I’m a Portland, Oregon native. Some say Portland is among the five best places to live in the world. Others say it’s where young people go to retire. That’s fine, but that’s not what Portland is all about. Portland is all about beer.
Portland has more than sixty breweries, more than any city in the world, according to Wikipedia. A pub with fewer than ten taps is a slacker. Fifteen or twenty is normal. Twenty-five is worth staying a while.
Thus, you can imagine my disappointment when upon arriving in Girona, I rarely found more than one tap in a pub. In Portland, you first request a beer list and find a beer to suit your mood (and the weather, and the people you’re with, and what you’re wearing). In Girona, you have little choice other than to say “Una cervaza, por favor,” and they bring you whatever’s on tap. Usually an Estrella Damm (a Catalan pilsner). In a small glass. Harrumph!
The Good News On the other hand, my other liquid passion is cava. I discovered cava years ago, on the bottom shelf of the champagne section where they put the cheap stuff. Drawn to it by its price, I found that it held up well to sparkling wines costing ten times as much. (We hosted a champagne-tasting party once where a six-dollar cava placed second to the very expensive French stuff.)
Catalonia is cava country. My disappointment with Girona’s paucity of beer is well offset by its abundance of cava. In the big supermercats, there’s usually an entire aisle of cava. An aisle! And cheap: two euros, four euros, thirteen at the most. And the two-euro stuff is good! In our first five nights here, we drank four bottles of cava, costing about twelve euros total.
Every place has its cupful of Heaven. In Portland it’s beer. In Girona it’s cava. Life has its rewards, no matter where you are.