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Meet the neighbours in Barcelona - Mezzanine 4, Flat 2a (6 images)

Published on

Story by

nina behek

Translation by:

Sara Calder


The capital of the region of Catalonia is also Spain’s second largest city, and one of the country’s most multicultural cities, with foreign residents accounting for 17.4% of the total population. Each one of these people has their own reason for coming to Barcelona: all are certainly looking for a better life. Slovenian photographer Nina Behek captured the cultural diversity of the people living in her building by peering through doorways at their individual new year's celebrations - even if it's been a month of 2013 already, everybody needs good neighbours

'Benvinguts!' - Catalan for 'welcome'

2013 marks the first time that Andrew, a 21-year-old Egyptian, has spent New Year’s Eve abroad. He first visited Barcelona with his friends, and says that in Egypt’s christian community, it is customary to see in the new year at church. As his father is a priest, this is how he spent every new year’s eve. 'This year, we had a few drinks at my friends’ house and a little later on we left to go to the new year’s party at Razzmatazz, a popular nightclub in Barcelona, but because the guy in the street had sold us counterfeit tickets, we couldn’t get in,' he laments. But all was not lost, as they eventually found a bar with good music, where they partied until dawn (Image: © Nina Behek)

Adiós 2012

35-year-old Sydney and his friend Izmael, 41,came to Barcelona from Brazil to work and to find a better life. 'Yesterday we worked until 3pm, and then we prepared food with my friends and family. Our kind of food is different from what you find over here. We made a very tropical, traditional Brazilian feast which included churrasco, a type of grilled meat, rice and feijoada, a meat stew with beans,' explains Sydney. As his family were not here, Izmael celebrated new year’s eve with friends, although he tells me that he missed the samba dancing that traditionally takes place during new year festivities in Brazil. Both Sydney and Izmael brought in the new year with fireworks, as is customary back home (Image: © Nina Behek)


Another person celebrating without his family was 32-year-old Elio from Italy, who has lived in Barcelona for six years. He came here as there were very few opportunities for work in the south of Italy, where he is originally from, and chose Barcelona as the way of life and culture here are very similar to those of his homeland. 'New year’s eve in Italy is celebrated with your family, eating lentils, which are believed to bring good luck and fortune, and cotechino, a type of pork sausage. As I don’t have any family here, I spent new year’s eve with my friends. We went to a restaurant to eat and afterwards we all went out partying, the same as we do in Italy' (Image: © Nina Behek)

US hip

Carol, 65, is from the USA and has lived in Barcelona for 47 years with her husband Arthur, 64, who is also American. The couple had a quiet and relaxed new year, as they had been very busy over christmas with Carol’s daughters. As Arthur explains, 'In the States, many people wear funny hats and go to watch the ball drop in Times Square in New York, and they blow party horns and sing a song based on a poem by the Scottish writer Robert Burns, Auld Lang Syne. As we weren’t there in person, we watched the ball drop on TV, but because of the time difference we saw it at 6am.' Carol tells me that every new year’s eve, she writes a list of twelve things that have characterised the past year, and twelve wishes for the coming year. 'I made my list yesterday with my husband. One thing that I’d like to do is go and visit my mother and Arthur’s parents, as we don’t know how much time they have left with us,' she says, showing me her list full of wishes (Image: © Nina Behek)

Multicultural flat

This new year marked a real change of pace for 26-year-old Slovenian Matjaž, who came to Barcelona for a week to visit his sister. He says that here, new year’s eve doesn’t even feel like a holiday as the pace of life is so much more relaxed than in Slovenia, where people go crazy doing last-minute shopping. 'Each year that we celebrated new year with our parents, we would take a toast at midnight with champagne, and in the morning Ded Moroz, the Slavic version of Santa Claus, would have brought us some presents, as in our family we do not celebrate christmas and father christmas does not exist.' This year marked the first time that he had celebrated the New Year in another country. Smoking a cigarette, he tells me that it was an unforgettable night: 'We spent the night going from one party to another, and we ended up in a squatters’ site, dancing until our legs couldn’t take any more.' Breaking with traditional new year’s rituals, Raquel, a 29-year-old from Portugal, always used to see in the new year standing on one foot, ready to switch to the other foot as as the clock struck midnight. 'This is supposed to bring you good luck,' she explains. 'I now live in Barcelona with my Catalan boyfriend, and on new year’s eve we went to a big party. I’m not quite sure how I survived the night, I woke up on the beach, missing one shoe,' she says, smiling (Image: © Nina Behek)

Knock knock?

Albert Pascual, a 36-year-old native of Barcelona, was also a little sad to be spending the night without his family, as they are all spread out over different cities all over Spain. 'Because I have a one-year-old baby, we had a lighter meal at home before eating turrón, a traditional Spanish nougat dessert, and polvorón, a crumbly shortbread, later in the evening, as well as drinking wine and champagne,' he says. He goes on to explain one typical Spanish new year tradition: 'On each chime of the clock before midnight, you have to eat a grape, twelve in total. If you manage to eat them all, it will bring you luck and good health in the year ahead'. Meanwhile the Chinese family, with an unknown number of inhabitants, did not open the door to hear the bells ring in the new year - so we can only speculate as to how they spent what was the last night of our calendar, if not theirs. I will leave what happens behind their front door to your imagination… (Image: © Nina Behek)

This gallery was first published in Spanish on the cafebabel Barcelona blog here

Translated from De “Entresuelo” a “4º 2ª”: ¿quién hay detrás de esa puerta?