Sunday, August 03, 2008

Olivia Cafe, Barcelona

Somewhere off the Ramblas, on the way to work. It's lunchtime but you're looking for breakfast because you were working 'til gone 5 this morning. You want coffee and cake. You want to save your Patatas Bravas joker 'til later in the day.

The coolness of the cafe as you step in from the heat of the street is remarkable. There's a single row of wooden tables along one wall, and a single counter along the other. An espresso machine. Cake. Just two other customers at the moment. One of those functional, 'does what it says on the tin' cafes that they do so well "on the continent." You immediately feel that you could stay here all day; that you will be back tomorrow.*

You don't speak much Catalan, but you can say "un cafe doble." The woman behind the counter asks "Doble..." indicating a small cup with her fingers "..?" or "Doble..." indicating a large cup with her fingers "..?"

You say "Doble..." and indicate a small cup.

She says "Doble..." bends her arms at the elbows, clenches her fists and vibrates slightly "...grrrr?"

You smile: "Si."

You sit at a table facing the door. The coffee arrives. It is marvellous.

A father comes in with his daughter. She is three? Four? You're still not great at estimating children's ages, though you are getting better. The woman behind the counter plays with the girl, peering at her through the jars of cereal in the counter. The little girl is delighted with her chocolate milk. Everyone is smiling. You miss your little girl.

The father glances through the paper. They finish their drinks and are gone.

You finish your coffee. You look in your (unfortunately) Spanish (rather than Catalan) phrase book and find the word "outro."

*You won't.