Thursday, February 9, 2012

My Neighborhood

Being in a homestay often means living on the farther reaches of the city.The center of Barcelona is focused on a port. If you walk away from the port towards the mountains, you will find the most dense area of Barcelona. From the tiny winding streets of the Gothic district to La Rambla and El Raval, there are tourists and citizens filling the streets. But go a bit further towards the river called Llobregat, and you'll find, still in city blocks, a much calmer area of town. The innocent rows of three and four story buildings make up a Spanish equivalent of suburbs. 

 From our dining room window, this tiled roof is my constant reminder that I am not in the US.
 It is not something seen from the street, but between buildings are spaces like this, where laundry is hung out to dry, and people set on verandas in the summertime. These sides of the buildings are unkempt, and rarely repainted. It is a little like the unseen under reaches of a queen sized bed. It is harder to reach, and no one really sees it, so you don't bother.
 On virtually every street there is a corner like this, with a cafe and other establishments. The cafe always has fresh cressants which fill the air with a tantalizing smell when the door opens.
 The buildings in the further reaches of town are, in general, much smaller than those in the city center. These buildings serve as housing and places of business. The ground floor serves as a shop or restaurant, and the stories above are apartment flats, owned or rented by the people who dwell within them.
 The animal life in Barcelona consists of pigeons, house cats, and dogs. You can't go for a walk anywhere in the city without seeing one tied up, or on a leash being walked.
The building I live in is particularly old. Having five above ground stories would merit an elevator in modern times, but this building has none. The set of keys used to get in and out show the best how ancient the place is. The smaller key opens the door at the ground floor, and the large key (which stretches longer than my palm) is for the door of E's flat. The flat itself has been retro-fitted to a more modern look, but has no central heating.

In all, it is a peaceful place to live, less than three blocks to the nearest Metro stop, less than a block from the nearest coffee shop, and tucked away from any large street that would bring night noise. It is amazing to me to be able to live so close to everything, but still have a quiet home. This is again in the construction of the buildings. Spanish apartments are generally laid with bricks, whereas American homes are made of wood. Hmmm, I guess the story of the three pigs and the wolf may be true, if the wolf's howl is what worries you.

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