Not another one.

So, I’m preparing a tutorial on Madrid for Nikki here, but when I downloaded a bunch of photos for her, I saw this one, and took a moment to recall the thought I’d had when I took it.

Which was… I sure am glad Boeing didn’t have anything to do with this Max, ’cause I hate to think of how they’d have f*** this one up.

Sorry. Can’t help myself sometimes.

It’s Frankie vs Ernie. And… Sinatra wins.

The photo below is of Museo Chicote at Via Gran 12 in Madrid. Previously known as Chicote’s, from when founder Pedro Chicote opened his eponymous lounge in 1931.

It was a favorite watering hole for Ernest Hemingway, back when he worked for a news syndicate with offices up the street at Via Gran 28.

And over the decades it’s been patronized by many rich and famous people, including Salvador Dali, Sophia Loren, Ava Gardner and Frank Sinatra.

There are photos of all of them on the wall above the bar and elsewhere in the lounge.

But one person clearly ranks over everyone else: Sinatra. And the decorative signage outside the lounge makes that clear.

The sign with Sinatra’s name- his first and last name- is both wider and taller, though these photos don’t show it. The largest letters, other than “MUSIC” are for Sinatra’s first name. Followed by the only name needed to refer to the guy.

Over on the right side of the frontage, “Hemingway” not only doesn’t get a first name, he has to share the sign with Ava Gardner, who does get her first named used, though with really small typeface. (Kinda ironic, in light of the fact that Sinatra really yearned to share any space with the lovely and sensual Gardner, who reportedly broke his heart after a passionate but failed love affair.)

Or maybe I have it all wrong, and Mr. Chicote felt that Hemingway was such a presence that he didn’t need a first name?

OK. Sure. Why not.

Though I suspect the real reason is that lots more people listen to music recordings than read books.

Hemingway was a literary lion. But Sinatra made teenage girls wet their panties with excitement, women swoon and men overheat with jealousy.

No matter how much Hemingway drank or how many animals he killed, he couldn’t match that.

Sinatra has his own photo out at the front of the restaurant, all smiling and “ring-a-ding-ding” looking.

Ernie has his picture prominently displayed with Mr Chicote, clinking glasses at the bar. With his name beside the photo. As does Grace Kelly, pictured below Hemingway, looking rather like she’s in no mood to bend an elbow at the moment.

Other more recent but less legendary celebrities are pictured, but not named. Like Hugh Grant, in the upper right of the photo below.

Museo Chicote is a great place on a great avenue. Excellent in its own right, even without it’s long history.

And lots of fun to sit and ponder if you’re drinking at the very same spot where Hemingway or Picasso or Ray Milland or Sinatra once sat.

Though somehow I can’t picture Sinatra anywhere but a booth, holding court. After all, he was The Chairman of the Board.

Btw, who’s this guy, anyways? Seems awful young to be drinking.

Last stop, Madrid

Kicking back briefly in my hotel, enjoying a late check out before heading to the Barcelona Sants station to take a high speed train to Madrid.

My final destination before heading home March 28.

And, hey! Speaking of St. Patrick’s Day… ahem… high on my list of things to do in Madrid is visit several more of Ernest Hemingway’s favorite drinking spots. A feature I like to call…

As evidenced by two of his favorite taverns I visited in Barcelona, the only characteristic Ernest absolutely insisted upon when choosing a bar was that it have liquor. Wine, hard booze, even sherry, it didn’t matter. Just pour it in a glass and put it on the table. And leave the bottle, bud.

Elegant, average or flat out dive, Papa didn’t discriminate. Just imbibed.

I’ll also be covering the high falutin’ world that Nikki will inhabit when she arrives in Madrid May 4 on a business trip. Including what most likely is the poshest joint Ernie ever bent an elbow.

More to come.

Watching simple human joy on a terribly sad day

Was watching “Morning Rachel” via MSNBC Live Stream when the shouts and cheers of hundreds of kids came up through my open window.

Appears they were having some sort of mass Mommy-Daddy-kiddie race on the Career de Santa Madrona. 

First they ran one way.

Then they ran back the other way. 

All for the simple human joy of running and shouting and laughing and cheering.

Later the voices of hundreds of children could be heard chanting and singing the Queen lyric, “We will, we will rock you!”

A minute or two later, the tape of the Maddow show was cut short, and news and video of the horrid New Zealand massacre came on my screen.

And I was once again reminded of Sarah Young’s sad wisdom: “This is a fallen world where sorrows and blessings intermingle freely.”

I’m going for a long train ride up the beach now, and will try to focus on all His blessings. And sunny mornings when people run joyously.

Not fearfully.

A calm and lovely blue collar Riviera

I have been in Badalona, just north of Barcelona, for two days now. Late this morning I moved out of a apartment several blocks away from the main beach, to the Hotel Miramar, smack dab on the beach.

I’m very happy to be at my new lodging, especially with the cost, which isn’t much more than a Motel 6. But with a far better view.

One of the goals of this trip has been to see what’s good and what’s not so good on the ground here in Spain and Portugal.

Barcelona and Badalona, are good. Some of it very good.

Not feeling particularly expressive tonight (it’s past 10 p.m.) so I’ll just post a couple photos and a video from my wanderings about town today.

I really wish and hope you all can see this someday. More proof that the world is a beautiful place, and America doesn’t hold a monopoly on greatness.

The Hotel Miramar from the beach

Tomorrow I take the Renfe train that passes between my hotel and the ocean, up north to several old and beautiful seaside towns that people in Barcelona know about, but are largely unrenowned outside of Spain. They include, but are not limited to, Caldes d’Estrac, Arenys de Mar, and Sant Pol de Mar.

Looking west and up the street from the corner of the Hotel Miramar in Badalona.

They are quick and easy and incredibly cheap – as in two to five euros- to get to. And the train runs right along the coast, just two or three hundred feet from the ocean.

View from my open hotel window at the Miramar.

Life has its challenges, but there’s also a lot of peace in this world if you’re open to. Like below.

The Killer Bees go trick or treating in Barcelona

All of last week little kids and teenagers were running around Barcelona in all sorts of costumes, many with a “Day of the Dead” look.

Saturday afternoon the old folks got to the party. Photo taken two or three blocks from the Hotel Alba.

I think I spotted a couple of old SNL casts members in the group, but I can’t be certain.

Scouting my next stop

Woke up and opened my curtains to this site this morning.

A quite delightful way to wake to your day. After breakfast I headed out to Badalona on the excellent public transit system.

The small sea side city of Badalona is about three or four miles north of the Barcelona city limits, around 10 or 12 minutes away by the T4 tram line and a transfer to the R1 Renfe train.

I’m headed there tomorrow afternoon, but this morning I decided to scout it out to see if the reality on the ground matched the maps. As usual, there were a few differences.

That isn’t a problem when I’m wandering about in shorts and a pull over. But tomorrow I’ll be lugging two pieces of heavy luggage, and the difference between “a short walk away” and the actual 10 minutes and six blocks can be a bitch to deal with.

In any event, there’ll be no surprises tomorrow. So I can just look forward to the next five days. And this.

Badalona has a very laid back beach town ambiance mixed with a working class feel. Nice mix. And more affordable than Barcelona.

Beginning of the main drag along the beach, about a block from the train station. The train continues along the beachfront (to the right). There are numerous underpasses to the beach.
The Hotel Miramar, where I’ll stay days three through five in Badalona.
Gotta love Good deals, and 4 x AA miles per dollar to boot.

I don’t feel so bad posting this for folks back home, as I hear it’s going to hit 60 degrees in the next day or two. Enjoy it. You’ve paid your dues for this winter.