In 1998:
Route Map
01 Extremadura
02 Cabo de Gata
03 Mallorca
04 Ronda
05 Madrid

In 1999:
06 Sevilla
07 Mojácar
08 Towards Norway

Rocinante the Tiger:
On the Road
An accident

And some more:
The Short Story
Bars in Andalusía
Nerja and Axarquía
Photo Gallery
The road home 2001

E-mail: mail at dagjen.no
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Bars in Andalucia

When you enter a local bar in Spain, you are actually entering in a spanish home. The bar owner has probably spent 3/4 of a lifetime in that bar, and he or she probably lives upstairs.

The expression "working hours" really doesn't exist here. Imagine yourself spending 15 to 18 hours a day at work , 7 days a week. And not for a couple of years only, but for a lifetime. I myself couldn't have worked that way. But the spaniard can. He takes maybe a month off in wintertime, but the rest of the year he works almost round the clock. Therefore you should not be surprised if you meet a barowner who does not exactly welcome you with the biggest smile when you enter the bar around closing hours, whenever that is, cause his probably very close to his bed and very anxious to get there after a long day.

Sometimes the mood of the barowner seems unpolite to a Norwegian who expect all people working in this business to wear the same polite mask. But there's a big and significant difference between Norway and Spain when it comes to bars. In Norway a bar is a place where grown ups go to get drunk. This is not a place for children and definately not a family place. The 'high morals' have made bars a non-existent place for the younger part of the population.

In Spain things ar quite to the contrary. A bar might be a prolongation of the family dining room. A taxi driver in Madrid told us; "In Spain we live outside of our houses". The whole family is still there at two in the morning. A couple we have befriended in Nerja run a small hole in the wall bar. He is a former cyclist, boxer, tennisplayer and god knows what else. They do not drink or smoke. If you visit them at home, they offer you a orangejuice or a coffee, or maybe a glass of tapwater. But they do work in a small, smokey room from people's drinking habits. They work seven days a week, from 10am to 3pm, and from 7pm to 01-04am. On sundays they take the morning off. This have been their life for the last seventeen years. Each break or siesta is used to workout, then it's back to work. From our point of view, a northern european point of view that is, this is madness. But in southern Spain it's just what you do to make a living.

The whole family might be in this place. Children of 4-5 years walk around late at night, young flamenco singers have a contest in a family owned bar at 12 o'clock in the night. There's no limit to the age. In some bars in Spain you read a sign saying 'Alcohol not allowed for people under 18 years', other bars say 16 years. We do not know who makes the rules.

A regular tapas bar looks like a mess after lunch hours. It's customary to drop whatever you had in your hands on the floor. Be that a sigarett, a napkin or the rest of the chicken, down to the floor it goes. When everyone's left, the wife of the barowner comes out and sweeps the floor. No limits.

One thing you rarely see in this land of bars and cheap beer, is drunk people. This is uncustomary, and the locals laugh of norwegians on a two weeks holiday who can hardly walk when they leave the bar. We experienced the anual mega party in Nerja, the San Isidro festival. The fiesta is famous in Spain and hordes of people come from as far of places as Madrid to visit. It's arranged elsewhere as well, but Nerja have the reputation of beeing the biggest and hotest of them all. And it probably is. The party is held outside the famous caves, three kilometer from the town centre and everyone is there. It starts on Thursday night and continues on Friday with the official fiesta. Some people don't go to sleep, they keep on partying throughout a good thirty hours. Even here we didn't see anyone who was really pissed, except offcourse foreign tourists. The barowners of the town move the whole establissement up to the caves and run the bar from there. There is alcohol sold everywhere, but the young people seem to drink with pride and character. The fiesta was extraordinary, and if you're in the area around the 15 of May, don't miss it. But save some energy to the main day so you'll be capable of enjoying the parade and afternoon happenings. We were advised that the night before was the best night for a party, so we stayed up late, drank some and were pretty wasted the next day. We regretted this when we found out that the party the next day was even better, because now everyone was in it, old and young.

When all this is said about the spaniard's pride in drinking, then I guess it's time to add that they're the biggest beer drinkers in the world, yes - even ahead of the Germans. So I suppose you don't have to be mathematician to conclude that there must be quite a few alcoholics around. There is, we've seen people all over southern Spain start the day in the cafe early in the morning with Carajillo or other local shots.

There is a bar in Nerja called Bar de Futbol, the football bar. We have visited the place a few times because of the barowners, a man and his wife far beyond retirement age in a bar that was decorated god knows how many years ago with fan stuff from different Spanish and English football clubs. The first time we visited the place we were on our way home after a slow night on town and heard what we believed was angry voices from the interior. We went inside and found six people in ther plus the owner and his wife. Two guys were discussing the result of the lates game, and all though they were right next to each other, they screamed. But they weren't angry, and the owner didn't mind. It was the way it should be. Next to us were a German with his wife. We ordered drinks and got a beer and the house wine. For the next ten minutes we stood and overheard the discussion between the two football fans. It was sunday night and the owner was obviously a little drunk. When he served drinks he whistled and poored a small glass to himself as well, trying to hide it from his wife, but doing it in front of us. We smiled at him and he blinked back. We decided it was time to go and paid, tipping some as usual. He looked at the tip, looked over at the German and threw the coin hard into the tipping bucket, keeping the German's eye and said; "This is what I do to nice customers", and filled our glasses again for free. The German looked embarrased and we realised that this was not the first time he had been bad customer in this place. We had a good laugh on the way back home.


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