Every guidebook covering Barcelona mentions champagneries with the emphasis that it is simply unthinkable not to visit to at least one of them. If you haven’t been to a champagnery, you haven’t been to Barcelona. It turned out that everything wasn’t so transparent as it seemed, but rather dramatic. I could locate only two champagneries: the very El Xampanyeria in the Old Town and Can Paixano closer to La Barceloneta. The first one left me completely indifferent at the sight of the tourist crowd loaded with magnets, while the second one caught me by the buzz of locals; so twice we attempted to get in.
This task is rather complicated for a first-timer. As soon as you turn to Reina Cristina Street, on either side of the street you can see a long tight line. First time we left right off: two ‘royal’ people, but there was not enough place for us? A line? And waiting not even for a new iPhone? Second time, I got inspired by the Spanish conquistadors and decided to get inside at all costs. Well, it means, I just passed the crowd and came in. There is no line, just people hanging out on the street, and this has nothing to do with the access system.
For neatniks and snobs from the sterile Minsk, Can Paixano looks horrible, it’s such a hellhole, a nest of vice, where there is not a single stool, one has to wrestle at the bar counter, the only menu hangs on the wall and isn’t in English, and if the bartender doesn’t understand you, then this is your problem, not his. Does everyone swear? Complain? No. It’s like a super tight party in the kitchen of your friend, where friends and acquaintances came from all over the world.
It’s easy to get along with the bartender, the main trick is to shout “Cava!” distinctly, you don’t even need to specify which one, you can show the quantity that you need with your fingers. In the nick of time glasses will appear in front of you, the green glass of a bottle will flash in the air – and voilà – your glass is not just full, you want to slurp from it straight away without even lifting it up from the counter. As is common in Spanish bars, food lies right over the counter, behind glass compartments, usually it’s delicious and picturesque tapas, but in this instance it’s raw meat: chicken, beef – but once again ‘hit-and-miss’ method works. Randomly point a finger at the meat you want your sandwich with – and it’s done.
A sandwich appears in your hand in about three minutes, piping hot (right at the counter there is a brazier) and it’s huge, wrapped in paper, no silverware needed; a new sandwich evokes the genuine interest of the new guests, they ask: “What’s that? What’s that thing you holding?” New connections are pouring like cava. Someone from the back passes six empty glasses, they pile up on the empty space on the counter, just a moment later, there are seven more. You are surrounded by smoke and noise, the counter is sticky, but it feels so good – you spin into the crowd, and you don’t even count glasses, especially since the price is just 1.2 euros.
Carrer de la Reina Cristina 7, Barcelona
Mon-Sat 09:00 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.
Sun – closed
A glass of cava – 1.2 euros, a sandwich with chicken – 2. 85 euros