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 🙂
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!
Today I want to start a feature on my blog which I really enjoy – to post regularly 5 photos of things I like in the moment. I have been doing it for a while on my other blog (Russian-speaking), and I find it a great way to share, especially in the moments when I am not sure what I want to share about :). Like right now, when I am traveling. I expected to be posting a lot during this trip – you are full of impressions and emotions, so what to do if not to share them on the blog, right? Wrong, I have discovered. Or just not for me. I get so overstimulated by impressions and emotions, that when I come home all I want to do is to fall on my bed and rest. Resting can mean reading or watching Russian bloggers on Youtube 🙂 But there is no energy for creating a lot – my maximum effort is to post a pic on Instagram, and that’s it.
It has been a month since I started this blog, and I know how much energy is needed in the very beginning, just to get the thing up and going (I have read that the airplane uses a lot of its fuel just to get off the earth), to create a momentum. This trip has set my blogger plans on a pause. And while I am writing a list of posts I want to write, and getting big ideas – I have to admit that I need to find a quiet time for those ambitions, and right now I can just play 🙂 Just keep on going with some smaller things. So if you experience that your grand plans keep you procrastinating – start doing small things, just get going, get writing. This is my discovery so far, and I am grateful for it. You never discover such things unless you start taking steps.
Back to the post idea, though. I find it a great way to keep the positive focus in my life – by taking photos of things I like. Not for Instagram or other social media – just for me. Like a moment of appreciation. And later when I scroll through my photos and see how many nice things are there, it is like writing a gratitude journal 🙂 Admitting how beautiful and colorful my life is. I hope, my sharing would inspire you to try this little life-hack. So now I want to share my 5 things of the moment, taken on my way from Norway to Spain.
I was so used to call myself a dreamer through all my life. And lately I have seen so many of my dreams coming true, that I don’t know what to call myself any longer. A dream catcher? 🙂 Here I want to share my Spanish dream.
My first visit to Spain was to the city of Barcelona, six years ago. Anyone surprised? Me not :). It is definitely the most visited city in Spain (and then you discover the difference between Catalonian and Spanish mentalities, but it comes later…). My friend has been to Spain before and wanted to spend every morning on the beach – “because it is our summer vacation” (and coming from Norway where the summer weather is unpredictable, you’d better use those sunny days wisely). So our beach mornings were long, stretching over into late afternoon. Then we would take subway to get back to hotel, tired from the sun, jump (or crawl) in the shower and stroll out in the open arms of the city waiting for us. It was the time to do some sightseeing and eating tapas. Drinking sangria became a habit too (of course 🙂 ). We did it all: walking on La Rambla and buying tickets for a flamenco show, taking pics in Parc Guell and partying in the club. In the infamous style “been there, done that”.
Honestly, I didn’t care much about the beach. We had only six days in this city and I was hungry for meeting the soul of Barcelona. I believe, that every city has its own vibe, its own soul – and I was very curious about The Great Enchantress, as they sometimes call her, Barcelona. My wish was to wander through its narrow streets, where light falls mystically from above, to look into windows of the bars, to sip coffee in a local café and listen to the locals sharing their daily life. This is my passion. I always want something more than a touristic experience, hopping on and off through the place like in the theme park. I want to get under the skin of the city, to feel its energy, to watch, hear and feel its people.Read More »