Am I the only one who doesn’t like Barcelona?

I am a person who believes in second chances. You can ask my dear friend, Phil (hi, friend!).

And when it comes to cities that I didn’t like the first time around, I’ll always willing to make another trip. So many of my travels could have been spoiled by rain, strikes, food poisoning and culture shock, but some cities and I are just not amigos, even after multiple visits.

Barcelona is one of those cities. Three second chances later, and it’s still not grown on me.

In all fairness, I love the whimsical architecture, the Mercè festival, the oceanfront. But the positive aspects seem to end there.

I find Barcelona too busy, too big, too expensive and not well-lit. It’s not friendly in the same way that Valencia is (another Spanish city I could take or leave), nor did I ever stop feeling like a tourist. Having my family with me was stressful as I repeated, “No, Mom, I can’t read it; it’s in Catalan and I don’t speak Catalan,” or tried to ask directions, only to find the person I’d asked spoke no English or Spanish. Apart from the sites I like, such as Parc Güell or the Gràcia neighborhood, I felt like I wasn’t really savoring a second chance in a city – and I swear I tried!

I hear loads about the cuisine, but being based in El Born, couldn’t find much that wasn’t chain pintxos and tapas, or menus riddled with poorly translated English – always a sign the service and prices will be exorbitant. What’s more, I come from a family of picky eaters. We had pizza, two consecutive meals at a pintxos bar and burgers.

And what is with not a single place being open for coffee before 9am, save Starbucks?! Even the 24-hour McDonalds wasn’t open when we left early one morning for the Pyrenees! I can always count on an obscure cafeteria opening early for a coffee in every other part of Spain I’ve traveled to, so I was surprised that all the bars seemed shuttered until 9am.

I’m also not into the Catalan ‘tude. Spearheaded by Artur Mas, a campaign for Catalonian independence has transformed the city into an alien landscape of sorts, which independence flags hanging from balconies and Mossos, the Catalan version of a cop, all over the place. I can’t argue that their claim  that their language and culture was oppressed under Franco, I don’t think that their reasons for leaving will necessarily make things any better. The kicker? They want to be recognized as an EU sovereign state but still stay in the BBVA Spanish soccer league! (if you’re interested in learning more, check out Simon Harris’s book project, Catalonia is not Spain: a Historical Perspective)

I also had to laugh when our host called to ask us how the trip was going. Considering we’d invariably come during three back-to-back holidays, I told him we’d had to escape the country on the whole and go to Andorra. Qué lujo, he responded, and I told him about my plan to travel to 30 countries before 30. His response? That Cataluña is another country, even though it’s illegal to secede from Spain. Different, yes, but still Spain.

What is great about Barcelona is its proximity to the Pyrenees, Girona and Costa Brava. Navigating through my cell phone, we took quick breaks to Andorra, Girona, Besalu and Monstserrat. Getting out of the city meant having my head cleared and experiencing a part of the country whose tourism is highly developed and thriving. Returning, I tried to see Barcelona a bit differently, but I just ended up pouting like a three-year-old when I had to pay more than 1,20€ for a beer and use my cell phone as a flashlight for opening the door to our place in El Born. 

Have you ever given a city a second chance? Were your thoughts swayed? Is there a destination you’re not keen on returning to? Watch for the response to this post from Aga, part of the traveling duo of Aga Nuno Somewhere. If you decide you have to see Barcelona, considering checking out Barcelona Home for apartment rentals while in the Ciudad Condal.

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About Cat Gaa

As a beef-loving Chicago girl living amongst pigs, bullfighters, and a whole lotta canis, Cat Gaa writes about expat life in Seville, Spain. When not cavorting with adorable Spanish grandpas or struggling with Spanish prepositions, she works in higher education at an American university in Madrid and freelances with other publications, like Rough Guides and The Spain Scoop.


  1. I wish I would have known you when you came! I could maybe have changed your mind :) I live in Gracia near Parque Guell and I agree – its one of my favorite parts of Barcelona. But as a poor college student (without a job!), by necessity I´ve found some of the best places to eat and drink for the lowest possible prices.

    And there are a LOT of friendly people, but its the international students moreso than the natives. Personally, I find Catalonia independence to be an interesting topic of conversation to bring up because all the natives have a different opinion on it.

    And as far as the hustle and bustle of city life, its true. I´ve never lived in a city before, so its a new experience for me and not one I could have prepared myself for. I do like the change, but I know I couldn´t live here for an extended amount of time.

    If you ever come back (while I´m here), let me know and I´ll show you what I love about it :)

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      Hi, M! I was in Barcelona over the Christmas holidays, and it was my fourth time there. I adore Gracia and El Born, as well as a few of the sites, but the encanto ends there. After having studied in Castilla and traveled around Spain, Barcelona felt so different. Even being from Chicago and loving cities, I found myself struggling to keep up with the pace.

      Let me know if you make it down to Seville!

      • Hi,
        It’s good to know I am not the only one who does not like Barcelona. I have been there twice and I just do not feel welcomed. People seem not to like tourist and are not friendly, at all. I don’t think I am ever coming back unless I really need to. By the way I love you blog. Great job !

      • Claudia, there’s definitely been some tourist backlash recently. From the standpoint of someone who lives in a touristy city, I can understand that having people infiltrate your city to the point of saturation (of people, of garbage, etc.) can be irritating. But to denounce tourism, a major source of income, entirely? Seems like a bad tactic! Thanks so much for reading and weighing in!

      • The rage against tourism comes from the frustration of the population that feels it’s being kicked out of his own home. I feel sorry that the travelers who do not aim to be a pain, and just enjoy the city, are facing bad experiences. But try to get on ‘regular’ barcelona citizens.

        They are seeing how their rents are being doubled or tripled as it is much profitable for the landlord to hire their homes as ‘touristic apartments’ or to sell it to tourism firms. They see how the shops that have always been there, small family business, are being shut down and replaced by creepy shops selling souvenirs, big firm/chains shops or by unappealing mass production coffees without soul. They see how a small portion of the society is getting very rich with the traveler’s money whilst their salaries remain the same (or even are lowered), they see how business managers ask the employers to work more time for the same salary in order to make the customer happy. They see how the prices are being highly raised (prices in barcelona are almost the double than 4-5 years ago, whilst this is not happening at the rest of the country) and, thus, they loose acquisitive power. Nevertheless, the prices are still cheap enough so any low-income tourist from northern europe without any other interest than partying still finds it cheap an appealing to come to BCN; this leads to shouting, loud noises, uncontrolled parties, drugs, fights in certain areas (what the hell has the barceloneta become?). And, the raise of Airbnb and alike platforms, is bringing some of those unpolite tourists to your same apartment building…
        Barcelona, the whole city, not just some neighborhoods, is being dramatically gentrified; this generates frustration. In addition, Barcelona is trapped by its surrounding mountains, which makes the expansion of the city almost impossible; we have no more space…

        Off course, this is not the tourist fault (at least, not the ‘generic tourist’… drunk partiers are an aside topic…). The government and politicians are struggling to find a model which makes Barcelona a city where tourists and citizens can share the space on a friendly way. We keep voting parties that just think in short-term money, and we get what we vote for… We let our managers to mess with us because we are to busy fighting among each other to try to build a good job framework… etc. But the tourist is the easy one to blame, one of the most visible faces of the problem, and is an easy target when people does not try to analyze the problem in depth.

        In addition, attitudes like the one showed by ‘ludovic’ in the comments (“Second thing , learn some fkn english, bla, bla, bla…”) do not help… Some of the tourists that come here see the people from barcelona as some kind of servants, showing no respect at all. Don’t pretend to get well treated if you are being an asshole, try to understand that english is not the center of the world, and that whilst you are on holiday, workers are just trying to do their (usually underpaid) jobs and they might be really tired.

        And, changing the topic, @Cat Gaa I find hard to belive than you did not find places to have a coffe before 9 o’clock… Come on! We all like to have a quick coffe before entering to work! I’ve been going to Barcelona by train several times a week for a long time, arriving early in the morning, and there are plenty of bars and cafeterias open ready to serve breakfast! The problem might be that they are just ‘regular’ cafes, and no the fancy starbucks / american style bars that some tourists love…

      • Yours is the best comment but gets ignored. Stupid blogger i guess.

      • 6 years living inside a loud radio, non stop noise, bin men all hours, kids screaming, dogs, drunks, homeless, Barcelona is a fucking nightmare

      • If you want paella, go to València or Sagunt.
        If you want tapas, go to Madrid or Sevilla or Granada.
        If you want pintxos, go to Bilbo or Donostia.
        If you want pa amb tomàquet i patates braves, then Barcelona in an option.

        Each city has its thing, Barcelona now is finally culturally expelling that stupid mexican sombreros, tacky flamenco fashion, low-level alcohol, out-of-place supposedly “traditional food”, trendy-stupid only-tourist places and barbarian bullfighiting. You don’t like it? Ok, that’s fine. I love in Barcelona because it auto-recycles itself.

        Check “Rumba Catalana”, “Castellers”, “Correfoc”, “Sant Medir”… Barcelona is now stabilizing after a hurricane of immigrant waves that changed a lot the city face. Maybe in 100 years they will proudly have the Shawarma Catalana!

        About politics, only science is out of human hand. Women now vote, and that was illegal not long ago (not even 100 years!). From what I spoke with my friends there (in both sides) whatever is needed will be done and accepted as long that is peacefully and everyone has a place, and no law can oppose that. Anyway Barcelona being a capital surely would be a boost for it, as it was for Dublin, Zagreb, Bratislava or Ljubljana (or Madrid when it became the capital, without being it most probably would be a place like Zamora).

      • Did you know that women were allowed to vote in Switzerland only in 1971? … Spain, regarding this matter, wasn’t a late bird, women first voted in 1931, just a in many other European countries.

    • I lived in Gracia for 6 years. I hate Gracia, too noisy, too expensive, dirty, smells terrible.

    • Wall1257 says:

      There is definately racism in Barcelona. I have lived in a satellite town of Barcelona for the past three years. I only discovered last week that, from the beginning of my arrival here, parents in my son’s school have been making racist comments about me and the other foreign Mothers. I knew there was some racism in Spain but I am from Western Europe so I wasn’t expecting much racism aimed at me. They even keep their children away from us ‘foreigners ‘. Luckily, out of the 25 Mothers of the children in my son’s class, only 4 or 5 of them are racist (that we now know of). However that represents 20%. I am good friends with many of the Catalonian Mothers and that is the only reason I found out now about the rascism, after 3.5 years.

    • I lived there while I was studying a masters degree. Although it is extremely beautiful, I hate that city. It has no soul and the Catalans are some of the cheapest and most boring people I have met. It is infested with tourists and lives off a fame it had when it was a truely revolutionary city.
      I would recommend visiting it as a tourist but never to live there. I live in the Canary Islands now and it is much more inviting, friendly and fun.
      Fuck Barcelona.

      • I agree.

        I lived there for 2 years and I only had 1 or 2 Catalans that I actually liked. The rest were SO cliquish.

        I also noticed that the machismo in Barcelona is HORRIBLE compared to other parts of Spain. Every single day I would get cat called or stared at by gross old men, or hollered at from cars. Even harassment from bicyclists! I haven’t had that problem at all since moving out of the city.

        Barcelona for me is somewhere that is fun to visit, but I would NEVER live there again.

      • ahahhaha I also feel the same, this city has no soul and the salaries here are horrible compared to the costs of living. People think they have quality of life here just because there is sun and a beach, but the true is that most of the people here do not live in good conditions, the power of purchase here is very low

      • Hi Juliana, very interest to know! I can definitely see how the cost of living is eclipsing the quality of life in Seville, and I imagine it’s worse in larger, more industrial cities. Thank you for stopping by to share your thoughts.

    • The city smells like piss and everything closes on Sunday…..everything!

      • Well, if it makes you feel better, Madrid smells of piss and everything in Spain closes on Sundays in most cities!

      • Where does Madrid smell like piss, you stupid ignorant bitch? Because I walk around Madrid every single day and it’s absolutely clean everywhere.

        Take off that lie immediately or you will regret it. Fucking stupid retard American women with no brains, culture and education. Stay in your illiterate country bitches.

      • HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA you haven’t been to Malasaña on a Sunday morning, have you? Calle Velarde smells nice after everyone’s been out. I am not illiterate nor will I change my stance. You are welcome to call me whatever you’d like, and it will stay on this blog.

      • Everything is open in Madrid on Sundays. Sunday is the day the madridlianos come out to play…

      • Something I miss about living in Madrid, truly!

      • I live in Dublin and I can tell you that is much dirty than Madrid or Barcelona. I have been traveling to Barcelona and It is pretty dangerous. I was shopping in carrefour with my Indian friends and I am not sure because I was with her(dark skin) security was following us. He was talking just on my back and he thought I was not understanding what he was saying. I turn to him and told him any problem please let me know. I went to a shop pakistaníes and they were telling us we were easy targets for pickpokets, to be very careful that It is very dangerous and It is becoming worst and worst. I never experiencia this in Madrid, never…and by the the way Shops in Madrid are open in the city center.
        I don’t know who It was, but he was right to say that we can not expect everybody to Spears english and we shouldn’t have this mindset and have such expecting regardless where you go. Just lately, I had the problem that in Catalonia that if you speak Spanish or know some words you are offending people. In Tarragona and this was just last week a lady in the central market refuse to attend us because we were not speaking in Catalan to her and she didn’t speak English that I get it but I don’t expect people from India that they just learnt few words in Spanish and they were trying to be polite and just make an order to speak catalan…It is the first time that happen to me anywhere in the world. I was really surprised.

      • Hi, I’ sure that Carlos is not madrilian.I would bet that he is a radical & fanatic independentist, who seeks to discredit Madrid, as usual. People from Madrid are much more polite. regards bella

  2. You are not the only one. I dont like Barcelona either

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      I’m surprised by all of the less-than-like opinions I’ve gotten about BCN since I published! I’m sure the city has its charms, but I prefer the Old World Spain, like in Castilla and Andalusia, and consider the North to be sorely missed on top places to visit. Thanks for commenting, Kate!

  3. It feel so good to know someone else feels this way! Seems everyone loves Barcelona and I’ll admit that I had a good time when I visited, but it falls somewhere between not Spanish enough for me and not European enough either, and far too tourist trappy. I much prefer Madrid and secretly judge people who like Barcelona more!

    p.s. I just found your blog and am loving it! I live just a little south of you in El Puerto de Santa Maria – another guiri in Spain!

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      Hey, M! Thanks for stopping by! I think your comment about BCN is dead-on. I’m not huge on Madrid (corazon de andaluza!!), but prefer it, hands down!

      Do you read Spanish Sabores? The girl who runs it, Lauren, married someone from El Puerto! We were there a few years ago for the Feria, which was loads of fun. Let me know if you’re ever up this way!

    • I also did not like Barcelona and had done extensive travel in spain. I will not be returning. far too expensive. paris is less expensive. I found it extremely touristy and food was expensive and not very good. a trip to Monserratt cost a huge amount of money. the Sagrada familia was good but expensive to see. I generally love spain but not Barcelona . had dreaded the last week which was in madrid but loved it. a beautiful city. and far less expensive


  4. You must be just too in love with the rest of Spain :) I’ve been to Barcelona twice, and loved it, but I also haven’t visited anywhere else in the country, so I can’t compare it to the cultures, lifestyle, food, etc of the rest of Spain!
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    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      That’s just the point, that most people think Barcelona IS Spain! Given their history, they were a separate kingdom until modern Spain was formed, and believe they’ve been oppressed because of it. I think that it’s a city worth visiting for a tourist, but it shouldn’t end there.

      • “Believe they’ve been oppressed because of it”???
        you have no idea of what you are saying, I recommend you get a bit of information before making utter nonsensical comments like this, which are insulting to the whole Catalan country. Had you made the effort of really learning some of the recent Catalan history, you would have found out about the Franco dictatorship that rules Spain for 40 years, until 1977. During those years, Catalan language and flag were forbidden, lots of people killed and tortured for protesting against the Spanish centralist government ,and invaluable Catalan heritage destroyed. Its not that Catalans “believe” they’ve been oppressed, it’s a universally accepted fact of history so please read a bit!

      • David, thanks for your thoughts. If you’ll notice, this post was written a few years ago, and I have since traveled twice to Catalonia, gotten my master’s from a university there and have learned more about the culture. The main purpose of the article is to point out why I think the city is overrated (and besides that, not even that Catalan because most who live there are from other provinces), not decry oppression.

      • Hi, please before speaking about history study it. Catalonia was never a kingdom and was never independent. At the begginig were the Condados Catalanes under the rule of the Francs under the name of Marca Hispánica, then they were ruled by the Reino de Aragón, and then since the kingdoms of Castilla and Aragón united through the marriage of the Reyes Católicos, they are part of Spain. So, since Spain exists, Catalonia has been a part of it, is not as Scotland for example which was and independent kingdom now associated with England etc in the UK.

        Kind regards,

      • Hi Zaphir, thanks for your comment. This post was written many years ago, long before Puigdemont came on the scene. I have read several books this year on Catalonian history and plan to update the post – once I have a chance between a baby and a job!

      • What kingdom? Aragon Kingdom? You are referring to, right? Spain is Spain for more than 5 centuries. This is not modern times. Most of other countries are new if you compare with Spain, Portugal and I will think UK, France…Germany, Italy as we know are from S. XIX. Many of the Balcans as we know them right now S. XX…Even Norway and Sweden with the current political borders are kind of new… The same for Poland that disappeared for 100 years from the map and borders changed many times…The same from Greece that It got independence from Turkey…Ukraine and Bielorussia are also new…and I can go on like this for a while. So, as if we consider current political borders Spain as of today is pretty old in Europe. So, when you say moderm times. Please advise?

  5. Allie Pistolessi says:

    Hey Cat! I think Barcelona is awesome. I must have gotten really lucky when I’ve gone, but I didn’t find it too expensive at all – on the contrary, I found it full of cheap and free things to do. The first time I went was with a high school tour group, and it was my first time out of the country, so I was charmed even though we saw a lot of the major sites Parc Guell, etc, really quickly. The second time I went, it was the summer, and my friend and I managed to stumble upon a free entry day at the Picasso museum, which was really interesting. Then, after a walk along Las Ramblas, we came upon a random band playing music on the grass near the beach so we stayed and watched that with a bunch of families and other people. The lights show at the big fountain (can’t remember the name!) was also really awesome and free. We did eat a lot of cheap doner kebab – we even had money to splurge at Valor! I will say the hotel we stayed at was suuper sketchy. The last time I went was for the Barcelona marathon last March, so we spent most of the time around the convention center and the food market, but we stayed at one of the nicest hostels I’ve been in, and the marathon was much more inexpensive than ones in the US but incredibly well organized. We also met up with some old friends and my old roommate, so that helped too. The people were also really nice and cheered for us along the marathon path.

    I’ve always felt that Barcelona is a fairly low-key tourist destination, and I think the people watching is one of its best parts. Anyway, like I said, I probably got lucky when I went, but I’m sure that’s true of most travel experiences. I loved London, but was meh on Paris.

    Hope you’re doing well!

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      Travel serendipity, si senor! I think that Barcelona probably has a lot of great things to offer (forthcoming post about what I do like about it, as well as what I don’t like about living in Seville!), but my bad luck has befallen me the four times I’ve been! I’ve experienced it with friends, couchsurfing, with my adventurous grandma during the Merce and wth my parents. I expected each trip to be different, and it never was. I think it’s a city that just never lived up to my expectations. You’ve traveled with me and are probably clued into my travel style! Hope you’re well, guapa!

  6. My friends in Madrid will like your candid post.They have voiced similar concerns about Barcelona and, of course, the tension over independence doesn’t help.

    My visits to Spain have been to Madrid and the surrounding areas of Segovia, Pedraza, Toleda, Avila and El Escorial. Barcelona is still on my list of places and I’d like to experience it at least once. I’m very interested in taking some of the side trips you mentioned.

    Thanks for your post. I’m sure it will generate spirited comments.

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    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      Geri, do get to Barcelona. I think that, in order to understand Spain’s history and current turmoil, it’s absolutely necessary. Look for the forthcoming side trips post, and thanks for stopping by!

    • Wall1257 says:

      There is definately racism in Barcelona. I have lived in a satellite town of Barcelona for the past three years. I only discovered last week that, from the beginning of my arrival here, parents in my son’s school have been making racist comments about me and the other foreign Mothers. I knew there was some racism in Spain but I am from Western Europe so I wasn’t expecting much racism aimed at me. They even keep their children away from us ‘foreigners ‘. Luckily, out of the 25 Mothers of the children in my son’s class, only 4 or 5 of them are racist (that we now know of). However that represents 20%. I am good friends with many of the Catalonian Mothers and that is the only reason I found out now about the rascism, after 3.5 years.

      • That’s very interesting to hear. As you can see from the comments above, many natives are not keen on tourists “infiltrating” their city, which is a true shame. I once stayed at an AirBnB with a local who constantly put me down in front of my family, in English, for not being a part of the true people and for choosing to live outside of Barcelona. I was astonished, but ignored him.

        We’ve yet to see the effects of Ada Colau and her ban on tourism…!

      • Colau wouldn’t be able to “ban tourism” even if she wanted to, so don’t exaggerate.

  7. I feel you, I am not the biggest fan of Barcelona either
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  8. I actually really liked Barcelona. It was the first place I visited in Spain though so I didn´t already have any other cities around the country to compare it to.

    I´ve never given a city a second chance either… I really can´t imagine changing my mind about a city I didn´t like in the first place and life´s too short to spend time on that!
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    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      I can understand that! I’ve lived in three cities in Spain, so I looked at Barcelona through different eyes this time around. I asked myself if I could ever live in BCN, and I couldn’t; it’s not for me.

      Other Spanish cities I’m not big on? Santander, Zaragoza, Malaga (not the province, just the capital).

  9. HI Cat, I had more or less the same experience when I was in Barcelona 6 years ago.
    And I never felt truly safe there at night. Not sure why. Funny story, a friend from Madrid came to meet me in Barcelona and we actually had to leave a restaurant we were going to try because it was in French, English, and Catalan, but not Spanish! She was highly offended.
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    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      Linguistic heritage is important, but things like this irk me! Catalan is a co-official language, but Castillian Spanish is considered an official language. And you make a point with the low-lit city at night, especially around El Raval and Las Ramblas – I once asked another American guy to walk a friend and I home because we were being followed by two dudes offering us drugs.

      • As a guiri living in Barcelona for the last 13 years, I just don’t believe the story. Seriously, I don’t. I’m sure both off you simply don’t like the city, and I respect that. I feel sorry about it, but I respect it. But the question of the language is just not true. In 13 years I haven’t seen a single restaurant that would have the menu in 4 languages but not Spanish. Even less so in touristy neighborhoods. Restaurant owners won’t take the chance to offend clients and loose money. It’s just unrealistic. Same about asking direction in Spanish and not getting answered cause the person you speak to has Catalan as mother-tongue… It’s an urban legend. It has NEVER happened to me in 13 years. Even more, in the neighborhood I live, the majority of people speaks Catalan. So I start conversations in Catalan as first option. If the person answers in Spanish, I switch, like all of us do! The opposite has just never happened to me. Personally, when I read you think Barcelona isn’t “Spanish” enough, I think you’re confusing Castilia with Spain… Ever been to Basque Country? Galicia? Asturias? Good luck finding that Spain you describe! PD. I’m happy to read you like the oceanfront. Just some small advice, look at a map where Barcelona is…

      • Sunshine and Siestas says:

        Koen, I think all of your questions and the concerns you raise can be answered in the previous comments and in my About Me section. It’s glaringly obvious that you’ve not read another post on my blog.

        That said, this is my space to express how I feel about a city I have visited on four occasions with friends, with family and alone, too. I study at a Catalonian university. I have lived in Spain for six years, in Castilla, in Andalusia and in Galicia. I have a Spanish partner. It seems that the catalan mentality has gotten to you, but, hey, you don’t have a blog for me to read to get to know you better.

