Published: May 1st 2012April 30th 2012
Hola familia y amigos!
Trip and adventure-less this weekend (very relaxing!!) I have been walking the city and decided to write about a few of my favorite things about Barcelona, Spain, and Europe in general! There are so many aspects of the life here that I love and admire and can't wait to take back with me, the ones that I can at least. I can't put them in order and some have pictures along with them, but others wont, and of course most pictures truly do not give the places and things I love enough credit.
Graffiti- Here, especially so in Barcelona, graffiti is it's own art. Every shop-gate door, delivery truck and even the ground itself has messages artistically designed in spraypaint. English, Spanish Catalan and just pictures tells stories of the thoughts behind the people of each city and neighborhood. One artist in Barcelona caught my eye early on, with his name scattered all over the city "Nimek". I think the most interesting part about of it is that only ONCE have I seen it being removed. A lot of stores seem to embrace it and use it to their advantage, kind of a "if we
tag our own store with products or a design about what we sell...it can't be tagged by hooligans" thinking. It's a great addition to have a more vibrant city than actually demolishing it or covering it up.
Fresh Fruit Stands- How can you go wrong? Every fruit stand has a different crowd that goes everyday. You know when the fruit is starting to get old, since it is on sale and closest to the street. With liter bottles of water for a quarter of the price of a normal 12 ounce bottle and other snacks and goodies galore, these are the best quick stops around, and they are on every corner!
Street Fairs- Every Saturday Sunday and Holiday there is a street fair that happens down along the port and while its the same artisans every week, I love going to walk around and see if anything is new! Reminds me of going to the flea markets back home :)
The Smell of the Bakeries and Flower Stands- Oh. My. God. You know the part in "You've Got Mail" when he talks about the bread/donut trucks going to make the deliveries and the little cloud it leaves
behind? I now know what that cloud smelled like, carb heaven. Baguettes, donuts, croissants, mini calzones and any other bread product you can imagine is sold in these family owned shops and if they paired up with the flower shops, noses would go nuts in this town. Some flowershops make it seem like a jungle is just pouring out of the doors while other look like you finally found the secret garden. No matter the place, they all smell amazing and fresh and new everyday.
Dogs and Kids- Cute, cuddling, caring and crazy and often paired together and treated the same. Think about, we have kid leashes, and dogs in purses right? Well, walking today I saw a dog in a stroller and a child waddling beside it...weird right? Need to find a dogpark, just look for your closest playground and chances are it'll be pretty close around the block. Dogs walk without leashes, but stay close to their owner even walking up the block and waiting at the crosswalk for them to catch up...but the same goes for hyper kids on scooteer and training bikes out with tired mom and dad. Wanna know if it's safe to jay-walk,
check and see if the person walking the dog or pushing the stroller across is gonna go on red...THEN you know.
Calmness-Unless you are at a main metro stop, or on touristy ramblas, the rest of the city is relatively calm! Each coffee shop has pairs and groups of friends having a wine and munchin on some tapas any time of day. At the plazas there are groups of old men sitting around at the benches, which scour the city, people watching with canes in hand. Kids get picked up from school and walked home not being pulled by parents into a car to quick quick get to soccer practice! Poco a poco "little by little" and No pasa nada "Dont worry about it" are the mottos here, and what a way to live by!
Skaters- Scooters, skateboards, heelie shoes, and rollerblades are making a comeback (someone call the 90's!) One park outside my school in particular is the headquarters for young skaters to go out on the slab and do some tricks, of course no pressure that there are dozens of people watchers like me pretending to read while actually scoring your trick in my head...as if I
know what is it, or gasping each time someone has a bad tumble!
Pastries- Yes. Along with the smell of the Bakeries is the actual products too, and let me tell you they are just as amazing as they smell and look. My downfall, besides gelato, since I landed has been donuts becuase for some reason they seem much better here than home! (even the dunkin ones here are better!) My favorite donut place is acutally like a Kwik-i Mart, open 24 hours that sells everything from champagne, chips, gum and beer but also has a little bakery too with my Roll Choco. Plain donut with drizzled chocolate but when you bite into it SURPRISE there is chocolate drizzled inside too! Best 85 cents I spend once a week to boost my spirit :)
Sanitation and Organization- Walking to school every morning we pass sanitation vans with people sweeping leaves, cans and paper into it, and hosing off the street. Almost every other block has 3 huge bins for recylcing, which most families start in their houses already. Even the organization of the city is something completely different than what I've seen before, seperate traffic for bikes and
pedestrians, parking garages built into old apartment buildings and underneath the playgrounds and dog parks. The public transportation system is a marvel in itself, you can honestly never be "stuck" anywhere because there is a metro or bus just a few blocks in any direction. This is probably true in many other cities but never having to use it before I find it super convenient!
Gaudi- If you don't know his work, you're missing out BIG TIME. After visiting the Palau Guell, Park Guell and studying him in class I've come to absolutely adore his creative mind. I wish he could design a house for me! SO much detail and surrealism its a wonder he got anything completely....oh wait ;) (he didn't live long enough to see the Sagrada Familia finished..still a work in progress!)
Pride- While we study spanish...in spain, we live and breathe the Catalunyan culture and hanging from some gorgeous balconies are flags and signs that say "Catalunya is NOT spain!". With Catalan as their own dialect and language, own authors, artists, traditions, dishes and dances it really could be considered a different culture entirely. Signs are in half catalan and spanish, seperate catalan sections
People literally watching...a man standing. Still. Cracks me up every time
in bookstores and kids are taught in catalan but know spanish as well. On holidays like St. Jordi, which only Catalunya celebrates, spanish flags are not hung up but only Catalunyan yellow and red striped flags. That would be like if we only hung up the New York State flag on President's Day!
Pastimes- To kill some time on goregous days where I lack the will to find a park or museum to go to, I either head down through the neighborhood nearby and go to the gym. Or spend some time reading and munching some lunch right on the "Ramblas del Mar" with my FAVORITE view of the city and also some great people watching! You'd think everyone around there has a fear of pigeons. But since I've been here I find myself wondering around and ducking into all kinds of knick knack stores, specialty food stores and I've come to love bookstores. Yes mom...bookstores. I love looking in the travel sections and seeing what information they display for trips to the United States, and wouldn't you know it, for New York they usually only mention the city! Go figure, little do the readers of these books know
that there is an amazing state out there besides the soot and cramped like city. Another section I've come to love is the food section, so many books on tapas and mediterranean food but I wish some of them could be in our own measurements!
There are so many other things I've come to love about Europe, Spain and Barcelona but come on, you don't have ALL day to read about them ;)
Love and Miss you all!
Less than a month!
There are more photos below