Where The Heck I’ve Been (Again)

by heather

La Boqueria Market, Barcelona

La Boqueria Market, Barcelona

Hi Folks,

Just wanted to post a quick apology for the lack of articles over the past two weeks! A and I took a trip we’ve been dreaming about forever: we spent the past 10 days in Barcelona, and just got in last night.

I had grand plans to write a bunch of great posts that would publish while I was gone (since our Internet was a bit iffy over there) and, of course, life intervened. I got super busy with copywriting work right before we left and just couldn’t get to it.

I will, however, be back to posting on a regular schedule starting this week! There are some really cool posts and reviews coming up (including another Terra Plana shoe review on Oct. 19, with a great coupon!) that I’m really excited about.

9334_1241840119439_1032393089_760248_369990_nRecycling In Spain

One thing that really struck me about Barcelona is how easy it is to recycle there.

Instead of picking up recycling bins for each household, there are big dumpsters every two blocks for cans, paper, plastic, and glass. So no matter where you’re walking in the city, you’re never far from a recycling bin, which I thought was amazing.

It was actually much easier to recycle over there than it is here in the States.

People also don’t buy tons of bottled water like Americans do. Barcelona has an amazing number of beautiful drinking fountains, and when people want a drink they go take a sip, or they carry a small cup with them. We had our Sigg, and we never had to walk far, at all, to find fresh, clean water.

The only people I saw toting bottled water around were American tourists. And the majority of the time, those bottles went straight into the trash can. It was a sad thing.

The Slow Life In the Big City…

I was also struck by the slower pace in this city. Barcelona is a thriving metropolis of about 4 million people, and there’s no doubt that it’s bustling.

But I never got the sense, like I do here in America, that people are out to “do, do, do”, and that money and “accomplishment” are always the end goal.

A delicious long lunch in Barcelona...

A delicious long lunch in Barcelona...

Here’s what I mean: people in Barcelona only work from 9:00 a.m. to 2 p.m. At 2:00, they break for siesta. Most of the shops close, and everyone heads outdoors for a long lunch with friends, or home for lunch and a nap.

There’s no hurry: they take the time to enjoy their espresso, and to savor their lunch. They sit in the sun, read the paper, and take the time to talk with strangers.

I didn’t see one person “working” while they were eating. When they stop working, they stop working.

They go back to work at 4:00 or 4:30, and then stay until 7 or 8 p.m. Dinner is usually at 9:00.

A Simple Lesson…

As I’ve walked around observing Barcelona life these past two weeks I’ve realized I can learn a lot from these people. Countless times I’ve sat down at my own desk and wolfed down a lunch, barely tasting it, trying to get more work done. Or, rushed through my morning coffee so I can get on to the next thing.

But, how sad is that?

Now that I see how this culture has modified their schedule to allow more room for “living”, I can see the stark differences between their day and my own. The difference? They’ve made living their top priority, not working.

It’s a lesson I’m resolving to take to heart.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Shona October 17, 2009 at 9:28 am

I have been dying to go since the ’92 Olympics, yes the profiles of the city really sold me on wanting to visit. There are recycling bins throughout the greenway that runs through our town + I can’t help but look inside to see if people are actually using them. Some do + some don’t know that it’s different than a trash can so I wonder if the whole bin goes to trash or if someone picks out the recyclables.

Green Bean October 17, 2009 at 10:10 am

Now that you mention it, I do remember how much slower and more meaningful life seemed over in Europe. People enjoyed themselves, connected, developed relationships and hobbies. It wasn’t all about making money. We, as Americans, have a lot to learn. Lets hope we actually learn it.

heather October 17, 2009 at 11:54 am

@Shona- We actually went out to the Olympic Stadium on Montjuic, and it was incredible. They keep it open and you can actually go in and down to the track and field, as well as walk around the grounds. It was really beautiful up there.

If you ever do decide to go, I’d recommend researching staying in a hostel. Hotels in the city are very expensive: $200 to $500 on up. We stayed at Somnio Hostel (http://www.somniohostels.com/), which was right in downtown where we could walk everywhere. We had a private room (but shared a bathroom) and we paid $100 per night. And, the place was amazing. Spotlessly clean, and the owners (two young American women) were like having our own tour guides to the city. Worth every penny, and still an incredible bargain over hotel prices.

@Green Bean- It was amazing to me how different the Spanish culture was from the American culture, in so many subtle ways. They laugh so much, and just do what they want.

For instance, you’d never see people in America order a beer at 8 a.m. But people over there do it all the time, or have wine with their breakfast. There’s no “taboos” about drinking before 5:00 p.m. If they feel like a beer they just get one.

Definitely some great lessons to be learned over there!

Rebecca Rivera October 17, 2009 at 8:31 pm

Glad to have you back. Sounds like you had a great trip.

Kate October 18, 2009 at 12:58 pm

Thanks for posting about your experience. A post lunch siesta sounds divine. I’m trying to do less and enjoy more (I’m guilty of eating many lunches at my desk)

Ken October 19, 2009 at 9:18 am

Beautiful photos! Sounds like a wonderful vacation and a healthy attitude to adopt.

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