Saturday, 7 September 2013

Living in Barcelona, Part I: Settling in, Sightseeing & Reading

Parc Guell lizard
The lizard in Gaudi's Parc Güell
As some of you will know, I've recently moved from South East England to sunny Barcelona! It's only for eight months as part of my university degree, but it's quite a big step nonetheless.

I'm living by myself in a quiet area called Eixample, on a street that's really close to the Avinguda Diagonal. This brilliantly wide street has great shops and space to walk, and it literally cuts the city in half.

I'm pleased to say that culture shock hasn't yet kicked in and I'm really enjoying how vibrant and exciting Barcelona is. I absolutely adored my visit to Montjuïc, home to the amazing Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya and some beautiful gardens, and Antoni Gaudi's Parc Guëll was even better than I expected.

I'm looking forward to seeing some of the places where the film version of Patrick Süskind's Perfume was set, alongside visiting Montserrat mountain, from which the views seem incredible. As my boyfriend's staying with me for eight days from Sunday, I'll have somebody to join me on my adventures! I really need to persuade him to read Carlos Ruiz Zafón's The Shadow of the Wind so we can go on a literary walk around the roads and areas mentioned.

El Poble Espanyol, as seen in Perfume
El Poble Espanyol, as seen in Perfume. Image source.

Most of my time at the moment is being taken up by work, hence the lack of blogging and tweeting lately! I have a Copywriting & Social Media Marketing role at a really lovely startup that specialises in group travel, and so far I'm really enjoying my work. My colleagues are great, and I get to spend a lot of time writing articles and reading all about travel... I must say it suits me well! In the next week or so I'll mention the blog and Twitter account that I update for work - just in case you want to keep an eye on what I'm up to.

The view from Montserrat (San Jeroni peak)

In other news...

I am still reading War and Peace. Yes, still! After my speedy reread in August 2012, this year is proving to balance the annual average out a bit. To avoid lugging my enormous paperback edition of Anthony Briggs's fantastic translation to Spain, I decided to download the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation onto my Kindle. I've heard so many good things about this, but I just can't get into it like the Briggs text. A post on W&P translations can definitely be expected when I finally finish it!

Last night I also started reading The Battersea Park Road to Enlightenment by Isabel Losada, a choice that was entirely inspired by Angeliki's recent post on finding purpose through literature. It's a wry memoir of getting to know yourself, finding your way out of the most enormous ruts, and understanding what life's all about. It's a relaxing novel and a bit of a guilty pleasure, but my reading standards lean excessively towards the classic and difficult-to-read!

It's the perfect book to relax with during my lunch breaks and evenings, although, of course, I should really be reading in Spanish...

Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya


Rivorniel Tinubelin said...

Glad to hear you're settling in nicely! What wonderful photos of the city (I took a peek to your travel blog too and will be happy to follow your life in Barcelona). Perfume is in my re-read list, I remember liking this novel a great deal back when I first read it. I will probably try The Shadow of the Wind some day, too.

Sharon Henning said...

I visited Barcelona this past summer. What a wonderful city. I would like to live there myself. Gaudi was an unexpected and incredible discovery. I knew about the Cathedral but had never paid much attention. In person it is a thing of wonder and beauty. So was Gaudi park. Gaudi himself was a fascinating individual. I'm now reading a couple of books about his life, work and Art Nouveau. Enjoy your stay. I'm envious.

Brian Joseph said...

I have never been to Barcelona but it looks to be a great
place to be for about eight months or so. I hope that your stay is good!

I would say that you are doing fine for time with War and Peace. As you commented before, it is not just long, but lends itself to contemplation. I am really curious about your thoughts on the translations. I choose the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation for me resent reading of The Brothers Karamazov after a bit of research. There is a lot of opinion out there about the various translations of these Russian novels!

tolstoytherapy said...

Thanks Riv! Hopefully I'll be taking lots more photos in the upcoming weeks to post on here and my travel blog :) It is a lot of fun seeing all that the city has to offer.

I'd love to re-read Perfume too - it has such a unique plot and great characterisation.

I think you'd like The Shadow of the Wind! It's a great book for book-lovers.

tolstoytherapy said...

Thanks Sharon! I remember really enjoying your posts about Italy in the last few months, did you travel around Europe?

Gaudi really was a fascinating individual, I agree! It's not until seeing his work in person that I truly realised how talented and unique he really was. I should follow what you're doing and read about his life and work - you've got me inspired now!

Thanks again for the well-wishes, I'll be sure to keep blog readers updated while I'm here!

tolstoytherapy said...

Thanks Brian, so far I'm really glad I've chosen this city!

You're right about War & Peace, generally it's not something you can whizz through. I'm going to refrain from feeling I should read more at a faster face and simply see how it goes. If it takes all year, so be it!

I remember reading on your blog that you chose the P&V translation for The Brothers Karamazov. After finishing their translation of War & Peace I'd be interested to see how they approach other novels!

Having a favourite translation is definitely very subjective! Also, the fact that I read the Briggs translation first (and on my second re-reading) probably influences my praise for it.

All the best,

Paula (Find a girl who reads) said...

I've been in Barcelona a couple of times and fell in love with the place (It's impossible not to...). You live in a great street by the way. Hope you enjoy your stay and get to travel around Spain! You'll love it :)

Repsych said...

I'm so glad you have such a good time in Barcelona! Your job sounds perfect!
It's good to mix highbrow and lighthearted literature from time to time :)

melissa vizcarra said...

I'm so happy you are enjoying Barcelona so much! It's such a beautiful city, I'm sure you will always find something new to discover and explore. I also loved the MNAC and used to go there just to sit and read while admiring the magnificent view. I'll be looking forward to more Barcelona updates and I'll definitely check your new blog!

tolstoytherapy said...

I'm glad you like the city too, Paula! I'm really liking where I live so far - there are so many lovely places to eat, shop and sit nearby, and it's certainly not too busy or in a touristy area :) I'll be sure to travel around Spain a bit while I'm here, even if just to visit some university friends!

tolstoytherapy said...

Thanks Angeliki! My job is really good fun, I must say :) And I agree, I need to make sure I dedicate enough time to lighthearted literature! There are so many books to be enjoyed by doing so :)

tolstoytherapy said...

Thanks Melissa! It is a very beautiful city, and there's a seemingly endless amount of cultural stuff to enjoy all year round :) I'm glad you liked the MNAC too... we clearly think alike as I thought it would be a great place to read! The parks slightly uphill from it (which have so far seemed really quiet) also seem like perfect reading spots.

I'll be keeping you updated! Hope the writing is going well :)