Why Relocate to Catalunya?
Many Brits and other Europeans are choosing Spain as their new home, with the most popular location being the Costa Blanca, where property is cheap, even if you design a home from scratch. However, another up and coming trendy choice is Cataluña, where the people are friendly, and the lifestyle is relaxed, and the weather great.
Cataluña is a region of Spain where the official language is Catalan, which is what the kids learn in the schools and, for most of them, will be the first language at home too. People that have moved to Cataluña from other parts of Spain who speak Spanish at home. Every Catalan is bilingual anyway and be assured that it is not an accent or a dialect of Spanish; it is a different language.
Cataluña stretches from the South of France as far North as the Languedoc region, down as far as Valencia. Barcelona is the capital of Cataluña. The Catalan people are hardworking, and Catalonia has a reputation for being a place that is good for business and getting things done.
Five Important Places in Cataluña
La Sagrada Familia
A cathedral that is still being constructed in the centre of Barcelona. It was started by the famous architect Antonio Gaudi who died in 1926. He is famous for being a leading light of the modernist movement. The earliest parts of the building are of the style you would recognise as his, but later parts have adapted to the era’s popular current art styles. The natural influence in the design, the curves, and the flow, make way for the bolder, simpler design. Many visitors prefer the original style, but the changes being made as it grows over time show that the cathedral’s design and construction is a living entity.
Gaudi’s work is always immediately recognisable as it uses nature to influence the design of all parts of the structures. For example, one building has a roof shaped like a dragons’ back – Casa Batlló (1904–1906). Another building close by, known as ‘La Pedrera’, which is open to tourists, has a remarkably interesting roof that you can visit. Every part of that building is important in the design, as demonstrated by the chimneys covered in decorative ceramic tiles and are twisting as they rise with a design on top that looks like medieval helmets.
Football Club Barcelona
Until you live in Catalonia, you have no idea how important the football club is to Catalans. The motto now, when translated from Catalan is ‘More than just a Club’. Unlike football clubs elsewhere, the club is owned by the supporters and not by some wealthy industrialist that have the money to purchase football clubs. Even the football shirts are different in that they give money to a charity and have the logo of it on the shirt, rather than the other way around where the football clubs get money from advertising business printed on the shirt. A young Catalan man explained to me that it is the bringing together of all ages of Catalans. His granddad will put on the shirt as will the eight-year-old grandson, and they will all go to watch the game together. The stadium does guided tours, and it is impressive, and more so when full.
Salvador Dalí; the Surrealist Artist.
His work is based on dreams and visual tricks, and even after his death in 1989, his work is still celebrated for the weird and bizarre images he created. He not only drew, painted, and sculpted but influenced film, architecture, sculpture, photography, and even jewellery design. He was eccentric and often did attention-seeking public displays of odd behaviour. If you go to the town of his birth, Figueres, you can visit the Dalí museum, to see the soft clocks and the extended or distended legs in strange landscapes. He was interested in intelligent art concepts and produced drawings that can only be viewed in a specialist stereoscopic viewer or as a reflection in a flat mirror when the image is on a cylinder, Clever stuff indeed. The museum has bread roll sculptures all over its side and giant egg shapes on the roof. Much of the work is heavy with symbolism that you could spend a lifetime trying to decipher. Great to visit this UNESCO heritage site.
The Beaches of the Catalan Mediterranean Coast.
It is no surprise that tourism is a big part of the economy of the region. The coast is full of coves and large beaches, that the sun-seeking Europeans from all over Europe flock to, during the summertime. One such town is Platja d’Aro on the Costa Brava, which is a new town that grew from the 1960s to be a huge tourist destination. It is full of shops, bars, restaurants, hotels, and camping sites. There are plenty of amenities that keep people returning year after year, like the water park, which the kids love to visit. Many people who live in Barcelona visit the town for a vacation during the summer and just weekend visits. Vast numbers of people come to celebrate St. Juan on June 23. Lots of parties all through the town.
Other beaches are popular too; one a little further north is St. Pere Pescador, which hosts a world championship of Windsurfing every year. It is possible to do that because of a regular wind that comes from the North called the ‘Tramuntana’. It is also great for kite surfing. The same area also has an airfield that is used for parachute jumping.
Gastronomy is also important in the region with locally grown wines. The cooking uses the seasonal locally grown or reared produce in the local dishes. There are many internationally acclaimed chefs from Catalonia. Like the rest of Spain, though, I can attest that it is not so suitable for vegetarians; just about every recipe is fish or meat based.
Catalans like to hold on to tradition, and there are festivals all through the region. Correfoc, Carnaval, Events with Giants in processions through the towns. St Jordi (St George) is the Patron Saint of Cataluña, and this day; April 23, is a celebration of the slaying of the dragon, and ladies are given a red rose while the men receive the gift of a book.
Particularly spectacular is the making of the Human Castles. Watching this, your heart will be in your mouth as you see the small children climb to the top of a tower made of people. It can go as high as buildings. The teams that do this come from various towns in Cataluña, and the tradition runs in families. Honestly, it will take your breath away as you watch it, and it seems completely crazy!