Barcelona is The Worst
I’m a pretty easygoing person and I’ve liked 98% of the foreign cities that I have visited, but Barcelona wasn’t one of them. Barcelona is a pretty popular vacation destination for many people and I can’t tell you how many people told us that “Barcelona is the best city in Europe”, but I just couldn’t understand that. Maybe it was the season, or the fact that we were there for five weeks, rather than just visiting for a weekend, but I was not enamored of it as everyone else was.
Like I said, I’ve loved every other foreign city (except Paris, hence the 98% above), so it’s not just a case of culture shock or an inability to adjust. Whether you’re reading this because you were outraged at the title of this post, wanted some validation for your own awful feelings about BCN, or you’re planning a visit to Spain and are checking out various cities, please feel free to peruse my following reasons for why I was not a fan of Barcelona.
My god did it stink. If you’ve visited any major city, you know that they all have some sort of funky smell. Barcelona’s happened to be a mix of pee, cigarette smoke, and unwashed bodies. I can’t tell you how many times I witnessed men peeing in public. Literally piss EVERYWHERE. I just started avoiding every single wet spot I saw on the ground so I wouldn’t smell like the city did.
Everyone also smokes cigarettes. Cigarette shaming is so common in the US that I was really taken aback by how many people smoke in Barcelona. Josh smokes so I’m somewhat used to the smell. But he has the decency to leave the room to smoke, when I’m present.
Impossibly Small Living Spaces
Apartments are super small. In general this didn’t bother me that much because I’m a simple person who doesn’t need a lot of space. And I know that Spaniards are socially oriented and spend more time out with friends than at home, so size doesn’t matter to them. What DID matter to me was the shower size. If I have have to extend my (medium length) hair outside of the shower space just to wash it, that is ridiculous. I seriously had to leave the shower curtain open on one side so I could use the space right outside to wash my hair. And, of course, the mess was ridiculous.
I’m a US size 4, and Josh has a slight figure, but neither of us fit very well in our shower. Just to give you an idea of how awful it was, here’s a picture of me demonstrating its size. Please excuse my Bitmoji face; I made an extremely ugly face in this picture, for a friend.
Inconsiderate Party Goers
People are up at all hours. Barcelona is a city that gets up late and goes to bed late. Most businesses don’t open until 10am and close late at night. And when it comes to going out, don’t even think about doing it until midnight. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed partying all night and getting home at 6am. On the weekends. But many people party all night long, every single day of the week. I had to sleep with earplugs to block them out. I know it’s a city and you can never expect it to be completely quiet, but drunk people are a special kind of noise. The annoying kind. Especially when you’re trying to sleep and you have to be up early for a day full of work.
Hard to Access Your Own Money
99% of the ATMs weren’t accessible. And I don’t mean they were broken or off limits, I mean that they required you to put in information that you can’t possibly have unless you’re an EU national. If you can’t put in your EU ID number, or your Barcelona bank account number, you can’t use the ATM. Since ATM’s make money from charging for withdrawals from people who don’t have an account there, this seems ridiculous.
Some banks, like Bank of America, have affiliate ATMs. So ATMs from banks like Deutsche, allow you to use them free of charge, but only if you can put in your BofA account number. So if you’re not in an affiliate banking program, you’re still SOL.
We used BBVA ATMs during our entire stay in Barcelona. It was one of two banks that we could actually access. We forgot the name of the second bank and couldn’t remember its location, so we had to stick with BBVA. So, yes, we could access our money. But it sure was a pain in the ass trying to find ATMs we could use.
Theft Is Prevalent
Crime rates aren’t really that high in Barcelona, but theft is very common. For the most part it is a safe city, but being robbed is never pleasant. During our time there, two of our friends had their phones stolen. We also once heard a woman screaming at the police that her purse had been stolen.
I was almost a victim of theft, but I caught the thief in time. Two of the city’s many thieves came into the cafe I was doing homework in. They went around begging for money. One had a sheet of paper that I’m assuming was a plea for help, in Spanish. He laid it on my table and tried to talk to me. I kept telling him I didn’t speak Spanish. He turned to leave and I caught a glimpse of my very cracked phone protector in the hand that held the paper he had laid on my table. While he was talking to me, he used his piece of paper to cover my phone and slyly pick it up off the table! Thank god my the cracks on my screen protector are in a specific pattern, otherwise I wouldn’t have thought anything of it.
.Well I snatched it out of his hand and raised such a ruckus that he and his friend (who was trying to steal from an old man), were promptly kicked out. I sat in the cafe for hours afterwards, scared that I’d be jumped and robbed if I left.
Locals Don’t Like You
The Catalan locals aren’t welcoming. I realize this may not sound very kind, but the Catalans do have a reason for sticking to themselves and disliking Spanish. If the people in your hometown had been persecuted and expected to give up their native language and switch to Spanish, you’d all be closed off, too. So I understand why they are the way they are, I’m just saying it’s off-putting.
The Catalonians are very closed off and will admit to you that they don’t like outsiders. And forget about trying to speak to them in Spanish (despite the fact that you’re in Spain). Nothing will piss them off more. I can’t tell you how many times a perfectly nice waitress/store employee/customer service person stopped being so nice the second I tried speaking to them in Spanish.
That is the number one reason why I couldn’t stand Barcelona. When the local people in a city aren’t welcoming and don’t want you there, it’s hard to feel comfortable. Every single nice person I met had moved to Barcelona from somewhere else. And the locals who were nice weren’t Catalonian.
So there you have it. I’m hoping I’ll have a chance to visit other parts of Spain someday, to experience the nicer sides. Barcelona is just a small part of Spain. I’m not going to let my dislike of it effect my feelings towards the whole country. Despite my feelings, I urge you to visit and make your own judgements.