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Friday, July 24, 2015

Against All Odds

Upon arriving in Valencia and learning that Spain ranks second for bars per capita I had in mind the unrealistic goal of stopping for a drink in each and every bar, restaurant, and café (many places fit all three of these descriptions). Another of my goals—a bit loftier and soberer—was to read Don Quijote in the original which proved to be a lot easier than hitting every bar in town. Some would call my quest quixotic: having or showing ideas that are different and unusual but not practical or likely to succeed.That sounds like something a quitter would say.

If you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all. That's a common saying but what kind of attitude is that in life? “I’ve been to one country, why bother seeing another?” Does that sound like sound advice? “The thing about the Louvre, if you’ve seen one historic masterpiece you’ve seen them all.” Did I just equate cafés in Valencia to works of art in one of the world’s leading museums? Maybe I did but have you ever tried to watch a football match at the Louvre? Talk about getting shushed to death. How about we turn this adage on its ear? “If you haven’t been to all of Valencia’s bars maybe you need to get out more?” I think this better reflects my core values.

I could probably reach this improbable goal if I never had more than on drink in each bar...but where's the fun in that? This actually used to be a strategy my friends and I invented back when we were running around the Greek Islands for a few summers. We called it Hit and Run in which we would never have more than one drink in any given island bar no matter what was happening. It sort of kept us a bit less drunk as walking between cocktails burned some alcohol. It also fueled the sort of frantic nature of our nightly forays into one of the best scenes for young people that I’ve ever come across.

Most of my stops in cafés have been for coffee so this isn't a tell-all about binge drinking. I'm sorry if I led anyone on but as I have mentioned before, Spanish bars are mostly  family-friendly places. Many serve as sort of an extended living room for the entire neighborhood where people come to watch TV, read the paper, get a quick bite to eat, and sometimes have a drink or two.