Yes, I’ve decided to give up the big city life and move to the countryside to a small town of a little bit more than 16,000 inhabitants located in the heart of Catalonia. The name of this town is Berga, and after a week I can tell you that my decision of moving over here was the right one for all the advantages it offers for someone like me.
Berga, is a town located at the foothill of the Serra de Queralt i Els Tosssals mountain range and trust me the view from afar when coming from Barcelona is just beautiful and it immediately catches your eyes because of its dramatic mountain that protects the town from winds coming from the north. As you approach the town on the motorway you can also see that on top of one of the many ridges sits a catholic sanctuary called Santuari de Santa Maria de Queralt.
On other hand, the town sits at 700 metres above sea level so if you’re coming from Barcelona, you’ll feel the difference in air once you get here, as well as the temperature, the smells, the tranquility, the landscape and its people.
It’s only been a week since I move here, that’s why I wanted to write about it as a way to describe to you what my impressions are so far.
Why did I move out from Barcelona?
Ever since I left home I’ve lived in numerous cities around the world, some for work, some for pleasure but every location change always happens at the right time. With every change I’ve lost something and left behind friends, food, views, corners, sunsets among other things, nevertheless I always win double in life experience whenever I move to a new place and that is how I have grown as a human, learnt to respect others point of view, and become who I am at present.
Barcelona, in a way, it reminded me of home having both sea and mountains, but it was that same similarity, chaos and hectic pace that put me off from it the longer I stayed. All in all, I stayed in Barcelona for six years, that’s the second longest stay in any city after London (almost ten years).
If there’s anything to highlight from Barcelona is that I arrived in the city with a girlfriend and left without one, and this is perhaps the second important reason why I decided to leave Barcelona. The city, despite my very efforts, reminded me of her wherever I went to. It was hard not to picture her around any corner in the city. Likewise, you might think that Barcelona is a big city, but it is not (well compared to London at least) and most people go out around the same neighbourhood and visit the same restaurants, so eventually you come across acquaintances more often than not.
The good thing about moving to Barcelona was that it allowed me to discover and explore Catalonia. I fell in love with the region: the Pyrenees, the Costa Brava, the Montseny, Priorat among many other places in Catalonia became my playground. This passion for exploring Catalonia grew exponentially when I bought my motorbike African Twin. I basically went off for a ride every single weekend.
I couldn’t lie, I wanted to escape the city. Barcelona was small, tight, overcrowded (before Covid times of course), polluted, noisy, chaotic. Sure it has its charm, but I just couldn’t find it or see it the same way my ex did. Eventually, that created some friction in our relationship among many other things that are not the point of this post. Still, I didn’t care about that because I only wanted to be outdoors, in nature, surrounded by trees, creeks, animals, birds chirping, wilderness. Yes, I was escaping the city and that was the beginning of my mindset change. I wanted out and then Covid19 happened.
2020 was a f*** up year for pretty much everyone worldwide, so let’s not hide the facts. I wanted to leave last year but due to the uncertainty and restrictions I didn’t attempt to make the move. Fast forward and we’re in 2021, things are a bit more stable, I apologise but I can’t think of any other more appropriate word, hence I asked at work what were the options for me moving outside of Barcelona and I got the green light from HR.
And why not? I’m joking, let’s elaborate a wee more about it. Whilst in talks with the HR Director at work I was day in and day out looking for flats in towns that had mountains. For me mountains are paramount. Basically no mountains, no life. For some people it is the sea for me are the mountains. Then I also had a list of basic needs the so called town would need to have:
- Petrol stations
- Transport options to Barcelona (because I have to go into the office once a week)
- Being within one hour or one hour and a half away from Barcelona.
- Have good internet and mobile connection
- Flat in good conditions at a reasonable price
Notice I haven’t listed down restaurants, shops, bars, clubs. The reason behind that is because I do not need them to be happy. All I need is nature and I will mention more about this later on when I explain who this town is for.
After visiting many towns, yes even though there were restrictions in place, I considered Berga to be the winner. But why? I’m getting there my apologies for going round the bush.
Berga, ticked every single item I had in my list of basic needs to be happy. I also visited this town 3 years ago and the Sanctuary I mentioned earlier was so impressive that even though I was meant to go to the pyrenees that day I decided to take the exit on the motorway and climb up the mountains and it did not disappoint me. I think it was meant to happen in one way or another, and three years after I’m here again but this time as a resident and not as a visitor.
Things I like
- Berga is small and that makes it easy to navigate and walk everywhere you need to get to.
- Berga has all the basic things you need to live comfortably
- Berga is clean (sorry people in Barcelona, but Barcelona is a dump)
- Berga temperature is perfect (it’s colder than Barcelona and less humid as well)
- People from Berga are friendly in general, and saying a Bon dia or Adeu can get you a smile and happy reaction even if you do not speak Catalan they appreciate it.
- The bakeries in general. I have yet to come across a bad bakery, because they are all good.
- Berga has all the nature you need if you are into any outdoor activity in general.
- Berga is well communicated with nearby towns and Barcelona.
- The rubbish is picked up at your doorstep.
- How chilled people are in Berga
- Cheaper cost of living in general
Things I don’t like
So far after a week I haven’t come across anything I say I do not like this or that, but as always I’m sure something will happen, but for now I am very happy.
Is there any language barrier?
Anyone who knows me well will know that I love languages, cultures and traditions. I respect all and welcome an, always trying to adapt in the best way possible to my surroundings. In the case of Berga that’s not different. I’ve moved here without a word of Catalan, but contrary to perhaps people outside of Catalonia I do understand Catalan except when they speak super fast and there’s no way for me to follow up. Normally I let them speak in Catalan and then reply back in Castilian and so far I haven’t had a single problem with that.
Once again it is always nice to say the few basic Catalan words “bon dia/tarda/nit, fins ara, fins dema, merci, de res, adeu and of course every now and then a good collons can help you (or get you into trouble) .
Who is this town for?
- loves nature, especially mountains
- doesn’t really care if he or she can find friends fast and easy
- is happy with little things
- doesn’t need shops to fulfil his/her life
- is looking for a change in his/her life
- is looking for a calmer place to live in
- is looking for safer place to be
- is not bothered with a slow-pace kind of life
Would I stay here in the long run?
It’s too early to say but so far I am totally in love with Berga for all the things I have mention in this post.
Indeed this is the very first week but so far I have a really good impression of this town in the heart of Catalonia.
Stay tuned because I will write another article after a month living in Berga.