Life of an expat: How I spend my weekends
My eyes flutter open and I read “08:15” on my bedside table clock. What day is it? I realize it’s a Saturday and roll over in my full-sized bed but find it hard to go back to sleep as rays of sunlight creep between the slits of my wooden horizontal persianas (blinds). I lure myself awake with the promise of a clean white Ikea mug of Nescafé Dolce Gusto–prepared coffee. But first, I unlock and open my two vertical doors that lead out to my Juliet balcony and pull down on the thick twine rope to raise the blinds, squinting slightly at the sun’s domineering luster but eventually adjusting as I tie off the rope and breathe in the cool October morning air. The puppies across the way greet me with their good-morning yips as a moto cruises down the cobblestone streets below. Other than these two auspicious sounds, the scene is silent.
As I enter my fifth year as an expatriate, it’s safe to say I’ve fallen into a routine of sorts, just as I would anywhere else I lived. I capture a few moments of elusive tranquility on Saturday mornings, the few hours before the locals wake up for market- or café-hopping, and before the tourists wake up from their night of raucous partying. During these hours I sit at my desk, open my laptop, and savor some serene writing time. I make the most of this time at my laptop by combining writing with some inspiring travel planning.
The rest of my Saturdays can be spent in any number of ways but often involve some level of cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, exercising, and possibly other kinds of shopping. Because nearly all shops and supermarkets are closed on Sundays, Saturday has become my errand day in Spain.
With one productive weekend day under my belt, I can let go a bit come Saturday night and into Sunday. Saturday nights can mean dinners and drinks with friends, live music at a local bar, or cocktails on a rooftop terrace. There is hardly ever a shortage of weekend activities in a city like Barcelona. While some are a bit beyond my scope of interest (e.g., nightclubs that don’t open until 2 a.m.) and the locals typically head out no earlier than 11 p.m., I’ve found a group of like-minded expats who prefer early nights and adequate hours of sleep.
As I’ve written previously, Sundays in Spain practically force me to do absolutely nothing. Shops and supermarkets are closed, so most locals get outside to restaurant terraces, green parks, or the beach. As summer comes to a close, I’ve been frequenting the latter to squeeze in every last drop of warm weather and waters while simultaneously berating myself for not spending enough time by the Mediterranean Sea this year.
Sunday nights are a calm affair, often involving my sofa, a home-cooked meal, a stack of crossword puzzles, and a streaming TV show playing in the background.
My weekends in Barcelona are quite similar to how I would spend a weekend back home in the States, although my Sundays would most likely be spent at Target or the like instead of at a Mediterranean beach. But regardless of the setting, it’s easy to fall into routine, an involuntary practice that makes a new home feel more like an old home.
Do you live abroad? How do you spend your weekends? Comment below!
Lead photo: Plaça de Sant Pere, Barcelona.