Like most large cities, most that can chose to walk to most of their destinations. Yes, there are the metros and taxis, but in European cities walking long distances is part of the lifestyle. Because of this, my legs and I have had to adapt, taking long walks to get to most of my destinations. Because I don’t have a cell phone plan and have a different schedules then most of my roommates, I often find myself walking alone to run errands and get multiple things done, with nothing but my two feet and thoughts. Barcelona is similar to New York, with each neighborhood presenting various differences in architecture, food, and local culture. Located in the heart of Barcelona, I have been able to walk freely through multiple areas, helping me to learn the city better and reflect on my experiences.
Arriving here there was of course culture shock, but that came with sensory shock as well. I’ve never live in a city before, never mind a city in the heart of Europe, so walking down the street I am greeted with sounds, smells, and images I’ve never experienced before. I smell fresh butcheries, fisheries, fresh fruit stands, and the constant scents of bakery’s and chocolate shops. This was an incredibly refreshing change from suburban American life, not to mention the scents of Sangria constantly filling my nose. What I hear is a confusing mix of the Catalan and Spanish languages, heavy with dialect but heard through the louder and more emotional way of Spanish speaking. Locals in the neighborhood gather at cerveserias (bars) where they are eating tapas and drinking wines and beers, talking Catalonia independence and FC barces Champion’s League hopes. While the language and the mannerisms are different, it’s truly been enforced to me that people are people no matter where in the world you are. Everyone has their friends, families, hangout spots, and interests. While I have begun to feel at home in Barcelona, I think back to times in the US where I might have judged a foreigner living in the country briefly. Did I give them the benefit of the doubt and helped them? Or did I look at them as an outsider to the community that I have built?
The neighborhood I chose for Barcelona was the Gracia neighborhood, and older but trendy area of the city filled with multiple plazas where locals come to hang. The streets are filled with small stores and bars, and it gave me a lot of insight on the area and culture, especially when I first arrived. I also chose to walk around Catalonia Day parade, which has special significant with the growing movement of citizens looking to break away from Spain and form a new country. This was a unique way to connect to my book “Homage to Catalonia” by George Orwell, who spent a significant amount of time in the region during turmoil during the Spanish Civil War.
The picture I chose for my walk shows the pride of the Catalonian people as many dream of become an entirely separate state from Spain. The citizens pride is shown everywhere, and is a constant in the city.