Blogging from Blanes, Catalonia: A sun-drenched, beautiful, Mediterranean coastal area of Spain, Catalonia still thinks it is too cool for Spain. A friend who has lived here for 8 years says that the Catalans consider themselves the hard-working ones, whereas the Southerners are supposed to be the slackers. (Californians – sounds familiar?) He says they are all equally relaxed about getting anything done.
An area of 6.5 million (16% of Spain as a whole), rich in its own history and a language distinct from Spanish, Catalonia now pines for independence from the rest of Spain (in part because they are angry they send more in tax revenue than they get back), apparently willing to forgo the substantial (150B+ Euros) monetary support from the EU, even though its GDP is less than the support the country gets. A recent vote showed this willingness to secede. And, not too surprisingly, this wouldn´t be the first time.
Maybe it is the food. Catalonia boasts one of the world´s most heart-healthy diets. Rich in fish, bountiful vegetables and the freshest fruit sold daily at bustling local markets, it sets the standard for the “Mediterranean diet,” whose birthplace, arguably, is the famous La Boqueria market in Barcelona.
Yet, it´s also home to a sometimes strangely liberal lifestyle, as evidenced by the fact that it´s one of the few places in the world where cannabis-derived drugs are available over the counter at the many farmacia. It´s also bucking age-old Spanish tradition, by moving to banish bull-fighting. Better get here fast.