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My Life in Barcelona

I write to you from my cosy little piso (Spanish for apartment) in Barcelona, which I can now comfortably call home. It has been a long road getting here however this California girl has been steadily making her way easterly, fuelled by her search for what existed outside of the boundaries of her suburban Bay Area/Northern California upbringing. Chicago was my first stop. The pursuit of a higher ‘really expensive yet creative’ education and a fine arts degree brought me to Chi-town which in fact, was the pivotal in my discovery and love for house music, art, deep-dish pizza, and a fond appreciation for the first mild days of spring after a long, bitter winter.

Next stop, South Africa, (the one southern detour but still very much east and very far away from anything that was remotely familiar to me). Love and curiosity was the catalyst for this particular journey which also happened to be my first trip abroad. A nice European city would have been the less ambitious choice but no, I wanted to see for myself what existed in this country of immense beauty and tragic suffering. The highlight of that whole experience had to be watching in amazement as people stood in line for days to elect their second president, Tabo Mbeki.

Eventually satisfaction and a desire for a big time corporate career carried me back to the States. I landed in Washington D.C. on 13th and U, to be exact. But this was an extremely short pit-stop only meant as a transition city between Jo´burg and NYC, even though it must be amazing to live there now with Mr. President Barack Obama. I voted absentee ballot, by the way! I found DC to be a place for either politicos, wanna-be politicos, students or born and bred Washingtonians. I was none of these and felt like the odd man out. This was all the inspiration I needed to get me to move to New York City.

I moved to Harlem with little more than a dream and a bit of cash in the bank. Somehow, someway, I made it through those first few terribly disappointing months without friends, a job, or a clue of where I could encounter the cool NYC I had heard about to carve out my own little world. It included all the things that most would be happy with- a promising career, a budding circle of friends and an even larger circle of interesting contacts/acquaintances, and a packed social calendar that included launch events, museum visits, parties, club dancing, bar hopping and restaurant cruising.

My original plan was to stay for three years, work my way into a position that would at least allow me to travel to Europe or even better transfer me there. Either way, I knew my time in New York was limited and would be trumped by a living in a European city. Which city? Who knew, who cared.

But three years turned into a six year, nine month exhilarating whirlwind.  Anyone that has ever lived in or is living in New York now will understand the gravitational pull that city has over your soul. But the inevitable happened. At year five, I fell in love again. I began cheating on New York with Barcelona.

She, Barcelona, invited me to come get acquainted with (Antoni) Gaudi, the famous Spanish architect; (Pablo) Picasso, one of the most recognized painters in 20th century art and (Joan) Miro internationally acclaimed Surrealist painter. She teased me with her mild climate, the promise of beach side living with the heart of the city a short bike ride away. She moved at a mid-tempo pace, which I found relaxing. The roll of her r’s and the lisp of her z’s and c’s made me swoon. Two hour lunches, sipping Claras (an interesting mixture of beer and lemon soda like Fanta  Limón) in an outdoor café, reading a book in an old plaza, mid-day siestas and cheap flights to other European cities most of which are only two hours away… What else could I do except go? Love can make a girl do crazy things.

I quit my job letting go of a steady salary. I sold or gave away all my non-essential belongings (shoes and handbags included – that hurt!). I said teary-eyed good byes to friends and loved ones i.e., family, hair stylist, favorite boutiques/shop girls, brunch spot, nail salon, burger joint, etc.)

On January 12, 2009, I celebrated my two year expat anniversary here in Barcelona (pronounced Barthalona). The romantic dreams of my life hear weren’t all fantasy; weekend trips out of town equals going to Venice or Prague for example, meeting up with friends for coffee and/or Claras at an outdoor café has become a ritual and I can roll my r’s now too. But there are some parts that are less fairy tale-like. In either scenario, I am looking forward to sharing the aggravations and delights of my vida en España.

I will be posting news on my adventures of day-to-day life in Spain which I promise will be a TRIP as well interesting info as it relates to the art, culture and fashion scene.

España Fly

Last 5 posts by Espana Fly

  • Dom

    Loving it already! Will be keeping up with the newest. Is there a daily blog site I can check this out on, or are you exclusive to Parlor?

  • Mahogs

    Dom- Espana Fly is exclusive to Parlour, so look out for more of her adventures soon!!!

  • Lindsay

    I loved reading this and look forward to following more of your journeys. Miss you!

  • Tai

    How much do I miss you? Lots but so happy you are doing it! xo

  • Thryeris

    Hola Espana Fly. I’m a friend of Whitney’s & therfore Ji’s. I think?? we met once at Pat’s house on Christmas Eve while you were still living in NYC.
    Thank you for taking me back to Barcelona, a place that I remember as a trail of sidewalks between bulidings that appeared to be headed no where but were really pathways to some hidden treasure. A cathedral being restored. Birds dining. A fabulous waterfall. These trails never disappointed my curiousity. Thank God for an adventurous spirit. My most vivid memory is of pork breakfast sausages direct from the farm that made me “take to the sky on a culinary high.” =) I will go back someday and I pray that “find” on the road to no where is still there!

    You’ve got next girl. Looking forward to it!

  • Liane

    Hola, Espana Fly!

    Que emocion leer to articulo! Estoy deseando de leer el proximo. Sigue con tus aventuras, chica!

    Ah, y porfavor come un poco de jamon serano y queso manchego de mi parte!

    Un saludo y abrazo muy fuerte,


  • sanndokan

    España Fly!
    i finally read them all… I just loved the way you tell the stories…
    All the posts you have are great, Keep it up!!

    I miss somethig about going to music halls in spanish… that’s totally an adventure…

    Are you writing anything else? If not you should start right now…


  • Moxiegirl!

     I loved reading you blogs you are really good and its nice to know a place through someone’s eyes so we would have an idea about what life is like on the other side of the fence… ocean… but i hope you are back in barca and i hope if you are we could meet for i will be heading down there for a month or two depending this fall… keep the updates coming!

  • Kirah S Harry

    Sounds great! I am planning on going out there to work for a yr and am doing a bit of research. Like where do black girls get their hair done and where are the black hair beauty suppliers? Any help on this black hair topic would be greatly appreciated!

  • Livia

    Loads – there are lots of dominican and columbians in Barcelona loads of amazing blowdries at the Pelluquerias (hairdressers) mainly around the streets of Poble Sec. Ask for a rollo (roller set) and after they always blow dry hair so smooth and with bounce. My favourite is at the upper end of Nou De La Rambla opposite building 148. A blow dry is around 12 euro – yes. Looks a bit shabby, but you come out blinging. Read any hair blog and you will see that the these guys are amazinggggg at looking after black hair.

    Hair stuff same thing – can get at various hair/beauty shops in barcelona usually owned by Indian guys. There is a large one on Avigunda Parallel by Sant Antoni station.