      • As a Catalan, you will understand that I find your comment “It seems that the Catalan mentality has gotten to you” rather offensive. Obviously, I do respect that you do not like Barcelona; everyone has his/her own taste and luckily we do not all like the same. However, I think that your despective comments regarding the Catalans and our so-called mentality is not just expressing and opinion or a preference; I would say it would fit more in the definition of insulting.
        By the way, I spent 3 months in Chicago one summer and I loved the city. Luckily, I happened to meet very respectful people, I just realized it could have been much worse by far.

      • Hi Sara, that was unfair of me. I have had many people comment above and say nasty things without taking the time to read my arguments or get to know my history with Spain through the page, and many of the above who have been negative have threatened my on other social media. It was a defense, simple as that.

        I fortuantely know many people who are born and bred Catalonians, or have been born into families that have moved there. Just as I don’t like people generalizing Americans as gun-toting hicks, I have done like them. My apologies.

  10. I have these same feelings about Madrid. I’ve tried (really tried) to like it but just can’t. I’ve had a few bad experiences there and can’t see past them. I’ve traveled through most of Spain and love most places I go but get depressed every time I have to go through or around Madrid. However, I do love Barcelona. It’s never done me wrong!
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    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      There you have it! I think that because Spain is SO diverse, there’s something for everyone. I consider Madrid as the only place I would live outside of Andalusia, and it may happen with Kike’s job in a few years!

      • jackinlondon says:

        Great post, after living here three years we give up! We are going back to England. Love the weather (mostly) the beaches, the landscape, etc. But the people?!?!?! I hate generalising and we have found numerous wonderful exceptions but by and large they are rude, inconsiderate, unfriendly, closed jerks. We lived in Madrid for years and the people were lovely. Here? not so. Sorry to vent, and sorry to those of you who are nice, but boy oh boy…the stereotypes are true.

  11. I’ve had way too many strange and scary experiences in Barcelona. Not my favorite! I always feel on-edge there.
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    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      I feel the same, Nicole. I usually feel safe (I also have a razor-sharp tongue in Spanish) in the whole country, but Barcelona felt different. And I am DEFINITELY going to check out those muffins – it’s like a solid corba soup!

  12. I returned to Bali after a two-year break and liked it a lot more the second time around. That said, I’d not want to spend the rest of my life there as a bule (gringa) among Asians.
    As for Spain, what I’ve seen thus far has been limited to the Costa Brava and cities like Girona, Barcelona and Madrid. Nice, but tiring. It would be nice to visit other parts of the country where I wouldn’t be hit in the face by the independence issue at every turn….

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      And after all that drama in Bali! I’ve been to BCN four times, and under different circumstances each time – from student to backpacker, with friends and with family. I LOVED the Merce festival and wish I wrote about it on my blog five years ago, and have had nice moments in Barcelona. What’s more, the architecture is stunning and the countryside, incredible. The indeendence issue has long turned me off: Like Kaley says, DO IT or DON’T, we’re tired of hearing about it!

      And you and D always have a place in Seville, so come visit!

  13. I have to admit I’m not too into Madrid! I feel like it tries to be every part of Spain, and in doing so, has no personality. I feel bad telling this to people who have only been to Madrid, but hey, Spain has a lot to offer! And Madrid is only one city, not the end all be all. The Prado is pretty cool though.

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      Agreed, in a way. I like Madrid because I have loads of friends there! But what you say about the fact that Madrid is just ONE city is completely true! I think it’s difficult to know Spain without seeing more than Madrid, Barcelona and Seville. Thanks for commenting, Christy!

  14. Yes! Name dropped! And in the best possible context. You are also no stranger to third and fourth chances, so Barcelona must’ve REALLY screwed up big.

  15. I just wish the independence thing would go away. Do it, or don’t do it. I do not care… As far as the soccer league goes, we all want to have our cake and eat it too!

    I’m not a fan of the big cities, like I said on Facebook. Sorry, I’ll stay with my small-town Castila y León any day. I could see myself in Sevilla too; I really enjoyed my visit there.
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    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      I am past caring, too!

      CyL is a place that will forever be in my heart. THAT is Spain to me. When I rolled up to Campo Grande at Christmas, I felt home.

  16. Pase un finde na mas en Barcelona….

    Masses of hookers on La Rambla at night, being chased and threatened by foreign men who didn’t understand “NO”, people snorting coke in the bathroom of nearly every nightclub we went to, horrible hostile “hostel room-mates”… it was only the fact that I had great travel buddies that made this a somewhat enjoyable experience. However I have to say, the weird and fascinating mix of gothic with modern Gaudi architecture was the perfect setting for an equally dark yet surreal “trip”….

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      I almost went that weekend with you guys! There definitely seems to be a darker side to Barcelona, and it’s got little to do with the light!

  17. You’re not the only one. I visited there in 2005, I ended up there three separate times – once as a destination, and twice on the way to other places. The city gave me the creeps, honestly. From the beer-selling guys harassing us on the street at night, to our questionable hostel on Las Ramblas, to eating Mcdonald’s and KFC multiple times in a short span, to my friend being mugged in the airport, I really don’t have a lot of positive memories of my visit. Yes, Parc Guell was cool and the architecture, but I wasn’t feeling it and I don’t plan to go back to visit again.

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      I’ve tried four times and am just iffy. Certain memories stick out as happy and fun, but overall, it doesn’t do it for me. Thanks for putting in your two cents, D!

  18. I visited Barcelona while studying abroad in Malaga, and while I liked certain parts of the city, I didn’t love it as a whole either. I haven’t had a chance to give it another go though, so my ultimate decision is still in the air.

  19. Christine says:

    Thank goodness, I was beginning to think I was the only one.

  20. Going to Barcelona next weekend for a “proper” visit so I’ll have to come back here and let you know what I think but you are spot on with a lot of your feelings about BCN—the whole independence issue seems just waaay overblown, especially since under the current constitution, regional issues like language and culture have never been better. Also, I think a lot of the recent nationalistic brouhaha is a cover for monetary problems that could probably be resolved by fiscal independence like (from what I hear) the Basque Country has. Culturally, for the one day I was there in December, the city felt 100% Spanish—I noticed more of a cultural difference crossing the border from Spain into France via the TRAIN than I did touring Barcelona on my feet. Oy. ‘amo’ a ve’ as they say here down south…

    One city that I have given a second chance is the provincial capital of Jaén in eastern Andalucía. My initial impressions were skewed probably because of my first few visits’ purpose: bureaucracy, both for NIE stuff and the language assistant program’s orientation. Additionally, the city isn’t very pretty, at all (okay it’s pretty *ugly*) and it doesn’t have much to say for itself in terms of tourism.

    However, I have gone back once or twice and I think the city has started to grow on me after I wandered through the winding streets of the western side of town, hiked to the foothills of the mountain and saw the lay of the land, and indulged in huge, tasty, free tapas. Safe to say, I’m actually excited to go back to Jaén capital in the spring to renew my NIE.

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      Interesting, Trevor! I am so turned off by the independence movement because it caused a lot of ruckus when I was there (closing down the city center during Christmas?!), and it’s just started to ware on my nerves. And don’t talk to me about financial business – I paid them a lot more for my master’s than I would have for doing one in Andalusia! The UAB has a great reputation, and I paid for it!

  21. Ummmm we might need to break up now. Barcelona is like my favorite city in the world!!!!! But well, I feel this way about London! PS I could never break up with you. 😉
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    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      You never would! And There is so, so much to Spain, which is the point I want to make. Barcelona is only one part of an interesting country.

  22. outraged basque guy says:

    these morons who bash barcelona have been brainwashed by the jealous n scummy madrid people who arent the true spaniards u chin droolin fooled fools

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      Outraged Basque, I’ve traveled to every comunidad, have lived in three different places in Spain (Valladolid, Seville and Coruna) and am studying at a Catalan University. What’s more, I’ve visited BCN as a student in 2005, with my grandma in 2007 during the Merce, with friends in 2010 and with my family in 2012. It’s a city that hasn’t surprised me, lived up to my expectations, or that I could see myself spending an extended amount of time in. That’s my conclusion after eight years, but I leave everyone their own opinion, brainwashed or not.

    • Isn’t there a difference between bashing and criticizing? I mean, I don’t think Cat bashed BCN. Maybe some of the commenters.

      I live in Madrid — and I’m not brainwashed by madrileños to prefer their city.

      Who are the TRUE Spaniards, anyway? I’m curious.
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  23. Oh wow, this is definitely interesting. Most people are gaga for Barcelona! It is almost the stereotypical city Americans pick when asked what is their favorite city outside the US (apart from London and Paris, which also tend to be pretty standard). I’ve only been to Barcelona once, for a short weekend. I remember really liking it when I visited, but I was pretty much a nonstop tourist for those two days. Put me there for a week, and my answer might be really different. I also remember hearing A LOT of English on the streets while I lived in Barcelona–which is kind of counterproductive to learning Spanish. Also the Catalan thing would probably drive me up the wall–I have no desire or need to learn Catalan!

    I didn’t really like Berlin or Vienna when I visited both cities, which again are two places that always get rave reviews. I feel like I need to give Berlin another go, but I’m okay with not running back to Vienna for awhile!
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    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      Spot on! I do love Paris and Berlin, but am totes iffy on London and Barcelona. Cada persona es un mundo…and there is definitely no shortage of things to do in Barcelona! But 21 euros for seeing a few rooms in the Casa Battlo? COMO!?

  24. I also am not a fan. I am very into Old-World Spain, and Barcelona felt too…modern for me. There just wasn’t anything about the city that clicked. I went in March when it was still cold, and it was kind of dreary and I stayed in a horrible hostel so that might have had something to do with it.

    Then, three years ago when that volcano in Iceland erupted, my flight from Paris-Madrid was canceled and we had to fly Paris-Barcelona (long story). Landed at about 1 AM and literally had to sit outside of the train station in Barcelona for three hours until it opened. It was cold and wet and very sketchy. Not a great memory either.

    I want to give it another try, eventually, hopefully under better circumstances 😛
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    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      My friend was in the same situation, but took the 17-hr bus ride ew!

      • Haha we almost had to do that! Luckily my friend and I went to speak to a woman in the ticket window at Beauvias and BEGGED her to let us onto the ONE flight to Barcelona (it was a lottery system, they ‘randomly’ picked stranded people to let onto the flight). We had finals in Granada the next day, and pleaded with her.

        It actually worked–we both got on the flight to Barca (there were only 21 spots!) That part was good; sitting outside the train station in Barca, in the cold, with the crack addicts, was not…

        This just reminded me that I never wrote about that experience on my blog…..I ought to….
        Shannon recently posted..My ABC’s of TravelMy Profile

      • Sunshine and Siestas says:

        I would love to read it! I have so many untold stories from the last five years!

  25. I enjoyed Barcelona, but I agree that it is too busy. I can’t remember what we ate there besides tapas, but that was good and the waiter at BaBaReeBa was very helpful. We ended up going back a few times. He made it enjoyable by visiting with us and explaining what all of the foods were. But, there are other cities in Spain that I prefer, like Granada. My second chance city would have to be Munich. It’s packed with history and interesting places. And good beer (if that’s your thing, it’s not mine). But, something about the attitude of the people the few times I’ve been there put me off. The first time in the 90s, I got trapped between the crowd and the door of the train on the u-bahn. The second time (last year) yelled at by a street musician for not giving him enough money. Craziness! My mother-in-law wishes I thought better about her hometown 😉
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    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      I always have to bite my tongue when people say they don’t love Seville, but realize that it offers something different for everyone like any other city. Munich is on my list – I’ve been to Cologne twice and Berlin.

  26. I’ve only been to BCN once and enjoyed it but didn’t fall in love. I felt a very dark side to the city that seems to be imprinted in my memories, more than other places. Let’s face it, most big cities have an underground side… (maybe that’s because I was walking on the rambla at 2am and all the beer sellers and prostitutes, made me see the city differently).

    I think it’s ok not to like a place. We have connections to some places and in others it doesn’t feel right. No biggie.

    Right now, Istanbul seems to be de moda but I could take it or leave it.
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  27. I agree with you on a lot of the points, actually (even though you know I love Barna!). El Born is hit or really, really miss for restaurants; the bad ones are terrible, extremely overpriced tourist traps (but look legit). The Catalan language barrier can definitely be frustrating. And I’ve gotta say, it’s definitely the sketchiest place I’ve been in Spain. I even got followed home once!

