A Spanish Coming-of-Age Movie

I’m such a sucker for coming of age films, 16 Candles, Virgin Diaries, and even indie films like Electrick Children are just my jam. There’s something so raw about a young protagonist trying on a new identity or becoming independent that inspires me and reminds me of what it was like to try on something new for size. I love movies of any kind but this genre will always be my go-to.
Around the same time this blog came into the blogosphere, 3 years ago or so, I was walking around my neighborhood in Latina, Madrid. A three story bar called El Viajero looked like it had been shut down, it had metal barricades all around it with graffiti and stickers (such is life in the urban center). Bars come and go so frequently in Latina that I didn’t think much of it until one day that same week I saw a film crew go inside. That evening I heard music blaring from the bar and directors orders over a bullhorn mic and with time, forgot completely about the event.


El Viajero: on the corner of Cava Alta and Plaza de Cebada, Madrid

Flash forward with me 3 years to this summer on my flight home, the annual migration back to Portland that has come to mark time for me biannually. It’s a long trip (2 planes minimum to be exact) and on rare occasion I have a transcontinental flight that doesn’t have movie screens so I put a few things in my iPad to be safe. I grabbed “El club de los incomprendidos” which billed itself as a cute coming of age film (check!) based in Spain (check!) who moves from a small town to La Latina with her mom (wait…what?!). It dawns on me ten minutes into the movie that not only is it a direct inspo from the Breakfast Club but also this bar, El Viajero, actually features prominently in the movie – it’s the restaurant that brings the protagonists to Madrid and the meeting place for the girl and her teenage friends, the “club”. Indeed it’s magical, the terrace on the top of this bar is lush and covered in twinkling lights, just like in reality.

So if you, like me, enjoy movies about daily life in other countries I highly recommend this (cheesy) flick about Valeria and her friends. And if you, like me, love eating good food and you find yourself in Spain you should try El Viajero cause it’s damn good (just don’t get the bravas…they’re overpriced). Or do both! And be that girl.