Each time I walk down the street it’s like a sensory overload. Upon first impression it was slightly overwhelming, having never lived in a city of this nature, I wasn’t used to the constant stream of noise. Though now, I’ve grown accustomed to the clammer of this city. It adds to the charm - it's more exciting and full of life.
The local church bell tolls, then each night at exactly 10 p.m. a clanging begins that echoes throughout my neighborhood. Catalonians stand on their balconies and hang out windows banging pots, pans, cymbals, and cowbells. Layered shouts and chants can be heard among the banging, some even sing loudly trying to overpower the beat. A neighbor of mine regularly sets off rouge firecrackers that blast right above my apartment building. The number and frequency vary, but some nights the clanging is drowned out by continuous loud pops. This cacophony of noise is a nightly message from the Catalonians who support independence. Another peaceful yet impactful way they protest.
Since living in Barcelona, I’ve noticed the Spanish tendency to celebrate almost anything, anywhere, all the time. Parades occur regularly both downtown and in the surrounding neighborhoods of Barcelona. Festivals such as La Merce or San Miguel Mas i Mas Festival draw large crowds into the city center for food, drinks, live music, dancing, and performances. Drums beat, people chant and sing, and every once and a while you’ll hear a shout of “Olay!” Followed by applause. Outlying districts and smaller neighborhoods celebrate themselves too. We were lucky enough to witness a flamenco festival in my local area, as well as watch a parade down my neighborhood’s main street for the Horta festival.
Though I haven’t taken advantage of the array of local music on display, it’s accessible to all those wanting to delve into Spanish culture by watching a live show. Bands and artists perform regularly for free in local squares, plazas, or parks. Performances continue throughout the night and into the early morning. The genre of music played by local musicians varies, but it’s usually a mixture of guitar rifts, Spanish rock or reggaeton. The free form of entertainment fills the streets with a constant background beat - almost like a trendier version of elevator music.
Barcelona is a seaside city, so naturally, there are seagulls flying around squawking the Spanish equivalent to “mine, mine, mine”. During siesta hours (roughly 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.) I often see people walking their dogs. Stray and pet dogs are common around the city center. Though you don’t hear them bark during the day, their howls can be heard later at night.
Lastly, and probably most notably, I hear Spanish spoken everywhere. Barcelona is a tourist hub, but I've happily noticed there seems to be an assortment of languages being spoken. For once, English doesn't dominate. Instead, local Barceloneans (if that's correct) hold onto their Spanish despite the influx of tourism. I also suppose it comes with living in a residential area of the city. I am surrounded by local Spanish families simply living their daily lives - in Spanish. Brilliant. Astounding. Incredible. Who would have thought?