10 things that every traveler coming to Barcelona should know…
Most people find out the DO’s & DON’Ts of traveling the hard way. I want to make your life easier, so here are the 10 things that any traveler coming to Barcelona should know.
10. Tipping: The people of Barcelona generally do not tip. Shocking, but true. There is an ongoing joke in Spain about the people from Catalunya being particularly careful about their money. Tipping, generally doesn’t fit into the budget. If you do want to tip, perfect! There are some people who do tip in the restaurants and especially to their favorite bartenders. The tip is usually an euro or two euros as a gesture. Just don’t feel obligated to tip if you don’t want to.
9. Nightlife: There are three types of nightlife places to go to. You have the regular bar where you can have a drink and (hopefully) a good conversation, you have the musical bars where it is free to get in and you are welcome to dance (although almost no one does), and then you have the discotecas, nightclubs, where they charge you a cover charge. There are ways of getting around the cover charge in some discotecas. Generally, if you go out at about 11:00 p.m. (23:00h) or so, many discotecas will have people standing on the street corners handing out free passes. Of course, no discoteca really gets kicking until about 12:30-1:00 in the morning, but for the two hour boring wait until the rest of the people get there, you would have entered free and you could use that money toward drinks.
8. Dress code: People in Barcelona, like in most European countries, take great care in their appearance. Here, you will not find anyone in sweatpants (unless they are running) or pijama bottoms (scandolous!). Leave them at home and make sure to bring your nicest Spring dresses unless you want to be immediately pegged for a lazy tourist. Also, its important to note that it is illegal to walk around the city without a shirt. You can get fined anywhere from 120 euros to 500 euros.
7. Grocery shopping: There are three main places to buy groceries in Barcelona, the Corte Inglés, the regular supermarkets and the open air markets. All have their pluses and minuses. The Corte Inglés is the one place where you can find just about ANYTHING. The only problem is that the prices of the products, although not being exaggeratedly so, may be a bit more expensive due to convenience. The regular supermarkets may be found in every neighborhood of Barcelona and they have better prices although this also means that they have less choices, and finally the open air markets offer fresh produce at a very resonable price, but you need to spend time searching through many stalls to find all the things that you need, plus you need to have a basic knowledge of Spanish.
6. Light switches and bathroom etiquette: Light switches for the bathrooms in Barcelona are usually on the OUTSIDE of the stall or room. I unfortunately found that out the hard way my first time coming to Barcelona…Another thing that you need to watch out for is that some places allow you to use the washroom: (bars and McDonalds or other fast food restaurants) but some places do not. You should ask the person at the counter first before using the bathroom to be sure, but if you see a sign that says “Servicio solo para clientes,” you may have to buy something before you can relieve yourself, or have your friend distract the people working there while you sneak in. Also it might be interesting to note that bathrooms in Spain can be gender neutral so guys and girls go in the same space or there might be a toilet for girls and a toiler for boys but the sinks are in a common area. Its not really a big deal which bathroom you use here.
5. Vino: wine, cava, chapagne…all is good and all is appropriate at any hour of the day in Barcelona. They don’t mind if you drink and do not look at it as a bad thing as long as you DO NOT GET DRUNK. If you want to have a glass of wine with your morning bocadillo, no one will look at you funny, I assure you. In fact, more people might even join in! But if you are drunk at 11 in the morning and wobbling around, yes people will stare at you are a moron.
4. Metro open times:
Monday to Thursday: 5.00 am until midnight.
Fridays and eves of public holidays: 5.00 a 2.00 am.
Saturdays: from 5.00 am and runs all night.
Sundays: until midnight.
Public holidays during the week: midnight.
Special dates: 24 December, 5.00 am to 11.00 pm.
Other nights with continuous service in 2016:
Feria de Abril (23 and 30 April)
Night of 23–24 June (Saint John’s Eve)
14–15 August (Gràcia festival)
23–24 September (La Mercè festival)
31 December– 1 January (New Year’s Eve)
3. Barcelona time: Barcelona works on a different time frame from many other countries. Breakfast starts at 9 a.m. and goes until 11:30ish. The Barcelona people usually grab a quick sandwich, also known as a bocadillo and a cup of coffee (café). Lunch then starts at 1:00 p.m. (13:00h) and goes until 4:00 p.m. (16:00h) during which some stores close down and do not open until after lunch is over at 16h. Dinner then is served from 9:00 p.m.-11:30p.m. (21h-23:30). After that, some people go for a stroll around the city to “bajar la comida” which means literally to help the food go down or to digest better. Another important tip about Barcelona is that on Sundays almost EVERYTHING closes down. Only restaurants tend to be open.
2. Walking get ready for a lot of it: Walking is a huge part of the Barcelonian lifestyle. Almost everyone walks. Even in the metros you must walk up and down stairs. After the metro, you still must walk to where you are going. Same goes for any other form of transportation other than bikes or motos. But that is one of the most beautiful things about Barcelona because there is no better way to know a city than walking through it.
1. PICKPOCKETS: Unfortunately, pickpockets exist and they are really good at what they do. Generally, pickpockets hide out on the metros (especially), the beach, the cafeterias or restaurants when you are not paying attention, and on the streets of the Rambla. Pickpockets are never confrontational so you do not have to worry about being hurt or anything like that, but more likely they will be sneaky and you wont even notice that you were pickpocketed until you go for your wallet and it isn’t there! Just be aware and be aware of the people around you. If someone bumps into you, be careful and grab your wallet to make sure that it is there. If you are a man, put your wallet in your front pocket. If you are a lady, make sure that your purse is fimly under your armpit and a bit in front of your body and with the zipper always CLOSED on the street.
Other than that, Barcelona is a lovely city. If you have any more travelling tips, let me know! I’d be happy to make the list bigger.
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