Sitting in yet another hotel in Barcelona: basic, utilitarian – but en suite (I have my limits.) This time it is in preparation for a performance of Tosca. Now that my time is my own, I have adopted the luxury of getting myself a room in the city so that I do not have to traipse off into the midnight traffic at the end of the opera. This room could hardly be better situated: it is within yards of the Liceu, hence its name Hostal Operaramblas. It may only be two stars and there is no TV in my room, but location, location, location! I might even book for the next one while I am here.
And that is another thing. As The Rough from Reading will be descending on the exact date of my next opera performance I have had to change my ticket. Pre-crisis this would have meant a payment of some sort, but not today. Today the Liceu is pathetically grateful for any and all opera patrons, especially ones like myself who have paid for the most inclusive ticket at the start of the season. For we ‘royalty’ of the opera world, nothing is too much. So my ticket was changed with no charge. Some things are better during a crisis. But not many.
I am relaxed about getting to the opera even though it is quarter past seven and I have not had a shower. I need a shower because of the bus journey. I had to stand most of the way and the seats (when I finally got one) seem to be designed to destroy the bones in your spine. Even as I type I am aware of a sharp ache courtesy of Barcelona transport. And that is before I get to my seat and have an overlay of further pain from the design of the sitting device that seems to be common in most places of public entertainment. At least I will not have to stumble far to get to a bed and relax.
I could, of course go to the appalling Indian restaurant which is opposite the Liceu at the end of the performance, but I have been there before and to say that the food is disappointing is to be too generous. Anyway I had an excellent lunch which put me in mind of the sorts of bargains in the food line that I used to get when I first arrived in Spain. The meal of appetiser, salad, paella, round fishy things (the word for which has temporarily escaped my mind, but will return), a sort of cheese dessert, bread, wine and Casera – all for €8.50! Astonishing. And it was Toni’s turn to pay for the tea and coffee in the shopping centre so, all in all an excellent meal. I am sure that it will last for Tosca and a bit beyond.
Now a shower and to get ready, or put a shirt and tie on and onwards and upwards to melodrama and music which can reduce me to tears.