Residency Dispatch: My First 48 Hours in Barcelona

Editor’s Note: This is Block Club designer Tim Staszak’s ‘s first dispatch from Barcelona, where he is working remotely for six weeks as part of Block Club’s Residency Program–an employee development initiative representative of our ongoing commitment to infuse the work we do for our clients with innovative practices, fresh methodologies, and global perspectives. Check out Tim’s second dispatch here.

Hola a tothom.

I’ve officially kicked off my six-week Block Club Residency in Barcelona. After beginning my travels on Friday afternoon, I arrived mid-morning Saturday. My host, Jaume, showed me around my apartment, and then he promptly took me to get a coffee and tell me more about the city.

(L-R: Tapas at La Pintotxo Bar, Mercat de la Boqueria main entrance, inside Mercat de la Boqueria.)

Day 1: Mercat de la Boqueria and La Rambla

My new workspace is conveniently located around the corner from Mercat de la Boqueria, an open-air food and vendor market, which is home to La Pinotxo Bar where our coffee trip turned into some tapas, beer, and then (finally) coffee. The market is full of spectators, travelers, and locals getting fresh foods, a quick meal, or sweets for the day. Everyone around the Pinotxo Bar was enjoying sparkling wine, beers, and coffee. FYI, You can order your coffee with brandy, and it is served with an honor system based bottle of brandy, to add as you see fit.

After we parted ways I settled into my apartment, freshened up, and ventured back out to walk La Rambla (main header photo), one of the main boulevards in Barcelona. It’s packed with people bustling every which way. There were times I felt like I was the only person going in the opposite direction from everyone else. From there I crossed over into the Gothic Quarter, which is a smattering of narrow, medieval streets and alleyways filled with cafes, bars, bakeries, and other shops. I immediately decided to just follow my nose and wander around because there was something magnificent around each corner, and the sugary smells helped guide me.

(L-R: Bubbles at Plaça De Ramon Berenguer El Gran, Streets in the Gothic Quarter)
(L-R: Streets in the Gothic Quarter, Plaça de Sant Jaume)

Day 2: Parc de la Ciutadella and La Barceloneta

On Sunday I was more determined to see some specific sights. I made my way through the Gothic Quarter over to Parc de la Ciutadella to venture through the sprawling green space, walk the steps of the Cascada Monumental, and enjoy the peace of the park. It felt like I wandered into a Game of Thrones set in some areas and Jurrasic Park in others.

(Scenes from the Parc de la Ciutadella)
(Scenes of Cascada Monumental)

I then ventured down to the La Barceloneta neighborhood and had some tapas and vermouth. This waterfront neighborhood is flanked by a port on its western side and the Mediterranean to the east. Although it’s mid-October, there were plenty of beachgoers getting some sun, but only a few braved the choppy sea.

(L-R: l’estel ferit at La Barceloneta beach, Yachts parked)

My first takeaway is how much ground you can cover on foot; my second is that this city is electric. It’s loud, it’s beautiful, there are people from all over the world, and everyone seems to be going somewhere at all hours of night. My third takeaway is even if your Spanish or Catalan isn’t up to snuff, most folks I’ve run into help you out and switch to English effortlessly. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay attention during your high-school Spanish lessons, kids.

(L-R: Cascada Monumental, CEM Parc de la Ciutadella)

Back to Work

In terms of getting to know my temporary home, I’ve barely scratched the surface; I know there is so much more here to experience. But it’s my first day on the clock working remotely. It’s just about time for me to meet via video with the Block Club team back in Buffalo. There, everyone’s day is just beginning, while the sounds from La Rambla are echoing through my windows.

Adéu for now.