Walking in Barcelona let alone any foreign country along is a eye opening experience. I can remember the first walk I had alone to the metro and the nerves I was experiencing, questioning every turn I took wondering if I was lost or not. This week I took a walk through the center Placa of Barcelona, a square filled with natives eating their lunch, massive flocks of pigeons, and street vendors heckling everyone to purchase their product. The biggest difference between walking in America and Barcelona is the speed, nobody is in a rush and nobody walks with a ample pace. This of course can be aggravating if you are in a rush and the crowd in front of you is slowly pacing themselves down the narrow sidewalk, although it can be eye opening. Once I got the chance to slow down I looked around and absorbed the surroundings more. The revelation I had while sitting in the place looking into a cafe was that people here enjoy the simple things a lot more. “We humans are pedestrians. And although we’re used to covering ground quickly by motorized vehicle, we need a slow-motion mode of transport to truly absorb our surroundings (Slimbach 182)” Walking provided the perfect mode of transport to allow me to absorb everything truly happening around me and appreciate my surroundings. A beer with a friend is slowly sipped and enjoyed while conversation is had between two strangers during their work break. There is no rush to stuff your face with food and get back to work but instead people take the break to thoroughly appreciate the taste of the food that the cook had prepared for them often complimented with a glass of wine. The wait time at a restaurant is upwards of 3x what it is in America. People lean in close when they talk as personal space is not as valuable as back home, often friends greet each other with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. The musty smell of cigarettes wafts throughout the city as almost everyone smokes. The attire of the people is always classier, I have yet to see a pair of sweatpants on someone in the city, the clothes are much more prestigious. The skinny streets are lined with mopeds and crowded with tiny but efficient cars that speed up at you if you cross during a red light. A large difference that I noticed throughout Barcelona is the lack of “super stores” that have everything but instead dozens of specialized stores that are able to sustain themselves in the specialized economy. There are stores just for ink, just for batteries, just for bread, and even specialized in milk. It is quite interesting and I have come to realize that this specialization allows the products to be more high quality and focused, the bread is fresh, the ink man is an expert in his field, and everyone has their own unique space.
Although Iberia focused a lot on the history of Spain (seeing as it was also written over 50 years ago) it was interesting to see a native speak of the beauty of the land. It reminds me of last week my art class had to hike the tallest hill overlooking the city and from there you could really see the space as a whole which was a completely altering perspective. I had only known the layout of the city via the metro and in my head but seeing the whole landscape as a whole was a truly eye opening experience. In addition the book Iberia has been helping me with my history class as it outlines a lot of major historical instances that shaped Spain today. Some might consider the book boring but I believe it reflects what a true Spaniard who appreciates the little things in life sees Spain.
I chose this picture atop the mountain because it is where I had to hike for my art class and I believe it depicts how the little things can be so impactful on someone. Someone from Barcelona would slowly enjoy the view and appreciate the walk up much more than the average American.