It did not take long to realize how different my new neighborhood of L’Eixample, Barcelona is in comparison to my lifelong hometown of Bartlett, Illinois. Everything was foreign to me; from the warm climate, to the vibrant nightlife, the street walkability, the elaborate recycling system, endless options for public transport, varied languages, bountiful fresh markets, and prolonged meals. However, the biggest difference between my new and old neighborhoods was found in the emotional connections promoted by the areas during the day and night.
As discussed in the documentary Bye Bye Barcelona, Barcelona receives an absurdly unregulated influx of tourists daily that disrupts life for many locals, leaving only the stubborn behind to deal with overcrowding and overpriced living conditions. Large tour busses are a common nuisance in the city as they clog up streets and pollute the surroundings with undue noise and emissions. Even though I am not a local, I have already picked up on this disruption of a peaceful life.
Fresh markets are required by law to be within a walking distance for residents throughout Barcelona. This proximity encourages daily shopping and cooking of produce grown sustainably within Barcelona, promoting community between the city and rural outgrowths. In my hometown, chain grocery stores rein over the food production and consumption industry that is driven by profit and convenience before community health and connectivity.
My suburban neighborhood in Illinois has very few streetlights, practically no crosswalks, and very distant destinations of interest. The walkability of Barcelona far exceeds that of my hometown because of the variance in built design and concentration of desirable locations.
The sense of leisure and community during mealtimes far exceeds concerns about timeliness and convenience as meals often last hours and focus on bonding with those around you. While my family tends to have prolonged meals together to catch up on our days, many of my peers do not know how to cook, relying on fast food and convenience to prevail over meaningful personal connections that occur over meals.
Disclaimer: The final image is altered from the original by cropping.