Trip Start Nov 29, 2005
79Trip End Nov 21, 2006
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The city just has one of those special vibes, the sort of feel that's sorely lacking from the oppressively touristy Italian cities. It's exceptionally walkable and you don't feel like you're wasting time at all spending hours doing laps up and down La Rambla, the tree-lined, mainly pedestrian boulevard that runs from the waterfront to Placa Catalunya. I would never compare Barcelona to New York in terms of atmosphere or feel or attitude, anything like that. However, Barcelona did strike me as a city -- in the same vain as New York -- that the more time you spend there and the more you walk the sidestreets and alleyways the more secrets you discover. Both cities have great things to find right on the main streets, but what makes New York so special is the hidden treasures that you could only possibly find by living there. I have the feeling Barcelona is the same way.
What I enjoyed about Barcelona personally was the opportunity to speak Spanish again
One other thing Barcelona has going for it is an excellent beach, certainly as far as cities go
It also has a great night life, but I couldn't tell you per se. All the bars and clubs seemed cool, but I hardly went into any of them. Why pay 5 euro for a beer when you can pay 1 for an even bigger one in the supermarket or under a euro for a can from the sketchy characters who roam La Rambla with six-packs? Plus, it's way more fun to haggle with those guys, trying to get tres para dos (three beers for the price of two) and negotiating in broken Spanish until they lose their will and then start speaking English and then give you the price you want. My first night out with Jay and Evan, who I met bumming around the common room after all my pre-Tomatina friends had left my hostel, that's all we did, and it was more fun than you could imagine. Jay was having way too much fun with it, keeping us at a breakneck pace just so he could haggle again. Of course it was even better because he was so drunk and spoke such shit Spanish that when he wanted to tell the beer sellers he had no money he was saying 'No manana,' as in 'no tomorrow.' He also pulled that stunt with a beggar outside of La Sagrada Familia (Barcelona's famous, massive, yet-to-be-completed church that was designed by Gaudi, but was such an ambitious project that it isn't expected to be completed for another 20 years -- so big that it won't even fit into frame if you're taking a photo) and I had myself a solid 5-minute giggle before I could regain my composure enough to tell him what he was actually saying.
I only needed a day or two, going at a slow pace to see all the 'sights' of the city, much like just about any other city in Europe. But Barcelona had so much more to offer than your average city that I didn't want to leave. If I didn't have to meet a friend in Rome, maybe I wouldn't have.