    Haha I think it’s funny you feel this way about Barcelona because that’s how I feel about Sevilla. :) It’s got beautiful parts but it doesn’t just charm me, especially after having so many highly negative experiences there. I lived there and visited, but nothing could get rid of the “That’s it?” feeling I had. Add in the bad memories, and I know I’ll never feel fondly about the place – perhaps a bit like your Barcelona experience.
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    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      You’re not alone in having studied in Seville and not liking it – my friend M won’t even come visit! People are different and people like different things. I tried to give BCN a chance and asked loads of bloggers and residents for suggestions. My friend Francesca told me it may be one of those places I have to live in to really love, just like Graham in Spain wrote about his first few months.

  28. Vaya, this entry having 50+ comments means you’ve struck a nerve or two!

    I was in Barcelona for a measly 2 or 3 days several years ago and don’t remember much apart from being impressed by La Sagrada Familia. I’ve got a trip to this city coming up in May, and after that I’ll be able to answer the question you pose in the title. Thanks for being as honest as ever, Cat!
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  29. wow, quite a lot of responses to this one!! I’m on the “like Barcelona” side although I agree with an earlier poster that I felt uneasy there. I think I just read too many travel sites before we went that it made me feel that way? That said, I really enjoyed our brief 2.5 day visit there and can’t wait to go back and see more!! But given the choice between Barcelona and Madrid, which seems to be a popular topic, I’d pick Madrid ANY day. as you know, I spent my junior year there and well, I just have too many fond memories to like any other Spanish city better. Although Málaga is a close second with Sevilla close behind that…. 😉
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  30. Good honest post Cat!

    I’ve visited Barca on three occasions now and have to admit i’ve thoroughly enjoyed myself each time. However, I went alone and went at my own pace so may not have had the added pressure of being a host/guide for the weekend like you might have had with your family..?

    Anyway, I’m considering a move from Granada next year and Barca is tempting me. I just love the city lifestyle. That said the price tag on general living costs is slightly off-putting and i’m wary of the whole Catalan language barrier/anti-spain vibe. We shall see…

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      My parents had little to do with it, honestly – I’ve now been twice with family, twice with friends, and one of those times during the city festival. But if it’s your bag, go!!

    • Sebastian Graell says:

      Barca is the football team, we never call Barca to the city. At least I never heard that.

  31. So…I’m taking the trenhotel up to Barcelona this evening but, to be honest, I’m probably only spending half my time this weekend actually in the city; I’m running away south to Tarragona and north to Figueres & Gerona on two days 😛 I’m looking forward to the architecture and Montjuïc (Sigur Rós concert!!!!!!!!!) but at the same time, I think it says a lot in support of your post that half of my “Barcelona” city trip will be spent elsewhere in Cataluña. 😀
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  32. For what it’s worth, here’s our top five Spanish cities visited (most on more than one occasion):

    1. Valencia
    2 Granada
    3. Seville
    4. Madrid
    5. Barcelona

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      I’m not a big fan of Valencia, either! I actually think I just like Andalusia a little too much (even for my own good!)

  33. Personally, I loved Barcelona, but to be honest I don’t have that many Spanish cities to compare it too. Sitting on the beach in the evening having a drink, or just walking and getting lost was awesome. I also loved the botanical gardens and the Parc Guell. I just could have done without Las Ramblas because they were way too crowded and touristy. When it comes to architecture, Barcelona is a dream! =)

    A city that I didn’t like all that much (and I doubt that a second impression would be better) is Los Angeles. It was a nightmare. Yuck, one of the worst cities I have ever been too – but probably I’m the only one who sees it that way 😉
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    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      I am agreed on the architecture, and think it’s definitely got some beauty to even the gritty parts. Still, I’ve been in Spain long enough that I’m mentally Andalusian, so I don’t think I’d enjoy Barcelona much!

  34. Gabriel Salles Maia says:

    My friend…I was seeking for some informations about the city on internet when I found your website, and let me say that was funny, cause I am exactly with the same impressions!
    Guess I’ m not anymore the only person in the world who didn’t like Barcelona.
    Like you I have travelled many miles since I left Brazil, with very high expectations, and now, I just want to move to back to Portugal.
    First of all, I have to say to my mother that I can’t understand many things because the “catalan” is usedi instead of the “castellano”.
    Second, the reality is that the cuisine here is poor of options and expensive.
    Third, I love architecture and history this were one of the reason I choose Barcelona, but the tickets to visit the touristics points are extremly high, for exemple, to visit ” La casa Batlo” you have to spend something like €22!!!!
    Next, They are really full of contradictions, and they will try to convince you that they’ re not spanish, even if they still play the BBVA

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      Thanks for weighing in, Gabriel! I’ve tried hard to like Barcelona for the sake of my travel companions, but the reality is that it’s a city that just does’t do it for me!

  35. Shanayia says:

    alrighty, I am a college student, studying abroad in Barcelona. The sad part about visiting these palces is that you don’t know all the great places to visit, most tourists stay in the tourist areas. another thing is that if you don’t try to speak Spanish with them or you act like an American, they most likely won’t want to help you because they are tired of having tourists there all the time and taking over parts of their city. There are many places to go to get good cheap food and drinks. there are bars and places that serve amazing Spanish food. the Rambla is a terrible place to get food or experience Barcelona in general. the beach Barceloneta is pretty yes, but you will probably never meet a local hanging out on that beach. there are many things to do and many neighborhoods that have only locals and the people are absolutely amazing there. I always suggest places for people to go when visiting Barcelona, just like if you go to Paris and only stay on champs Elysees or by the Eiffel tour, your not getting the real Parisian experience. also many things have Catalan and Spanish, basically everyone speaks Spanish and even English. but its better to try your hardest at speaking their language. you may have had some bad experiences, but I don’t know all the things you did, so you may have just not done the things that give you real culture.

    • Shanayia says:

      also they have a total different concept of time, they believe in working less and spending time with their families and doing the things they love. that’s why the places aren’t open to early and they have siestas. they take long lunches to enjoy their food. the mindset with most Americans is to do everything right now and mostly all that is, is work. I think the people of Barcelona live a beautiful well rounded life. Americans could learn a thing or two from them.

      • Sunshine and Siestas says:

        Shanayia, I don’t think you’ve read any other posts from me – I LIVE in Spain and have for nearly six years. I’m used to the siesta, speak fluent Spanish and work myself. Andalusia, the place I call home, is the land of long lines, siestas and long lunches…I get it. Barcelona and I have had a tormented relationship since 2005, and I’ve been there now four times. Twice I’ve couch surfed, and since the second visit have relied on friends and other bloggers for suggestions. I don’t think Barclona lives up to the hype.

        What’s more, I’m doing a long-distance degree through the University of Barcelona. I’m one of 28 students, and a mere six of the others are Catalan. Still, half of my professors, knowing this, give us materials in Catalan with a simple “Meh, just look it up on a translator” which I consider haughty and a blatant break of the protocol that the master’s is 100% in castellano.

        Go back and read my blog. You’ll see that I am pretty ingrained in Spanish culture – I have a job here, I pay taxes through social security and I have a Spanish partner. I don’t live in the center of Seville, but in a working class neighborhood. I took Spanish driving classes and have visited every autonomia of Spain. I also don’t like Santander or Valencia, as a matter of fact. Call me too Andalusian, but I know what I’m looking for when I travel, and Barcelona never seems to deliver for me.

  36. I dont like Barcelona either !!!

  37. i have a partner from barcelona and have visited her family six times. i find it so over-rated. on the other hand i love madrid. i cant believe that madrids lifestyle and especially its nightlife which absolutely puts barcelona to shame is not more widely known by foreigners. its tapas bars are the most varied anywhere. with such an incredible diversity of nightlife zones and an energy of thousands and tjousands of people on its streets at night that has to be seen to be believed. i actually cant stand barcelona in comparison. barcelona is so unauthentic and full of backpackers that i cant stand being in that city for more than a day.

  38. Hmmm, well, there are many beautiful places in Spain. I live in Barcelona but love Madrid and Andalusia…and the Basque Country…and pretty much all of it, save Almeria, which I was not a fan of, though I loved the food there.

    I’d suggest being careful with comments on this forum and others about Catalan independence and Catalans. Maybe you’re ‘tired of hearing about it’…well, then turn off the radio and TV. It’s not your history, or mine, as a foreigner here. Most expats cannot vote in Spain or Catalonia, so, it’s not like you’re going to have much say anyway! To discredit or marginalize something that is not part of your culture and that you do not understand shows a lack of compassion and openness. It also echos a discriminatory viewpoint that I’ve heard many times on my travels throughout Spain — all that anti-Catalan stuff? I’m ‘tired of hearing about it’!

    And so are some Spaniards, like this Andaluz:

    ‘Don’t go to Barcelona, no one will speak to you in Spanish! Only in Catalan’ — that is just not true. I’ve been here almost nine years. My Catalan is NOT good. People who are spreading this myth have not spent much time in Barcelona, a very cosmopolitan city. Now, if you go outside Barcelona into Catalonia, or to the Balearic Islands, or to Andorra, then the story is different. In rural areas Catalan is often spoken. I don’t live in a rural area, which is probably why my Catalan sucks. Also, how different is Catalan from Spanish??…hmmmmm? Agua? Aigua. Gracias…Gracies…Buenos dias….Bon dia. This is not that difficult. I also wonder, would we give the Basques the same hard time? Or the Gallegos?

    I went on a tour with ten people from all over Spain around Asturias, a trip which lasted a week. They were mostly from Madrid. When I said I lived in Barcelona I was met over and over with the same prejudice ideas: ‘Barcelona! How can you stand to be around those Catalans!?’ I said, ‘Stand them? I sleep with one every night! My husband!’ (and wanted to add, keep your damn rude comments and your narrow views to yourself!, but didn’t). This tour was especially sad, because there was an older couple on it, from Valencia, who spoke to each other in Valenciano, a language like Catalan. Other Spaniards on the tour were incredibly rude to them about their language. This sentiment was echoed again when I traveled to Madrid for work on three occasions, recently in late 2013, and has been made worse with independence issues.

    Newsflash: not all Catalans want independence; though the media outside Catalonia seems to say differently. Of course, some do. It’s their ‘rollo’, so let them decide. Same goes for the Scots, and the Basques, etc. If you’re American or Canadian, then wait until Texas or Vancouver tries for independence; that will be your time to chime in….right now…eh, not so much.

    As an American, it’s hard for me to wrap my mind around separation. When I first moved here I thought the whole thing was insane. But little by little I learned more about the topic and opened my mind. My conclusion is that it’s none of my business. I still vote in the US, not in Spain. I am not Catalan, and I never will be, nor will I ever be Spanish. If Catalonia becomes independent, I’ll have to step up my game with the language, if not, well, okay too.

    I lived abroad during the Bush era. I remember vividly how I was treated as an American abroad: ‘Oh you, evil American with your idiot president!’ I was harassed many times at dinner parties, in bars, in classes. Why? I didn’t vote for Bush. But it’s easy to hate on something, convenient to have a scapegoat. ‘Those Catalans, they’re all the same!’ Right. Sure…..or maybe not. With this particular topic people say things that would be viewed as chauvinistic or racist if you replace the word ‘Catalan’ with ‘Woman’ or ‘Black’. Tread lightly and get informed, or one runs the risk of looking like a bigot.

    If you are interested in Catalonia and Catalan history, I’d suggest the following:

    Funny video by a woman from Andalusia about Cataloniafobia:

    Or this book, ‘Barcelona, Catalonia: A View from the Inside’, written by an Englishman living in Barcelona.

    The same man has a video, explaining a few things about Catalonia:

    As far as all the other comments about Barcelona being gritty and unsafe, touristy…..yes. All that is true. You have to know where to go and keep an eye out. Stay off La Rambla! Also, service is bad often, and most restaurants are mediocre and overpriced…unless you know where to go!

    ‘Para gustos, colores!’
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    • Cat Gaa says:

      Hi Regina. Found you went straight to spam – strange! It’s happened before to other bloggers who comment regularly, so my apologies that I couldn’t respond when you wrote a few days ago.

