Summer in Barcelona
I always say summer has arrived here when the coconut oil doesn't need melting for a recipe and my cosmetics need to be moved to the refrigerator, that is, it's when everything starts to melt. Including us.
The doona (Australian for duvet) is thrown off one night and we don't see it again for at least four or five months.
It is customary for most people to have at least a few weeks holiday in July or August in Spain, and in Barcelona many businesses close for the entire month of August, so it is a good time to recharge, relax and spend some time on your hobbies, projects or just take some personal time to think about what you like to do when you have absolutely no commitments. For me this a time to write, photograph, cook and eat. I usually spend hours indoors on the computer or cooking or shooting images. I try to get down to the beach at the end of every day for a dip in the sea to cool off and clear my head. If you head down after 5pm the sun is gentle, the beach is less busy and your skin doesn't burn. I have some sort of deep connection to the Mediterranean sea, I feel amazing when I swim in it, it resets me and removes the day's struggles in one swift dive under the waves. I remember hearing Laura Miller recommend water as a therapeutic tool for anxiety and depression, along with feet in the grass or just going for a walk and I know it works for me on the days I am wound up in a knot or have just spent too much time focusing on something or overdosed on screen time. Despite the busy beach, once you get out in the waves, it's just you and the swell of the ocean. This simple practice melts any rough edges off and the gentle rock of the sea lulls you into submission and calm.
The amazing thing about Summer in Barcelona...
...is the simplicity of daily life, enforced by the oppressive heat and wacky opening hours of shops and businesses. All year round the shops are still closed here on Sundays, the streets are mostly quiet and calm as families gather and eat together, it is a peaceful, restful day. It reminds me of Melbourne in the 1980s and 1990s, before 24 hour malls, supermarkets and shopping strips. In August, every day in Barcelona feels like this but it is an eerie mix of surreal heat and ghost town, save for the touristic hot spots of the Gothic old town, Barceloneta beach and the various buildings that immortalize Gaudí's legacy in his hometown. Many of the locals leave, escaping the city to visit family in small villages around Catalunya or greater Spain, or holiday at a beach house along the Costa Brava. The city becomes a playground for foreigners and a respite for the aliens like us who are neither local nor tourista and prefer to travel Europe in the off season.
If one taste could sum up the Summer here in Catalonia, it is salt.
The sea, sweat, paella, brine, cider, beer and olives. Picnics and cold food, putting ice in your wine, or your coffee (eek!), freezing grapes to keep your drinks cold and lingering in front of the open fridge for the extra seconds of sweet relief it gives. Sleeping on top of the bed sheets with the windows wide open and moon beams on your feet. These are the things I will always remember about living in Barcelona in Summer.