I must say my three weeks in Barcelona have been way more than a walk in the park. They have been an experience that I will never forget. The spanish word for when someone strolls through a park or a surrounding “placa” (this is catalonian for something similar to the community square) is paseo.
My daily walk to the Joanic metro is met with strolls along two local placas near my apartment. I love to see the local people of the Gracias area interacting as I walk to and from the metro. I notice that people here actually take time to experience the moments spent with one another. For example, as I come home from class I will see people sitting on the corner of the Placa de la Vila de Gracia sharing food with a good friend of theirs while talking about their day. I find this very different to American’s because most of the time we just grab our food or coffee to go and tell our friends “see you later.” I love the fact that people here take time out of their days to spend time with one another and really take in what they have around them.
As I decided to take a walk through the neighborhood and explore the restaurants and little boutiques I decided to take my time just like the Spaniards in order to rally take in everything around me. Usually I am a fast walker because in New York City there are no time for quiet strolls there is always a hustle and bustle of weaving through the crowds to get to my destination. I really took to heart Slimbach quote, “we need a slow motion mode of transportation to truly absorb our surroundings (p.182).” What may have been a slow mode of transportation for him was my fast mode of transportation so I made a mental note to myself to really slow down and experience this paseo and become one with the Gracias area.
I walked by one of my favorite empanada shops which is right by Placa de Joanic which is a very popular place for people to meet up and bring their kids, or just sit down and watch a ping pong match. I stopped and walked through the Placa and watched a ping pong match while listening to the sound of 20 kids playing and screaming, “corre corre” while laughing. This was cool to see that not all kids are glued to the television and learn to experience life from an early age. As I walked towards my house I see the local people getting their fresh bread from their favorite bakery, or stopping in to their favorite cafe to sit there and grab a coffee. I noticed quickly that grabbing coffee here is not a five minute process, this one thing can take upwards for 30-45 minutes. Why? I am not too sure but I think they are used to people making time to take a break and just relax with their cup of coffee instead of getting it “para llevar (to go)” and running down the street. I turned down a random corner and decided to get lost, but I stumbled upon a row of amazing restaurants, gelato places and an amazing crepe spot. This was one of the best things I could have done since I love food and trying new restaurants. After wandering for a bit I made my way back home and walked through the Placa of the Gracias and saw it full of life and social activity.
This 45 minute walk taught me so much about my area and made me comfortable with it as well. I wholeheartedly agree with Slimbach when he said, “Our actual entrance into the community requires that we venture out to observe everyday life, interact with strangers and slowly absorb an alternative reality (pg. 182).”I got more from this walk than where my favorite crepe spot is, but I also learned that it is very key to enjoy life, the people you have allowed in it and truly take in everything around you.
The Travelogue I chose to read, Travelers’ Tales: Spain really paints a beautiful picture of this country. I was able to read about people who have traveled to different parts of Spain such as Madrid and Seville and their experiences there. I specifically referenced those two places because those are two place my program will be taking me. In fact I am going to Madrid on Thursday night and I am beyond excited to see if my experience will be as great as the one in my travelogue.