      I find the argument that it’s not my history to be completely correct – but it’s also not the history of a vast majority calling for independence. So many “immigrants” from within Spain have found themselves in Barcelona and siding with Mas and the separatists, and you can’t really call them the original Catalanes from the Val d’Aran.

      I can’t vote for Catalonia’s independence, but think all other Spaniards should be able to since those living in Catalonia are also living in Spain and user the same constitution as I am held to, being a resident and enjoying some of the same rights. And to be frank, fachas are attacked down here (including having their stores vandalized) in the same way that someone who put up a Catalan independence business might me. As you say, para gustos, colores. Sevillanos are, on the whole, fiercely Spanish and not cool with people who aren’t.

      I think it comes down to being treated quite poorly myself in another region of Spain, despite bringing tourism dollars, speaking fluent Spanish and being my nice self all the time. I find it hard to believe that no one would speak to me in castellano in a large city where I’m 100% positive that they are required to learn it in school. As someone who has learned languages, I think that preserving their linguistic heritage is important, and both unites them to the rest of Spain and divides them, but found their pompous attitude about it to be tiring. You know that I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Galicia and run into people in small villages along the Camino who don’t know much castellano. Uno se acopla, obviously, but I was shocked that it seemed like a hard task for locals to do in Barcelona.

      And as I mentioned in previous comments, this blog is a space for my thoughts and opinions and experiences, and I am free to write what I wish. And I definitely invite discussion, criticism and everything that comes with sounding off on a public forum. That’s why we right, isn’t it?

      Also interested in reading that book, so I appreciate the recommendation.

      • “the original Catalanes from the Val d’Aran.”

        The Val d’Aran is different from the rest of Catalonia in terms of geography, climate and even language ( Thus it would be difficult to describe precisely them as “the original Catalans”. Besides, in a land with so much mixture of peoples over time, you tell me who these “original Catalans” are…

        “Sevillanos are, on the whole, fiercely Spanish and not cool with people who aren’t.”

        I couldn’t agree more with you. Having most of my extended family there and after many visits over the years, I can say hatred of all things Catalan is still common and the simple fact that languages other than Spanish are spoken inside Spanish borders is generally taken as an offence.

      • You’re right Toni – it’s been hard for me to feel like I belong in Andalucia because of the sevillano social circles. Just look at the Feria and the clubes del campo, and you’ll see that outsiders are given a side eye!

        From what I’ve understood about “original catalanes,” they’re the settlers from the Val d’Aran, and most would push to become part of Spain if the referendum passed.

  39. “only to find the person I’d asked spoke no English or Spanish”

    I was wondering if you asked a guy just coming from China or Morocco 😉

  40. Oh, and by the way, very few immigrants coming from the rest of Spain want Catalan independence, and I say it from my own experience.

    • Cat Gaa says:

      That’s what I had heard, too, but I found it interesting that Cataluña is made up of so many immigrants who ARE claiming independence! Just food for thought. And if it’s still a part of Spain, why not have all of Spain vote in the referendum?

      • What immigrants? That’s a misconception I’ve heard before from some non-Catalan Spaniards. I’m not saying there aren’t some converts to the cause, but in practice you’re way more likely to side with Catalan nationalism (and in this polarized climate, with independence) if you grew up speaking Catalan and your family has lived in Catalonia for at least a few generations. That rules out most of the hundreds of thousands that came from Andalusia, Murcia and elsewhere in Spain in the 1950’s and 60’s, and also their children, who being born in Catalonia are not immigrants. The same can be said about the more recent immigrants that came from abroad.

        On the subject of the referendum, it’s quite simple: it’s very unlikely that it goes ahead. Politically and technically, it wouldn’t be feasable for the Catalan government to organize it without getting the green light from the Spanish government, and that’s obviously not going to happen.

  41. I’ve traveled to many places in Europe and overseas. My least favorite places are: San Francisco (I live in Australia and Sydney walks all over San Fran which is really rather bland and boring except for the Castro and the Golden Gate), Milan (although they have a fabulous cathedral, La Scala Opera house, great fashion and other great attractions), Barcelona just has no vibe and the people don’t engage with you (way overrated city although I found the art nouveau cafes and the Gaudi architecture stunning). Other places I don’t like much are Mexico City (although the people are very lovely), Rio de Janeiro, Singapore (boring) and Tokyo (although Shinjiku district is fantastic and the young people are hip).
    Places I adore are Budapest, Rome, Prague, London with its incredible vibe (I lived there twice,18 months in total, the most fabulous city in the world, many parts are stunning e.g. Kensington, Little Venice, Bayswater, Richmond by the river, Greenwich village etc. , although several other parts of this city are plain drab), Lisbon (stunning stunning city but I found the people arrogant, rude and quite nasty, Vienna (although the people are not engaging or appealing in any way), Athens (the Plaka area and the Acropolis are great, and although most of the city is ugly, I love Athens as it has a great vibe and the people are tops, and the Greek Islands are paradise with nice locals. I loved Turin, Pisa, Venice, Florence, Mantua and Verona as well, the places and the people. I don’t mind Istanbul either and loved Havana in Cuba (energetic, sensual, great vibe happening, I say ” When you go to Cuba, the world goes to colour, when you leave the world switches back to black-and-white”). Also the atmosphere and beauty of the Italian lakes and their towns is astounding, it’s like being in heaven. BTW the countryside in Romania is gorgeous and the most beautiful girls are in Romania and Argentina (though I have not been to Ukraine, Venezuela or Colombia which claim the most beautiful girls.)
    Sorry Barcelona, you’ve got a lot of competition from other great places.

    • It’s funny how tastes change between travelers, isn’t it? For me, it’s about liveability. If I can’t see myself there, chances are that I’ll never move there. So many places to still go, but for now, Sevilla fits me best. Thanks for adding your two cents, Jim.

      • Your welcome Cat.
        I have not seen much of Spain but I found a small old white Mediterranean seaside village north of Barcelona called Cadaques that is absolutely exquisite! Check it out if you are in that area. I really want to visit Toledo, Madrid and Andalusia next time.

      • Haven’t been to Cadaqués but hear really lovely things about it!

    • Sebastian Graell says:

      I found Mexico city fascinating. I think Mexico City is one of the most underrated cities in the world. Food is incredible, people are very nice and friendly and they have also very nice architecture there. It’s true that is polluted and you can also see a lot of poverty in some areas. But the city is just great.

  42. I have been here 7 months and I still don’t like it! If you look outside the tiny centre, it’s an ugly idustrial city. You never have time to enjoy because you are always rushing from one place to the next. The best thing is as you say, the proximity to the Pyrenes and the Costa Brava but I wold much prefer to stay around Girona and be even closer to these gems. Barcelona is over crowded with tourists and although the suberbs are ugly and dirty, I prefer to stay there then to fight with the tourists. It lacks parks and open spaces and the only park is so over crowded at the weekend that it’s diffcult to appreciate one of the few green spaces in Barcelona.

    • Interesting perspective, Lou! I always margined I’d actually like Barcelona if I lived there, but maybe not! Have you lived elsewhere in Spain?

  43. Your dislike of Barcelona seems very much politically motivated, yet the average tourist or traveller doesn’t care about politics.

    • Cat Gaa says:

      That may be true, Pedro, but I am not the average traveler. I have lived and worked in Spain for seven years, and I have read up. I have tried to give Barcelona a chance on multiple trips, but it still hasn’t captured me, as it does many others. If you read more articles on my blog, you’ll see that I think the region is enchanting, as is the Gaudi architecture, and there are many places ni Catalonia that I’d like to visit.

  44. Barcelona is an unfriendly and ignorant city.

    • Cat Gaa says:

      Thanks for your opinion, Kim. For me, it is a bit unfriendly and almost off-limits.

    • John U. says:

      I totally agree! I just came back from there, the entire 4 days I was there with family, we ecperiencex rudeness from the locals, from hotel staff (5-star hotel too, imagine!), the private van driver and private guides we hired, restaurants, boutique staff, even the airport staff and local staff working for American Airlines were rude to us American citizens, go figure!

  45. charlotte says:

    I can understand you do not like Barcelona because of some reasons… but I cannot bear that you are offended by the Catalan independent flags and the fact some people want to be independent. Have you ever read anything about their history and their problems? Do you know that all the dictators from the last 500 years (Franco, Primo de Rivera, etc, etc) banned their language and traditions, and tortured a lot of people for speaking in their mother tongue (a language that comes from Latin like Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, French… and has more than 7 milion speakers)? Have you ever thought about the feelings of people who live there, banned and ruined (because of the unequal financing)?

    No, of course, you just think that the Catalonian Independence is an obsession of a group of politics that want to pass into history. You are offended because of the flags… and you think that football league is a great argument to use against it. What a poor speech.

    Read and try to talk with some locals before writing again about it, please. There are more than 3-4 milion people defending the Independence: it might not be difficult for you to find someone to talk with.

    • Cat Gaa says:

      Charlotte, thanks for your comment. If you’d read the above comments, you’d see I have ties to Catalonia and know many people – catalanes and otherwise – who I’ve spoken to. I do not think it’s an obsessed politician, but a misunderstanding of the Spanish constitution, which states that Spain is indivisible (people have tried to do the same in the US with Obama’s reelection). To me, it seems that those who want independence also want to pick and choose the things that they want, which is why I added the idiosyncratic Liga BBVA comment (I also write often about the league on my blog, so there’s a tie in there). Most of the people who have attacked me on this post – which happens to be my most-commented after nearly seven years of regular posts – have read this page alone and not bothered to even read my About Me page.

      On a personal level, now that I’ve lived in Spain for many years, I tend to view cities as places I could live or not. Barcelona is not one of them, and that is the main point. And to be clear, people who blog are often not concerned about hurting other peoples’ feelings or not. This is my space, and you’re welcome to challenge me by all means, but I am allowed to write what I please. Because I live in Spain, I am well aware of the history of the campaign, its leaders and its economic impacts. I felt like it was too in your face while I was there nearly two years ago (and, surprise! I’ve already been back another time).

    • John U. says:

      It’s utterly laughable that the Catalans think they’re better than the Spanish people, and identify more with French and Italian than Spanish. They are the Spanish version of delusional stuck up arrogant Parisians of France who think they are better than the rest of France. Spain would be better off to let it go and rid itself of these hopelessly arrogant, delusional, rude, snobbish, unfriendly neanderthals.

      • I agree with you 100 percent. They are absolute garbage. Its so fun to watch their independence movement fail. And they wonder why the rest of Europe is not helping them. lol.

    • Talk to the locals? lol. The locals are far to superior to talk with English speaking people. lol

  46. I think the “Spanish-Franco” mentality has gotten you. No worries, that could happen after 6 years living in Spain. People there get kind of brainwashed against the Catalan culture. Two Catalan friends of mine were asked to leave a Bar in Madrid because they were speaking in Catalan.
    All your story and comparisons about Barcelona are hilarious but no worries, you don’t need to go back, nobody will miss you there.

    • Mentality or not, I’ve read, I’ve asked and I’ve formed my own opinion. That certainly doesn’t make me an expert, but I am allowed to sound off on my page as I see fit. I’d say You don’t need to come back, nobody will miss you here, but that would just be rude.

