Life in Barcelona: The pros
In this two-part series, I will convey with honesty the positive aspects of living abroad (specifically in Spain) as well as the not-so-fun parts of the experience. First up (and more fun): the pros.
I have lived in Barcelona for just over two years, and I can see myself living here for at least two more, depending on many factors. So, what makes this city so livable?
I write this as I peer out of my windowed doors to a cloudless sky and copious rays of sunlight, but the sky isn't always so perfectly clear. For example, I am editing this post one day later: The clouds have rolled in and rain is falling from the sky. When it rains in Barcelona, it seems as though the entire city shuts down and people opt to stay indoors with their homemade coffee and Spanish televisions.
The majority of year, though, is as I described: sunny, warm, and--during the summer--up to 13 hours of sunlight each day. Nearly every day qualifies as a beach day that can last until the sun goes down after 9 p.m.
Speaking of weather, Barcelona definitely has its four seasons: cool in the winter (average temperatures around 50 degrees Fahrenheit, 10 degrees Celsius) and warm in the summer (averaging 88 degrees Fahrenheit, 30 degrees Celsius). But moving from season to season is so slight and gradual that there is ample time to acclimate to new temperatures.
I come from the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States where temperatures can be in the 90s Fahrenheit one day and the 40s the next. Some days of unexpected heat were a welcome respite from the cold, but in terms of adjusting to new seasons, consistency is key.
Food, food, and more food
I've written about Spanish food ad nauseam, but there is never too much to say about Mediterranean cuisine. Fresh seafood, vegetables, fruits, and (for those who enjoy it, myself not included) pork. Espresso is appropriate at any time of the day, as are afternoon treats such as vermouth, beer, and wine.
According to some of my European friends from other countries, Spain could afford to step it up in the bread and cheese departments, but by my standards Spain is doing just fine.
The beach, the mountains, and everything in between
Barcelona is situated smack dab in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea and the sub-Pyrenees Mountains. With both water and mountains within walking distance or a short train ride away, it's hard to find a reason to leave the region of Catalonia. In between the two natural wonders is a bustling international metropolis where locals and foreigners mix in a cosmopolitan culture. As such, Barcelona is certainly spoiling me in terms of proximity to anything and everything I could ever want to do.
If I do need the inevitable city break, trains travel up and down the coast to historic seaside towns where the seafood is even fresher and people are even friendlier.
Spain has been instrumental in my ability to let go, relax, and not worry so much about being on time. As I have written previously, there are ingrained personality traits that I may never shake and that push me to be reliable, on time, and a step ahead of others. But adding a dose of the Spanish lifestyle into the cocktail of my baseline disposition has done wonders for my sanity.
Despite the sun, beach, mountains, and delectable cuisine, it's not all sol y flores. Coming up next: the aspects of Barcelona that make living in the capital of Catalonia a challenge.