10 Interesting Facts About Barcelona

When I posted the second part of my Paris photo diary {Paris State of Mind » Simple Pleasures} two weeks ago, many of you requested to see Barcelona next. My guess is that this desire had something to do with Lionel Messi. 

Being the good person that I am, I obeyed. For those of you awaiting a continuation of last week's topic, don't fret. I thought I would give your brains a rest this week and discuss a less controversial matter.

Barcelona was the twenty-third stop on our European adventure last summer. I'm sure I'll get some hate for the following sentence, but I have to be honest. I was not very impressed with this city. I imagine the scorching heat played its part. Another theory is that I had exceptionally high expectations after hearing over and over and over again about how amazing Barcelona is. I cannot argue its appeal: beaches, nightlife, architecture and shopping are all valid points, but there just wasn't that initial connection like in Paris or Cinque Terre or Dubrovnik. So while the city is, indeed, beautiful, and we had a lovely time during our stay, Barcelona is not on the top of my "most amazing cities ever" list. I will say, however, should the opportunity present itself, I'm willing to give this city a second chance.

So we stayed for four days with a friend of a friend of a friend. The upside of this arrangement was that it provided a more authentic experience of Barcelona. In seeking advice about where to go, what to see, etc., we learned a lot of surprising and interesting facts about Barcelona, and I decided to bestow this knowledge to you.

  1. Surprising as it is, Barcelona is not Spain, but Catalunya, which is an autonomous Spanish county that is considered a separate nationality. In fact, many Barcelonians take great offense at being referred to as Spanish. This fact was a bit shocking to us ignorant folk, seeing that we were under the impression of having arrived in Spain.
  2. Bullfighting is banned in Barcelona. Locals despise it, and it only appeals to ignorant tourists {of which I am one}. Go to Madrid for bullfighting. Unfortunately for us, we visited Madrid before coming to Barcelona and were unaware of this little fact ahead of time.
  3. Flamenco is typically thought of as a traditional Spanish dance. Surprise, surprise – it is not traditional, nor well known in Barcelona. Go to Madrid for an authentic flamenco experience. Again, this information came to us by way of busted hopes and dreams. {Sensing a pattern here?}
  4. Barcelona beaches are some of the best ranked beaches in the world. Ironically, I was unimpressed. Other than the herds of topless bathers, they were not very different from Florida beaches, and that, my friends, is not a standard to aspire to. {No offense to my Floridian readers.} 
  5. In May of 2013, Barcelona's famous Columbus Monument, located on one of the most popular streets in the city, was chosen by Nike to unveil the new Barça jersey as part of a publicity stunt. It just so happened that at this time we were on our way to the Barcelona port to board a 14-day Mediterranean cruise. Needless to say, {but clearly I'm going to say it anyway}, it was a strange sight to see such a historical figure in a soccer jersey. {Talk about effective PR…}
  6. Tapas bars are one of the most popular cuisine options in Barcelona. Known in the U.S. as "small plates," tapas offer a wide variety of snacks or appetizers served on small plates and accompanied by wine. Just be prepared to pay a pretty penny for it, as the average small plate starts around 10 euros. The least expensive option is a stand-up tapas bar. The next least expensive option is a table inside a restaurant. The most expensive option is a table outdoors. This price structure is typical in most food establishments across Europe.
  7. Shops in Barcelona do not open until around lunchtime, if not later. We found this out the hard way – we spent nearly three hours, luggage in hand, waiting for a store to open so we could buy a SIM card, so we could contact a friend, who would then contact her friend, who then contacted their friend and asked if they would take us in. I'm all for spontaneity, but in that moment I definitely questioned our sanity.
  8. The fashion brand MANGO was founded in Barcelona. There are at least seven stores in the city alone, plus the most amazing MANGO Outlet in the history of outlets. Too bad we had no extra space in our two tiny suitcases.
  9. The majority of tourist attractions in Barcelona were created by the same person: Antoni Gaudi. While I like to think of myself as somewhat of an art connoisseur, the following sentences will probably have you thinking otherwise. Once you've seen one of his works, you've pretty much seen them all.
  10. Barcelona, much like all of Europe, has an alarming number of gypsies whose mission in life is to haggle you to death. All I can say about this is, "I wish you the best of luck! Don't make eye contact."

