Ah Barcelona. Bright, beautiful and exotic to the American mind. The home of Gaudi, the stunning architectural master that adds yet another flavorful layer to the Catalan city by the sea.
I visited Barcelona in the early summer 3 yers ago. It was my first time in Spain (A country I have come to love the fuck out of). I had spent the majority of my travel time off the beaten path as it were. Trekking through the rapidly changing regions of Eastern Europe and the former USSR. Friends and colleagues, fellow travelers and Instagram alike had hyped Barcelona to impossible heights. “The absolute best city in the world”.
I had to go right?
And thus I did.
And I get it. I truly do. Barcelona is the topless beach, where someone passes you a joint and invites you to hacky sack. Barcelona is all night sangria. Barcelona is shockingly gorgeous people of damn near every stripe. (Seriously though, where did all of you beautiful people come from??) It’s mostly safe and enchanting enough.
But therein lies the rub. Not to sound like a wanker, but I’ve been at this for a bit. I thrive on finding that travel magic and at this point I gotta dig for it. Barcelona…is like Disney world. Barcelona is a dream, an idea. This City is the myth that keeps you working over time to be able to pay for that vacation. So, it shouldn’t be shocking that It’s a place SATURATED with tourists. Now, I recognize that I am one of those tourists. Albeit not in a backward ball cap and flip flops getting blind wasted in the afternoon and cat calling passing ladies.
I had an idea that since the world and everything in it changes so damn fast (who’s getting old?!) that perhaps Barcelona would be different 3 years later. Don’t get me wrong, as I’m not overtly hating. Every place has elements of awesome. Barcelona certainly has more than its fair share. If you go, and if you most certainly should, stay outside the Las Ramblas area. When you venture near grace yourself for heat, crowds, that overpowering scent of urine and airport style prices.
Stay anywhere else, and try to at least make an effort to engage some aspects of Catalan culture. Don’t be a sack of asses and enjoy your holiday.
This August Barcelona was under 300$ RT from the midwestern US. The best option on the continent and a great hub to explore the Mediterranean regions I am keen on.
Did I enjoy it? Abso-fucking-Lutley. Barcelona just doesn’t have that magic for me. The primary industry is tourists, who flock to its sunny shores and bars like a European Cancun…only without the resort culture.
Loads and loads of people love Cancun, and even more love Barcelona I’m sure. It’s a personal preference thing. I don’t really dig cruises or theme parks. I’ve always been on the hunt for something more…visceral. For a first trip to Europe, I would still go with Barcelona over London/Paris. I would land in Barcelona, then head elsewhere in Spain or the region. Which is exactly what I did.
More on that next post!
6 thoughts on “Barcelona is easy to love”
I wholeheartedly agree. While I have no where near the passport brags as you, I was underwhelmed by Barcelona.
I was there for a wedding and decided to stay a week to explore with my husband. While I often try to avoid tourist traps… the talk at the wedding about the Sagrada Familia inspired me and I am so happy I went (and did the optional tour of the tower). It’s an architectural marvel and truly fascinating! Something you have to see (and spring for the audio tour) to appreciate. Did you go?
I only spent a week in Barcelona (before going on to other stops around Europe) and stayed in Sitges right on the beach (highly recommend). I took the train (about 30 minutes) into the city 2 of the days.
The city was NOT my cup of tea, with the drugs being so rampant and yes, it smells! The inappropriate cat calls and unwanted male attention made me happy I was there with my husband or I would not have felt safe downtown. (Men are either very bold or very horny…my husband is not a small guy and even with him next to me, the harassment was unnerving).
Sitges was a breath of fresh air…the West Hollywood of Spain. (It’s a gay destination) I felt safe there all times of night and the views are spectacular. This was the saving grace to my opinion of Barcelona.. I want to feel safe at the end of the day when I go to sleep.
Spanish food is a given, it’s incredible and will not disappoint. While Barcelona is a great starting point to a Europen vacation, I don’t suggest staying downtown. I was happy for that tip from the bride and her suggesting Sitges!
I love your posts!
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Ashley! Thank you for sharing your experience! There are those gems that are absolute musts. I went to Sagrada the first time three years ago, and back this time. I was up with the sunrise and walked the 45 min there, before heading up to the park. It was glorious. My time downtown, while a physically bigger white man, still left a kind of unease. It seems as if the locals have abandoned those regions and left it to a kind tourist thunder dome.
Not my thing either. I felt better immediately after leaving the area.
Great post 🙂
Thank you! 🙂
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