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La vida en Bar-thay-lona, parte 1

October 22, 2011

So since I haven’t written in a while, there are a majority of topics I could cover. I could talk about the change of weather. But really, that’s the composition of lame, dry conversations, so I won’t go there. I could talk about what it was like to have a clash of two worlds when my parents came to visit me. But I’m not in the mood for that. I could actually cover some of my recent(ish) excursions, like when I went to Paris, Tarragona, Madrid (again), or my excursion today to Besalú and Figueras. But that just makes me sound like a tourist.

But today marks the two-month anniversary of my arrival here, and I think that deserves something more pertinent to my actual life here. Not that fun excursions or weather changes or parents coming aren’t part of my life, but they’re just fun blips. What I’m talking about here is my day-to-day, mundane (although I’d hardly call it that!), typical routine here. I love Barcelona in a way that I can’t fully explain, but I’m going to try to scratch the surface.

So, without further ado, I will commence with the rather cliche top 10 list: My top 10 favorite aspects of Barcelonian life (in no particular order).

  1. Pan con tomate. (Bread with tomato) Ok, those of you who haven’t been to Cataluña may think that it’s silly to include a simple food item like this in my top ten list, but really. It’s such a staple here. And so delicious. All you do is put spread some garlic (directly from the clove) on some baked bread, cut up a tomato and spread its juice around on the bread, drizzle some olive oil, and sprinkle some salt (and a lot of times they don’t use the garlic, but for me, that’s what makes or breaks it). Apart from this being a side dish to almost all meals, they also use the same recipe (without the garlic) to put on sandwiches made with baguettes. This moistens the bread and brings out the flavor of the meat or cheese! 🙂

    Pan con tomate. Mmmmm

  2. The independent mindset of the Catalan people. Okay, so I’m going to try to not make gross over-generalizations, but forgive me in advance if I approach this the wrong way. To state it briefly, Cataluña (an autonomous community of Spain, which used to be its own nation prior to September 11, 1714) has its own culture, its own language, its own unique gastronomy, and many other unique aspects, and a lot of people here have strong opinions about being separate from the overarching culture of Spain.  Although I myself don’t associate politically with any Catalan or Spanish party, I find it incredibly interesting to observe. There’s a strong cultural bond here.

    They write it in English so the tourists understand. And of course this is supposed to say "not".

  3. El Barrio Gótico. I said this from almost the beginning of my trip here, and it’s still true. I love the gothic area of the city. It feels like it’s the beating heart of the city. And it’s also just so beautiful and full of surprises around every corner. This weekend they’re having a food and wine festival, and there’s an open market in the plaza in front of the Cathedral. During the Mercè, there were a lot of great events there, and there is always some sort of cultural activity or at least a couple street performers hanging out in various places around the area. Apart from that, it’s a remnant of a former time–there are buildings and walls that are very old, much older than the US, and I like the atmosphere that it gives the area.

    Part of the Roman Wall from ancient Barcelona, in the Plaza de Ramon Berenguer.

  4. [θ]. Alright, so allow me to nerd out here for a minute. The dialect of Spanish here is very different from that spoken in Latin America. One of the most obvious differences, apart from the use of “vosotros” and words and phrases that are different, is the “th” sound (phonetically represented as [θ]) for the letters “z” and sometimes “c”. Since I’m taking phonetics and phonology of Spanish here, I am constantly reminded of this change of pronunciation. I know, I’m a linguistics nerd for allowing dialects of Spanish fascinate me so much, but that’s how it is.
  5. Balconies. When you walk down a street in Barcelona, if you take a minute to stop and look, you will see balconies and terraces and flower pots on all of the apartment buildings overlooking the street. That, mixed with the stone that is typical for almost all the buildings in the city, gives it a look that is very distinct from cities in the US, which are normally built with a lot less focus on aesthetic value. They have this in lots of European cities, and it always makes me happy. It feels like I’ve been transported to another world.

    See this? Isn't it pretty? Now imagine this on every street in the city. 😀

This is taking longer than expected (it always does, I suppose), so I’ll leave the list here for now. Stay tuned for the next five, hopefully coming soon!
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One comment

  1. […] My life abroad « La vida en Bar-thay-lona, parte 1 La Vida en Bar-thay-lona, parte 2 October 26, […]



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