THIS FEBRUARY MARKS OUR FIRST YEAR in Barrio Sant Gervasi. Usually referred to in conjunction with neighboring Sarrià, the two make up a considerable part of the hilly Zona Alta and one of the largest districts in Barcelona.
With lower commercial activity compared to other barrios in the city, Sant Gervasi seldom sees tourists and maintains a more local neighborhood atmosphere. Upon arriving last winter, we felt every bit the new kids in town, with everyone seeming to have already known each other for years, even decades. But the folk are friendly; quick to know us by name and eager to chat despite language barriers. If you're amicable, they tend to be too.
There aren't too many large or chain establishments in Sant Gervasi, as many of the stores are locally owned and run. As such, day-to-day shopping feels quaint, with individual trips to, or plotted routes covering, what I call the "ías": the panadería (bakery), frutería (fruit and vegetable stand), charcutería (deli), carnicería (butcher), tintorería (dry cleaners), papelería (office supplies shop), perfumería (cosmetics shop), ferretería (hardware shop), floristería (florist) and lampistería (electrical shop), listed here in order of my personal frequenting.
Of course, the old-fashioned way is not always the most convenient. Supermarkets offer one-stop shopping, loyalty points and store hours uninterrupted by the 2:00-4:30 lunch and siesta break. I vouch for its benefits, having gained my primary and premium loyalty cards within mere months.
But when the sun is shining and there's a morning to spare, there's nothing quite like meandering the "ías" of the barrio. Cultural nuances, glamorous grandmas, random conversations with leisurely retirees. I vouch for its charm.
Parc de Monterols, Plaça d'Adrià and Carrer de Muntaner, Sant Gervasi, Barcelona. Photos by Lady San Pedro.