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By Regina Winkle-Bryan
El Raval is one of Barcelona’s coolest areas. If you are a hipster wearing expensive ripped jeans and black, large-framed nerd glasses (even though your vision is perfect), then you will want to make sure to live in El Raval.
If you are interested in setting up a kebab business, you will not want to consider El Raval, as the market is saturated. Late night party people head to this barri for a delicious (or maybe not so delicious, you wouldn’t know, because it’s 3:00 a.m. and you’re drunk) chicken, beef or even falafel kebab after the bars close.
Don’t get me wrong, I adore El Raval’s strange bars, the arty boutiques, and underground music scene. However, I saw three things there the other day that made me want to retch into my nearest dumpster. Let me take you back to that day….
As I crossed over La Rambla on C/ Hospital into El Raval I had not walked two meters before I saw a nicely dressed woman in her 50s snort a wad of mucus from her nose. She did so by covering one nostril and blowing through the other. I believe some people call this a ‘snot-rocket’. Perhaps by nature, or as a writer, I am observant. I saw this snot-rocket in slow motion. She wiped it from her face with the sleeve of her jacket. I yelped, “My God!” startling the man next to me. I don’t think he had seen the snot-rocket. I wish I hadn’t.
I trudged on. I came to an intersection where I saw a hippyish white van with ‘art’ spray painted on its exterior. I was checking my phone when I noticed someone put a large jug out from the van, then shut the door again. I looked closer. This was a mistake. What I thought to be cooking oil was nothing less than a bottle full of urine with a some s*$!t floating in it. Again I yelped, “But MY GOD!” and stepped back swiftly running into a skater on his board.
Onwards I went. I stopped into a nice restaurant called Anima and had one of the best lunches I’ve eaten in a really long time for about $12.oo (three courses). As I sipped my espresso after a satisfying Mediterranean meal I thought to myself, “See, El Raval is not so bad! There are so many gems here!” I tried to forget the ‘olive oil’.
Off I went, feeling full, satisfied, and happy. It was about two blocks down from the restaurant when I had to jump to the side in a sort of salsa move in order to avoid stepping on a syringe. “Geezus!” I cried, and an old man on a bench raised an eyebrow uninterested.
There has only been one time when I was almost forcefully robbed, it was in El Raval. The robber came by running and grabbed my purse, which was wrapped tightly around my arm, he tugged at me but the bag wouldn’t budge, so on he ran away, empty-handed. I also had my cell phone stolen in El Raval a few years ago. What a drag, right? Robberies, syringes, poo; but it’s not that bad. It is oh so hip, too, especially at night when all the bars are open blaring indie music into the streets and the darkness veils the grime, crime, drugs, and dilapidation.