Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Barcelona: high density and high intensity

Barcelona has a high population density and a high intensity lifestyle. 41,000 people live in a square mile there! 

Each apartment building is attached to the next like a siamese twin. Gracious hundred year old buildings have balconies just big enough for a few flower pots. On sunny days the floor to ceiling french doors open to let in fresh air, sheer curtains shifting with the breezes. At night I saw rows of lights and imagined the people inside reading newspapers or washing dishes in narrow kitchens.

Of course, those many people need all of the services we do. I wondered why every other person on the sidewalk was pulling a wheeled suitcase, then figured out they were shopping carts. No Costco for them. 

Traffic was relentless. Motorcycles squeezed between the lanes of moving cars. Buses were full. Underneath us, the subways carried more passengers. I asked a taxi driver if it was hard to drive there. He said the cars were careful and obeyed the law. But the motorcycles did as they wished, and they endangered everyone.

Every generation from 20's to 60's rode them. I saw stylish business women in skirts and high heels climb on, tighten their coats, and adjust their helmets. Cars seemed reserved for families with kids.

Because of apartment living the common space was very important. The plazas where streets intersected had planters and sometimes small lawns. The major roads had trees planted in strips on either side. Public parks were small, but well used. And every little restaurant had at least two tables outside.

The food was terrific. We'd heard about meals made of appetizers--tapas.

And we loved them. We quickly found two restaurants close to the hotel that we liked.  Catalonians eat lots of olives, green and red peppers, and everything is cooked in olive oil. I'm going to scour seed catalogs to find these tiny  (about 2" diameter) red peppers which were marinated in oil and vinegar before being stuffed with herbed cheese. Many of our salads included fresh asparagus, a real treat for us this time of the year. 

We could have chosen Barcelona just for the food but really came for the architecture. Next blog I will share a few photos of Gaudi's Sagrada Familia church, and a "modernismo" (1900) musical performance hall. 

Get in the mood--go munch olives!  


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