Categorized | Daily Life

Evening stroll

Posted on 11 June 2016 by American expat!


I frequently take a twilight stroll through my neighborhood in summer. This twilight hour is between 8:30 and 9:30PM, and it’s when everyone comes out. Last night was a typical walk and it went like this:

I go down my street toward the Arc de Triomf monument. There are people on benches under the trees psantjalong the wide sidewalks, where near the half toward the street, the kind of pavement with gridded openings for grass to grow through is installed. The walkways are larger than the street lanes, and the shrubs, trees, grass and sheer width of the sidewalks calm traffic and dampen noise. There are dogs and runners at the 100+ year old water fountains, people having little glasses of beer at the metal tables that all the cafes set out daily. A group of tourists on orange bikes follows their young guide down the grass framed bicycle lane in the middle of the street.fountain

I cross under the Arc to the wide promenade behind it, passing breakdancers with their old school fade haircuts, dancing to music from a modern boom box. They take turns sweating out their moves, surrounded in a half circle by other dancers. Some make exclamations in English as one young dancer finishes his display. He pulls at the shoulders of his loose tank top and runs a hand across the fuzz on his upper lip, smiling at his group but well aware that there are plenty of other onlookers watching him.

Skateboards and bikes and rollerblades pass as I continue down the promenade. Dogs play on the grassy strips that run along the open paseo. At the bottom, near a monument of the 1880s mayor of Barcelona, are the ever present BMX riders.  They do their tricks perpendicular to the direction of the general foot traffic, timing each jump off of the sloped surface of the concrete to fall in between the passers by. They are good at this timing. I’ve never seen even a near miss.

I stop at the end of the long promenade and move from the middle to one outer edge, where the low wall that runs along the length of the public space props up elaborate iron planters. Some hold plants, others are empty, and those at the entrances are held up by dragons and have cat sized snails forever frozen at the lips of the planters.

I stroll under the trees on this sid1e of the square, passing a group of Spanish gentleman playing Petanque and bickering amiably. Some hipsters on bicycles are stopped to watch them, presumably to learn how to play since hipsters seem to be picking up this traditional retiree sport. Old couples sit in the public chairs (the chairs are like benches–solid, affixed to the ground–but chair size and situated side by side) and watch the evening pass.

Back near the arc, a Capoeira group practices beside a group of older Chinese ladies who are stiffly dancing in unison to traditional music. I think these ladies practice every night of the week. This part of town has many Chinese residents and businesses, and this is one of the rare occasions I see people of this community doing something other than working.

The evening light is so soft and beautiful. The delicate hue enhances the modernist architecture, and the lack of shadows makes objects and people appear softer and almost flat. The air is cooler and less humid than in the burning hard heat of the day, and people look comfortable and relaxed. These are the evenings where you want to stay out until it is completely dark, and then move onto meet some friends for tapas or a drink, because the air still feels soft and perfect. Which is what most people do, and just one more thing that makes this place so special.

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