      • Well, let me tell you about my history, so maybe it can help you understand why some catalans are so protective about our culture, and the kind of people you can face when someone say to them, with an irritated tone: “en castellano, por favor” in Catalunya. What about losing your job in Barcelona, for a company that gave support to the rest of Spain via phone, because your catalan accent is “too strong” when speaking “perfect” spanish? I did lose that job that was previously occupied by an andalusian born girl with a very strong andalusian accent, but that was not a problem. What about my parents still having their names inscribed in Spanish in official documentation even if those names weren’t chosen by my grandparents? What if I told you tomb inscriptions in the family were vandalized for not being in spanish? Born certificates, marriage papers, made illegal because they were in Catalan? Many of us have been vexed several time by security forces or resident spanish citizens living in Catalonia just because of our accent, name, speaking to our kids in catalan or just by using Catalan with normality. Is that a lot to ask, to use a language that always has been spoken here with normallity? When people say “But we are are in Spain”, well, we should say that! Isn’t Catalan a Spanish language? The second language of Spain and larger than many that have a full fledged country all over Europe and the world. And by the way, they are both co-official, which is a symmetric adjective. I invite you to not only scratch the surface, and not judge so lightly, in my opinion, and maybe try to understand the other side as well. I have never encountered a catalan that doesn’t know spanish, but many spanish living in Catalonia (as you know) have no clue or interest, or respect, in a language that we just received from our mums or friends like any other in the world, and this is the only place in the world we have. Who is the closed-minded here? Like what you have said about Araneses. They are occitans, not catalans, that speak a different language, also official in Catalunya. Plus there is no “ethnic” concept of catalan, and most of us would think of that idea as of something horrific. For instance, In the 1500, a massive amount of these Occitans came to Catalonia from what today is France and mixed. It’s so obvious in our surnames if you know to tell the difference, like Fabregas. Always we have been the result of a mix, holding onto our political institutions and acquired rights despite history, and tried to be one society. Sounds familiar? Isn’t the US also, despite the enourmous differences, a similar thing? Many origins, one people? Finally remark that just because something is “legal”, that doesn’t make it “fair”. All dictatorships have laws. Tibet is legally a part of China. Women couldn’t vote not so long ago because it was illegal. And so on. To finish with the post, I am never going to be convinced that, while Hongarians, Danish, Finish, Slovenians and so on, can protect their language and culture with the tools of a state, we just can’t. It looks really cool to say that Spain is very descentralized and cares for its other languages, but the reality is that, the ones that speak (or try) those languages, are the ones to judge, and so far, even with 70+ of us having family from outside Catalunya, 50% is for separation. I just can’t be convinced of this impossibility because it’s unfair that some similar societies can and we can’t, and I have a strong sense of Justice. I hope you don”t take this post as an attack, I just want to give my opinion and complement what you said in this space from a different POV. I wish you the best in lovely Andalucia. I also hope I make you understand that being for catalan independence is not being anti-spanish, it’s just politics and a reaction of what we perceive as the project for Catalunya that comes from Spain: assimilation. Have a great day.

      • Aleix, I certainly appreciate your remarks. I am fortunate to have traveled to many parts of Catalonia and know many people – including those who are from immigrant families – and I am the first to admit that it is something I cannot understand or sympathize with, simply because I am not fully in the know. It’s the same for me with the Britain First campaign, as environment, in my opinion, shapes identity. I was put off by the rudeness of people saying things behind my back as a tourist and someone fluent in Spanish, and was even shocked by remarks of “Vuelve a América” when paying. These people may not have been native Catalonians, I don’t know.

        I do agree with you that there is more than enough evidence to support what you’re saying, and that I am reading about the Civil War and the destruction it has done on many fronts for regional heritage (you must know how proud and, at times, obnoxious andaluces can be about their dialect and culture!). As someon who has grown up in a country that has been free since I was born, it’s a concept that can be difficult to imagine.

        Hoping to add Homage to Catalonia to my summer reading list. Any others you’d recommend in Castillian or English?

  47. Globetrotter2015 says:

    I am an Indian but not the typical poor indian budget tourist or immigrant you see in europe, I am a multi millionaire and have lived in many cities around the world as well as travelled extensively and mostly first class around Europe and many other parts of the world. I am not saying all this to show off but just to make a clear point – due to my exposure, background and looks i am well received in most places as i dress very well and know how to carry myself. I’ve been to Paris more than a 100 times in 20 years and to Monaco, south of France as well plenty of times. I have also spent a lot of time in Rome, Milan and London. Now coming to Spain, Ive been to Barcelona twice and it was the only city in the world where i found the locals extremely horrible people, the police in Barcelona is racist to the core, I dress up in top designer labels and walk around like a Billionaire and nowhere else in the world would they stop and question someone dressed like me but the police questioned and abused me in Barcelona and even physically attacked me for no reason. I felt a lot of aggression from other Catalans too and I was shocked by their level of ignorance they are really filthy people. The fact that spanish police has to stop and check my papers as an extremely well dressed upscale person infuriates me and the way they behaved treating me like some filthy criminal is even worse and when i made a complaint the the spanish embassy in India I didnt even get a response. This is a country that is begging non EU people to invest 500,000 euros and buy a resident permit? Well good luck the way they treat chinese and indians in spain they will surely get a lot of investors. I hope spain goes to hell it already is in hell..the reason why they are the worst economy in europe is because they are racist and closed minded to the core – and totally ignorant on top of it.

    • Interesting perspective. I’ve found people in Spain to treat certain groups of people in a less-than-positive way. Hopefully yours is not the norm, and that any subsequent trips to Spain are better.

    • John U. says:

      I agree wholeheartedly! I just came back from Barcelona with my family, where we went all top-class in hotel (5-star Alma Barcelona), restaurants (Michelin starred, Celler de Can Cosa, Lasarte, etc. ), we hired our own private mini van with our own private guide, we spent thousands on Passeig de Gràcia boutique shopping, and yet we still felt the infamous Barcelona Catalan rudeness abundantly! Barcelona and the Catalans are the most unfriendly vacation experience we’ve ever encountered, the rudest and most delusionally snobbish people ever.

    • I can definitely see where you are coming from. I mistakenly brought my ralph lauren coat with me here and it has a little red horse on the chest. It was crazy people would look at my coat and the little red horse then say some stupid snobbish crap in spanish and give me dirty looks. i was in no way trying to show off. These people live in a bubble there dress code is very dull and boring. I am not even rich or anything. Just cause i have a polo coat on your gonna talk shit right next to me. It was crazy. So i see what you mean. We will just spend are money elsewhere. in France i didnt get any dirty looks or anything. Very cultured and seem very open fashion sense. Barcelona locals are way too full of them selves. Us tourists feed there egotistic attitudes. They are no better then us. We all bleed red.

  48. Just came back from Barcelona…disappointed big time, ugly city, people unfriendly, nothing to see, went to park Guell and up there in one of the walls, it was written: tourists go home, I could not believe it, was shocked…very boring city…huge lines to go to touristic areas and once there, nothing to see, they charge you 20 bucks or 25 bucks once you get in you are disappointed….
    I have been all over the world and by far this is the ugliest city I visited…WILL NEVER EVER GO BACK THERE… WASTE OF TIME AND MONEY….MADRID EXCELLENT CITY HANDS DOWN….

  49. So eventually there won’t be a proper vote on independence, what did I tell you? Mas said clearly he wouldn’t go against the law.

    Your analysis of the situation is flawed, for instance I would point out the movement hasn’t been spearheaded by Mas, in fact he responded to the massive demonstration from 2012. And no, Catalonia is not a police state with a Mosso in every corner. Fair enough if you don’t like Barcelona, but when you start talking about politics, honestly, you get it wrong in many counts.

    • Flawed or not, this article is nearly two years old, and I’d say that the political situation has changed drastically in that time. From Scottish independence to the referendum, the date on my post says enough! And of course I don’t think that Mossos are on every street corner, though their tactics are far different from policia nacional from what I’ve witness myself.

  50. Like you can know so much about a police force from a grand total of one encounter with them. Mossos d’esquadra are not better or worse than Policía Nacional.

    With regards to the current situation in Catalonia, don’t think the whole thing is over yet. I find it quite depressing to think that this can drag on for years, especially in an economical crisis and with the Catalan government’s finances in a pretty bad state. As long as many people are distracted from other issues that’s fine for politicians.

    • I never said they were better or worse, Toni, though they do not get paid by the Spanish government from what I understand. Last night I was with a castellano living in Barcelona who I was asking about. It is my humble opinion that the pueblo should have a council and vote, but everyone in Spain should vote.

  51. JJ Camarena says:

    I’ve been to a lot of places around the world, and I’ve never meet people so conceited, so narcissistic and toooo prideful than people from barcelona. They are horrible in customer service and in hospitality. So why have a restaurant if you are going to treat your customers like aliens from Venus with your tasteless and overly salted tapas? These people act as though the world revolves around barcelona. As though their city is the most beautiful in the world (far from it). The gaudi park is laughable. The only thing worth seeing is their la sagrada familia. They want independence from Spain? They act as though they are slaves to Madrid!!! Oh poor catalonians!!! Cry me a river! Paris is a million times more beautiful than barcelona and with more culture and friendlier people. If a Pompeii type disaster happens in barcelona the world will say “meh” but paris London San Francisco or New York and the world will stop.

    • I honestly don’t know too many people from Barcelona well, but seeing as it’s a mix of people from all over Spain and the world, I can understand how you’d see it that way. Luckily, most of the catalanes I know are really awesome people. I don’t think the city is that beautiful and their sites are overrated, as you do!

    • I’m catalan and yes, I couldn’t be prouder of my land.
      First, I’m sure that here, in Barcelona, restaurants don’t treat costumers like aliens. Salted tapas? What you call salted we call it SABOR. But you may not understand so you are not Catalan or even Spanish. I’ve never act like the world resolves around Barcelona, I’m proud of my city and maybe the way to let you know it makes you think that way, but you won’t understand so you are not Catalan. The most beautiful city in the world? One of the most, and of that I’m sure. Of course I’d like to live in New York as well, but my great views to the sea, the good weather and the feeling of the crowd streets will always be my hometown. In Barcelona we would fight with or without help raising our country how we have done before, making this, our land, a better place.

      Slaves to Madrid? Actually, we are. When a government, a right-wing government does not give the option of a referendum and let the people decide, that’s not a democracy, which is supposed to be in Spain, is another thing, I have no recall. The constitution, what a god. Impenetrable and unable to evolve treated like all Spanish word, which gives voice to all willy-nilly. Democracy, some say, others call it slavery.

      When members of the ruling party in your country steal millions of euros and none goes to jail, all still living at the expense of we, the people.
      And then we can not complain, we must be silent. Is not that so? This is no longer so, and we have a law that is still alive, freedom. Which seems more and more away, until one day, this so far that we can not embrace it again, and then it will be too late.

      I just have one last thing to say: VISCA CATALUNYA!

  52. I agree with a good deal of what you say and usually spend little time in Barcelona after living there for a year and a half to move out to the Girona Province. I was mainly tired of the tourist congestion, overall cost, and rampant petty crime which has been getting more violent as there is no enforcement of the laws. If you’re still living in Sevilla, then I can understand your views toward the independence movement as for anyone not living in Catalonia it undoubtedly seems ridiculous as how the media in the rest of Spain portray it, although the death and ill will some Spaniards wish upon Catalans definitely works to fuel the flames. But as an American I have to say that the campaign is indeed valid and has nothing to do with Mas. He is, if nothing else, holding it back as the sentiment has been here every since 1714 and never truly died out.

    Would the Catalans be better off? If they drafted a proper constitution and went about things correctly in reforming the judicial system, yes. But the real fact is that Spain as a whole has a Madrid problem and would better off without it.

  53. I’m here at Barcelona right now and can’t wait to leave this expensive, busy, over-rated sh**hole. I should’ve taken the advice of both my cousin AND niece and I’d have saved myself a few bob by not coming here! I was in Düsseldorf a few days back and loved it. I feljt Gaudi’s work was right out of a Disney book when I saw the Sigrada and chuckled when someone behind me, when visiting the park, remarked the same. Must say that made my day :-) It’s all a cross between Disneyland and the something out of the Flintstones. So out of character to the rest of the city. Rome all the way!

  54. I really found this to be interesting. I’m from New Jersey. I just got to Barcelona two days ago and I’m going to be here for a year to get my Master’s at UAB. I’m doing a few, short AIRBNB’s to figure out where I want to stay. I just did my first two days in Gracia and, to be honest, I really didn’t like it. Like you said, nothing about this city has gotten me yet short of some neat architecture. I’m curious to see if that’ll change.

    I studied abroad in Cadiz my junior year of college and absolutely loved Spain. I’m worried if I’ve made the wrong decision with choosing to study in Barcelona. I thought I’d find the same happiness in BCN, but no such luck as of yet. I’m curious to know how the schooling is over here compared to America.

    Did you find anywhere you liked that was a little outside of the city that you liked? I’m considering living outside of the city, almost like Brooklyn people do with Manhattan, if that makes sense. Anyway, very interesting post.

