I’m sorry I’ve been posting less than usually these days. It’s been super busy and I’ve been devoting a lot of time and energy to posting consistently on Instagram. Apparently, Instagram reels are all the rage right now, so keeping up with the demand on videos is insane. In any case, I’m back and sharing some interesting things Charles and I learned while in Barcelona back in April.
A majority of our trip was spent in the beautiful city of Barcelona, so we definitely had a lot of time to explore and immerse ourselves in the culture and city life there. I must say, we were not in Kansas, Toto. Certain things about Barcelona was a huge adjustment, other things I learned were pretty awesome and then there were some things that were just straight up weird, so I’m spilling the beans on some things we learned on our visit, so keep reading.
Most hotels don’t have face cloths
Despite multiple searches throughout our hotel, including asking several hotel staff about facial cloths, it was determined that our hotel and the hotels of every tourist we talked to (and it was a lot) facial cloths are just not a thing. I was actually really surprised. Our hotel had towels and hand towels, but no facial cloths. My husband asked one of the hotel staff what they bath with since they don’t have facial cloths and he said just use the bar of soap on your body. It was different to say the least. Definitely not horrible, just different. Charles and I ended up using the hand towels for washing our face and scrubbing our bodies, so it all worked out in the end.
Most people were wearing neutrals ( black, tan, white ).
Barcelona style is very chic and void of many of the colors I wear on a regular basis here in the US. I didn’t do much research before my visit, so imagine my surprise arriving in Barcelona in all my brightest fashion finds, only to get stared at on every street corner. If I had to guess, I’m sure some of these stares came from my bright obnoxious clothing, but also because I’m black, but that’s another story for another day.
Restaurants aren’t open all day and Sunday’s are ghost city
Some Barcelona restaurants close for a chunk of time (sometimes midday) they then reopen for dinner. On Sunday, expect Barcelona to look like a ghost town. There weren’t many people out and about on Sunday, it’s a different world on Sunday, with less businesses open and more city folks staying in or spending time with family and friends. I’ve come to the conclusion that I love Barcelona on Sunday. The streets aren’t busy and you can pretty much explore and take pics in peace. It was nice, a photographers dream if you ask me.
There’s more than just Spanish food
Barcelona is a true melting pot. People from all over live in this beautiful city and own businesses in the city. We didn’t know this and were very surprised to have our pick of Turkish food, Italian food, Japanese food, Greek food, traditional dishes from Indian. I’ll be honest, I didn’t have one Tapas when I was there. I did have a glass of Sangria, but most of the dishes I tried were from other countries, not Spain and I wasn’t disappointed.
Bread and coffee is their breakfast
Imagine my surprise when seeing that I could get carbs from pretty much any street corner. I think I ate about 16,000 croissants; croissants of different kinds too. One morning, I had a croissant dipped in dark chocolate. It was beyond delicious. So all that to say, bread and coffee is pretty much what a typical Spanish breakfast in Barcelona looked like; bread and cafe con leche if I’m being specific. Breakfast was definitely not protein dense. I’d like to say this was just because of the locations we were eating at, but in reality, we met quite a few locals and tourist and they all said the same thing, bread and coffee is the Barcelona way for breakfast. Most people are on the go in this city during the work week, bread and coffee is definitely a grab and go kind of meal that you can consume on your walk to work. Look, I’m not complaining, I love coffee and love carbs. Every now and then I was craving an egg or some yogurt, but you adjust.
Don’t bother driving
The Barcelona metro or walking to your destination is the best way to get around this city. Barcelona reminds me of NYC. It’s just better to walk, take the metro or have a moped. Charles and I love walking any major city we visit and that’s exactly what we did while in Barcelona. We took the metro to get to the Camino, but once back in the city, we jut walked everywhere. For me, when I walk, I just feel more immersed in what’s happening, I feel like you discover new places to visit and we met so many people during our walk and learned a lot.
