Tuesday, February 1, 2011


So much has change in 20 years and I see two of the primary causes as:giroa
  1. Age: everyone is older here, well older than we were 20 years ago. That's not to say there aren't any young people, as there are. But age and change work a little differently here.
  2. This first picture is the entrance into a place I used to hang out with my friends. It had a white and black tile floor, not much if any seating and you could just order something to drink, no food. Well, maybe a bag of chips but not real food. Now on the inside it has fancy modern comfortable seating, pintxos (small appetizer size portions of food), and the clientele is my age, not 20 years younger.
  3. Engineering/technology: there are some innovations in place to help those who have aged so that they can continue to live as they always did.
This may not seem new as that happens everywhere. I find it a bit curious though to see what time has done here. It is quite typical for people to buy a flat in a building and never move. College students most often live at home and go to the nearest University. The exception to that rule is if they are choosing to study something that simply is not taught in the area.

In contrast, in the states, often when people age they look to move to a home or apartment where all they need is on one floor, no steps.

Since this area of Spain is in the mountains, and people don't tend to move, you can now imagine how older people may have some difficulty with the hills. Or the flats that they own, since the first floor, known as the planta baja, is simply an entry and the flats start on the 2nd floor, known as el primer piso, that means stairs in most cases.

This is where engineering and technology enter. The building where I lived in Portugalete in 1985 now has an elevator. It wasn't there back when I was living on the 5th floor (6 flights up) but as those who live in the building aged, they decided to add an elevator taking up some of the space in what was once a narrow inaccessible courtyard-like area in the middle of the building.

OK, so that fixes the buildings but it doesn't help people to get up the step hills that lead to their homes or to the fruit store they like to shop at, for example. Here are some pictures of what we now see...
outdoor escalator
This set of outdoor escalators heads up the street to where I used to live.
moving sidewalk
In various places we also find moving sidewalks along side the regular sidewalks. While there isn't nearly the snow here that we have in Wisconsin, it rains quite a lot in the winter. These moving sidewalks can get slippery, which is quite fun for the younger crowd to slide/skate on.

This final picture is an outdoor elevator of which there are many as well.
outdoor elevator
So, I wonder what this area will look like 20 years from now. What changes and innovations will we see to continue to make life a little easier for everyone? I guess it is up to those kids that are currently skating on the moving sidewalks to decide.

1 comment:

  1. Amazing how much has changed in 26 years! (Yes, it's hard to believe it's been MORE than TWO DECADES!) I had that same eerie feeling when I was back in 2008. I had to keep reminding myself that when we were living there the first time around, Franco had been gone just over 10 years. That's hardly any time to recover from the economic and psychological effects of a brutal dictatorship--and yet Spain was doing better than most other countries in similar circumstances. Now, it's so much further ahead on so many counts, thanks in large part to the recent economic boom. I'm holding my breath and hoping things don't deteriorate too desperately now that the economy is in free fall.

    Anyway, keep posting the fabulous photos and observations. We love seeing what you're all thinking and doing!

    Un abrazo-