I recently spent a few days in Barcelona and as the title suggests I wasn’t the biggest fan of this popular city (and that is putting it very politely).
Firstly, it was the week of Carnival so the streets were constantly flooded with crowds, the biggest crowds I’ve experienced in my life and I don’t like crowds at all. I even had my arse groped while watching an orchestra in front of a church (classy hey?) whilst amongst a crowd which possibly could have been a failed pickpocketing attempt. Whatever it was, it didn’t make me feel any better about crowds or Barcelona in general. Secondly, knowing that pickpocketing was rife in this city made me a paranoid mess. I didn’t want to take my camera out (hence why I have so few photos) because I was worried about being distracted from what was going on around me and being pickpocketed as a result. Thirdly, I felt like in the city centre everything was far too tourist-centric in a way I didn’t like, I just don’t understand the point of that. I don’t want to buy tacky souvenirs that were made on the other side of the world or eat overpriced food that the locals probably wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole. I particularly didn’t understand the hype with La Rambla. I also had guys on the street selling crap like selfie sticks constantly harassing me on the street, especially any time I sat down and on one occasion one followed me. Lastly, food, in general, is expensive in the city centre, I recommend visiting a supermarket like Lidl to get around this or getting away from the city centre. Overall, the big, seedy city vibe wasn’t working for me.
I must admit, though, I did have some good moments despite my mini-essay on why I am not Barcelona’s biggest fan. I met a tour guide, Chris who I know from Instagram and he showed me where the locals of Barcelona really go. I promised not to give specific details about this area so I will not name the district. We ate local tapas, my favourites were patatas and these sticks with cheese and raw tuna (I don’t normally eat tuna at all and was pretty impressed with this) and drank homemade white and black Vermut in Bodegues. It was a very different vibe to the touristic areas – warmer, safer and of course, it was lovely to have good company, especially that of a person who really knows Barcelona. For an authentic experience, get out of the main city areas, explore a different district. Go into places that don’t have English menus (download Google Translate in Spanish to use offline if you have diet restrictions) and see where the locals would actually go.
On my last day, I made friends with a Turkish girl, Gizem, we walked around the city together and found the cheapest place to eat dinner together (sorry, I don’t recall the name of the restaurant). Again, it was lovely to have some nice company.
Towards the end of my stay in Barcelona, I became sick with the flu and this cut my sightseeing time short as I needed bed rest, I am still sick 2 weeks later as I write this. I gave you all my reasons why I didn’t enjoy my time so much, admittedly some of these were pretty personal reasons. And as you saw I did have a good time when I was out of the sea of crowds in the touristy city centre. I have an invitation to stay with a friend if I return to Barcelona, so I guess you will see if I ever take it up.
In terms of accommodation if you would like to stay in a party hostel where you will probably never sleep, St. Christopher’s Inn is for you – if you are a light sleeper (like me) AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE, RUN!
Ultimately I left feeling that Barcelona was quite overrated but I am open to giving it a second chance at some stage. Furthermore, in general, I would say take peoples opinions about cities and countries with a grain of salt. Just because your good friend or family member loves or hates a place it doesn’t mean you will feel the same. People had raved about Barcelona to me and I simply didn’t feel the same and felt disappointed. You have to go in with an open mind and find out for yourself if you will like a place or not.
I hope you appreciate my brutal honesty in this post and keep in mind that these are purely my opinions that are derived from my own personal experiences.