First Impressions of Barcelona

Usually on these “first impressions” type posts, I’ll be writing about a place I have visited for the first time. In regards to Barcelona, this is actually my second visit to the city, but the first time was some years ago, and was only really for one day. I didn’t even stay overnight as I was getting a night bus back to Zaragoza, the city where I was staying with locals. I therefore didn’t want to write about the city in this format until I had returned, and really created a full first impression. The last 5 days in the city have allowed me to do so, and this is what you can expect from a visit to Barcelona:

Crazy night life

The night life in Barcelona is incredible… The best thing about the city for me is that there is such variety and choice between where you want to go at night. Whether it’s a live music club like Opera, a cheap shots bar like Chupitos (this places is really cool), or maybe you want hardcore hip hop and R&B, a cheap Irish pub, or just to eat and drink out a local tapas bar. It’s all there for you. There’s even the exclusive Sutton bar if that’s the kind of thing you’re into. Although expect to pay around €11 for a beer inside! As for general clubs, i.e. ones most ordinary people go to, clubs can still be expensive (we paid around €6 for a beer, and €8 for vodka+mixer in most night clubs), but if you stick to bars (they’re open late compared to most other European countries) then it’s a lot cheaper, at around €2.50
for a local beer.

Typically people in Barcelona (and Spain in general) don’t go out until around 11pm or midnight. You then head to a pub or a bar for 2 or 3 hours, before heading off to the club. You won’t be back until around 7 or 8am.

I arrived in Barcelona on the Sunday morning, and left late on Thursday, yet every day felt like a Saturday night. I am longing to go back for the weekend soon, as I have heard it gets even more crazy! Loco people.

Park Guell (Gaudi park)

Pretty much the entirety of my first visit to Barcelona was spent roaming the Gaudi Park. It’s no wonder Gaudi is heralded as a master of his art. This place is just pure fantasy… except it not, because it’s real. In the day and age of bland, banal buildings, created to be cost effective rather than intriguing, it’s wonderful to see such creativity when it comes to architecture.

As a side note, you’ll also get some really great views of Barcelona if you climb right to the top of the hill! Be sure to bring your camera regardless!

More Gaudi

If park Guell wasn’t enough, so much Gaudi architecture litters the main streets of Barcelona, that you could spend all your time viewing the outside, without even having to time to discover what’s inside these buildings… most of which are museums.

Gaudi is at the heart of the Barcelona aesthetic. He’s created something that makes the city unique. I have never seen architecture like this anywhere I have travelled. Never has architecture produced such creative outpourings as when Gaudi was involved. You can’t help but be inspired when you see his creations.

Independent Clothing Stores

One thing I really love about Barcelona is the many independent and boutique stops & stores they have throughout the city. Of course, they have all your usual high street stores too, and far too many H&Ms than you could ever possibly need (I counted six on one street I think at one point), but the style here for clothes is very young, vibrant, and cool. Unlike where I currently am in Milan, where everything is dominated by slick, but boring, and over priced designer outlets, Barcelona’s fashion scene I think is much more original and creative.. Not that I am a fashion expert in any way, but for the first time I had to stop myself buying clothes in a city, when usually my mind is too focused on spending my money on travel to make me notice!

Pick Pockets

It’s a shame that pick-pocketing is rife in Barcelona, because it can mar what is otherwise a great city. That being said, I’m still not sure
pick-pocketing is as bad it’s made out to be in here sometimes. The whole time I was there I never got anything stolen. Most people I know who were there had nothing stolen, but at the same time, I do still know people who did get pick-pocketed, whereas with other cities that is usually not the case. These included two people I met whilst in Barcelona (one guy got his passport & wallet stolen on the way to catch his bus, and a girl got her purse stolen out of her bag that she left under a table.) I also know a guy who I met in Seville who was physically knocked unconscious in Barcelona before having his belongings stolen.

I therefore don’t know what to say in regards to pick-pocketing in Barcelona. I never had any problems, but I was always very conscious of never putting my bag down, having a strap across my body so nobody could just snatch it, and I’d still keep it around me and on my lap even while I ate out. On subways I would look behind me to make sure there was no sneaky hands etc, and I do swear that sometimes you could see guys eyeing up your bag, but at the same time I’m not really sure if this was just me a little bit over conscious of having my bag snatched.

The key thing when in Barcelona, or in anywhere to be honest, is to never take your passport or anything valuable out with you. Only take one bank card, and leave at least one back in your hostel in your locker. This is especially so if you are travelling solo, and don’t have anyone to wire money to should you have bank cards stolen. I also put a spare 20€ in the inside zip pocket of either my handbag or jacket. The reason for this is that sometimes people just snatch your purse or wallet. Especially if it’s a pick pocket who doesn’t want to alert your attention. If they just take the purse or wallet, and you have a spare 20 quid in separate part of your body, you know you at least have money to get a taxi home, or a metro ticket, or buy some food the next day until your sort things out. I also don’t ever withdraw more than 40€ at a time, as you can cancel your bank cards, but not your cash.

– I can imagine Barcelona would be an amazing place to live. There is so much to do in the city, and such an inspiring setting. You also have the beach during summer! I look forward to my return…

 

4 Responses to “First Impressions of Barcelona”

  1. Anne says:

    Thanks for sharing! Should really up Barcelona a bit on my to-do list 🙂 I have family in Spain at the moment, and should really try to visit the country a bit more now while I have the chance..

  2. Oh Barca, lived there for 6 months and the nightlife truly is what you want it to be. It is also one of the most dangerous cities for petty crime believe it or not. A lot of people I knew who were studying abroad there as well were lifted of a at least one thing or another. Then again,most were loud-mouthed blonde hair, blue eyed girls from the Mid-West. Don’t scream English while walking in the streets at night!

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