Palest Guy In Barcelona, Summer of 29
May 8 to August 6, 2012
Barcelona, City of Short Loud People
A little under three hours
Ryanair has extensive fees you have the pleasure of paying. You are allotted one carry on bag. Not one bag and a roller, just one bag overall. One very tiny bag. Not American-size carryon, but tiny tiny cary on. But – they didn’t check everybody’s bag size. They seemed to randomly pick people out of the aisles. Some people were traveling with oversized skis and got through fine. Other people were traveling with large purses and got called out to check their bag.s It was pretty nonsensical.
There’s also open seating and on-tarmac boarding (no bridge between inside gate and plane… you walk outside, go to the plane, walk up stairs, go inside).
You’ll fly into El Prat (Spanish for The Prat) and catch the A1 or A2 bus into town. Barcelona runs full airport busses with luggage racks and quick service every 5 to 10 minutes all day long. You buy your bus ticket at a ticket vending machine outside the bus stop.
I had someone to stay with in Barcelona, so I don’t have grand recommendations here. Check hostel bookers for decent places. There are many hostels near La Rambla (a main shopping street) and Plaza Real.
By this point in my travels, my Amex PIN arrived so I could get Euros from local no-fee ATMs as needed (with the 3% currency conversion charge each time though). You need cash in Barcelona for small restaurants and to make some purchases easier since nobody in Europe really knows how to deal with a magstripe credit card.
More than once, I had to wait for the grocery store checkout person to swipe my card multiple times because… they don’t know how to swipe cards. They would do it really really slow. Or really really fast. Around the third or fourth time it would read properly.
Barcelona has food. Who knew? