Come and Knock at my Door

Unfortunately I’ve felt a desperate desire to write about this week’s happening. It just doesn’t get round my head that the world can be so cruel, so closed, so vulnerable and at the same time so blind, so narrow-minded, so narcissist. What am I talking about? Yesterday happened a terrorist attack in Barcelona, fifty meters away from where I work and very close to where I live. I was on my day off so I was at home. I was supposed to go out at the exact time of the incident, but for some reason I felt very tired all of a sudden and I decided to take a nap. Soon I woke up with some messages on my phone asking if I was ok. I didn’t know what my friends were talking about until I realized I could hear a lot of sirens and helicopters around my neighborhood.

I went online and everything was real; the images of my street, my work, my people. I’m not going to get into details, everyone knows what happened. I stayed hours locked down at home, on my own, talking to people about it and letting everybody know I was ok. I was trying to keep up to date with my work colleges that were still locked down at work with no prevision on when they would get to go home. My street was closed, police officers yelling to people so they would stop trying to go and see what everything was about. It wasn’t pretty, why would you want to try and see it?

And that’s why I’m writing today. When I woke up, I didn’t want to go to work, I didn’t want to walk through that street, I didn’t want to see it. I was already feeling it in my bones, why see it? It came to the moment I had to go out. First thing I noticed was the silence; even though the streets where filled with people, no one was talking. All around the Ramblas streets were blocked by police cars and police officers. Candles were lit all the way down. I saw some people gathered around some roses that were put on the road on a heart shape. I started to cry; the energy around there was immeasurable. I had to wipe my tears and get to work.

The restaurant was empty, everybody with their faces looking down. Not a smile, why would there be a smile?

Time for my break and I had to walk through the Ramblas down again. On my way back there were a lot of people just taking pictures; pictures of people praying, pictures of people lighting candles, pictures of the journalists that were filming. I got really upset. I just don’t understand how the human being became so blind that the only way they take all this tragedy in is registering a nation’s suffering and sending it on WhatsApp to someone across the globe to see how bad it is.

At work I found out that last night, the owner was even considering keeping the doors opened and making some money out of people’s desperation. The restaurant is fifty meters away from the terrorist attack, the police recommended that everywhere nearby should stay shut because they were looking for the murderer and even so my colleges almost had to stay open.

I just cannot understand people’s reaction to an atrocity that just happened and that has being happeing all around the globe. People have no filter, just for Instagram. People have no heart or compassion, all they want is to be the first to register a picture and have the biggest number of likes possible. And then we say there is no salvation, that is the end of the world and that violence is winning. Humanity is knocking at our doors and we are no letting it in. Instead, we are watching it all through an eight inches screen so that way we are safe right?

 

Back to Day One

Is funny how things turn up the way they do. This morning I woke up and realized two years ago I moved to London without looking back. I remember two weeks before that I was really anxious trying to decide whether I was going to move to Madrid or to London and I realized that August was the worst month to move to Spain so I chose England instead.

Once I decided that, I started to send CVs to everywhere I was interested on working at. There were more than thirty definitely. I remember being by the beach in Italy with my friends, and waking up at seven AM and starring at the phone waiting on answers. I got four of them and I bought the tickets for the week after that, booked a hostel at a central area so I could get everywhere with the tube without getting lost and that was it. I was going to London on my own.

When I started packing I tried to leave everything I could behind; moving on your own can be quite tough (and heavy). There were only three objects I couldn’t leave behind and they were my coffee mug, my moka coffee maker and a coffee tin I bought in Rome that I used to put the coffee powder in. I could leave everything behind but that.

That was one of the toughest weeks I’ve ever had in my life, but luckily I was so into it that the fact that I didn’t have a house, that I didn’t have a job, that I didn’t know anyone whatsoever there and that I was short of money, all of that didn’t scare me once and all I was concerned about was to make things happen.

This morning my routine was a repetition of what it was two years ago. I woke up early, took a shower in a house I share with other six people, made some fresh coffee that I took from the coffee tin in my moka coffee maker, poured it inside my coffee mug and had a quick breakfast with the same ingredients I used to have in London – white bread, cream cheese and ham. It was like living inside a flashback, where everything is new but it feels right, where the people I know I don’t really know but I have to trust them because I have nothing else left and that I have to live one day at a time, otherwise I’ll go crazy.

Today I was living the same day I had two years ago, but with a lot more stories to tell, many won challenges and a huge collection of failures. Today I asked myself if everything I’m doing is worth it, I asked myself if I’m getting somewhere or will this routine be played on repeat over and over again. I don’t know. I hope not.

