It is nearing the end of the first week of my travels abroad and I’m still having trouble finding my way around the neighborhood. As you may or may not know, I am terrible with directions. Shocker! My apartment on Balmes Street is surrounded by important landmarks that help me map my way down Barcelona’s busy intersections. So far, I have walked to every destination and my longest commute was 45 minutes. I’ve noticed that during my commute, I lose track of time. I am too busy observing my surroundings and looking for new places to visit. Walking, biking, driving mopeds and riding the metro are some methods that individuals choose to use for their commute. Locals have emphasized that they prefer to walk if the commute is less than 30 minutes. The bus and train system are conveniently accessible at numerous intersections. My neighborhood in Barcelona has a late curfew, an aspect that has taken me all week to grow accustomed to. Mornings start late, around 9 or 10 am and dinner is served around 8 pm. During my first few nights in Barcelona, I was surprised seeing groups of people, sometimes with their children, walking around the neighborhood at midnight. This behavior is a way of life for locals. Barcelona is truly a city that never sleeps.
In my hometown of Palos Hills, a small suburb located on the southwest side of Chicago, things are very different. I can’t imagine myself commuting from point A to B by walking, it would take twice the amount of time compared to driving. In the suburbs, it is essential for me to own a car and drive to desired destinations. Landmarks are not located within short distances like they are in Barcelona. As pictured below, Barcelona’s architecture is breathtaking. I wish I could say the same for my hometown. There is a rich history behind the structures and streets that make up Barcelona which is something that suburbia does not have. One difference that I’ve found hard to believe is the lack of health and fitness facilities in Barcelona. There are only a few studios scattered across my surrounding area compared to my hometown where it is more common to find all different types of fitness clubs within a close proximity.
As much as I recognize how different both of these neighborhoods are, I’ve found few similarities between the two. In Barcelona, at around 9 pm it is a law for people living in apartments to be mindful of making too much noise. In my neighborhood of Palos Hills, the streets fall quite around the same time. Also, my neighbors aren’t shy to call the Police if there is disruption of excessive noise. In addition, public transit is relatively accessible for suburban individuals if they own a vehicle. The nearest train stations from my house in Palos Hills are the Metra, about a 10 minute drive and the CTA, about a 25 minute drive. Both living spaces make me feel at home, whether it is on a busy street leading to Barcelona’s Catalan center or a quiet intersection in Palos Hills.
I’m hoping my directional and spatial awareness gets better throughout the month. Until then, enjoy my panel photography of my beautiful neighborhood in Barcelona. Adios chic@s!