It occurred to me recently that it’s a very good thing that we’re used to living so small. We’ve gone from a 950 sq ft house to a 55 meters squared apartment – that’s less than 600 sq ft for you non-metric folks like me. By city standards, that’s still reasonably large. We’ve all heard about the closet-sized apartments in New York City and San Francisco. I’m not sure how many of those there are in Barcelona, but I suspect that there are people living even smaller than we are at the Eric Vokel Gran Via. I’m so happy that we ended up here, though.
When we first started researching this trip, we planned to spend the entire two months on the coast. I picked out a rental that we were super excited about – we still are, in fact, as we’ll be heading to that very spot next week. By the time we rented our Seattle house and pinned down our dates, however, the Costa Blanca house was not available for the first half of our trip. And, since we were weeks away from the holiday season, there were very few rentals available for the full first month anywhere I looked. I booked the Gran Via apartment for the first week in hopes that we might work something else out, but we ended up liking the place and our neighborhood so much that we decided to stay. It’s a bit of a tight squeeze sometimes, but we’re totally making it work.
Much like our small house, the layout of our small apartment is compact but very efficient. The combined living/dining/kitchen functions both as our office and hangout space. While we have escaped to work at local cafes on a few occasions, we typically sit at our kitchen table during working hours. The internet can be unreliable regardless of where we are, and it’s particularly hard to make calls or join conference calls in public. So, “home” is usually best.
Since our “desk” is perpetually covered in a tangle of wires, I’m resorting to the promo shots here. I know all too well how misleading real estate photography with wide angle lenses can be, but these are surprisingly accurate. With one exception…
Our artwork is different…and, “different” – a giant black and white photo of a cathedral under construction with an overlay of a very unusual illustration of an acid green, part human, part octopus creature sporting a snorkel and a telescope and surrounded by pink fish. Surreal, yes, but a great conversation starter on video conferences.
While working, we’re also basically sitting in the kitchen. Convenient for grabbing snacks and constantly refilling the 8 oz glasses they provide. I will say that this kitchen would be the envy of many of our NYC friends. Full-size fridge, built-in appliances, and a true dishwasher! The kitchen itself is compact, but the amenities aren’t, which has been really nice. We don’t cook complicated meals here – because why would we with all of the exciting restaurants we have to explore?! – but we have cooked a few pots of spaghets, made grilled cheeses and fried egg sandwiches, and reheated leftovers.
To the side of the table and beyond the kitchen is our living room. There is a full-size couch that pulls out. (Still waiting for visitors!) A little alcove behind the kitchen hides a flat-screen tv…and our cat carriers. Los gatos like to have their own place to retreat to during the day.
Have you ever seen this overview shot of Barcelona? The city is a grid of squares formed by apartment buildings around large central courtyards. Our balcony overlooks the courtyard, which I imagine is generally much quieter than a street view. Although, part of our courtyard is used as a playground for a neighborhood school; so, we often wake up to the laughs and squeals of children.
The hallway and bedroom windows open to the interior courtyard. We joke that every single time we open them it smells like someone’s making grilled cheese. All of the windows have the best thing ever – electronic metal shades. They block out all the light, which happens to be pure perfection with our whacky sleep schedule. I’m very seriously considering installing these at home to counteract our 4:30 am summertime sunshine!
Sure, our home away from home is more corporate than I had planned. I do, however, love that it’s clean and comfortable and modern and efficient. Most of all, I really love the location. Technically, we’re in the Eixample neighborhood, but right on the border of Sant Antoni, Poble-Sec, and Ciutat Vella. There’s a subway stop a half a block away. It’s super easy to hail a taxi in front of our building. But, we can also easily walk to just about anything we want. It’s a lively neighborhood with plenty of folks just out living their lives, but we’re surrounded by some of the city’s best cafes, restaurants, and bars. We seriously could not have asked for more. I’m looking forward to “the house” and a change of scenery on the Costa Blanca, but I’m starting to sense that I’ll also be pretty sad to leave our little apartment. Ending up in Barcelona was 2015’s greatest happy accident.