Barcelona Diary 2

Another sunny day in Barcelona.

But I’m feeling rather frustrated by the language barrier. My Spanish is good enough for me to buy coffees and beers and empanadas, but not good enough to conduct conversations. I sit in bars and look at the proprietors behind the bar and wonder what they think about the looming smoking ban. If I could speak Spanish fluently I´d just ask them, and they’d tell me, and I’d know in about 10 seconds. But I can’t, so I don’t.

And I’m beginning to think that my questionnaire idea isn’t very good. First I have to 1) frame the questions in English, and then I have to 2)translate them into Spanish, and then I have to 3) get them printed, and then I have to 4) go round a few bars and ask for them to be filled in, and then I have to 5) collate the results. 1) is fairly easy, 2) isn´t impossible given online translators (one commenter gave a useful lead here, thanks), and neither is 3) now I´ve found out that the cyber cafe I’m using will print out text for me. Nor is 4) particularly hard – in fact it would be a pleasure. The problem sits between 4) and 5), and it’s that I can’t expect busy bartenders/proprietors to drop everything to fill out my questionnaire right then and there in front of me. They’ll almost certainly want time to think, and a day or two to reply, maybe more. They’ve got a job to do. And, in the end, this questionnaire is just my way of trying to get round my inability to speak fluent Spanish.

So I’m thinking that I might try to get my principal Spanish contact here to stroll around a few cafes and bars with me, just to ask a couple of questions while we´re buying a cortado. All I want to find out is whether little bars in Barcelona are worried about the ban. And if not, why not. It would be easy for her. But she’s rather busy at the moment. Very busy, in fact.

If the English experience was anything to go by, Spanish bars will be looking on the bright side. In short, they’ll be in denial. They’ll maybe just have to find out for themselves.

But I’m determined not to leave Barcelona in a couple of days time without having gained at least an inkling of the mood in Spanish cafes and bars. But if nothing else I do have some good contacts here that I can ask to keep an eye on things over coming months.

About Frank Davis

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