El Borne Tales

A few Saturdays ago I had some errands to run in El Borne, so I thought I’d take you along!

El Borne’s always changing. Every time I cycle or walk through El Borne, facades remain the same, interiors constantly changing. Always new cafes, ice cream palours, boutiques, bars popping up. I used to live in the area and while I don’t miss living in their, I still love cycling through or wandering down alleyways, peeking up at balconies, soaking in it’s charm. Sadly or maybe not sadly depending on your view gentrification’s happening. There’s even a Starbucks in what used to be a popular I think tapas bar. The barrio’s catering more and more for tourists. When I left in my apartment building of 8 apartments 7 years ago, 5 were for tourists. Rent goes up, shops cater for tourists rather than locals, locals move out as they can’t afford living there. It’s sad to see with the flip side the area’s still as profitable as ever. I’m hoping the area holds out to major stores retaining it’s artsy, boho medieval charm.

This was the Borne’s old market place (each barrio in barcelona has it’s own fresh grocery market centre). When renovating they found Roman ruins which are free to see or you can walk around with a guided tour. I love the symmetry of the architecture, arches with the building doors outside. The area’s new marketplace is now located elsewhere. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’d love my balcony plants to look like this! #balconygoals

Another thing I love about the Borne is the graffiti. Sh*t tags aside, there’s some really great street art popping up in unlikely places, brightening up dark alleyways. If you see a piece you like you have to be quick taking snaps. Go back the next day, it’s either been painted over or the council’s hosed it down. A lot of smaller shops all over the city commission graffiti artists to customise their shutters to avoid tagging. There’s a sort of respect among artists not to paint over these pieces. I’ve however been noticing a new wave of ‘artists’ who love to tag, spray over really good pieces. Jealously maybe?

Another reason why I like the Borne is not only my favourite magazine kiosk’s there, there’s my favourite tea shop. I love darjeeling tea, or more specifically loose darjeeling tea. One of the few places I can get loose tea in Barcelona is at The Tea Shop, a chain of Spanish tea shops. When I first moved here The Tea Shop in El Borne was one of the first of their locations and is the one I prefer going too. It’s slightly old fashioned yet, modern. Teas are in stacked in metal tins high up on shelves. You request how much (100g, 250g, 500g, 1kg etc) with each label individually handwritten. There’s a tea for everyone; black, green, white, rooibos, different strengths and what seems like a thousand fruit blends!

On this particular trip I met a girl with a similar voice to mine. There’s only a handful of people I know with our type of voice. A girl at my local bakers and Melanie Griffith. Yes, I have a little girls voice. I got teased a bit as school, my dad’s nickname for me as kid was Squeaker. My Mum was forever in her important voice saying lower and slower. So yes I have hang ups about my voice. Until you know me, I’m kinda quiet, then well, you get squeaker non stop. I don’t always like talking out aloud as people turn heads and look. I’m getting better. I make fun of it if I know it’s really high. It was a hip hop teacher in her 50’s on the Ellen Show that helped me start to get over it. Her voice was similar and she has so much energy, vibrancy and sounded so young!I’m sure it’s wasn’t the artists intention, but I swear this mouse/rabbit/cat has boobs!

This girl knew what she wanted while selecting various teas, ‘I like this one, I don’t like that one!’! The shop assistant had a deep Spanish female voice so hearing the 2 differences was something. Just before leaving I said the girl ‘Excuse me, but I haven’t met many girls with voices like ours and it’s nice to hear. She giggled saying I noticed your voice too with a big smile and yes, there’s not many of us! We chatted a little, her boyfriend looking at her with pride. This girl owned her voice whereas sometimes I doubt myself. I asked her if at times she feels she doesn’t get taken seriously because of it. She paused, ‘hmm, I talk anyway’, laughing away. The shop assistant to both of us or maybe more to me (one my last visits she recommended a great darjeeling tea), goes ‘Talk!’!

It’s taken me years to appreciate my voice. Now I’m happy I have a Melanie Griffith voice. People remember me. Not sure if that’s a good thing. Maybe it’s my voice or it’s that crazy British girl again with facial scars. When the stores here switched over to winter hours, I remember the security guard in Sephora said when I asking if I could pop in 3 minutes to closing, saying no. A few months later the same guard was on duty, it was about 5 minutes to closing, asking I could pop in and he was, I remember you looking all confused but where from? My voice? Yes your voice, in you go! I can call up places and they’re Natalia!!! People who I can’t place (I’m bad with names and faces initially) remember me and I’ve only met them once.

Life takes us on some many journeys. We always dream it’s travelling to far of places where we learn about ourselves, the big opportunities that change us, when sometimes it’s more close to home, little things we learn bumping in to complete strangers we’ll never met again. People come in and out of our lives for a reason and that day all thanks to the girl 10 years maybe even younger than me helped overcome my voice. All because I like to pop into my favourite Tea Shop in my favourite part of Barcelona to get lost in. Forever young. Happy Spring!

I liked the symmetry of these movie posters. I nearly didn’t cycle back to photo. I’m glad I did. A few days later they were replaced with a new movie posters.

Do you have a favourite local area you like popping into but happy you don’t live there?


  1. says:

    Nice pictures and stories! The center/old town of Suzhou is very nice too and I like going there to see the old houses and the grandmas washing clothes in the canal, but I prefer living in the modern area! It’s more convenient and less noisy.

  2. says:

    Wow! Your photography is amazing. Those Juliet balconies with the plants are sooo lovely and something out of a novel. Too bad all the modern changes are taking away from the charm of the area. I hope it doesn’t change too much.

    1. says:

      Awe, thank you! I’m working on my photography! That balcony and those plants! Quite a few are like that and some still have the orignal tiles underneath so when you look up you get pretty geometric shapes.
      I’m hoping the Born retains it’s charm. Once Starbucks moves in you know rent’s gone up. I’m hoping Zara stays out. The city doesn’t need another Zara! There’s 5 all within 5 minutes walking distance just up the road in the centre! Then there’s at least 1 in all the 6 shopping malls in the city! Each area has it’s own mall all with a Zara, Bershka, Mango, Pull and Bear, HM and Nespresso! Crazy!

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