Barcelona is a new life – set to start. My first few days were filled with anxiety. Anxiety as I arrived without mentally preparing for a language I am used to, but with so many differences. A new culture. An anxiety to get started with everything I want to live, while struggling against jet lag. An anxiety to hang my washing 4 stories up in hope that my hands don’t shake and drop my lacy undies on pedestrians below. Luckily one week in, I can say the anxiety is dulling away and everything I hoped is starting to take place.
Yesterday, we officially became residents of Barceloneta, in a new apartment with our own space, our 38m2 area for living, and a small garden already growing in my mind.
Only 10 minutes away it is easy to get lost in the small cobbled roads as they weave from shop to shop. Arriving at markets, selling food and any tourist attraction you may want. As I pass lines of people waiting to see the work of Picasso I feel something different. What is it? I have been here a few days but already I feel a change to how I have felt in any other European city I have visited. There is no urgency to my exploring. No urgency to get to know our new home.
Each day I walk out in search of getting to know our barrio, Barceloneta. Where two blocks away you can pay double for a black coffee on the edge of the beach. Every time a Kiwi and a Gaucho walk through the streets together they are asking in English for directions, ‘where did you get that pizza from?’ ‘where is the metro station?’. Together we seem to look like foreigners who know their way. A Russian runs after us and asks if we know where a hostel is, ignoring the stream of other pedestrians walking past.
Everywhere you go there is a blur of languages surfacing from every corner. English, French, Italian, Russian, Spanish, and of course Catalan. We went to La Xampanyeria nearby where it was hard to enter the door, and impossible to enjoy your rose cava, which is filled to the brim, without spilling a drop or two. Hoards of people were flowing in, and squeezing out. An excited rush as I eat my botifarra in bread and drink cava amongst the others who come from all walks of the world.
Leaving the rush of the city centre we spent our Sunday in the sacred mountains of the Monserrat Monastery, one hour out of Barcelona. Where monks exists amongst a whirlwind of tourists daily. There’s a boarding school dedicated to music situated in these mountains – all the best musicians of Catalonia studied and lived here. We watched the young children sing in awe of their spirit, youth and hope.
A Gaucho has family in Barcelona, his Grandfather was from Catalonia. It was a real treat to be welcomed by a family who are excited to share the history and the story of their land, their Catalonia. We walked through Montserrat with them, enjoying the cool mountain air and the view of the snowy peaks in the distance. A breath of fresh air and a hope to return to wander through these mountains.
We then had the joy of joining a large group at a restaurant on the outskirts of Barcelona for a three course meal. A chance for a Gaucho to meet his Catalonian cousins, and enjoy the conversations and movement of family life in this new city.
One week in and I am certain that whatever happens over the next year, Barcelona will do well by us, and us by it.