I Guess Barcelona Doesn’t Suck at Everything
Despite the fact that Barcelona ranks as one of my top two least favorite cities, it wasn’t all bad. I have to admit that it has some aspects that us Americans should implement. I strive to always see the good in the bad and there’s quite a bit of good in Barcelona. Even though I don’t have a desire to visit Barcelona again, I wouldn’t mind if we picked up on some of its qualities. So here are 6 things I wish we had here in the US.
Constant Street Cleaning
It rained a lot during my first week in Barcelona. On one particular day, it had rained early in the morning and the streets/sidewalks remained wet all day. I was completely baffled by it until I realized the streets were being cleaned all day. In my last post I mentioned that it’s very common to see men peeing in public. Well the street cleaning crew could probably tell how disgusting the city smelled and decided to clean it constantly. Every couple of hours or so, you’ll see cleaners in bright green jumpsuits, spraying down the streets and sidewalks with clean water. Barcelona is a city, and just like any other city, it has its fair share of litter, pet excrement, and people piss. Barcelona just happens to be a lot better at cleaning it up.
Extremely Cheap Produce
I grew up in Southern California and moved to the East Coast for college. My one constant regret about leaving CA was the lack of cheap and fresh produce, year round. Barcelona has a similar climate to that of SoCal, meaning that there was delicious produce galore! Every single street had multiple produce shops and I frequently stopped for some cut fruit to eat. It was really lovely being able to buy a huge cup of fruit for only one euro.
And when I went grocery shopping (as a vegetarian, I eat a LOT of fruits and veggies), I could buy quite a bit for very little. One one occasion I remember, I bought avocados, oranges, cucumbers, tomatoes, bananas, peppers, and lettuce all for around 2 euros. You can’t even buy one avocado for 2 dollars on the East Coast! And now that I’m back on the East Coast for the time being, I’m really missing that produce. I haven’t had an avocado since Barcelona.
Excellent Public Transportation
Josh and I decided to purchase metro tickets with multiple rides, since we were going to be there for 5 weeks. Unfortunately we weren’t able to purchase a monthly pass because you need an EU ID number. Obviously, as Americans, we don’t have those. Lucky for us, though, you could purchase tickets with 30, 50, or 70 rides. We went with 70 because we figured we’d use the metro at least twice a day, every day. Well the tickets cost us 59.50 euros, which comes to $62.19. Meaning it cost us under 90 cents for each ride. Now compare that to the NYC subway fares, where each ride costs $2.75, or $1.35 reduced fare. Barcelona metro trips are extremely cheap.
The metro’s timely manner is also something we should strive to replicate. Metro’s arrived every three minutes and each stop had a timer that showed, down to the second, when they would be arriving. So if you just missed the metro, you don’t have very long to wait for the next one. The metro can take you anywhere you need to go, very quickly.
Safe Open Drinking Policy
At the risk of offending Americans everywhere, Europeans are just better at drinking than we are. They are more exposed to alcohol before they hit legal drinking ages (16-18 in various countries), so they don’t feel the need to go all out like we do. In America we can’t touch alcohol until we’re 21, so drinking and getting wasted are something to look forward to and strive for. But if we had been given wine at dinner with our families, we’d be so much better at handling our alcohol.
That being said, its much more acceptable for public drinking to be a norm, since getting f***ed up isn’t the goal. Let me tell you, its so lovely being able to grab a beer and relax outside in the local piazza. Or even drinking outside with friends, pregaming before we headed to the club.
It’s always safe drinking, though. Cops patrol constantly and will say something if you are clearly inebriated in a bad way. And when it gets too close to clubbing time when people are trying to get trashed, that’s when the open drinking policy ends. At 11pm, there is no drinking allowed on the streets. And street cops are really strict about this. Our first time out with friends, Josh and a friend ending up getting ticketed for drinking beer outside, after 11. Sucks for them, but the cops were just keeping the streets safe.
I’m a foodie. I may love food more than I love Josh. Scratch that, I 100% love food more than Josh. It’s really hard for a food to make such a big impact, because there’s always something else that’s just as good. Not so with brava sauce. It physically pains me that I am out of range of this delicious condiment.
If you’ve never heard of brava sauce, you’re not alone. It’s not a common condiment and I have not been able to find it in any store in the US. I’ve only ever seen it in Barcelona. We saw “patatas bravas” on menus at every restaurant, but didn’t try it until a friend ordered some these fried potatoes in sauce for the table. I instantly fell in love with the sauce and had to buy a bottle to put on everything I made at home. In the span of four weeks (we didn’t learn about it until after the first week), Josh and I finished off two bottles. Regular ketchup sized bottles. And if I had to describe it, I’d say its a spicy yet sweet, creamy and tangy, version of ketchup.
If Beyonce knew about brava sauce, she’d keep it in her bag (swag) instead of hot sauce. Its just that good and addictive.
Tapas are such a brilliant idea that I simply cannot fathom the reason why the US doesn’t have them. Have you ever gone to a restaurant and seen 5 different things that make your mouth water, but had to choose one? The solution to that problem is tapas. Every restaurant has a tapas menu, foods that come in smaller portions, so you can order many at once.
Its basically the same thing as ordering multiple appetizers. The difference is the pricing. The average appetizer price is between $5 and $12 in the US. Ordering multiple would quickly become expensive. The average tapa is between one and three euros.
And they’re not just appetizer type foods. Most restaurants offer a tapa version of full meals, a smaller, cheaper version. So you can make a full meal out of it. You can either pick your own and have a full meal, or order enough for the whole table to share. Tapas are so versatile!
Even though I really didn’t like Barcelona, it had a lot of great qualities that I do miss. And if America ever brought brava sauce here, it wouldn’t have to worry about sales. I’d singlehandedly keep the business running. I don’t recommend living in Barcelona, but if you’re visiting, know it’s not all bad.