With Hayden’s help, we managed to find a small apartment in Barcelona and install ourselves there for nearly 6 months. Hayden had suggested the Badalona/Montgat area which is less than 20 km north of the city of Barcelona, on a good train line and within zone 1. It is also on the beach, which is great for our keep fit walks.
So our address for our time in Spain was apartment 5, ground floor, 18-20 Murillo Street, Badalona.
Badalona appears to have been heavily industrialised but is now giving way to housing (mostly apartments). It has an excellent white sandy beach which was absolutely full all summer. It is well used by fishermen and surfers as the weather cools. There is a short, often well formed wave and the locals will ride anything – long and short boards, kayaks, wind surfers, stand up paddle boards. Everything except boogy boards!
In summer the beaches were crowded and the chiringuitos (beach cafes) full. The chiringuitos pop up just for summer and are dismantled during September, along with portable toilets. With the Mediterranean low tides it is possible to set your spot right beside the water – umbrella, towels, seats, beach balls. Enjoy the water in the morning, then go home or to a chiringuito for lunch. As the day cools, return to the beach, leaving just before sunset. On you way home use your shampoo/soap to wash yourself down at any of the well placed showers.
There is a very nice shopping strip in Badalona with some upmarket shops. In time we found the best butcher, fish monger, fruit shops and even a pasta shop better than I have seen anywhere. In our final days we found some great restaurants there, but mostly we took the time to experiment with cooking local food here. There is a lot of pork, mostly processed as sausage, which we find very salty. Fish is fantastic, but with bones. Vegetables are good and in fact our whole market and supermarket spending appears very much cheaper than at home. It is going to be hard to spend $3 or more on a cup of coffee. Here it is about $1.50.
We managed to travel frequently from Badalona. While we had wheels we toured France and England in September and then France, Germany and Switzerland in October and November. We also explored the surrounding areas, the beautiful Costa Brava to the north and the stunning hinterland.
Our final excursion was a “package deal” to Tenerife in the Canary Islands, a favourite destination for Spaniards and northern Europeans. We enjoyed some mild winter sunshine and a diverse culture and landscape.
We spent our time in Badalona exploring the area and soaking up Spanish life. We climbed the hill, Parc Mediterranean, behind for a better view of our district, we walked up and down the beach trying restaurants and cafes, we took train rides into Barcelona and to the north.
Some highlights in Badalona were the old Roman ruins in Museu Termes and the wonderful parks – Parc de can Solei & Parc de ca L’Arnüs.
We enjoyed watching the Christmas and Three Kings (5-6 January) celebrations and all the decorations and festivities that accompany them. They all seemed so much more meaningful in the long dark and cold evenings.
Often we had our cameras with us, just to remind us of a life so different to home. And yes, I would love to do it again!