Observing Spanish life

There is a plaza at the end of my street. The three-storey buildings that form the plaza’s outside perimeter are all apartments, with one small restaurant and a small shop on the ground floor. A few benches are scattered around the plaza, and no vehicles are allowed here — not even motos.

I sometimes take a book with me, sit on a bench, read and observe Spanish people be Spanish. One time I go, it’s about 9:00 or 10:00 pm, which is about the time I think many Canadians and Americans are getting ready for a night’s sleep. Many people have left their window open, so I hear the clatter of dishes, the chatter of families together, and a blaring television. One man enters the plaza, walks up to one of the windows and whistles to get the attention of his friend living on the second storey. Two other men behind me share a boisterous laugh.

The plaza’s rectangular shape, with the windows facing inward, seems to echo the sounds. I’m sure people from one side of the plaza can hear everything from the other.

I have stumbled a number of plazas around Barcelona. Some plazas are different, and are meant for traffic, but many are for pedestrians. Actually, I’d say they’re for living, for enjoying. I found one plaza at the dead-end of a street, about the size of my spare bedroom back in Winnipeg. There were apartments around, and benches to sit. I found two women chatting and two other people reading.

A typical rambla in Barcelona

A typical rambla in Barcelona

It’s not just the plazas that are meant for enjoying. Many streets are also ramblas, where the middle median is lined with trees and has plenty of room for people to walk and sit. You’re probably familiar with “The” Ramblas in Barcelona, the famous one at the heart of the city, filled with tourists looking to buy souvenirs. But, there are a number of ramblas here, and there are often people who sit and chat.

This is an endearing aspect of Spain to observe. The streets are not just a means to get from one point to another. The streets and plazas are for getting together, enjoying the beautiful day, and taking a rest after a long day’s walk (my main use of the ramblas’ benches 🙂 ).

The tourist who comes to Barcelona and sticks to The Ramblas, the beaches, or other tourist sights is missing out on seeing a more authentic Spanish city. I encourage whoever vists Barcelona, or even another European city, to turn off the main road and explore. I was surprised (and also not surprised) at how few tourists were strolling down Rambla del Raval. It’s not far away from “The” Ramblas, and you can find restaurants and grocecy stores there too.

I think building codes are different here too

Just for fun, let me share another observation.

I think the buidling codes are different here, which contributes to how sound easily travels down a stree and into your home. To wit, here’s the keyhole to my apartment:

You can see daylight through the keyhole to my front door

Yes, folks, you can see daylight through the front door’s keyhole!

This is the key. Looks simply midievil!

This is the key. Looks simply medieval!

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9 thoughts on “Observing Spanish life

  • Jasper

    That’s beautiful. I can sit on those for benches, have a snack with me and a book to read. I can see my self forgetting about time and just simply enjoying my alone time.

    • Jean D Post author

      I admit, it’s pretty cool to sit and forget what time it is. I’ve done that more than once 🙂

  • Kat

    when you have a moment, tell us about the food please! (What you eat,; what see the spanish eat; when they tend to eat….).

  • Chantal

    It sounds like things are looking up! I am happy to hear that you were able to find this wonderful side to your Spanish life! Sounds beautiful, wish this side of the world took a page out of Spain’s book and learn to be able to “sit and smell the roses” 🙂 looking forward to hearing more about your exciting journey! 🙂

  • Lorna

    I expect that when we embrace the idea of slowing down in the west that lovely places like that will show up to accomodate us.

  • Mom and Dad #2

    Sounds like a lovely aspect of Spanish life…just slow down and drink everything in. Actually kind of resembles retirement if we allow it to. It sounds like you’re beginning to embrace your adventure. Enjoy everything you can and try not to worry about things that aren’t worth your time and energy.

    Lots of love….as always!!!!!

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