||[ Wednesday, 29 Dec 04 | 12:32 ]
On Monday morning I took the train to El Masnou and met Carles, a friend of Alberto's. Carles is Catalan for Charles, as you might have already guessed. He went to college with Alberto and has a degree in Communications. He has been looking for a high-tech job for several months now. The problem is that he has no professional experience as an engineer.
We spent nearly three hours talking and taking a walking tour of part of the city. The name of the town, EL Masnou, means new farm. The town as an administrative entity is fairly recent, dating from the end of the 18th or the beginning of the 19th century.
There have always been people living in the zone since it was first settled by Romans nearly 2000 years ago. The reason that the town is recent, is that in previous centuries there were pirate incursions and therefore there were no coastal towns.
Ocata is a barrio or neighborhood inside El Masnou (where Carles lives). The name comes from a French population that is spelled more or less the same. During the 19th century the Ocata area became a local fishing center and the fisherman settled there. The name of the district that they created comes from that population.
The town of El Masnou had two "titles" granted to it at the beginning of the 20th century by king Alfonso XIII, Ilustrisima and Benefica*. These titles were given because the town had a public school and a house where older people could go to live without having to pay. These titles were bestowed in 1902 and 1905, and during that period it was unusual.
Now El Masnou is somewhat of a bedroom community for Barcelona. It is also a weekend destination during the summer because of its beaches. There was some nice waves, about 1 m (3') in height and I saw a few surfers between El Masnou and Montgat, the next town towards Barcelona.
There are a number of cuestas or hills in El Masnou, but not as high as in San Francisco. At times the sidewalks or in some cases the streets turn into stair-steps. We walked up to the main church in El Masnou and there was a small plaza at the foot of the church with a fine view of the Barcelona skyline.
Carles said that to come and retire in El Masnou is a good idea. And I would not be the first person he knows to do so. Carles has a German man friend named Hans, who has worked for the better part of his life in many places (Germany, Italy, India...) And in the end Hans decided that the best town to retire to would be El Masnou: close to Barcelona, well connected, and with a good climate. (In winter it is a little less cold than in Barcelona because there are some small mountains that protect the town.)
The only inconvenience is the price of housing. Although Carles (correctly) believes that the prices have not reached the levels in California.
* "most illustrious" and "beneficent"