||[ Monday, 17 Jan 05 | 13:37 ]
One of the things I notice that is different here in Barcelona and in the Bay Area is maintenance. In Barcelona the everyday maintenance seems better. For example the city picks up trash nightly rather than weekly. They also have separate recycle containers for paper, glass and plastic on the street.
You also see workers cleaning the streets by hand on a regular basis. They use what appear to be hand-made brooms and sometimes there’s a little vacuum car that sucks up the piles of leaves the workers sweep together. I have noticed the last couple of days that they were pruning the trees along the street using cherry pickers.
In the same vein, I read an article here that compared several supermarket chains. Along with price and selection was the number of times the stores are cleaned each day. I can’t remember seeing a similar comparison in the US. I guess it shows that people here consider cleanliness important. I think this is taken for granted in the US, but probably shouldn’t always be.
Long-term maintenance is another matter. For example, they seem to take their time in re-painting structures here. An unused building, though rare, is often left to deteriorate. (You encounter this more often outside the city.) I think that in the Bay Area it is common to raze such buildings and use them as parking lots.
As I have said before, there are very few ground-level parking lots. Most of the blocks in the neighborhood of the hotel have subterranean parking. And all the major plazas do as well. And Paseo de Gracia has underground parking as well as the Metro running underneath it.
Using the available space for living quarters rather than car parking is one of the goals of the Ajuntamiento or city council to keep Barcelona compact and sustainable. I have read critiques in the US about how urban planning there needs to change and follow the model used in European cities.
At the Barcelona Forum that I visited last September, they had a large exhibit that showed how much food, water, and trash was consumed/generated by a typical family during a year. They also compared these amounts to the typical amounts of other countries including the US. The message is that more needs to be done to conserve natural resources and to recycle as much as possible. There was a nice display of furniture made of recycled materials.
None of this is new and I know that there are people in the US who combine urban planning with resource conservation, but I think there is more active progress here with the socialist mayor.
More on Shopping
For the past couple of weeks I have been shopping for my new piso. The item has to be a good value, otherwise it won’t be considered. Here are some differences I’ve noticed here:
1. Beds here often are made of foam, but I prefer “pocket coils” like in the Simmons Beautyrest. I did find a brand here that will meet my needs.
Also, many mattresses have space for storage underneath instead of the typical “box springs” found in the US. I may have to opt for this as storage space will be at a premium. Under a 150 X 190 cm bed I can store all the extra bedding I can dream of.
2. What every happened to plain sheets? I was surprised to see all the brightly colored sheets here. I did find some nice two-color (top and bottom) sheets that should look OK.
And the same go for towels. Talk about colors! In the US towels are a bit more muted with many pastels. Here they have many very saturated colors and “bland” ones are hard to find. I did find some that would go with the “black and white” look of the bathrooms in my piso.
3. Pots and pans. Many European brands from which to choose. I found some German-made non-stick pans at 50% off that I think will do nicely. After years of cooking, I know what I use over and over again, and will make sure that I have those. My recommendation is a for a large covered sauce pot and saute pan as the first two items. Then go for a shallow frying pan and dutch oven or casserole.
4. Correlle. OK, so they don’t have it here, but they do have Luminarc’s equivalent. I also found some real Pyrex cooking-ware. I will have to get a set of bowls and measuring cup so I will feel at home