    • Hi Alex. Seriously, once Andalusia gets under your skin…! I did my master’s online thru the UAB (great experience, by the way!) and stayed in Seville for the whole duration, but my friends who have lived in Barna say it does take some time to get used to and sometimes enjoy. People have talked Poble Sec and Poble Nou as being up-and-coming neighborhoods with reasonable rent. You could check out Cerdanyola itself, but I have only ever been to defen my thesis! And other good news – I had my degree in less than a year :)

      Good luck!

  55. Te doy la razón en que hay mucha gente. Por culpa de gente como tú, Barcelona está llena de turistas que solo festejan, hacen ruido y no dejan pasar cuando vas al trabajo. Tienes toda la razón, respecto a McDonald’s, están abiertos siempre, también depende de si la zona en la que está situado hay mucha gente a unas determinadas horas. Además, no sé para que fuiste a Barcelona a tomar café en un restaurante McDonalds. Respecto al idioma, pedazo de mentira, por dios, todo el mundo en España sabe Español, todos los carteles están en castellano y catalán, ¡TODOS!, además, es por ley. Y es verdad que puede ser que haya gente que su lengua sea el catalán, pero si ellos ven que tu eres turista lo mínimo que hacen es hablar en Español.
    En mi opinión, este comentario de texto está hecho desde toda la ignorancia.

    • Respeto tu opinión Carlos, pero como puedes comprobar, no soy turista. Tomamos un café en McDonalds porque no había otra opción a las 8 de la mañana y en un barrio de turistas como el Born. Fue un día normal, laboral, y una hora normal para que la gente pida café.

      Espero que votaras a la Ada, que hará que desaparezcan gente como yo, ignorantes y respaldando la economía con un 12%. Hice incluso mi masters en la UAB, y me dieron todos los comentarios en catalán cuando me vendieron un masters 100% en castellano. Pero bien, como soy una de los turistas que solo festejan, no sé nada.

      Me sigue desgustando Barcelona después de cuatro o cinco viajes, y como este es mi espacio de internet, lo defiendo.

  56. Hi Cat! Please if you don’t know what are you saying, shuts up please. Thanks!

  57. People, feel free to love, hate or ignore the city. But please note that this article has been written by a person from Andalusia with a clear animosity towards Catalan culture. The misinformation and plain lies displayed give this fact out. Thankfully it has been kind enough to make it clear.

    • Thanks for not ripping me a new one, Manuel. You’re right that I don’t know much about Catalonian culture, just as much as I don’t know much about culture in Murcia nor Cantabria. I have enjoyed many cities in Cataluña but feel like Barcelona, as a city, is cold and impenetrable.

      I have several Catalan history books in my queue – hopefully I’ll get to read them soon.

    • A city is defined by its people, and I had the displeasure of experiencing your Catalan culture for two weeks – meaning the inhospitality and rudeness. The best I can do is ignore the city (people), the worst you can do is try and defend it.

  58. Laura Beltrán says:

    Thanks for helping relieve the tourist pressure, the place is black with people as it is ;-).

  59. You’ll like anywhere better if you don’t ask it to change just to suit you.

    • Hi Jia, thanks for your comment. I have been to dozens of countries and countless cities, and believe that I go with an open mind. I have tried Barcelona, since this article was written, twice more. As I mention, I think it’s a place I’d have to live to understand and enjoy.

  60. The 'horrible' Finn says:

    I lived in Barcelona for 6 years and I have to say there were far, far more bad experiences with the Spanish people than good ones. I’m actually happy I don’t live there anymore.

    Frankly, I’m totally disgusted by the way I got treated by the Spanish, be it flatmates, neighbors, co-workers or just people you have to deal with at the bank etc.

    I could understand the negative attitude from the Spaniards had I been some sort of drunken hooligan just partying my brains out and causing trouble there, but since I wasn’t, well then what’s the problem?

    I’m from Finland and I never expected my nationality being a problem on any level to anyone – I mean, why would it be – but that seemed to be a huge, huge issue as well to the Spanish.

    Barcelona. Great place to visit, a horrible place to live. Never again.

    • I feel like I’d need to live in Barcelona for a time to really get to know it. It seems that many people I know who have learned to love it have had the same impression, that it’s hard to break into social circles and become acquainted with locals (I find the same in Seville, to be fair). I’m sadly not surprised to hear that you had some issues, as I found it difficult to adjust to living with Spanish flatmates in Seville because of language and customs. Hope you’re able to make it back to Spain some day and have a good experience!

  61. I see a lot of frustrated Catalans around here … I visited Barcelona 2 times , I read about their history , about Franco . Get over it , your living in the past , the hole country was oprest by his regime . u want independence after the Spanish government invested huge amounts of money in turism …
    Second thing , learn some fkn english , u get a vast majority of the tourism money , from english speakers , so they do not have to learn catalan or spanish , you have to learn english ( they have the money , u have to know how to get the ) . First u have to be a great nation , before u pretend u are , therefore asking for independence … Until then u are just a touristic region of Spain .

    • Natalia says:

      I think you first have to get your facts right. You say Spanish government invested in Catalonia? that’s hillarious. If we want to be independent is not only beause of the past but do to the actual situation wer are living, we are feeling opressed now by the Spanish government that is constatly attacking our language and our culture. Second thing, just look at statics and tell me which is the autonomous community with the highest english level. If you speak in english in Barcelona most people would relply you back in english, can you say the same thing about Andalusia? I don’t know where you are from but i assume you don’t live in Catalonia, so before speaking inform yourself a little bit about facts (don’t tell me you are informed enough because you read about Franco) and then complain if you want; then you won’t sound like a complete uncultured tourist.

  62. I don’t think you have to be necessarily a Podemos voter to ask yourself if maybe after a certain point mass tourism starts to have some disadvantages in addition of its advantages. However, it doesn’t seem nuanced analyses are your forte.

  63. Hi, my name is Andrea, I’m half norwegian and half spanish. I live in Barcelona and work in the famous (and now overcrowded) Park Güell.
    I’ll tell you something, I’ve been insulted many times by tourists for no reason, and that is really frustrating, specially when we get paid 6€ per hour in (sometimes) a 15 hour journey (I’m a graduate student in History of Art and I speak 5 languages and that’s the only job I can get since Spain is in a deep economic crisis)
    I always try to be nice and kind with tourists but lately I have a hard time to so because I feel treated like a servant and sometimes they don’t even look at me.
    So when you tell us not to blame tourism because it’s an important income of money, it’s completely true, but only for a very small minority. In the meanwhile, normal citizens are stuggling in order to get al least 900 or 1000€ to pay their rent, bills and buy some food. I can’t even affort paying an appartment for myself with 600€ per month.
    Also, local stores are getting shot down and being replaced for “made in China” souvenir shops. Charming? I don’t think so.
    We understand it’s not specificly your fault and I feel really sorry if you haven’t felt comfortable in Barcelona but we also want you to understand our anger and frustration. We just want our city back, or at least we want a city where Barcelona citizens and tourists can converge and live in harmony.

  64. Oh! And talking about the independence issue, I don’t know: my mother is from Andalusia, my father is from Oslo (Norway) and I was born in Switzerland so I like to say that I feel European :)
    I do agree in the fact that spanish and catalan people are not very open-minded, though.

  65. Mike B. says:

    You are not the only one. Barcelona has lot of marketing around but there are many much more beautiful cities in Spain like Segovia, Salamanca, Toledo, Cáceres which are smaller but offer more than Barcelona and cheaper.
    I found Madrid even more interesting that Barcelona.

    • Hi Mike, I feel that, as an American, Barcelona is the be-all, end-all for many of us. It’s not a bad city to visit, so long as you see other parts of Spain. It’s a vibrant and varied country, as I’m sure you’ve experienced!

  66. No Catalans says:

    Barcelona is a city full of outcasts, racists, terrorists, bums, scammers, thieves, uneducated, dumb people with no direction.

    It has no culture, there’s no music and people have no sense of humour and are not friendly.

    I hate Barcelona, it is the worst city I have ever lived in and I am only here to work. I long for the day when I no longer have to wake up here and see this miserable city.

    I have met some nice Catalans of course but there are very few and they welcome refugees from war torn countries before anyone else in their city.

    If they weren’t so consumed by hatred they might achieve something in life but that will never happen. Young dumb parents, junkies and addicts.

    Avoid Barcelona!
    Extremely abnoctious, loud motor mouths, hammering and drilling is their hobby, vindictive, evil gypsies!
    Common bad spray paint :
    Go home tourists
    Refugees welcome
    No this
    No that
    Bla Bla complain about everything and do nothing only make the world hate them.

    One day they will pay.

  67. Swissguy says:

    First time in this city and I did not really enjoy it, I found it overrated and wondered if I was normal, so I loaded up “I dislike BCN” in Google and arrived here. Note that I was not there to drink or booze or whatever, this time is over and I have done enough of Magaluf years ago…. I think I’m more of a quattrocento dude or flamish gold era: Brussels, Firenze, Sienna, Amsterdam worked better on me. The Gaudi artwork and Sagrada left me unimpressed, though I enjoyed the cathedral and the gothic area. I never felt something like what happened when I saw the Duomo in Firenze for the first time. I have not been annoyed by the Catalunya vs Spain spirit, it brings some depth to the city. I did not get all this hype around La Rambla, well just a poor street with trees and a tourist trap.

  68. Ahora irán menos turistas a tu odiada Barcelona, ¿estás satisfecha?

    • Cro que los que estarán satisfechos serían los mismos barceloneses, verdad? El hecho de que a mí, como americana residente en España desde hace 10 años, no soy fan d una ciudad, no tiene nada que ver con los atentados.

      Pero, bien, me puedes echar la culpa por los hechos si te parece. Un post en un blog no va a hacer que los turistas no vayan. Te sugiero, Iván, que leas más que un post de SandS para ver si me gusta España o no.

      El odio siembra de gente que no ve más allá que un simple opinión. Que todo te vaya bien, y que todos los afectados encuentren paz y que se curen.

  69. Barcelona is tacky, low class, disgusting, cheap.I truly hate it.

  70. I spent two weeks in Barcelona during 2015. Whenever I met someone friendly, I quickly learned they were not from the area (my time in other parts of Spain were not like this at all). They were either from other parts of Spain or any other part of the world. I found true Catalonians to be rude and inhospitable.

    My experience is that they love to blame tourists for everything. Which is what, about 20% of their economy? So what helps make them “wealthy” they hate and want to drive away? I ended up hating Barcelona as a city and have no plans to ever return. I believe it is over-hyped and overrated.

    If you’re dying to see Guadi works, then by all means, go and visit for a couple of days, but then get out. The rest of Spain is a much nicer and welcoming place to be.

  71. Hey, just wanted to totally support your opinion about Barcelona – I saw many messages – mainly from offended catalan writing in very aggressive manner.

    I live in Barcelona for over 3 years, and actually first time I liked it, then I became neutral but now I notice that the more I live here – the more I dislike the city.
    I actually have lived in Cordoba, Malaga, Marbella, Madrid (couldn’t handle its contrast climat) and now Barcelona. I also write a blog about Spain as I love the country – it has so many amazing places.

    I like modernism and Gaudi masterpieces, I love exploring the city on foot, but there are so many things that make me feel that I dislike the city – and one of the main reasons – is low quality tourism – many people coming just to get wasted and the second reason – unfriednly local people and local culture (or lack of it). Yes, I know Catalans well educated and friendly, but unfortunately, they are exception. The rule is that you face very unfriendly and rude people that don’t welcome foreigners, don’t welcome Spanish, don’t welcome black, don’t welcome this and that…. At some point you notice that there is something wrong here.

  72. I m visiting Barcelona these days. It’s my first time in Spain. I started very fast to realize that Catalans are not like mediterranean people, friendly and warm. Some people that live here in Barcelona (non catalans) confirmed my impression.
    I m pretty sure I ‘ll not be coming back ever.
    After my visit I ‘ll stop supporting also Barcelona F.C. lol

  73. Just came back from a week end to barcelona.. being from Geneva I thought it would be an exciting trip. But the people were some of the most arrogant unfriendly and aggressive people I’ve seen (been to lots of big cities) Even though I speak perfect Spanish (from latinamerica). There were 1 or 2 exceptions though but I don’t it’s work going back and spending money in a country where they do not like Guiris that contribute to their solid catalan economy

  74. Sebastian Graell says:

    I’m in the same boat. I just can’t understand the fascination of some people about Barcelona. I lived there almost 6 years, and I had a great time because I made great friends there. But I have to say I never really liked Barcelona, I love Guadi’s work and I love El Borne, but other than that I find most of the architecture “meh”, gray and even boring.

