Barcelona Diary 1

I flew into Barcelona last night. Within an hour or so I was in a little bar with a beer in front of me and a cigarette in my hand. So nice to be somewhere civilised again. But there was an edge of grief as I looked at the relaxed people chatting at the bar and smoking, because in a month or so a total ban comes into force in Spain. I´m still not sure whether it´s quite as comprehensive as the UK ban.

My Spanish friend on the other side of the table said that bar owners were already protesting that the ban would close many of them down, so it sounds like there will be resistance. She also told me that Madrid was one of several autonomous regions in Spain, and that it had refused to enforce the existing mild ban. That´s the one that allows bars with an area less than 100 square metres to choose to be smoking or non-smoking. Doesn’t seem likely they’ll be enforcing the new, more comprehensive ban.

I woke up this morning into what seemed like a warm sunny English summer day, enjoyed a couple of slow cafes con leche and cigarettes in the cafe next to the hotel, and then strolled through the sunlit streets to find the cyber cafe I’m now sat inside. It looks like I should be able keep posting.

I’m now wondering if there might be something I can usefully do while I’m here. I might be able to find out more about the new smoking ban, and just how comprehensive it is. I’m also wondering if I might ask at cafes and bars whether the proprietors plan to fight the ban. Not that I could actually ask, because my Spanish is only sufficient to order myself a beer. But I might be able to compose, with Spanish help, a little written or printed questionnaire for them to them to peruse while I sit at a table with mi cerveza.

Perhaps, if anyone has any suggestions, they could leave them in the comments. I’ll be here for a few days. The sort of questions I was thinking of asking were: do you think the new ban will affect your business? Do you propose to propose to protest against the new ban? Do you think there will be compliance with the new ban?

About Frank Davis

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5 Responses to Barcelona Diary 1

  1. Anonymous says:

    You jammy git…..
    …it’s pissing it down here! But very glad to hear that your blogging will be intermittent for a nice, not nasty, reason.
    One thing I’d like to ask is whether any of them have had complaints about ‘second-hand smoke’, written or oral, from their tourist visitors – esp. the Brits?
    A friend of mine has just come back from somewhere or other and said much the same as you – how civilized it is to find yourselves treated like any other normal person. There was one especially appealing bar that they used a lot. I suggested she might drop the landlord a line, thanking him for it. I’ve heard that’s how the other side operates.
    Do they know how things are back here, by the way?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Good to have you back with us again so soon, Frank!!
    It may tax your Spanish skills somewhat, but I think it would be a good idea to try and get across to the Spanish bar-owners (particularly those who don’t think the ban is going to affect them very much) the devastation which the ban has wrought on our equivalent establishments over here, i.e. pubs (particularly the little ones). No doubt most of them only get news of how massively successful and popular the ban has been over here and how pub trade has rocketed through the ceiling as a result of it. It might also be worth pointing out that the lack of a concerted protest campaign by pub owners in the UK, indeed efforts to be seen to be “reasonable” by offering non-smoking areas, simply gave the Government the green light to press ahead with as draconian a ban as they could dream up. Good stats to quote are: pub closures: 2005 = 2; 2006 = 6; 2007 = 27; 2008 = 39; 2009 = 59. Then ask them to guess which year the smoking ban came in! And, of course, if they think it’s going to stop here, then they should open their eyes and see what’s going on in countries which have had bans in for some while now, and who are now pushing for even further restrictions.
    Don’t know if you’ll find all that lot in a Spanish phrase-book, though!

  3. iessalb says:

    I know the feeling of your first sentences well, my friend. I used to go to Mexico all the time to enjoy a “Freedom Break” from America’s smothering, safe-as-milk, do-good lifestyle. My finger would be poised on the seat-belt release so that the second I crossed the border, off it went for the entirety of my stay. I would haul my dirt-bike in the back of the truck and ride it sans-helmet to my hearts content.
    I spoke fluent Spanish and when I’d enter a cantina I’d sometimes habitually ask, “Esta bien para fumar?” and the hostess would get a quizzical look on her face like “What a stupid question!” Of course you can!
    Here’s the topper. I found out that you could bring back ten cartons of Mexican cigarettes and not just one, which was the commonly distributed misnomer. You just had to pay a $2.87/carton duty on each the extra nine cartons. I saved about $135 in the bargain per trip. I also avoided actor Rob Reiner’s obnoxious $5/carton “for-the-children” (literally, it went to his pet project pre-school fund) California state tax. I felt so proudly victorious with this triple-crown achievement it is beyond description. I glowed with satisfaction for days afterward and Mexican cigarettes are quite good, too.
    I don’t know anything about customs duties in Europe, but see if there is a possibility to bring back some Spanish cigarettes.
    On the return trip I would cross the border back into the antiseptic, brave new world of my own country and you could just feel the fun dissipating by the minute. The seat-belt went back on, no-smoking bars everywhere, and very few smiles anywhere to be seen. Ahh, America the beacon of liberty!, NOT.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I have found this site very helpful. As you are away from home, you will need a pen and paper, but the translation is very accurate.

  5. Anonymous says:

    haha sorry….and this is the site

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