It is the middle of March already. Do you feel the spring somehow? Here in Oslo the sun shows its face for the third day in a row, making our greenish faces happy and smiling 🙂 Feeling the sun on my skin, I can tell that the seasons are changing, the sun got warmer and soon the first signs of spring will come. It is such a joy for me every year: it is like a victory of life over death. When the first buds appear, I know: we have survived again 🙂
But so far the winter doesn’t want to give up its positions. While the sun tries to melt some snow on the roofs, creating icicles (and threatening our walks), the temps this week fell to -15 at night. Gosh, I have no words for describing how tired I am of this eternal winter. Sometimes it looks like here in the North our seasons are: white and dark winter, light winter, green winter, yellow and rainy winter. All the snow that felt and melted a week ago turned into a blank ice on the streets, and I notice that my feet know so many ways to walk in winter. Heels down first in the mix of snow and salt, fishbone pattern when the snow melts, trying not to slide into the water from the ice on the side, side-side on the black ice. I never knew I could say so much about different quality of snow, ice and road conditions 🙂 So before the ice is gone from our streets, I don’t breathe out with light heart. It is still early to say that we have survived this winter 🙂
On the bright side, the Happiness Report is out again. It always comes out in this boring season when everyone is waiting for the spring but the weather still plays winter games. And it looks like the report was made for cheering up the Nordic countries in this weird period. Because, guess what guess who, the first place this time is taken by Finland! Norway was moved to the second place, and the top is still crowded by the Nordic countries. Haha, very funny. Have these researchers ever been here? 🙂 I have heard a lot about Finland lately, and to be honest, those reports didn’t hint that Finland could win that happiness competition. But it looks they did it anyway, so congratulations! 🙂
My heart is very ready for spring, but the weather is still showing us its black-an-white movie. The winter didn’t think of stepping back and promises a cold week ahead with temperatures down to -15 Celsius (at night). No spring signs so far. I notice that my eyes are hungry for green so I browse Pinterest for tropical themes. My body shifts again, wanting less of heavy winter food and craving for fresh vegetables, so I need to make more green smoothies now. If you are in the same boat of green cravings, let me take you on a walk through one of the parks of Barcelona.
Last year I started a project of presenting the neighborhoods of Barcelona. After two posts my ambitious project went on pause (you can check it out under the tag barrios in this blog). This is so me: so many ideas, but not so much will to follow through. Does it happen to you too?
But – better late than never – I pick up that idea now. Because there are still neighborhoods for which I want to share my love. And today let me present my most hearted one, my secret pearl. In a way, I don’t want to attract too much of attention to it – but since my blog is not read by thousands of travelers (luckily, hehe), I can still share and not be afraid of mass tourism flooding that part of the city 🙂
Why do I love Clot? Because, first, whenever I stay in Barcelona my home is always there. Second, it is old and very authentic, close to the city centre but with totally different vibe. I remember my first visit to Barcelona as a tourist. My friend drew me to the beach, while I was dreaming of walking through narrow streets, looking into cafes, spotting locals and trying to feel the city’s soul. Little did I know then that I would be doing it regularly while visiting Barcelona more often than my home country Ukraine 🙂 And one of the best places to feel that local authentic life, not spoiled by tourist crowds, is Clot. The neighborhood is a mixture of old buildings and new blocks, with locals sitting on the benches of the market square, hanging on the bar terraces, walking with dogs and playing football in the park. This is where I feel the most of how Barcelona was meant to be. Before the mass tourism changed the face of the city.
As the autumn darkness is crawling in, I want to look back to brighter days and be thankful for all the colors in my life. I happen – and am happy – to live in maybe the brightest neighborhood of Oslo. There are neighborhoods with richer architecture and posher buildings, where streets are full of beautiful blond people. There are neighborhoods closer to the lakes, the nature and the forest with the festival of autumn colors happening right now. But I would claim that no neighborhood is so full of colorful houses and lively crowds as Grunerløkka, the hipster hood.
Let me prove my point with these photos taken in August, when the air was already chilly, but when the sun was still shining and sending our spirits high. May the light and colors brighten up your autumn mood!
With all the events of the past weeks I have neglected my photowalks in Oslo. But I still feel the need to share its beautiful corners and lovely streets. So today I want to present my favorite neighborhood – Grunerløkka. It became hipster recently after having undergone the gentrification. It used to be a cheap and shabby area with weird population, then it became popular among artists and students for its cheapness, and now – as it usually happens – it is a neighborhood with many restaurants, cafes, bars and small shops. Which are mostly quirky, vintage and small businesses, but the big chains have appeared here too in the past couple of years squeezing the small owners out of the area. Grunerløkka, or shortly Løkka, is full of life and attracts people from other parts of the city for eating out or hanging in its bars.
Hello, and welcome to our next stop of Ruta de los Barrios, our tour of neighborhoods of Barcelona. Let me present to you Vila de Gràcia (I learnt to call it Gracia), one of my most favorite neighborhoods in this city. Gràcia has it all: the young and hipster vibe, plenty of bars and restaurants, small funky shops, and the atmosphere that makes you linger with your drink on its square watching the life walking by. Gràcia looks like a little village of itself, having nothing to do with the famous city, and its narrow streets remind me of towns in my beloved Andalusia. And that is no wonder because Gràcia used to be its own village, like many neighborhoods in this city, which was later integrated into big Barcelona with the central part of L’Eixample. And it used to be full of gypsies, so that makes it even more like Andalusia to me 🙂
A month ago or more I made a promise on the blog to write about my favorite neighborhoods of Barcelona. And I never forgot that promise 😉 So today I start this little project and I will call it “Ruta de los Barrios”. I have pictures and feelings of some 6-7 neighborhoods (I will use the Spanish word barrio) and I want to share them here. This is not a touristy piece, because I guess, the world is full of “5 top things to see”, “best places to eat”, especially about a city like Barcelona. And besides, I was never interested in writing stuff that is already on guidebooks, even if it looks more popular and bloglovin’ 🙂 What I want to share is my love for streets and local bars, balconies and facades, and sometimes a place where I ate and remembered that. Because I love food – and I love talking about it 🙂 So follow me on my walk, if you have the same passion for exploring the little secrets of a city!