Sunday, 27 June 2010

Spain V Chile: The Ultimate World Cup Pub (bar & restaurant) Crawl

By Rebecca Brett

Never have I seen so many Spanish people (obviously, outside of Spain) in one place as I did last night at Camino. The place was saturated with senors, senoritas, red and yellow flags, paella and sangria galore.

Sitting waiting for the rest of our four-strong group to arrive, I went to the nearby Starbucks for a quick coffee and a read of the Evening Standard. As I sat at the window I spent most of the time counting how many people with Spanish flags and faces adorned with face paints went by. If I didn’t know where I was going, all I needed to do was follow the crowds descending from Kings Cross to find the perfect spot.

Once the rest of the group was in tow we made our way to Camino. It felt like walking down La Ramblas with the sound of Samba coming from the courtyard. For all the matches shown at Camino, The London School of Samba will be there creating a carnival atmosphere with the samba beat before the match, at half time and then depending if the right team win, after the match too.

We sat outside in the Varnisher’s Yard for the game. There is a small seating area and a huge space for people to stand to watch the match. We were sat directly in front of the screen - it was like being at home with the best quality surround sound speakers - and they even had a huge speaker in front of us with the commentary on. Camino is certainly not a place for a quiet chat. There are also more screens inside, in case the weather isn’t as glorious as it was last night. Although I dread to think what the heat would be like if everyone was packed inside.

And the place was packed. People were sitting on the floor in front of the screens, queues of people trying to get in from the streets, and there was a queue for the toilets… the MEN’S toilets! I felt smug as I passed them to the queue-free ladies. One of the gentlemen dining with me described the men’s toilet as “the hottest place in the universe.” It’s not something I’d queue for.

The waiting team were rushed off their feet and it was evident in how long we were waiting for a pitcher of sangria, only to be told after half an hour that the bar staff didn’t have enough time to prepare it. We kept things simple after that with cans of Heineken in an ice bucket (4 for £10) for the lads and us ladies shared a bottle of Spanish rosé. Ole!

The match kicked off, the music stopped but the carnival atmosphere continued with Mexican waves streaming through the crowds behind us and cheers of ES-PAN-YA every other minute.

Spain needed to win the match to qualify for the group stages so when Villa kicked the ball in to a goalkeeper-less goal the whole place erupted. Who needs to be in South Africa when you are at Camino?!

Shortly after and Beausejour had a great opportunity to equalise but the shot took a deflection and went wide. Shrieks followed by cheering echoed throughout the square.

Back down the other end of the pitch and a brilliant pass for Iniesta made it 2-0. The sound of the vuvuzelas in the crowd started and the drummer from the Samba group started banging his drum to another chorus of Es-pan-ya. I almost felt Spanish as I sang along with the rest of them.

After the goal I was a bit confused that a red card was shown to Estrada, apparently he had tripped Torres over on the edge of the box. I was concentrating too much on the goal to have noticed.

At half time I would like to say we were treated to a huge paella, but it didn’t taste as good as it looked. So many other people had the same on their tables; I couldn’t help but think that the kitchen was struggling just as much as the bar, preparing so much paella for the masses.

Half time over and I’d barely focused my eyes back on the screen again before Rodrigo Millar made a come back to make the score 2-1. Either not much happened after that and the score stayed the same, or I was too involved in the atmosphere and vino to have noticed much happening on the screen in front of me.

I’d say that Camino really is THE place to be to watch Spain play, whether you are Spanish or otherwise. I wouldn’t sit at a table again, though, the ambience is where the crowds are and I can honestly say that you aren’t missing much with the paella.

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