Monday, April 12, 2010

10 April 2010 - Gracia

Rius i Taulet: A typical Gracia plaza with plenty of good 10:20 sites

I live in a great neighborhood…ancient narrow streets, feeling more like tunnels, which occasionally emerge into vibrant plazas, full of people sipping a beer at one of the adjacent restaurants while children play soccer in the background. This is by far the best neighborhood—which harbors Barcelona’s Bohemian culture—in town, if not in Spain. I, like all my neighbors, have a strong sense of pride to live here.

The biggest failure in my life to date would be to not experience this community. Neighborhoods exist thanks to the people that contribute to its flavor. When I eventually move out of town, I want to know that I was part of Gracia. If not, I would have paid too much to just sleep in an apartment.

Unfortunately, there is a risk of this failure. I spend all day at school and could easily spend all night doing homework. A month ago, while enjoying a great Gracia lunch, some friends of mine and I discussed this risk which can potentially plague everybody. Not wanting to fall victim to it, we proposed a new concept, Gracia 10:20. Each school night we take a break from our studies and meet at a different Gracia bar (we do not plan on repeating a bar for months) at 10:20. We only meet for one drink, just needing to spend an hour away from the world of school, immersing ourselves in our barrio. We plan our bars a week in advance and invite anyone who wants to experience Gracia. Sometimes it just the three of us, but sometimes we’ll have over ten friends—some of whom we met thanks to 10:20.

In the month since the start of 10:20, I’ve visited over 20 new bars in my neighborhood. While there, I’ve heard local bands, learned some Catalan, made friends with some Gracians, and most importantly, have started to feel a part of this community. Perhaps 10:20 will go on forever, long after I move on to my next adventure. That would be my ultimate gift to Gracia.