I live in a shared flat near Sagrada Família, in what locals call Dreta L’Eixample (dreta is Catalan for right) because it’s on the right side (and to the east) of a large avenue, Passeig de Gracia. On the left side of Passeig de Gracia, the neighborhood is called Esquerra de L’Eixample (esquerra, as you might guess, is Catalan for left).
Here’s a view from the balcony of the flat:
I feel very spoiled that I spend most dinners on the balcony.
L’Eixample is really beautiful. Full of wide avenues and even wider intersections, and made up of tall apartment buildings in pastel colors, nearly all of which are dotted with wrought iron balconies.
On Sundays, the street-level shops aren’t much to look at, but during the week, those graffiti-covered doors are rolled up and the shops look, well, shop-like.
The left side of L’Eixample is closer to the University of Barcelona, and it’s also a bit trendier, as it’s closer to high end shops and more expensive restaurants. I’ve been told it’s become a popular gay neighborhood, and it’s a little livelier than the right side.
On the right side, we’ve got Sagrada Familia, so there are a lot of tourists around that block, but wind your way into the other streets, and it’s got a much quieter, local feel. I love walking around my neighborhood on Sundays, when everything’s closed up; it feels like I’ve got the entire neighborhood to myself.
Pink is one of the most common colors for apartment buildings. A little reminiscent of an Easter egg, no?
L’Eixample is also the location of Oxford House, where I’m taking the TEFL course:
It’s a 10 min walk from my flat.
Not all of the flats in L’Eixample are quite so charming and posh. Some look a little more standard:
This building’s a little more modern, maybe a little less swoon-worthy, depending on your tastes.
During business hours and during the week, L’Eixample is a lot more bustling, and since it’s made up of quite a few main thoroughfares, the traffic gets thick (or, what I consider thick, but the locals tell me the traffic isn’t that bad). I’m forever dodging cars and waiting for streetlights when I go jogging.
Speaking of which (this is supposed to be a running blog, isn’t it?), I didn’t run at all during the week, as I was busy with coursework, interviews and some new private classes I’m teaching (yay!). But I finally got out for a 45-minute run on Saturday, and it was glorious.
Remind me to lace up my shoes and head out for a run the next time I feel stressed, okay? It’s the best cure.
In other news, I’m eating my way through Barcelona one chocolate croissant (and bocadillo and tortilla española) at a time. I think I’ve mentioned this already, but good grief, I can eat. (Perhaps I should be making up for it in more running mileage per week? Um, yes.)
Today I went to a food festival called Mercat de Mercats (in Catalan, it directly translates to Market of Markets), where a bunch of food and wine vendors set up tents and stalls to sell samples.
It was forecast to rain, but we got lucky. Blue skies and lots of hungry people.
Believe me when I say it was hard not to try a little of everything, but I’ve got my budget strictly in mind so I went with tortilla de patatas (still my favorite, no matter where I go), an empañada with meat filling and pineapple slices drizzled in dark chocolate.
And I couldn’t resist a few truffles for the road:
Too beautiful to eat, you say?
I’ve got just one week left of the TEFL course, and then I’ll be released to the confusing and maddening world of figuring out how to earn a living here. (I should note that I won’t be talking about it too much on the blog, as I’ve been advised to be discreet for various reasons, so just know that it’s something that’s likely stressing me out a bit and causing me to reach for the nearest glass of vino tinto.)
If you want to know the story behind the story because you’re considering a TEFL course in Spain – or you’re just curious – follow me on Twitter and we can chat there or by email.
So, tell me: What’s the best bite you ate this weekend? How do you find time to run when your schedule’s on the ugly side of hectic? What are the best three adjectives to describe your neighborhood?