Whether you spent a few months studying there, years working, or weeks vacationing and enjoying the city, Barcelona is captivating and can swallow you up in its magic from the very first day. Of course it depends on where you are coming from as your country of origin, but the majority of people are attracted to Barcelona because of the sun, sand and the sights to see. However, the reasons we stay can vary, as well as the reasons we leave (unless you never did). If you did leave the sunny city, here are 5 things I can guarantee that you are missing right about now.
#1 The Food and Drink
This will easily and most likely be the longest section, for obvious reasons, just so much to say, it merits its own article. Ok, I almost feel stupid for even mentioning it because it basically goes without saying, the Spanish/Mediterranean food scene is off the hook! It is almost torture to go on your afternoon jog along the beach and smelling all the deliciousness being cooked up and consumed right under your nose. But seriously, you can pretty much wander into any little tapas bar or restaurant and eat well. Of course, the well-seasoned expats who have been in Barcelona awhile will have their favorites, and as long as you avoid the obviously, tourist-targeted places (i.e. if there are pictures of the food on the menu outside the restaurant, maybe keep looking) you will eat well in this city.
In addition to all the traditional places serving tapas, paella and the like, there are a lot of boutique type burger bars, veg restaurants and it is this type of variety that one can miss if returning to a destination a bit less ahead of the curve. (I’m sure all of my fellow foodies are all hungry…what’s for dinner?)
We couldn’t talk about food and drink in Barcelona without talking about the Sangria, which we have convinced ourselves counts as a serving of our daily fruit consumption. The drink to share with friends at one of the aforementioned tapas bars, sweet and refreshing sitting on a terrace after a long week at work/school/beach enjoying a warm summer evening. Forget Margaritaville, Barcelona is always ready for a little party, afternoon lunch and a clara (lemon Fanta and a pils type beer) to rehydrate and reenergize for the rest of your day.
Then there is the Cava….oh the Cava! Readers will probably be divided on this subject, but the Cava scene in Barcelona is on point. Cava being originally produced in Catalonia, has made its mark, even with hardened Champagne drinkers. Not all Cava are created equal, what you’ll find in the supermarket can be hit and miss, but through trial and error, you will have quickly found your favorite to enjoy at home with friends for a little cocktail hour before hitting the town. Although the export of cava is growing, they just aren’t the same as the local brands you can find in Barcelona, and the two-bottle limit of most airlines won’t go far when you get back home.
#2 The Movement, the buzz, the scene
There are not many places which vibrate at the same frequency as Barcelona. The movement of people, cars, big red tourist buses, tour groups, and taxis is never ending. The hustle and the bustle are part of the charm for sure. Pedestrians beware of scooters jumping the gun at the stoplights to get a head start of the lines of cars behind them.
Upon arriving in Barcelona, the constant movement can be a nice change, however trying to navigate rush hour traffic or crowded metros can get old quickly when keeping up a work or study schedule. However, when it’s gone, you can forget what was so bad about it after all.
The weekly schedule of events that happen in Barcelona can make your head spin! It is the dream of every extrovert’s social life! Huge headlining concerts, music festivals, art festivals, carnivals, color runs and marathons, sporting events, club theme parties. It’s hard to be stuck at home on a Saturday night, or any night of the week for that matter. There is literally always something going on, and with Facebook it is so easy to keep track of all the events happening around you and who you might run into there. When the curtains close and you are enjoying the peace and quiet of your living room, it’s hard not to think about what you could be doing in Barcelona.
#3 The Culture (Art, Music, Fashion etc.)
Barcelona is easily the cultural mecca of Europe! They’ve got what you want, museums, all the architecture, expositions, street art, street music, street food, sorry still hungry from #1. Apart from the obvious must-see monuments, the city is full of art and beauty everywhere you look. Even the bold and colorful designs of designers like Desigual and Custo fill the streets with wearable art. The local women are so effortlessly stylish and naturally impervious to the heat in summer.
Street art covers the old gothic walls, it’s impossible to think of it as vandalism or anything other than a masterpiece. And around every corner is a guy/gal with a guitar or handmade instrument of choice filling the narrow streets with sweet melodies and danceable Mediterranean rhythm. True talent is waiting for you around every corner.
#4 The People
Your walks around the city are always sprinkled with many greetings and smiling faces. Plenty of tourists discovering the city for the first time infect the city with excitement and the city is only the way it is because of the people. Summer rush hour fills the metro to the point of bursting with equal parts of business going or returning from work, as well as students heading to school, and tourists heading out on their daily excursions.
No matter the age, gender, color, everyone in Barcelona knows how to have a good time, and they are all in the perfect place to do just that. The diversity of the city accommodates every kind of person and every experience at any life stage. It was something really remarkable that I can say that I have not encountered in any other city quite like in Barcelona. After returning to a country a little grayer and a lot more serious, I can say that even beautiful buildings do not make the city, the people make the city.
#5 What you made of it, your experiences
Whether you are there to study, work, sight-see, or looking for a fresh start and a new experience, Barcelona has something unique in store for everyone, and no one’s experience will be the same.
You will eat and drink well, you will be surrounded by strong cultural influences, beautiful people, and beautiful beaches. It’s no wonder why some go to Barcelona for various reasons but stay for a life of possibilities unimaginable.
All experiences may not be good ones (i.e pickpockets, yes it happens to the most vigilant of us). Friends you meet along the way may pursue other opportunities. Goodbye is difficult, but the good news is Barcelona holds all your memories, and each time you return, you will be transported back to the good times you spent in this vibrant and stunning city.
You may even discover another part of yourself you never knew existed. I grew into myself in Barcelona, and I met people I will certainly never forget. Be inspired in Barcelona.