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Observations on a New Life in Spain

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A Room with a view

14 April, 2010 (08:33) | Living in Europe | By: admin

When we all came to our fixer-upper to stay for Easter holidays I thought I’d just be staying here a few days and then return to Gracia. Instead I am addicted to here, to my spot

1) My Spot 2) Surf’s up on our beach today!

There are many parallels to when we lived on the beach in Malibu; for example, in Paradise Cove the sun rises from the ocean, and this same thing happens here. Also, in Paradise Cove they were often filming TV or movies on the beach – same here. But here there is also the Venice Beach element to the Boardwalk; lots of serene old people as well as a few grumpy ones, but for the most part the elderly here appear to be very happy. Lots of young people live here too, which is refreshing. There is definitely an active scene.

In June, 2008 I did a blog called Anything Goes Beach, which incidentally is my most read blog because I describe the nonchalantly naked people on the beach, including a one legged man we fondly refer to as “Stumpy”.

I was curious how the opening of the new Hotel W would affect the human flora and fauna of Anything Goes beach, with the brand new boardwalk and all. Now I know; On my early morning bike rides to Hotel W (something that would have been impossible last year, with no boardwalk) I observe elderly naked men jogging proudly along that beach, which is host to the historic Club de Natacion.


1) Historic Club de Natacio 2) Iconic Hotel W is now next door to it.

This morning on my bike ride I saw Stumpy out there, smiling, standing totally naked with the help of his crutch thing, setting up his spot on the sand. Although this time of year and especially at this hour, there are few people other than the surfers or the odd batch of tourists plus a few duos of all night partiers out on the beach, the stalwart Catalan proud, elderly and naked contingent is holding its own. I expect nothing will change at all. Many of these people are members of Club Natacion and have been for 40 or 50 years and have been skinny dipping in these waters with their families since time immemorial. Catalans are a very stubborn culture, so I doubt the scene here will change anytime soon.

Where our apartment attico is located seems to be slowly but thoroughly undergoing a complete upgrade because we have the Olympic Port right there plus the new very pricey Hotel W, which is pervasive in most of my photos because it is on one end of our beach and its so big you cannot miss it. 🙂

Today is Sunday and I am sitting in my spot, which has just a wedge of a perfect slice of view. Lots of windsurfers, ferries, sailboats, zodiac powerboats, fancy ocean liners all go right through my little slice of a view. I am transfixed and fascinated by what passes through my little slice of eternity. From the palm tree, to the waves breaking on shore (with people walking or running by on the beach), from the boats et al zipping by to the horizon and infinite skies, which in themselves become more fascinating on a cloudy day – to the panni (clothes) ubiquitously blowing in the breeze off every balcony here. I down onto the (narrow) street and could robably almost shake hands with the person across the street if they were there. When I look down I can see the guy we call “Mr. Underpants” because he comes out on his balcony every morning in his white underwear and stretches blythely – and then he and looks down around below him, stands in the sun. And I see a the young woman sunbathing on her roof terrace below me, red bra and roled up turqoise bermuda shorts – she is texting into her cell phone or maybe playing a game… I love that I can people watch without ever setting foot on the street.


Surf’s up!

Here is a description of Barceloneta I found on the internet:

La Barceloneta is a neighborhood in the Ciutat Vella district of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. The neighborhood was constructed during the 18th century for the residents of the Ribera neighborhood who had been displaced by the construction of the Ciudadela of Barcelona. The neighborhood is roughly triangular, bordered by the Mediterranean Sea, the Muelle de España of Port Vell and the El Born neighborhood. The neighborhood is serviced by its own stop on the Barcelona metro.

Barceloneta is known for its sandy beach (notable for its appearance in Don Quijote de la Mancha, book 2) and its many restaurants and nightclubs along the boardwalk. .

Amongst the attractions on Barceloneta’s beach are German artist Rebecca Horn’s ‘Homenatge a la Barceloneta’ monument, and, where the beach gives way to the Port Olimpic, Frank Gehry’s modern ‘Peix d’Or’ sculpture.

Here are a couple shots of the Peix D’Or. It is at the other end of my beach:


Gehry’s Peix D’Or sculpture adds to the eccentric skyline of Playa San Sebastian


Peix D’Or – whimsical shot plus one taken from the pier.

Where we are situated physically is at the head of the triangle described in the wikipedia insert above, so we have the beach on one side and the port on the other side, with a row of buildings separating us on each side. On the beach side, when our neighbor opens his window we can see the beach through his windows, like a movie within a movie, and across the street on the port side there are some old fashioned reformas going on, with one guy hanging on to the other guy’s leg so he doesn’t fall down onto the street.


1) View of sea through neighbor’s windows across the street beach side 2) Old fashion manual reformas in the aprtments across the street located over a fish restaurant on the port side

Barceloneta is in a state of upgrade. On the one hand you can see the places being bought up by affluent people taking advantage of some good deals going down during the current global crisis. They remodel the tiny 35 square meter apartments, often combining 2 apartments into one. On the other hand you have the stubborn Catalan families, of the “I Yam what I Yam” school of thought who live in tiny 30 meter apartments, often keeping their doors and/or windows open so when you walk by you really get an eyeful, reminds me of a Brueghel painting , elderly women in house dresses, men in pants and old fashioned undershirt, slipper/shoes. But there is a healthy third contingent – the youth hostel generation twenty-something backpackers, some of them renting tiny apartments, others simply staying at the hostel on the beach. There are always skateboards, bikes, rollerblades and everything in between gliding down our freshly paved boardwalk.


1) Mark tries out his new skateboard. 2) A typical bicing station to check a bike out or return one. These stations are ubiquitous, especially in Barceloneta

There are lots of tourists on weekends and holidays, and I believe all summer. The place is certainly hopping with life. I wish the remodel wasn’t happening so soon, but then again, its great to get it over with. If all goes according to plan we should have our place ready to go by June, maybe sooner. Meanwhile I’m getting our money’s worth by staying here until the work begins… The dogs don’t seem to mind. Mark has to go back to Gracia (our studio etc.) to work a couple mornings a week, for example he has to go back tomorrow and probably won’t come back until Tuesday). But technically, our reformas have begun in that our glass doors were delivered today, two big guys hoofing them up our six flights of steps… The door frames came the old fashioned way; they were foisted up the side of the building.


1) Mark basking in the sun before heading back to Gracia 2) Our door frames arrive, on a rope, from the street and up the side of our building and over the balcony.

Here’s a home video of the rope pulling up our door frame:

Of course, we’ll see how my love affair with this place continues with all the seasons to come, but I have a feeling we might move here – we’re talking about refinancing our Gracia place so we pay a lower mortgage and then renting it out. That’s our line of thought. If we can hang on to Gracia a few more years we would stand to make more money in the resale. Meanwhile we’d keep our “rented” Partners in Rhyme store in Gracia and just commute. It really is an easy, pleasant bus ride… We’ll see how things play out, but judging by how I am reluctant to leave this place here at the beach, (Mark loves it here too) and depending on a satisfactory outcome to the remodel, my heart has certainly relocated here, for i am essentially a Malibu gal and this is the closest I’ve felt to complete bliss since living in a cabaña on the beach in Paradise Cove.

Meanwhile, I have 2 more nights here before the reformas begin and the whole family relocates to Gracia for a spell.


1) cin cin 2) my spot, when seen from below and at night looks like a bordello. We plan to keep that look.

I leave you with a reggae track I wrote and recorded recently back in our studio in Gracia. (It is a rough mix and still needs some guitar.) I have 12 others going into a reggae collection to sell through Partners in Rhyme