Writing this article on the 6 pros & cons of living in Barcelona reminds me of Alanis Morissette’s song ‘I’m a Bitch.’ This beautiful city can be your hell and your dream and everything in between. So if you’re planning a quick visit or moving in read on to so that you can be better prepared on what to expect when coming over.
Most places that I have gone to, whether that would be to eat, to buy groceries, or get a haircut, the customer service in Barcelona could be a bit better. There have been places (restaurants to be exact) where I felt unwelcomed. Does it kill people to smile a bit more often?
A friend and I went to eat a pizza for lunch at a restaurant a block away from where we were working; the waiter/hostess looked at us in a way that told us to get out. We sat down anyway and ordered, if we needed something extra (god help us) there was no one around to attend our need and when we finished we got a feeling that they couldn’t kick us out fast enough.
Of course, not everyone is like this. In my stay in Barcelona I have met some friendly people in the service industry, i.e. where I go to buy my coffee in the morning before work, I got to know the woman that served me and we enjoyed chit-chatting about anything and everything and sharing a few laughs and the pharmacist across my street has always provided me with friendly service and even gone the extra mile to genuinely help me out with my problems and questions.
For a Mediterranean city, I was extremely disappointed to learn that the variety of dishes was nearly non existent.
I’m not saying that a great restaurant that serves delicious food doesn’t exist in Barcelona. I’m sure that if you are patient and take your time searching you’ll find hidden gems but if you’re in the city on a limited time this will probably be a challenge.
You can find fresh fruits and vegetables everywhere. If you’re into healthy living or are a vegetarian, this is your type of city. The only thing to keep in mind is that no one buys fruits and vegetables on Saturdays and Mondays because the stores don’t restock their shelves with fresh product with the desire that people would buy off the ones that are a week old.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a great party as much as the next person but sometimes people can take it to the extreme (or perhaps I’m getting too old). The Spaniards are known as party lovers and my flat mate born and raised in Barcelona is no exception. He would go out four days out of seven or even more sometimes to party until six or eight in the morning (no exaggeration). This going out wouldn’t bother me much – live and let live – but they would arrive back home and not consider their sleeping flat mate in the other room so they would bang doors, cabinet doors, turn the television on and talk as if they were having a conversation with someone a mile away.
What does this have to do with partying?
It doesn’t matter if it’s your flat mates doing the party or not. That’s why. When Barcelona is celebrating a festival they will make all the noises they desire and they’re in their right to do so but it can get chaotic. I remember one time during the European Football Match (?) I was strolling down the street and out came a Barca fan (happy that his team made a goal and tackled me (wouldn’t mind it if he was at least cute – but he wasn’t).
Like mentioned briefly above, the Spaniards love a great party and you can find these in abundance while staying in Barcelona. There’s always something to celebrate and even when there’s not, the clubs are fantastic! So if you visit the city you won’t have a shortage of drinks, dancing and fun.
Probably like most big hospitals around the world, the waiting time in emergency waiting room is horrendous. I went to the emergency room at one of the big hospital in Barcelona, Hospital Clinic and I waited nearly two and a half hours before the doctor saw me. Mind you, that there were like seven people in the waiting room and most of them waited even longer.
Even when you make an appointment with a doctor, these waiting times don’t change much – that was the first route I took before heading to the clinic. I walked to the receptionist at noon and made an appointment, I had to go back at five thirty that afternoon because that’s when the doctor arrived at work.
Another thing to keep in mind, is that as a tourist you have to be insured properly or else you have to spend a large sum of money i.e. 60 euros for the consultation, and 60 euros and up for any extra tests, analysis, etc. that is need afterwards.
The health care system is great. An example of this, is when I went to the emergency (once again at the Hospital Clinic), the doctor asked me question (like they should) but didn’t leave things as an estimated guess of what my illness was, so they rolled me to the radiology room, took blood test for analysis and thought I waited for nearly seven hours in total, they came up with evidence of what I really had and the exact medicine that I need. A part from this they give you copies of everything they did if you’re not local to take to your doctor once you’re back home. And they treated me well and professionally.
Back in the Netherlands (where I’m from), the doctor would probably just have a look at the infected area, make an estimated guess and prescribe something. Not to mention the aloofness and lack of empathy for their patients. This is not to put my country down but honest is honest and I was indeed impress with their services.
If you’re new to Barcelona and you’re driving, you need to orient yourself with where all the gas stations are located because they are not all over the city. I’ve been here for six months and have only seen two – by accident! So, I’m counting my lucky stars I do not drive here.
The traffic lights is another thing that works in a strange way, as pedestrians are crossing the street cars have the green lights to turn the corners at the same time, which can be infuriating for the driver if you’re trying to beat the lights and you’re behind two others vehicles. And pray that you’re not running late for an important appointment.
For pedestrian this can be quite scary because you’ll have cars and motorcycles zooming right behind you as you’re crossing the streets – so you have to cross it quickly.
August is a great month to drive in Barcelona because the roads are cleared. In this month everyone goes on vacation so the city is practically a ghost town – which isn’t a bad thing from time to time.
Taking a bus anywhere in Barcelona is a little bit tricky because their system is difficult to understand and you have to memorize the bus number and their designated destinations.
Metros run until midnight from Sunday to Thursday, on Friday it runs until two in the morning and Saturday it runs twenty-four hours. So if you’re taking a quick vacation during the week to party, your means of transportation will be night busses unless you’re staying near the city center.
If you don’t know which bus goes where, there are two ways to get this information, their websites which list all the bus numbers and their destination or you can walk from bus stop to bus stop until you get the right bus.
The good thing is, is that if staying close to the city center you can walk it anywhere and because most, if not all, of the parties and going out takes place on Friday and Saturday it makes sense that the metro runs until later to accommodate tourist who wants to have a good time (this probably is the case with all major cities).
Public transportation has a webpage with all the information any one would need from schedule to which numbers to take to reach a certain place, etc. And there are plenty of taxies stations with drivers ready to take you anywhere in the city at any time of the day.
Here at SuiteLife we are sure that you got your own opinions and experiences gained during your own stay in Barcelona. So, why not share what you think with us? We’d be more than happy to hear your side of what is living in Barcelona !