From the early going, Barcelona was indeed proving to be a charming city. Upon the Iberian giant’s embrace of the Euro, along with many of the EU’s subsidies, the country’s economy kick started like it was 1492 all over again. This so-called progress encouraged many of those from countries colonized by the Spanish crown to move to the Madre Patria, hoping to find a better life than back in the New World.
|Plaça Diamant in the borough of Gracia|
Gracia, my new neighbourhood, reflected much of this new wave of multiculturalism. Where I had mentally prepared myself to become just another Catalonian, I realized this would be a trying feat. Most residents were young and hip (like myself) and hailed from Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil. In my apartment building, it felt I was living in Little Buenos Aires, which suited me quite well – can anyone say “asado”?
Gracia is a part of town populated by young people (mid twenties to late thirties). Local residents who have lived there for generations clash with the much louder younger generation, with their decibels fueled by Chichi Peralta, Celia Cruz and other of the Latin-American musical geniuses. Others have called an armistice, overwhelmed by the never-ending barrage of music and party, surrendering to the countryside where the local, quieter, Catalan culture still dominates.
A more curious aspect I noticed was the alarming lack of parks. I come from cities where there are generally quite a few greenbelts. In Barcelona, pedestrian enclosures surrounded by bars, local businesses and convenience stores replace what others call nature parks. The few trees standing around the plazas provide some contrast from the concrete and stone surroundings. However, should you really need some nature, Parc Guell, another of Andoni Gaudí’s architectural masterpieces, is also located in the northern part of this barrio.
Andrés Calamaro, a Hispanophile Argentine rocker
Many areas within the metropolitan area of Barcelona are extremely well serviced by public transport routes being subways, cable cars and buses. I always liked to say that I could be anywhere in town in 20 to 30 minutes, something that would be hard to match in busier North America urban centres. Should you be looking for easy access to the city and a younger population where you can settle for a while, consider Gracia.