How to Survive *Winter* in Barcelona

Temperatures fluctuate, and you never know which mild winter you are getting.

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While I am complaining about the “fake winter” again, the midday 15-20ºC does not change the fact that we have no heating at home… OK, there is the hot air option on the AC and a little electrical heater but our windows are poorly isolated, ceiling is high, and we have tile floors, so we use neither. Hence getting out of under the blanket is a major life challenge from November till February.

The key is to get warm and comfy (read: under-blanket appropriate) as soon as possible after coming back home. This means a sports bra, leggings, woolen socks and a hoodie or a sweater. Looks like this:

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Although, to be honest, quite often this is the complete look:

I didn’t chose any of these infantile patterns – the hoodie is a gift from my mom and blanket came from C’s mom – but they only reinforce my resolution to be like Greg from Over the Garden Wall when I grow up.

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The major *winter* challenge is to overcome the stupor and the wish to stay under the blanket forever. In mornings I wake up to have breakfast with C, and afterwards get warm – instead of going back to bed – with a (typically) shortish yoga practice. When I feel too lazy for creative yoga and want instructions, I turn to doyogawithme.com. My favorite instructor there is Sarah Jane Steele (try her yin classes when feeling impossibly stiff) and my current go-to class is this 23 minute hatha flow.

Evenings are easier as there are things to do, meals to prep, and the local swimming pool is still 26ºC. I don’t use hair dryers, but I bring a hat to cover my hair on my way home! The swimming pool routine also helps to make sure that I get at least two showers per week.

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My minor – outdoors – challenge is to adjust to temperature changes due to movement. Cycling to work (downhill) is cold and breezy, coming back (uphill) is hot and sweaty + all the associated risks with then hanging out all sweaty and getting a nasty cold. Prevent pneumonias instead of treating them! Hat, gloves, and sunglasses (the sun is still here and going strong!) are my friends. So are woolen mix tights. I had given up tights for several years, and have no intention to going back to the typical transparent plastic, but I admit that a cashmere mix is much better than my previous combination of stay-ups and biker shorts under dresses (for warmth and for not showing the lacy parts of the stay-ups to all other drivers).

I still haven’t got a proper winter coat in Barcelona, because I – DO – NOT – NEED – ONE. I have two winter coats of varying warmth in Riga but they just don’t make any sense here. For the coldest days – around 10ºC – I will layer my trench with a wool sweater and be toasty enough.

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Despite my wish to go almost product-free in skincare (= soap + coconut oil + deodorant), November won and I made a big Lavera order. Oh, a hand cream and a lip balm can bring so much pleasure in life! Sweet almond oil also entered in my routine as supposedly better oil for the face as the coconut. Feels nice and smells delicious indeed. Coconut is still here for the rest of the body after the swimming pool chlorine.

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The summer fruits are out, but apples and citruses are IN. And the same goes for soups (miso is our lazy favorite) partly replacing salads. It’s Mediterranean, our CSA box has lettuce year-round!

My big cold weather switch is not going close to cold water and drinking a copious amount of herbal teas instead. My grandma’s magic are my favorites, but I haven’t been in Riga since August, so I’m long out of Latvian herbs. I spent the previous winter emptying local herbalist’s nettle reserves, but after a trip to Cape Town I’m back to rooibos all day. And as a special treat a colleague brought me two packages of this Swedish magic of passiflora, lavender, lemon balm, and mint.

Latvian heather full of grandma love.

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Rooibos is more robust than the herbs, so I leave it in the thermos for many hours, and just add hot water and more tea as I wish. Most herbs won’t stand this kind of treatment and become yucky after a couple of hours.

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So far I haven’t got a proper snot-and-bed time this, but if need be, here are the hankies (the only textile items I iron!) and the possibility to set up a little home office from the bed.


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Enjoy the season and tell me how you deal with cold weather, be it real or fake winters!


Luīze

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