    I swear I tried to give it a second chance, but I never ever felt the fascination I felt when I saw Paris and NY for the 1st time.

    On the other hand, local people is the worst thing about that city, they are rude, bitter and very racist. I don’t miss Barcelona at all!!!

  75. I love the football club and on this, my love for Barcelona ends basically. So you are not alone I guess

  76. Bah, solamente una americana racista más, en este caso odia a los catalanes y a Barcelona porque son culturas diferentes a la suya.

    Ni caso.

  77. It’s really interesting to read all of these responses and the original post. Am just going on a bit over a month in Barcelona and I absolutely adore this city. I found myself walking down the street at dusk today with my bag of groceries from Bonpreu (whatever, I like shopping there…everyone has their opinions about the stores here haha) and suddenly realized that I go back to the United States on Monday. My heart basically shattered into a million pieces.

    The first few days I was here, I was iffy about Barcelona. “Meh. A European San Francisco,” I thought. I spent the majority of my life in SF. And sure, they are very similar energy-wise and immigrant-wise and tourist-wise, but after walking to the corners of this city (I have been averaging 15ish miles almost every day), I have found that Barcelona is pure magic.

    There is a dark side to Barcelona, and I like that. It’s a human city. It is what it is and they don’t care if somebody doesn’t like it because THEY like it and it is their home. Same goes for SF…people either love it or they hate it. It doesn’t matter to the people that live there – we still love our city and will politely ignore any negative comments about it. Or we will just say goodbye. :)

    As for the Catalan thing – I have no problem reading 80% of Catalan but that could be because I have studied both French and Spanish and languages have always just been easy for me…but reading it is soooo similar to Spanish in so many ways…

    I see no problem with wanting independence. The people have their language, their customs, their own history…it’s ok to be proud of ones culture. That’s hard for us to understand if we are from the United States because we haven’t got culture. Hot dogs and Big Macs.

    The poorly lit thing I don’t get. I find the streets of Barcelona to be very well lit and one of my favorite things to do is walk around the city in the early hours of morning (3am) while listening to music. Barcelona with empty streets is truly magical and I have never felt threatened while walking any time of day here (knock on wood).

    Rude people? Not really. I mean, there are rude people all over the world but I have found the population here to be welcoming enough. I don’t run around wearing Stars and Stripes bunting and talking about the United States though. I try not to compare countries to other countries while I’m visiting just as I would never say that California and Oklahoma even belong in the same universe.

    All of this being said, I like to generally be left alone though, so maybe that’s why it’s different in my eyes. I don’t want the overbearing customer service that most are accustomed to in the United States. I don’t want to ask for directions because I want to find it by myself even if that takes walking by the same group of people at a table outside 17 times. Because it’s all in the experience.

    I am also sure that the level of acceptance of the lgbt community here also helps my love for the place.

    I feel at home in Barcelona and damnit, I will live here one day soon. Easily my favorite city out of the 20ish countries I have been to.

    Sorry you didn’t like it. I find it to be fantastic.

  78. Sadly the comments became a shit show much like every reddit thread concerning Catalonia. Yikes. However this post still feels like a safe haven for people to express this view.

    I’ve lived in London and Madrid. Both have a way of making you feel like you belong, each in its own way. I found Madrid to be hospitable with people actively welcoming you, whereas London makes you a Londoner by default. One morning, you’re annoyed that someone is standing on the left on the escalator. You’re a Londoner now. And nobody makes a fuss about it. That’s London: no fuss.

    Unfortunately, my experience living in Barcelona was pretty much the opposite. I never stopped feeling like an outsider. A cliquey city with a bit of a bone to pick was the vibe I got the whole time.

  79. I’m from the US and currently living in Barcelona.

    I’m a very warm, friendly person and I love human connection. I’ve made some amazing friends with various people (mostly expats) but the locals have been nearly impossible to connect with. Even the park next to my house where I take my dog out has a group of Catalans every night and they still REFUSE to include me (or my dog- seriously, they told me that all of their dogs know each other and they don’t want another one introduced to them ) in their conversations. It’s been 5 months. I gave up trying.

    My partner is from Madrid and we are hoping to move back there within the next year.

    I was fascinated by Barcelona when I first came to visit, but the novelty has worn away to reveal a bitter, smelly, and over-populated city. I’ve not experienced the warmth of locals here like other Spanish cities.

    I will be so glad to never see another Catalan flag again!!

    • Hi Jennifer, interesting take! In all fairness, it has been tough for me to get close to sevillanas (sevillanos are a different story), and I find that my circles are mostly expats or those from other parts of Spain. Madrid, of course, has been a whole different story!

  80. Cat, I remember reading this post a few years ago and feeling a little offended about my adopted city. It’s weird – even though I’m on Year 11 in Barcelona, I can commiserate more now and agree with these thoughts. HA. I still totally love Barcelona, but perhaps I’m getting jaded on a few things about the city (as life goes…). Anyway, I landed here today in 2019 because I googled “Why people hate Barcelona”. Hahahaha… I also love that the comments on this post are plenty and still going strong!
    Justine recently posted..What to Wear in Spain According to SeasonMy Profile

  81. Actually found this post while googling “why are people im barcelona so rude??”
    Been here for 2 weeks on holiday and have had several racist experiences. Anything from racial slurs spoken loudly and intentionally by people walking beside or around me. Several dirty looks, people abruptly stopping in my walking path to cause some kind of stupid interference. I am spanish. Might not look like im from here but i can understand and speak spanish fluently enough to understand most of catalan. People here are way to uptight and very angry looking. Unhappy and very upset if your in there cafe or bar. They just ait on corner cafes staying and talking ahit about people all day. Who the hell takes 3 hour lunch breaks. What kind of productivity happens here?
    Tourism brings a lot of cash into the city. Why not milk it and be polite and happy and provide decent or good customer service. I was attacked and followed by a old woman security guard at the fc Barcelona store. She was breathing on my neck and telling me to go and pay and leave the store. I was astonished. Never been treated like that ever in my life shopping somewhere. All i can say is F this place cause im never coming here again after this trip. France and italy people are wayyyy more polite and happy. Anyhow just had to vent cause it is truly crazy the attitudes of the people here. Ive met real nice people as well but almost everyone else ive encountered is pretty useless and quite annoying. Safe travels to all. And sorry barcelona there is wayyy better cities in Europe then here.

    • Quite refreshing to find this thread. I’ve lived in Catalunya for 11 years and I’m still not quite sure why or how I’ve lasted this long. I’ve lived in many different satellite towns around BCN and I think it’s about time I came clean with my underlying thoughts. I hate this place.
      Catalans are truly the most rude and closed minded people I have ever had the displeasure of having to try and become accustomed to. Even after all these years, now speaking fluent Spanish, understanding Catalan perfectly and able to speak to a basic level (I never even wanted to learn a language that would only be useful in this tiny corner of the world) and still, they are cold and racist. I am Irish and white as can be even after all these years in the sun and I know they look at me like a stupid tourist, no matter what the scenario. Of course there exceptions and I know some lovely Catalans but I actually feel sorry them, that they have to deal with their paisanos bullshit since the day they were born.
      This evening I was out walking my dog like I do every day in the urbanization that I live in and said ‘Hola’ to 4 different people, of varying ages and they just stared at me and didn’t respond. This is nothing new but I just thought, enough… I’ve had enough of this shit. I’m Irish and it’s beaten into us from an early age to be friendly, funny, open and warm to everyone we meet and I honestly believe that Catalans are the exact opposite of this. I even said ‘hola’ to 2 children playing on the street this evening and they just stared at me, slack jawed Catalan twits. Honestly, you can have your fucking independence and then please, take a massive saw and cut Catalunya from the rest of Spain and float it out to sea and never come back again.
      I finally went to visit Andalucia for the first time 2 years ago and was completely and utterly blown away by the friendliness, I actually cried, no joke. I couldn’t believe how warm and chatty and friendly the are down there, so I think that’s it, I’m going to join them down there and hopefully be finally accepted into the culture and society, like I so hoped I would be over the last decade here. All I’ve ever wanted was to fit in because by God have I tried but now I know I never will and frankly, don’t even want to.
      I could go on and on for hours but I couldn’t even be bothered, all I can say is, avoid BCN and Catalans like the plague. They don’t want you there anyway and your money and time would be better spent elsewhere, don’t waste your life here like I did.

      Visca Catalunya?
      Whatever, adeu fills de putas, que vaig i molt be…..

      • “I never even wanted to learn a language that would only be useful in this tiny corner in the world”.

        Well, there you have the reason for your isolation. You’ve self-sabotaged, as most English-speaking immigrants do, remaining forever as outsiders and wondering why they’re not accepted.

        Spanish language is seen as the oppressor’s language in Catalonia, a fascist imposition.
        So speaking it will impress no one. By doing that you assimilate with the enemy, not with Catalans.

        Pretending to manage in Catalonia by speaking Spanish is like saying that Ireland is one of the British islands. Or saying that the Brits should still rule it, because you know, they’ve got those red buses, and a Queen in postcards, and fish and chips, and as a tourist, that’s what one wants to see in a British island, isn’t it? And Ireland speaks English too, so I can’t understand why the Irish don’t acknowledge that they’re really British and adopt all those things and give up with their silly republic.

        Utter idiocy, as you can see, but that’s how incredibly out-of-touch foreigners in Catalonia sound when they think speaking Spanish should be enough.

        Speaking Catalan is the key to integration. Without that, you will always be seen as one of the many stupid, fleeting, callous tourists that Catalans see all the time. Not as someone worth of their time.

        Why would someone move to Barcelona if they hate Catalan?
        It’s the key feature of the region. It’s like moving to the UK if one hates rain…

      • Catalans as a collective are like a lot of New Yorkers, arrogant, self-centered, and oblivious to the world outside of their small area.

  82. Having lived in many areas of Spain over the last 18 years my wife and I can safely say the Catalans are our least favourite people. We encountered too many instances of greed, racism, xenophobia, nastiness, and pettiness compared with other cultures and areas of Spain.
    Contrary to what many Catalans believe – that they are the richest region due to their cultural superiority – they are in fact benefitting from their strategic geographical position which is extremely important from a logistics and transport point of view. They are in the path of traffic heading to the rest of Spain, and they generate a LOT of income from this.
    Everywhere I go in Europe I tell people how we were treated in Cataluña compared with other areas of Spain. I do my little bit to help break the false fairy tale.

  83. Catalans SUCK!


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  2. […] more work had been done. On my most recent trip to Barcelona, I could marvel in Gaudí works that partially redeem the city for me. While we scoffed at the thought of paying 20€ for the Casa Batlló, devoting an entire morning […]

  3. […] hard to navigate and that it took a while for it to grow on them. Upon publishing what has been my most controversial post, Aga of Aga Nuno Somewhere offered to write a counter post about what’s to love about the […]

  4. […] said recently that I don’t like Barcelona (and it sparked a big debate on my blog and Facebook page. Turns out even people who love the city […]

  5. […] a trip to Barcelona with my parents and taking various day trips around Catalonia, I returned to work absolutely pooped […]

  6. […] First off, I have only been there once, so when I visit again, which I will, I will go with a completely open mind. My dislike for Barcelona is based off one visit over a 3 day period on a trip I took to Spain in high school, which could very well have led to me not liking it since I wasn’t able to experience la marcha (nightlife) Barcelona has to offer. Plus, it’s not as if I’ve lived there or even stayed there for an extended period of time. I must also point out that there are other travel bloggers who also dislike Barcelona including Cat of Sunshine and Siestas. […]

  7. […] case you didn’t know, I’m not a fan of Barcelona, its capital city. But, at the time I’m writing, Cataluña is still part of Spain and […]

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