Retail stores in Barcelona are huge
If you haven’t heard of Primark, the best retail store I can compare it to would be H&M. If I’m remembering correctly, the Primark is 5 stories, so you can imagine I was in there for at least 2 hours trying to get my life together. I mostly ended up buying some clothes for Charlee and a few pieces for myself because being in a store that big is a bit overwhelming. I live in a fairly big city and I can say we do not have any 5 story retailers in the area. As someone who loves to shop, stumbling across this Primark was a dream come true, but also my worst nightmare because I’m indecisive and don’t care for large crowds. They also have a ginormous H&M; just putting that out there should you enjoy shopping stores with elevators and clothes for days.
It’s cold and sometimes rainy in April
We visited Barcelona at the latter part of March all the way through mid April. It was still cold and rainy. The sun came out most days, but you’d definitely still needed a medium weight jacket if you’re visiting around this time of year. On average, it was in the high 50’s low 60’s. While this didn’t seem too cold to me, I do not regret buying a medium sized jacket from Primark, to layer with my other jacket I brought for the trip. That jacket came in handy when hiking the Camino. If you like warmer weather, I suggest waiting to at least the end of April to visit this city. On the other hand, many locals told me Barcelona in the summer is sweltering hot, so I guess it depends on what you like.
They take Covid seriously
Pretty much every person we saw or came across in the city was wearing a masks. Most stores we were in required a masks. In fact, we went to a laundry mat to wash our clothes and one of the people in my group forgot to put his masks back up after drinking water and one of the locals came by and asked him to put his masks back on immediately and reminded him of the masks mandate. These experiences alone lead me to believe that they really take COVID seriously and want to protect themselves and others. I’m unsure if things have changed with masks mandates since our visit, but we definitely got the vibe that masks are important.
Not everyone speaks Spanish
You’d think being in Spain, you’d hear most people speaking Spanish, well that’s definitely a common misconception. We found out a lot of people also speak Catalan. We went to a restaurant one night and checked out the menu and I was so confused because I’m pretty good at reading Spanish, but didn’t understand why the menu was so weird to me and why I was struggling to translate. Come to find out, the whole menu was in Catalan. And just to be clear, Catalan is not broken Spanish, it is its own language. Also, pretty much everyone at every retailer or restaurant we went to spoke English. If they didn’t, they had an employee working there that did and could translate. Because I really wanted to practice my Spanish, I tried to use every opportunity to order my food in Spanish and speak to locals in Spanish. Also, I just think it’s good practice to attempt to at least learn a bit of the language when you’re in another country, but that’s just me.
Tourist in Madrid say Barcelona is where it’s at, Tourist and Barcelona say Madrid is where it’s at
We had a great conversations with some locals during our visit and it’s pretty much been determined that most people who visit Madrid think Barcelona is where all the fun is happening and most people who visit Barcelona think Madrid is where all the fun is happening. I didn’t get a chance to go to Madrid, but I always hear that the capitol is where all the fun goes down, so people in Barcelona might be onto something. Either way, I don’t need an excuse to visit Madrid, I love traveling and will go one day, but it’s insane how many times I’ve heard this statement from locals and tourist alike.
Barcelona is diverse, but you will get stares
I’ve come to the conclusion that no matter where I travel, as a black woman, staring is just inevitable. I don’t think it’s a bad thing in most cases, some people have truly never seen minorities and so staring is a common response. I think at first it made me uncomfortable, but you get use to it. Everyone was friendly, I didn’t feel unsafe in this city, so it’s all good with me. I was confused though, I consider Barcelona a melting pot, so I imagined the locals were use to seeing people from all over the world, but Charles and I still got stares. In fact, a little boy was walking with his dad and saw me and tried to give me money. I guess he thought I was homeless. It was an awkward situation to say the least and if it wasn’t for the language barrier, I would have told him I didn’t need the money. In any case, I learned that just because you’re in a diverse city, doesn’t mean you’ll avoid that constant staring.
All and all, this was a pretty great city to visit. I felt safe , welcomed and enjoyed my time there for the most part. I recommend visiting if you take a trip to Europe.
Till next time.