Seven Days

Years have passed by and I’ve realized more and more that any decision, any change, any wait, any disappointment or any conquer lasts only seven days. My latest happening was my break up. Now it’s been exactly one week. In that week I cried too much, I spent money I didn’t have to sleep at a hotel, I hated myself.

On the first morning I woke up early enough to get the very expensive breakfast I paid for and enjoy the rest of my day searching for rooms to rent. That same day I had a viewing. And I had to go to work. That same day the viewing was disastrous and that same day the man, that once was the love of my life and that now I had wrecked everything because of who I am, told me he was leaving the country. That same day I went to work and had to sleep at a friend’s house. This friend I’ve met one week before.

The next morning I had to go to work again, and received calls from many rooms to visit, some very far from work, some very tiny, some very expensive. I made a reservation at a hostel until things got sorted out. I had a hand bag with enough clean clothes for a week, toiletries, uniform and socks. I went early to the hostel to drop my bag and go to work. In the middle of the afternoon he came to say goodbye, he was leaving that night. My heart hurt like it hadn’t hurt for a long time. Everything was so real at that moment. I had to go back to work. He didn’t want to wait for me to finish the shift to say goodbye. I went back to our old room and managed to stay there for a couple more days. I went back to the hostel to pick up my stuff – by that time it was already eleven in the evening. I went back to work to drink. I met a Scottish man that paid for a couple of my drinks. I went to our old bed and didn’t sleep.

Next morning I had to work and I had a viewing. The room was expensive but good enough to start again – with a bed, a desk and a shared balcony. I took it immediately and went back to work to give the guys the good news. I was starting to feel better. That same day the owner of the old room texts me saying I had to leave the next day because they needed to paint the room. My stress allergies started coming back instantly and I was freaking out again. I was so upset he wasn’t helping me out that I simply said I wasn’t leaving and that he had to deal with that. I think I was so straight forward with him that he didn’t even argue. Two days from then I packed everything and moved all my things to the new room, but I couldn’t move in completely yet, I just dropped all my life in a place that could be my new home. But it couldn’t be that easy right? So I put all my things inside the lift and went down by the stairs, but of course the lift got stuck with all my stuff in. I had to call the owner and I had to wake up the building manager. I did it. I called a taxi and it didn’t come. I waved to a taxi driver and he stopped, he didn’t want to take me but at the end he did. He moaned all the way. He wanted to leave me with all my five bags a block away from my new home. Finally at the building I managed to carry everything upstairs and the moving was done. I went back to work. I slept at my friend’s house again.

The next day I worked again. All of those days I had to drink quite a little bit too much so I could sleep. My last night out we went way too far with the drinking, but it was worth it. We danced, we met people and we even bounced out of a fight.

On the seventh day I was settled. I had my new room with all my things, I had new roommates, new neighborhood, new friend. On the seventh day I was feeling empty, starting again, alone.

A Coffee with Marc

The way we met was quite unexpected. Actually I was basically a stalker. My former boss had told me about Marc Alvarez when I said I was moving here, so I follow him on Instagram. Once I saw a picture of him flying to London, I gave him a bar hint to go. And that was it, all the contact we had, until last week.

I was sipping a Negroni at a bar when I realized that if I wanted some things to happen I would have to make them happen. So I texted him again on Instagram and asked if he would be interested in having an informal chat with me. Surprisingly he said yes, and we agreed on having a morning coffee.

 

I picked him up at Enigma and we walked to a coffee place he usually goes called Cuba de Janeiro. Thank god he is a talker, so I didn’t struggle whatsoever to get to know him. So we ordered our drinks, and he started talking about how Enigma is and what is it exactly. For those who don’t know, Enigma is one of the six restaurants owned by Albert Adriá, one of the most well-known Chefs in Barcelona. If you still haven’t got a clue of what I’m talking about, give it a quick Google, he is a big boy around here, and almost around everywhere.

Back to Enigma, what the hell is that? So basically is a restaurant that, what I understood, is to blow your mind away. Secret code to get in, several rooms you go through until the end where the bar is (and each room has a name, a concept and an outstanding architecture), and of course an amazing crew behind it all.

So Marc is part of this crew, actually, a big part of it. He is just not only responsible for all the company’s bars but also is part of the staff at Enigma, at least for now. He creates everything, makes research travels and reports it all back to Albert.

The thing is we didn’t just talk about this restaurant. We talked about Heart, the Ibiza project from the company that just now, on its third year, is opening its big wings and flying. We also discussed about Trip Advisor and how people taking pictures of their food could end up destroying everybody else’s first impressions on the dishes.

