Walking in Barcelona (4.2km)

Walking with the kids through the city is an adventure in itself. You get to discover buildings, shops, cafes, and plazas. You get to fall in love with the city over and over again. I like Barcelona for its streets, for its trees, for its cafes, and for its people. My mom used to tell all her friends that she loves Barcelona for its balconies. And she was right, those balconies make the streets look delicate.

One of our favorite routes with the children is from our house on Muntaner Street to Placa Catalunya. The route is 4.2 km long and it is mainly downhill (walking towards the sea). We do this route almost weekly with slight variations of the streets we walk on and cafes we stop at. Thanks to these walks the children have a very special relationship with the city, they know it like the palms of their little hands.

“Mi vida dulce,” said my six-year-old at the cafe today while tasting her ice-cream. And then she asked, “Can we walk like this EVERY day?”

Here are two screen prints of the route.
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Getting out of our house around 10am we go all the way down the Muntaner Street.DSC_0667

The kids stop at every stop light and wait for me. They are used to biking in the city. Here is a small park that is empty right now. In fall and winter a man was selling roasted chestnuts in this park. The kids and me used to buy those at 3 Euros a dozen. DSC_0672

La Criolla cafe is still closed. When it is open sometimes we have coffee and croissants there. It has a nice patio inside. Lemon trees with big lemons grow in that patio.DSC_0688

And here is a house in front of La Criolla.DSC_0694

There is a small fruit and vegetable store that is open on Sundays. The kids take a bag and pick some apricots and loquats (nisperos). We get the fruits and they eat one of each right there while riding down the Muntaner Street. Those fruits feel like war trophies for them and they laugh with their mouths full.DSC_0699DSC_0700DSC_0712

We get to the Crusto cafe at the cross of Muntaner and Via Augusta. It has three tables outside and fake olive trees on one side of the tables. The coffee and bread are very good there. Kids share a croissant.DSC_0727DSC_0728DSC_0734

We notice a tree with little while flowers while waiting on a stop light.DSC_0744

Here is a large house that has all kind of mystery stories around it. The house used to belong to a very rich textile dealer. The man also collected original paintings. In his will he donated his entire art collection to a state museum. However, his daughters decided that this was not fair and sneaked into the house this past winter and “stole” all the paintings. As newspapers said it was due to the high monetary value of the collection. DSC_0749

We get to Av. Diagonal and turn left here. Diagonal is great for cycling as it has a special bike path.DSC_0753DSC_0759DSC_0757

Here is one of the stores that I like. On Sunday everything is closed here.DSC_0774

The kids ride fast on Diagonal and in couple of minutes we reach Rambla de Catalunya. Here we turn right and go down again.DSC_0780DSC_0783DSC_0788

We pass by Farga cafe. The Farga delivery truck is parked on the street. DSC_0792

There is a new Pronovias store opening on the corner of La Rambla de Catalunya. Thirteen years ago I got my wedding dress at one of their stores. When I was twenty-one I remember passing a Pronovias store on Passeig de Gracia and falling in love with one of the dresses I saw in the window. I remember the dress perfectly well even now. Two years later I got married. It took ten months to get my dress done with them. My two roommates used to come with me to the monthly fittings. One of my roommates was Japanese. When I asked her how I looked she said, “Like a tomato”. This was the last thing I expected to hear then. She told me I blushed non-stop while trying the dress. And we all laughed a lot.

