5 Tips for First Time Barcelona Tourists
Barcelona is a city famous for it’s food, culture, and tourism, but before you set out here to stay for a while, here are some tips on the Barcelona lifestyle so that you can be “in the know” before you go. These are practical things, the sort of tips that you only learn by staying here for a while or when you already have made your first visit.
5) Garbage is placed outside on the street
In Barcelona everyone, even the people living in the most expensive apartments, takes the garbage out and places their stuff in public containers generally located on the corner of the street. Taking the rubbish out is easy as in Barcelona we have a color code: Grey dumpsters= normal garbage (for people who do not recycle) brown dumpster= organic material (generally places in organic plastic bags that you may purchase in the supermarkets). If you are a recycler, you have separate bins. Blue= paper, green= glass and yellow= aluminum. There are also cartoons on the containers so that there are no confusions. One of the cool parts about this system is that it makes recycling so much easier. I never used to recycle back home (I shamefully admit), but now I would not be able to toss a bag full of trash in the normal bin without feeling silly when recycling is just as easy.
4) We do not EVER leave keys in the lock inside of the door
If you leave a key in the keyhole inside your apartment and you leave the apartment closing the door behind you, expect to be calling a locksmith. Barcelona doors have extra safety systems that are not found in places like the United States. When you leave a key in the door, the door blocks up and the only way to get into the apartment once again is to either break the lock completely or have the locksmith try to jiggle the key out of the lock which can take a couple of hours. This is particularly annoying when it happens at night and midnight comes around and you still cannot enter into your apartment.
3) Bicing bicycles are not for public use
Every now and then you will find a neat row of red and white bicycles that seem like they are ready for the taking. Unfortunately, to use the Bicing bicycles, you must be a resident of Barcelona and you pay for a membership (generally a yearly membership). For those of you only staying for a couple days or a couple of weeks, this is not going to be something that you are going to want to have access to. You do however have many really great places to rent out bikes for your stay. You can rent by hour, day, or by week at quite reasonable prices. Barcelona is also a city that is getting more and more bike friendly with it’s stoplights made especially for the people on bicycles and also the bike lanes. There are also many places to go on bike tours in the city.
2) The eating proccess is a long one
In the States, we are so accustomed to fast food. Well, if you think about it, we have fast everything…fast cars, fast service, fast cures…but more than anything, fast service. We have the ability to get our lunches passed to us while we wait in our cars and eat right then and there in the parking lot or as we drive back to work. We eat while we are walking from one place to another. Here in Barcelona that is completely different or dare I say, the exact opposite. In Barcelona the people use lunch and dinner as an excuse to be with their friends and family. Only in a few places can you “take things to go” or as they call it here, “el take-away”. Generally, restaurants offer a long menu that can last up to at least 40 minutes or sometimes people will stay eating lunch for 2 hours! The traditional Spanish meal consists of a first plate, second plate, dessert and then coffee. You’ll find few local Spanish people eating alone, they generally eat with friends or go home and eat with the family.
1) People in Barcelona speak Spanish
Unfortunately unlike places like Rome or most Scandinavian countries, the Spanish people in Barcelona speak very little English. It might be a good idea to try to learn a little bit of Spanish before coming here just to be a little more prepared. People tend to be very nice and helpful, but obviously if there is a language gap, that makes things a bit harder. Catch phrases are quite useful such as “¿Dónde está el baño?” (where is the bathroom), “¿Dónde está la calle ……?” (Where is the street …) “Cuanto cuesta?” (how much does it cost?). Catch phrases may seem silly at first but they might be a key point in getting someone to help you on the street or in a store. The Spanish people generally appreciate when other people try to speak their language.
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