I must confess. This post took a far more negative approach than I initially intended, so I feel the need to reiterate that Barcelona is, indeed, a beautiful city. If you happen to be planning a trip there, I will be happy to offer advice {I promise to keep my negativity to myself.} I realize I initially promised 10 interesting facts about Barcelona, but I just thought of one more! Contrary to popular believe, the Spanish {as opposed to the Catalans} pronounce "Barcelona" with a "th" sound, as opposed to an "s" sound.

Have you ever been to Barcelona? Do you want to go?

And while we're at it, which city would you like to see highlighted next? Let's see, here's what I have left: Berlin, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Brussels, Rome, Pisa, Amalfi, Madrid, Porto and Zurich. What's your vote? To explore my other travels, head over to the Travels page.

interesting facts about Barcelona

interesting facts about Barcelona

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9 Comments

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  2. I am planing my Spain trip for next summer and I have a feeling I will feel the same way about Barcelona as you but I going to get it checked off my list. I do love your pictures and was hoping you would tell you where you were when you took the night shots with the pillars in the background? Great blog by the way!

    • Hi Amy,

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts! I sincerely hope you’ll enjoy your time in Barcelona and won’t let my negative opinions influence you one bit! I’ve had numerous friends cite the city as one of their favorites, so who knows, maybe you’ll fall in love with it! I truly hope you will! Where else in Spain are you going?

      I’m curious how you found my blog? Oh, and thank you so much for your sweet words about my photography! The night shot with the pillars was taken at the Magic Fountain (or Font Magica). The light show, which is synced to music, starts at 9PM and provides a spectacular show every half hour. Plus, it’s totally free! Here’s the address: Plaza Carles Buigas, 08004 Barcelona, Spain.

      Let me know if you have any other questions, I’ll be happy to help any way I can! You can email me directly at radionova.oksana@gmail.com!

      XO, Oksana

  3. Great post!
    Me and my significant other went there last autumn. We did not share your experince – we loved it. And we ate tapas for around 3-6 euros, and they we crazy big. So maybe it’s a season thing? Or we were just very lucky.
    I am a bit jealous of the opportunity to be guided by a local though.

    Good advise, both for shopping (I do love Mango) and what NOT to do.

    I really like your blog and am currently scanning through all of it in search for interrail-inspiration. I really like what I found so far.

    :)

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  5. Oh my… I guess everyone’s entitled to their opinion. I thought Barcelona was one of the best cities in Europe mostly because the architecture is very interesting – oh yes, I love Gaudí.
    Rome however, was underwhelming – there was scaffolding in almost every sight and my interactions with locals weren’t what I expected.
    Btw, Catalunya is an autonomous region but it is still Spain so the official title is “automous region of Spain” – unlike Andorra which is like a microstate/principality. It’s really just the catalans expressing their disdain of the Spanish government.
    I love your blog btw!

    x, J.

    http://www.lifeingertelbach.wordpress.com

    • Hi Joey,

      Thanks so much for stopping by and for your words of encouragement! Notice, I’m not denying the beauty of Barcelona or Gaudi’s architecture. I am simply saying that overall I found it underwhelming – much like you did Rome. Traveling is so much more than simply recognizing what appeals to you and what doesn’t. I personally think every city has its appeal, but there are so many factors that tend to overshadow our traveling experience, preventing us from truly discovering that certain something of each city.

      I’m in the process of drafting a post on Rome and would love to hear your thoughts when it goes live! Feel free to follow along on Bloglovin’ or Instagram! XOXO

  6. Thank you for the honesty. I say Barcelona was my least favorite city and friends look at me like I have 2 heads. Big Zzzzzzzzz. I vote for Rome :)

    • Hi dear! I must say, I wasn’t expecting any readers to agree with me! :) I don’t know what it is that everyone else is seeing, but unless you’re going solely for the purpose of enjoying the nightlife, I would not recommend Barcelona. Then again, like I said, I’d be willing to give this city a second chance, should the opportunity present itself.

      Based on your comment, I gather you’ve done some traveling yourself? Where have you been, and what was your favorite city?

      Hope to see you chime in on the discussion when I highlight Rome! XOXO

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