The view from the street of an apartment building on Carrer de Balmes, about a block north of my apartment. Beautifully constructed balconies & inviting windows offer extensive views of the happenings below.

There’s a certain comfort to be felt in open spaces; a certain sureness of your surroundings and those than occupy them with you. Typically, I have found that “open” would not pop into my head when thinking of an urban area. I have found this particularly true of Chicago, my urban area. However, the layout of the Barcelona streets has been adjusting my viewpoints on adjectives I believed to be reflective of all cities. Nearly every building of this Spanish city has a terrace for viewing the outside from within. Those buildings lacking terraces appear to have floor-to-ceiling windows or actual porches to see the activity of their neighborhoods. Where I live in Chicago, the apartment buildings have stairs climbing to a front door and windows with limited-viewing scaling the front of each floor of that complex. If I want to see what’s happening on the street in which my 3rd floor apartment resides, I have to climb onto my couch, cup my hands around my eyes like blinders on a horse, press my face against the window and awkwardly squint my eyes. Unfamiliar noises are unsettling in my home because there’s no way to clearly gain perspective on my surroundings. The balconies of Barcelona offer a sense of security and safety to the neighborhood of my temporary abode. Not only are residencies evoking this feeling but restaurants and eateries are similarly inviting and open. Instead of closed-door storefronts in Chicago, there are large entry ways to walk right off the streets into a café as well as a plethora of outdoor seating with large patios. This design is welcoming and seems to pull people outside as part of one encompassing community; again, it offers me a sense of safety. Back home, seclusion seems to be the goal of some local spots and Chicagoans love to find a “hidden gem” to stake as their discovery. There are even articles that highlight the top “hidden gems” of Chicago which, despite being ironic, breaks down the hope of a unified community.

The welcoming entryway of Francesco cafe just a block northeast of my apartment, on Carrer d’Aragó.

A multitude of terraces and large windows of the buildings off of Balmes, visible just steps from my apartment’s door.