here, there, everywhere

Garbage and Romance

In Europe, Spain on July 12, 2011 at 5:28 pm

Assuming “Moreover” equals “Entrees”. Restaurant menu, Barcelona

First, I have to say once again how lovely the drivers are here.  Really, I cannot get over how friendly they are and not one of them has tried to kill me yet.  Best drivers ever.  I know that Barcelona is lovely, much has been said about it in other blogs and travelogs, but what hasn´t been mentioned much is the garbage situation. I am impressed by the recycling here and am inspired to write about it.  On almost every corner there are 4 to 6 giant bins and each has pictures on it to indicate what you can put inside.  There´s a bin for composting, another one for DIAPERS, others for paper, plastic, and wood.  Watching people use them all convinces me that we can easily learn how to do this back in North America, and yet we´re still waiting for composting bins in urban areas of Vancouver.  I haven´t seen much, if any, trash lying around the streets so it would seem that people here take pride in their surroundings and do a pretty good job of keeping it all clean.  Hats off to Barcelona for that.

Rooftop view from our apartment, Les Eixamples, Barcelona

But there´s another side of garbage, the human side, that´s also quite apparent.  Today we wandered into the Gothic Quarter, lovely medieval streets, lots of pretty window boxes, laundry lines flapping overhead, and the overwhelming pungent odour of raw sewage.  It smells like a few hundred years of excrement in some areas and it doesn´t disappear after just a few seconds.  It kind of hovers around your head and follows you for a few metres until you can gulp in fresh air.  Turn another corner and the smell hits you head on again.  I love the architecture but it´s a little hard to give it my full concentration when I´m checking my shoes all the time to make sure I didn´t step in someone´s crap and am carting it around with me.  However, this is no reason to not visit the neighbourhood and if you can get by the stench you will be rewarded with great sites, pretty shops, quaint cafes, and the 13th century cathedral in the middle which houses some pretty big truckloads of gold.  We spent probably 45 minutes in there capped off with a trip to the roof and a great view of the city.

Gothic Quarter, Barcelona

Fresh smelling street in the Gothic Quarter. Uh, not really fresh. Barcelona

Gothic Cathedral under scaffolding. Barcelona

Looking down into the crypt in the Gothic Cathedral, Barcelona

Afterward we made our way to La Rambla and strolled down to the waterfront and over to the beaches.  Beautiful white sand and lots of people out there to enjoy it.  Eventually we caught the subway home, bought dinner at a takeaway place and ate a delicious meal on the rooftop of our apartment building, looking out to the Mediterranean and all points in between.

This brings me to my second topic of the title of this blog, romance.  It´s alive and thriving here and not just because the Spanish are passionate people as evidenced in their colourful discussions, but because everything about the life here lends itself to being romantic.  Picture wrought iron balconies everywhere, flower shops where the blooms are outside and scenting the surrounding area, wine, good food, and a language that just sounds sensuous.  Can you see the young guy outside on the street, holding a flower and singing to his girlfriend on one of the balconies?  I haven´t see that yet, but I can certainly imagine it happening.  I can´t see it in Vancouver where it´s overcast most of the time and 90% of the balconies are 6 inches wide and covered in green glass.  And for some reason young couples making out on the street here don´t gross me out as much as they do at home.  I hate to say it but I actually find it kind of cute.  And as we crossed the street to get to our apartment tonight, we passed a bride and groom decked out in wedding finery, eating lime popsicles and walking to wherever they were going next.  But the best romantic moment of the day was in the subway station.  As I got out of the train and walked the platform to the exit, I passed an elderly couple saying goodbye.  She was in the train sitting by the window, he was on the platform.  They put their hands together through the glass, holding them there and smiling at each other until the train pulled away.  No words, just looks and years of understanding between them.  The ultimate romance.

Hey wait, I’ve seen this before in your other post. Yes, but it’s romantic and deserves to be put in here twice. Flowershop, Barcelona

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  1. I want to go to there

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