Many years have passed. My marriage did not proof to be as strong as it should have been. Still I got two children and I appreciate what I have learnt about myself and others. The friendship with my roommates survived the distance and improved with years. And I realized that I like the fact that Pronovias keeps opening its stores in the city.DSC_0795DSC_0799DSC_0808

Here is the church that I like, because couple of times I went there with my family on the Christmas day. DSC_0811

And here is a small side street in front of the church. There is a beautiful restaurant on this street. And I have never been there. One day!DSC_0812

We get to Mauri cafe. This is one of the oldest cafes in Barcelona. According to the kids it has the best ice-cream in the city.DSC_0813DSC_0816DSC_0832DSC_0829DSC_0848

And here is La Bodegueta, a small and cozy wine celler. It is closed at this hour of the day. Can’t remember how many times we had a glass of wine and olives here after midnight.DSC_0857DSC_0860 DSC_0868

And here are some more of those balconies that my mom likes so much.DSC_0872DSC_0873

We cross Arago Street. The terra-cotta building with wires on top is Tapies museum. I visited it once with my class when I was in the high-school. I remember it was very weird, I could not believe that people seriously thought that this was art.DSC_0880DSC_0882

It becomes more and more touristy as we get closer to Placa Catalunya. Now we pass by hotels, cafes full of tourists, and typical “touristy” food offering.DSC_0884DSC_0885DSC_0886

We have been walking for 2 hours when we reach Gran Via with Placa Catalunya in the background.DSC_0894DSC_0900

Rambla de Catalunya ends here and our last bit towards Placa Catalunya is in between of tourist restaurants and shops.DSC_0902

Here is Placa Catalunya with tourists crossing it in all directions.DSC_0904DSC_0914DSC_0916

Two girls in blue dresses look back at us. They are nice. We stop at the elevator and take it down to the train station. It is 12:05pm and the walking is over. We take train to go back home.DSC_0928

When we get underground we hear a violin playing a familiar tango. The kids stop and listen. They both want to play violin. They listen and listen till the tango ends. I give them couple of euros and they put them into the violin case. Then they listen some more. DSC_0933

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Barcelona My Love

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It was a perfect day today.

While unhappiness is complicated, happiness is very simple. It is visual, it is physical, and it consists of small acts that make us happy. I am talking about things like walking down the street, having a coffee with a friend, working on an interesting project, looking at the flowers in the flower-shop window, and talking to new people.

The day started simple, I walked down the Muntaner street all the way to Diagonal. It was sunny. I got a coffee at Le Crusto and walked with the coffee. Walking in Barcelona is a blast. It is one of my favorite cities to live in.

The streets look beautiful. I love the trees in bloom and the flower shops. And I like people who like flowers and flower shops.

I turned down on Passeig de Gracia and walked two blocks against the light. I stopped at a small store to get the rubber bands that my daughter is crazy about. It seems to be a fad in her school and in the whole city. All the moms, teachers, grandmas, dads, brothers wear those handmade colorful rubber bracelets.

I turned at the corner of La Pedrera and reached Pau Claris street. There was the cafe, Jaime Beriestain, where we held our focus group. The place was full of green sofas and flowers. The meeting was a good one, I learnt a lot, specially, I got a lot of insight on how to run a better focus group next time. When the coffee is good and you get to learn things that interest you, you are happy. At least I was.

Once done with the meeting I headed to Valencia street, where my favorite bookstore is located. Jaimes, the French bookstore. And I stood there and read the titles in the children section and held the colorful books in my hands. I got some books for my kids. The Barbapapa for my daughter and Boucle d’Or et  les Trois Ours (The Three Bears) for my son. He studied this tale in detail during the first term in his school. This book will be full of great memories for him.

Things are not always smooth in life. In the past years I realized how difficult the things can be. I went (still going through) the separation process with my husband. It is not a fun thing, and those who have lived it, know it. However, through all the pain we were able to stay friends and make it the best for the kids and us. Every day I realize how grateful I am for having him as a friend and as a father of my children. I also appreciate the patience and ability we both put in to make our relationship during and after the separation better and not worse.

From where I am right now, I see that pain and unhappiness are small tunnels in our souls, that we dig ourselves. We are alone in those tunnels, we are the only ones digging them. And happiness is like sunlight. It is very simple, very generous and we want to share it with others. Happiness is walking down the street and stopping to look at the flower-shop window, and some times making a self portrait to make it more fun. Happiness is to just live and to enjoy small things. Like the fact that in ten minutes I will see my kids; and that my son got a haircut yesterday and I will probably almost not recognize him.

