Barcelona is a big city. Everyone lives in apartments in central Barcelona. Barcelona has a lot of people (and dogs!) in a small space. I often wonder where everyone is. The answer is: Hidden plazas!
Introduction: During the day through the night my apartment building is empty. People start getting home at 9-11:00 pm and later on the weekend. So where are they? One of the places that I’ve found them is in these hidden plazas. Every square mile has a plaza or two. In the plaza you can find either/and an old church, a café, a restaurant, a gelato (ice cream) shop, a fruit stand, a monument and many benches. They appear all of the sudden and there are so many of them. You cannot see from one plaza to another one, because the buildings are so tall. I’ve been lost and have mistaken one plaza for another and have ended up walking in circles.
Living the Vida Plaza: I take the metro when I have to go across town, but for the most part I walk. I have purposefully gotten lost just to see where the streets might take me. After all I am here to experience Barcelona. I want to see the same things as the people who live here, not just the popular tourist areas. I have walked to the outskirts of Barcelona and seen a few houses, but they’re still very crowded. There are main boulevards that are wide and handle a lot of traffic, but for the most part Barcelona’s small, narrow streets are meant for walking.
I have found that I can be walking a narrow street for blocks, and then all of the sudden it opens up to a plaza. The plaza can be anywhere from the size of a small parking lot up to the size of a football field. Most plazas that I have found on my walks are small and always full of people. There are kids playing football (remember, that’s soccer), a few couples, and there is usually a café where people are sitting and having coffee and/or a snack. These plazas are amazing. Once you leave the plaza, you are back on the narrow streets. The buildings are so tall that once I get a block away and look back, I can’t even see the plaza that I just left.
People like to meet friends outside of their homes and/or apartments. Plazas are popular places for that. The people of Barcelona are usually not in a hurry either. They can sit in a plaza or at the café for an hour or two. It’s interesting to me that anytime of the day these plazas have people. They are always full of life. People stay out and eat later here in Barcelona. I can be out walking at 10:00 pm on Friday night, and friends and families can still be out in these plazas with strollers too. I can’t remember being out that late with my parents.
What does this creature or plant look like?: A lot of people have dogs in Barcelona. There are dogs everywhere. It’s good in a way that there are not a lot of pigeons in these plazas because the dogs chase them. On the other hand you have to watch where you step. There’s usually no grass in these plazas. It is usually all stone. In Barcelona, you don’t see many cement sidewalks like we do in America. They are usually made out of stone or big gray brick. You can walk everywhere but there’s no specific spot for dogs. They can go everywhere too.
How did I feel when I saw it?: I was so excited when I found these plazas. Now that I’ve been here for three weeks I recognize the plazas around my apartment. They are nice to hang out in and they help me recognize where I am. At night if I finish my homework, I might go a hang out in a plaza.
Where do all the dogs in Barcelona live? I’m not sure. Whenever I’m out walking, they are everywhere. In the plazas not everyone uses a leash so the dogs run everywhere. They play with each other and bark a lot. When I’m in my apartment I don’t ever hear them bark. It’s interesting. Back home in Portland, some people have dogs but not as many as in Barcelona. In Portland there’s a lot more open space and yards too. Here in Barcelona there are twice as many dogs and less than half the open space. It’s a mystery to me.
These plazas are one of the few places for kids and dogs to run around in the city center. Although most schools have a football field, most of them are on the outskirts of town. So when there’s a plaza, there is a lot of energy in it. Everyone takes advantage of these plazas.
Barcelona has found a way to make the tall buildings and narrow streets work for them. One of the answers is the plaza. As the city has grown over the last 2,000 years, the people have made sure include these plazas so that they can stretch and enjoy themselves. It’s very different from where I live in Portland. We have parks, yards and there are some tall buildings but you can see across the city. In Barcelona sometimes you can’t see anything further than a block. I’m still discovering more. It’s early afternoon, and I’m in a plaza close to the Arc de Triomf. I’ll take pictures. Ciao!