This post is a bit different in that it has an overarching theme, like nothing else I have written on this blog so far.
I have included a brief section at the start to inform family and friends of my recent life events x
- I am genuinely depressed by the news regarding Donald Trump. We all thought it was ludicrous and a bit of a joke (like Brexit) but it appears that people are massively into racism, sexism and general backwardness. I am stunned by how the human race (more specifically: American voters) refuse to learn from previous mistakes in recent history on such a grand and catastrophic scale.I am being serious when I say that space travel has never appealed more.
- I HAVE SECURED AN NIE AND WILL NOT BE DEPORTED. The ordeal was crazily long and unnecessarily stressful for all involved parties… also the residency card is tiny and flimsy and it is only a matter of time before I lose it.
- My Mum, Dad, Nan and Grandad came to stay for five days. I went to meet them at the airport, which was completely surreal. To start with, things did not look good: from a 100m distance their hotel resembled a dilapidated, 1970’s multi-story car park. Inside, things were much better, and all was well again.
- Whilst my family were here we went to Camp Nou and watched Barca beat Granada 1-0. They should have beaten them by a lot more and the match was not brilliant, however the experience was excellent.
- My real biological family met my host family over lunch and it was weird but wonderful and up there as one of my favourite moments since being in Spain.
- I turned 22 which is pretty disappointing because I liked being 21.
- I celebrated Halloween by eating strange potato and almond cakes which are actually very nice
- On my birthday we ate in a fabulous restaurant called Les Quinze Nits. Incredible value for wonderful Spanish food. Gets the taste-buds dancing.
- I have realised that whilst under the influence of Spanish beer, I seem to think I have become bilingual and attempt to have extremely full and complex conversations with natives. This is problematic, because after about two beers I gain false confidence and forget even simple vocabulary.
- After meeting a lovely Canadian woman in the toilets of a Spanish craft-ale bar, I was given the fantastic recommendation of a club called La Fira which plays an excellent selection of Bachata and Reggaeton and is also full of weird stuff from an old German Fairground. Anyone from home in Barcelona for a weekend: this is my best recommendation so far for a night out. I will be returning to La Fira.
- My Spanish is moving in the right direction but at a very slow rate.
- I am tutoring more and earning enough money to justify a trip to Portugal in a few weeks.
- I have gained real empathy/ sympathy for immigrants in the UK who are only friends with other immigrants- it is far easier to speak to people like you and from the same place as you. It is more difficult to meet Spanish people than I had anticipated!
The Things You Notice When You Live in Tourist city (and you are not a tourist)
In a conversation with my fellow language assistant (and good friend) Victoria, over a good gin in Plaza d’Osca, we realised just how much our outlook on Barcelona has changed since we arrived two months ago. We have been here long enough to qualify as semi-residents, at least, and have acquired a general orientation of certain districts. I don’t even have to look at the metro map anymore, for some journeys. On a side note: there is something intensely satisfying about watching people gaze in disillusionment at a metro map when you know the exact route. On an additional side note: the all-night metro is both an entertaining and sobering experience, as I discovered on Saturday.
Whilst it is great to feel more settled, my outlook has definitely changed. For example, the guy singing Michael Buble songs on the metro has stopped sounding lovely (though a little flat) and started to make my ears bleed. Journeys have become a little bit more of a chore, and less of an adventure. Also, I like Patatas Bravas less than I did when I first arrived(probably because I have overeaten Patatas Bravas).
I have lost the momentum of working through a list to ensure I see every museum and art gallery whilst I am here. Speaking to my host-mum Joana, I found out that despite living in Barcelona all her life she has never visited Camp Nou, the Sagrada Familia, Gaudi Museum, or seen the Magic Fountain display (even though it is a 10/15 minute walk away, and really spectacular). These are places that most European tourists cram into a two-day city break. Whilst living within close proximity to something wonderful, it is easy to forget its existence. It’s just always there.
Despite the positive feeling of settling in, I am absolutely determined to not lose my curiosity of this city, and the region that surrounds it. There is so much I do not know, and have not visited, or seen, or even heard about. I do not want to feel too comfortable. I want to carry on exploring. Apparently, I need to take inspiration from the hordes of caffeine-and-adrenaline fuelled tourists which literally swarm around Ramblas day in, day out.
Living in a tourist-y place long term, I have begun to realise how irritating these swarms of people can be (including myself- I annoy myself). But also, I have come to realise that tourists make for fantastic people watching (one of my favourite pass-times). I have developed the ability to detect English people from about 50m. From a 15m distance, I can tell you where in the UK they are from. In the following part of my blog, I will outline my main observations:
People watching in Barcelona: the main types of tourist to look out for, and where to find them:
Type 1- the Home-counties tourist
What to look for: This type of tourist wears pastel-coloured boating shoes and ties expensive cashmere jumpers around their necks in a way that can only be achieved by people who have attended private school, worked in wealth management and are about to inherit their Great Aunt’s estate. Other signs to look out for: polo shirts worn with the collar up, floppy blonde hair and a sense of entitlement.
Where to find them: This type of tourist tends to accumulate in the Marina area, where they stand near yachts, on yachts, or drink cava in bars adjacent to yachts. I enjoy guessing how many horses each of them own and how much tax they have avoided paying.
Type 2: the Northern Tourist
What to look for: People from the North are easy to identify because they are usually speaking loudly, wearing football shirts or holding selfie-sticks. They tend to travel in large groups.
Where to find them: They can be spotted at the bottom of Ramblas, looking disorientated, and purchasing over-priced cornetto’s from illegal vendors. Alternatively, you can find them in one of the city’s many Irish bars- because, when in Spain.
What to expect: They are usually visiting the city as part of a stag-do. Often, this type of tourist emerges in the late afternoon, possibly beyond four O’clock, after spending the morning in a sub-par hotel room. I like the Northerners.
Type 3: The South-Westerner
What to look for: People from the Southwest are a more difficult breed of human to identify. However, they can be spotted if you look closely at footwear. This very specific type of English tourist usually wears walking boots or chunky sandals with off-white socks pulled up well above the ankle. With regards to clothing, they are usually wearing a Gillet, and (AT LEAST) one item of clothing from Joules.
Where to find them: This breed of tourist tends to accumulate in the Gothic Quarter, and they are never further than twenty metres from a bakery. They like to hold maps but are generally lost.
Type 4: the Londoner
What to look out for: If they are a man they have a beard and if they are a woman they have a short fringe or a bob (similar style to the bowl-cut I had as a five year old). You can distinguish the Londoner from the Spanish hipster because they are perhaps a little sun-burnt, wearing shorts despite the drop in temperature, or taking a suspicious number of photographs on their Iphone (the Londoner loves Instagram).
Where to find them: In Born, paying twelve euros for a below average gin and tonic. This is an absolute bargain for them because they are used to London prices, you see.
What to expect: Segway tours and irony.
Now I will stop rambling on about English people standing out like sore thumbs, and finish my post.
Thank you for taking the time to read it. x