DSC_7834Walking down Muntaner Street.

DSC_7842On the corner of Muntaner Street and Diagonal Avenue

DSC_7844Walking along Diagonal Avenue

DSC_7846Diagonal Avenue

DSC_7851Rambla de Catalunya where it touches Diagonal Avenue

DSC_7852Diagonal Avenue close to Passeig de Gracia

DSC_7854Bus stop on Diagonal Avenue

DSC_7860Flower shop on Pau Claris Street

DSC_7888Cafe Jaime Beriestain on Pau Claris Street

DSC_7867Entrance to Cafe Jaime Beriestain

DSC_7868Inside cafe Jaime Beriestain

DSC_7875Our focus group meeting at Jaime Beriestain

DSC_7882Coffee and sandwich at cafe Jaime Beriestain

DSC_7892On Valencia Street

DSC_7895Walking along Valencia Street

DSC_7899A flower shop on the corner of Valencia Street

DSC_7900Flower shop on the corner of Valencia Street

DSC_7906Jaimes French bookstore on Valencia Street

French books March

DSC_7924Small rubber bands that my daughter uses to make bracelets

DSC_7907Flower shop on Valencia Street (right next to the French bookstore)

DSC_7909Cafe on Valencia Street

DSC_7910Houses on Valencia street (close to Passeig de Gracia)

DSC_7916Lamp posts on Passeig de Gracia

DSC_7921Passeig de Gracia

Sant Jordi, Barcelona

Plaza Bonanova on Sant Jordi

Yesterday was a very beautiful holiday here in Barcelona: Sant Jordi. It goes back to the legend of the cavalier Jordi that slaughtered a dragon to save a princess. From the dragon’s blood red roses grew and Jordi gave one to the princess. Since then on the April 23rd all men give roses to women. And women give men a book, to never forget the history and the legend.

Since I was a teen I found this holiday wonderful. The city is full of flowers and bookstands, everybody is cheerful, you give and receive roses. Somehow people are very happy. It is spring and there is no better way to feel it than seeing so many smiles and flowers around.

Downtown Barcelona is decorated and beautiful on that day. We did not have a chance to go to the downtown this year. We were busy with the kids, taking them to their Sant Jordi activities. However, we were glad to see that our part of Barcelona was beautiful and full of flowers too. Kids were dressed as princesses and cavaliers on that day, there were theater plays in their respective schools. My son’s daycare held hot chocolate and coca (Catalonia cake with sugar and pine nuts) for the kids and their families. And at our daughter’s art school they had an open-door day, inviting all the families to participate in making roses and decorating the walls with paintings. Here are some pictures from yesterday. It is Sarria / Sant Gervasi area of Barcelona.

Corner of Muntaner and Reus on Sant JordiCorner of Muntaner and Reus streets in Barcelona on the April 23rd

carrer MuntanerMuntaner street close to the plaza Bonanova

Traditional roses sold on Sant JordiSant Jordi red roses

the church on Plaza BonanovaThe church on plaza Bonanova

Pan de la diada, Sant JordiPan de la diada. Catalonian bread for Sant Jordi Holiday. It is made of cheddar and morcilla (blood sausage).

book stands on plaza BonanovaBook stands on the plaza Bonanova

plaza Bonanova and Muntaner streetPlaza Bonanova and Muntaner Street on Sant Jordi

Red roses done by the kids of the Sienna art schoolRed roses from paper and cloth done by the kids at the Siena Art School on Sant Jordi day

Sant Jordi mural in Sienna Art schoolSant Jordi mural done by the kids at the Siena Art School on Sant Jordi

Red roses painted on the wall at Sienna art schoolThe last roses of the day were the ones painted by the kids on the walls of the Siena Art School.

This was one beautiful day of spring! And the festivities are going on for the rest of the week. It feels like every day is a holiday in Barcelona.