Putting that aside, the main part was talking about creativity (at least my favourite part). How does he create such innovative drinks? Where does the inspiration come from? Well, those questions weren’t exactly answered. Why? Because they didn’t need to. He comes from a humble family where things had to be done, where if you don’t ask you don’t get. He started working in hospitality very early and even though that wasn’t his main graduation (he graduated on Biology), he dedicated to it, and like always, with a little bit of luck and a lot of dedication, he caught Albert’s attention.

He had a massive challenge ahead of him, but that didn’t stopped him on going far and getting him to be the recognized bartender that he is today.

There is just one thing though, and this goes straight to you Marc. You still owe me a drink, remember?

Maybe, maybe not.

On January we decided we were going to move to Barcelona. Not only that, but we would try and work with the best. We sent CVs to everyone we could, and then this dream company answered back showing interest in us. Until then we were feeling high up in the sky.

We had a couple of skype interviews we were in. Everything was set. There was only one problem, it wasn’t the positions we wanted, neither the restaurant we wanted from the company group. At first we both said yes for the fact that once you are in, you are in.

Arriving in Barcelona we had one day to get the documents done and the day after we started working. Everything went very well and quick. I was going to be a part-time runner and Matt would be a help cook. We signed for it.

First day and problems already started. I was barely introduced to everyone and they put me to clean all the dining room. Until then it was fine, I know what a runner has to do. But little by little I started asking myself if I would really be up to doing that, for that pay, to maybe get transferred to the bar(the place I had originally applied). The thing is, everything had to be done with extreme dedication, and don’t get me wrong, everywhere I worked I dedicated myself. But maybe this time it wouldn’t be worth it. And it wasn’t.

By the fourth day we were both destroyed. We were both asking ourselves why we took a slaving, disrespectful and exhausting job.
It all came down to the fifth day. That day I realized that even with a part-time pay, I had done a fifteen hour shift (reaching 56 hours that week), at two o’clock in the morning we were still cleaning down and waiting on a staff meeting to resume the day. And the climax of the night was an extended meeting until four o’clock with the most clarifying speech I could have ever heard.

It was a speech made by the Head Chef. It started with – If you don’t see yourselves on this journey with us, you should leave. We are at a moment where we want the second Michelin Star. It would be insane not to want it. We are working hard every day to get to that point. If you are here just to pay your bills, you might as well go search for another job. If you are here and you don’t aim to be a head- waiter, or a Chef de Partie within the years, you should go. We have no time to waste on people that doesn’t want what we want. And that is the second Michelin Star right now.

It was all I needed to hear. On that day I arrived home at five in the morning. On that very day I wrote my resignation letter saying I couldn’t go through with all that bullshit (obviously I didn’t write it like that). Basically, I would work my ass off as a runner, to maybe get to be a waitress, to maybe be able to request a transfer to the bar, maybe. For me that was a lot of maybes just to maybe get to work side by side with the bartender I wanted to, maybe three years from then.

That’s just not my style. I decided to leave everything and maybe I’ll get there running from the other side.

Just Born.

Today, well, not exactly today, it was a couple of days ago, I realized I was actually living, working and enjoying Barcelona. Sounds weird for me, even more because I’ve been here for two months now.

Basically it was a shit day. I had woken up hating myself, hating my life and what I’ve been doing with it. But then, because I still had a couple of hours left before going back to work, me and Matt (my boyfriend) went for a walk around the Gothic Quarter. Suddenly we realized we were way passed it, already at a neihbordhood called El Born. This is a new upcoming área with lots of bars and restaurants that haven’t been distroyed by the tourists with outraging prices and very, very, very bad food.

Anyway, we stopped at a Vineria y Taperia place called Grapo. To start, before anything, I started crying – poor waitress. After I managed to recompose myself and order a glass of amazing Albariño wine, I decided I needed to start this bloody blog and do something about the need I have to share things. By things I mean from knowledge to cigarettes and coffee.

So we finally order some Cazón (fish) – with something that tasted like a cummin, or caraway batter, and a grilled octopus with potatoes. The food being so tasty at that moment was what I needed to give me the light and think: hey, people should know about this place!

More important than that, working in kitchens for four years made me appreciate even more the food because today I analyse how it could have been cooked, the spices that have been used, how well it paired with the wine we luckly chose.

All that made me realise it wasn’t just a coincidence that I wanted to write about food and travelling. It is almost a MUST, after all I’ve seen and tasted on the past few years in Europe.

Don’t you think?