Into the groove: How I found my footing as an expat in Barcelona
It's beyond bizarre to think that I have been in Barcelona for four years this month. Looking back at that apprehensive-but-blindly confident Allie of January 2014 warms my soul and reminds me that even if I have no clue about what I am venturing into, I will eventually figure it out and find a way for it to work for me.
Four years into this venture, I feel a sense of pride in knowing minute eccentricities of my new home. For example, each time late June rolls around, I contemplate leaving the city to avoid the week-long fireworks that ring through the skies and slam onto the streets, welcoming the feast of Sant Joan and the beginning of summer. In fall, I relish in the random holidays that allow me to take advantage of low-season flight prices to neighboring countries.
I've become a tiny expert in things like comparing the fastest way to get to the airport versus the cheapest way, or which beaches to visit in order to escape the throngs of summer tourists.
Twice a year, I know when to hit the rebaixes (biannual sales) at just the right time to score the best deals on clothes, appliances, and basically anything else the city sells. When Sundays roll around, I have learned what I can expect to be open for business (cafés, restaurants, small neighborhood supermarkets) and what I won't be able to do due to Sunday closures (shop at larger supermarkets or name-brand stores).
As a neighbor to Ciutadella Park, I know the best times to get in my weekly sun-drenched runs while also avoiding gaggles of schoolchildren playing football in the middle of the sandy paths.
When friends' family members come to visit, I can confidently rattle off a list of the best tapas restaurants, cocktail bars, and cozy cafés in almost any central Barcelona neighborhood.
Of course all of these things come with time as a resident of any city or town, and in most these attributes can change in an instant. But with each nugget of knowledge gained, a place can feel even just a morsel more like home.