There was this one winter when we did a road trip in Andalusia, Southern Spain. Driving from Malaga to Cadiz through Marbella, visiting the towns around like Sanlucar de Barrameda, then Sevilla, then Granada, and back to Malaga to fly from it to Oslo. It was late December. In Norway it was all a black and white winter tale. While in Sevilla, lost on just another hidden plaza, we were sitting on the bench and I was tilting my head up and back. Looking at the orange trees above my head.
And then at last I concluded: “This is my favorite type of winter. When there are oranges in the skies”
So often when we talk about a country or a culture, it seems that we compare it with another one and come to conclusion that sums up to: “I’ll stick with this one, no matter what” – or “No, thanks, I’ll go for another one”. It sounds like we choose all the time. But why choose only one? Can we take (and make) both?
I have noticed that my life comprises mostly of the people who come “from here and there and a bit of everywhere”. There are few (or none) 100% Norwegians, or 100% Ukrainians, or other pure nationalities in my life. Maybe, because that’s my natural tribe, reflecting my life choices. I am not amazed, for example, that I, born Ukrainian, communicate with my native Catalan husband in Norwegian language, not native to either of us. It once suprized a couple of Norwegians though.
I can understand them, they didn’t expect to hear the language of their little proud country in some tapas bar in Barcelona somewhere around midnight. Especially coming with heavy Spanish accent and sweet Eastern-European accent, used to discuss a love relationship between those two. Why Norwegian?? They seemed to be falling from their chairs, breaking their backs to turn and see who these two were, using their language in this place.
In those times when I used to live more on the social media (now I don’t, and phew, what a relief :)) – I liked to post photos from my trips, even if they were the old ones. Especially on the dark autumn and winter days when I couldn’t find any inspiration in Oslo – I would go for my old pics. And the people who met me seldom would say: “You travel so much. Always photos from the trips”. But these are the old ones, people (and I wouldn’t usually hide that fact).
Today I want to share the photos from our last year’s trip to Catalonia. When we visited a small town of Besalú, hidden between hills and mountains. So that someone can say – on meeting me randomly – “But gosh, you travel so much!” 🙂
Last Monday I posted a guessing game of doors and windows – and here is the right answer to it: a city in the South of Catalonia with a pretty name of Tarragona. I was surprised of how fast the right answers popped up in the comments – and of the smart strategies some used to find out 🙂
Tarragona got my heart and I cannot keep silent about my love. The town is only a 1,5 hour away from Barcelona and is a perfect destination for a day-trip from the Catalan capital. So when you are in Barcelona and want new horizons to explore – go to Tarragona! In a way it resembles Barcelona – but it also has its own distinct history dating back to Romans, its own style and atmosphere. So you get some kind of deja vu, but Tarragona has its own power to enchant you. Here are my reasons to visit this pretty place.
The winter sun is a seldom visitor here in Norway, thus more precious. I try to catch its few rays whenever it’s possible. While my memories take me back to a very different February. Last year we spent some weeks exploring wonderful Catalonia. While Barcelona is its jewel, there are so many more hidden treasures.
As I browse through my old pictures, I get carried away. If you want to get carried away too, follow me in this mental journey. Let’s go to a little town by the seaside which is full of light on a regular February day. Let me present to you Canet del Mar, not famous but charming little place. Let’s walk its narrow streets, take notice of its modernist details and imagine living in its small houses. If I were a painter I would come here with my painting set and study the art of Mediterranean light which is so lovely in winter.
We happened to come to Barcelona just in the middle of the historical events. But that didn’t happen by chance. My man is Catalan and born in Barcelona, he wanted to come for voting in the referendum. There has been a long process leading to this moment, both for him and for his country.
On Saturday, a day before referendum, we went to Salou, a tourist town close to Tarragona, for the celebration of the wedding anniversary of his friend. Saturday night was spent in eating, laughing and dancing. Sunday morning the alarming reports started to leek in. The police were closing the stations. The government was closing the systems for registrations. But then it became possible to vote in any place. So we searched for a school in Salou and found a crowd of people outside, but the voting was not possible because the system was down. We got directions for another place, but decided to drive back to Barcelona and do it there.
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 🙂