, unsure of how to proceed and on the point of retreating when one of the white-coats gestures to the right, to a big old antique till. As wrong as it seems, you comply and squeeze behind it and through a little doorway.
You find yourself trastienda (behind the shop). Benches line little recesses along a wall tiled in green, yellow and black – the archetypical Moorish patterns of Granada and its Alhambra palaces. The tables and stools are low to the ground and the room is dimly lit by little table-top lamps. Surprisingly chic, there is no piped music – just the hum of chat from a few patrons.
Relieved and delighted, you take a seat and order a caña, and because you’re in Granada you sit back to wait for your free tapa, which as it turns out is no surprise; a nice bit of salchichon from the ladies out front.
Plaza de Cuchilleros 1, Granada.
What has been your experiences in bars in Spain?
Robin Graham, writer extroidnaire lives in Tarifa. He writes about places and experiences in Spain, some as he says, “made up,” perfect for his site name: www.alotofwind.com His writing is well crafted and at times, when I plan to spend three minutes on his blog, I read and read and read.
©Robin Graham 2012