This week I am celebrating my 4th year in Barcelona.
I came here by coincidence and at the beginning I didn’t really like it, but little by little I got used to its building and its habits.
Now I am not sure my future children won’t speak Catalan.
Even though I had initially decided not to make any post about Barcelona, as it’s the most mainstream city, today, as we are celebrating, I will give you my list of the things I like and the ones I (still) don’t like about the city.
THINGS I LOVE
They are marvelous. Pyrenees are just a stone’s throw away, same as the lovely Costa Brava. France is only 2 hours away if you feel like going abroad.
Everything is well connected, safe, not too crowded, not too desolate.
You can do it in half afternoon: you only need 15 minutes by train to go to Collserola. There, the wood is thick and you feel out of the civilization, but you are almost in the city!The Beach
I know, it’s often packed with tourists. Also, the sand is artificial. But the comfort of a beach in the city, 5 minutes by bike from my office, is irreplaceable.
You can go there running, cycling, you can go to the crowded one, to the empty one, to the nudist one. You can go for the entire day or just for half an hour. But you always feel you are on holidays.You can find anything you want
Literally everything: whatever exotic restaurant you are craving for, whatever sport you want to try out, the best festivals in Europe, events and concerts of any sort, supermarket from all over the world. They even have friarielli!The weather is perfect and finding a job is not impossible
These two things are usually not combined. Usually you get either the amazing holiday destination with zero jobs or the great career opportunities with zero degrees.
Here the weather is phenomenal. Summer lasts very long. It rains 6 times per year.
But you can still find a job!It’s safe and everything works well
I know, it’s kind of boring to consider this a priority. Something I wouldn’t have mentioned 10 years ago.
But crossing the city at 4am just because I feel like it, is something you can’t do everywhere. Transportation is efficient and metro is good.
Not to mention burocracy: doing paperworks without working up an ulcer or crying, oh this is priceless.
THINGS I HATE
Or I could easily live without them…
Tourists, tourists everywhere…
Millions, billions tourists, everywhere, always…Food: quality and variety
If you come from United Kingdom, where the food you find in the supermarkets is dog food with a bit of mold on the top, you might find Catalan cuisine delicious.
If you come from Italy or Greece, where food quality is exceptional and tomatoes are actually tasty, you might be quite disappointed here.
Unseasoned salads with lettuce and carrots, bread and tomato (promoted as gourmet food) with plastic tomatoes, the same old Botifarra and the usually frozen Patatas Bravas won’t be really exciting after a while.
We will make an exception for the Calçots, maybe because they are only available 2 months per year.Food: accessibility of restaurants at night
Not much to say here: if you are hungry after 11PM you’d better go home and make yourself a pasta!
Police gives you a hard time
That’s the other side of a well-functioning city: the police give you a hard time for everything.
You can’t drink in the street, you can’t pump up the music, you can’t go through a red light in a street that saw no pedestrians since 1982, you can’t speak loudly at night, you can’t stay out of the clubs at night, you can’t play at night, you can’t sit in a square at night, at night you’d better go home and wear your pijama , since at 2 AM everything closes down, and if you make a barbecue on your terrace the police is coming at your door in 3,2,1…Catalan people are not exactly kind
Expats like me often talk about the non friendliness of Catalans.
Contrary to the rest of Spanish people, Catalans at the beginning are cold and timid. After a while they will open up and become your best friends.
If you want to make lifelong friends you don’t mind to wait a bit and discover their true heart.
But if you go to a restaurant or a shop and your relationship has a 2 minutes deadline, 2 minutes that they basically spent treating you like a piece of shit, then it’s not too pleasant, and you might end up not having great memories about them…