Lucas Fox sales agent Emma Carres Davies talks to us about growing up in Menorca with a British mum and Catalan dad
Tell us a little bit about life as a child growing up on Menorca?
Growing up on Menorca was fantastic. The island is so beautiful that everyone spends their time outdoors, taking advantage of the stunning beaches, the countryside or doing water sports. There is something special about growing up on a small island, as it allows you much more freedom than you would have in a city. Everyone is very friendly and there is a strong sense of community, so the island is very safe. As a child it was idyllic.
How did your parents end up living there?
My parents met in Menorca. My mother is from Bristol and went on holiday to Menorca where she met and fell in love with a Catalan soldier, my father, who was doing his military service there. They married soon after then lived on the mainland for a while, however the island’s lifestyle lured them back and they have now been living there for over 30 years.
What language did you speak at home when you were younger?
My mother has always spoken to me in English and my father in Catalan, so it always depended who I was having the conversation with. Spanish came later when I started at the local school.
You are trilingual in English, Spanish and Catalan. In what situations do you use which language?
I have been in an English speaking environment for most of the last 10 years of my life, so even though I live in Spain I definitely speak more English, both at work and socially. In Catalunya I will always direct myself to people in Catalan, however, funnily enough, no matter which language I am speaking, if I am counting or doing maths, I have to think in Spanish (I assume as that was the language my lessons were in at school).
By having an English mother, did you ever feel different to other children on the island?
Only at school as my (Spanish) English teachers always hated teaching my class, as even as a 6 year old, my English would be better than theirs. But more than the language element, I felt that there was a culture difference as I was the only person with a foreign parent in my class. I always went to bed a little earlier than the rest of my classmates, I was always the first to arrive anywhere and was religious about my “please and thank yous” which I still get teased about by my Spanish friends today.
What type of school did you go to and where did you complete your further studies?
I went to the school in my hometown, in Sant Luis, until I was 15. At that point I knew I wanted to continue with further education. As there were not many options in Menorca, I decided to continue in an international school in the south of France and then read International Management at Bath University.
Do you feel more English or Spanish and why?
I think it is more natural to notice the differences than the similarities. When I am in Spain I can see my English side come through on a regular basis, however during my time in England, I could not have felt more Spanish. I missed the more personable approach, the food, the late nights, never-ending meals and the laid back attitude. I have been asked this question many times and all I can say is I am half and half.
You have lived and worked in some fantastic European cities, what do you think the experience of living in different locations gives you?
It gives you perspective and enables you to be more open and appreciative of what your surroundings are. You learn to appreciate different subtleties from different cultures and learn more about yourself. Apart from this, it is incredibly exciting to discover new cities and people.
When you first moved to Barcelona, you set up the Kennedy foundation, can you tell us a bit about it?
Not many people know that President Kennedy had an intellectually disabled sister and as a result of this, was motivated to instate unprecedented laws to protect and give rights to people with these kinds of disabilities. The whole family has been very involved but it was his nephew, Anthony Kennedy, that started the Best Buddies foundation to create a global volunteer movement giving people with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to develop constructive, one-to-one friendships and develop leadership skills. It is present in 50 countries in the world and I had the pleasure of setting up the Barcelona branch. We work with over 100 families with intellectually disabled children and are constantly getting involved in new projects to raise awareness and funds for the programme, from fashion shows to triathlons and everything in between.
Why did you decide to move into the real estate business?
I don’t think I ever made a conscious decision. It was more about being in the right place at the right time. I started with the Lucas Fox team as I liked the company, the team and where it was going, and gravitated toward sales and listings as I have always been customer orientated.
How does Barcelona compare to other places you have lived in?
All cities have great aspects however Barcelona, for me, provides the best balance. It is safer than Buenos Aires or London, although they both have an underground cultural effervescence that Barcelona does not parallel. I miss the food and romance of the Côte d’Azur, however Barcelona is more affordable as it is less ostentatious. Bath is the quaintest city I have ever seen and I have a definite soft spot for it, but I did not love the weather. Weather was also an issue in Madrid as the summers are truly scorching. It is a fantastic city with great people. However I could never live that far from the sea.
Do you feel at home in Barcelona, despite being from a different part of Spain?
Yes, absolutely. I have found the most wonderful mix of people in Barcelona and I feel like I have the best of both worlds here, close enough to home that I can spend my summer weekends in Menorca while living in a vibrant city. Barcelona always has something going on, with ski slopes 2 hours away and an international airport from where you can fly anywhere in the world.
Do you envisage going back to live in Menorca?
Not right now, at the moment it remains my childhood home and my favourite holiday destination, however I cannot picture myself living there full time until later on in life.
Tell us a bit about the area where you live in Barcelona?
I live in Gracia, which used to be a separate village from Barcelona. It is mostly pedestrian and is like a maze of squares, bars and restaurants with quite a bohemian atmosphere. There is always action in Gracia, from the crowds of people that flock to the squares on Sunday morning for swing and lindy hop dancing, to the regular street fairs and festivals. Even when there is nothing scheduled, there are always bongo players and flamenco singers in Plaza del Sol.
In three words describe what you love most about living in Barcelona?
Sun, wine and heritage.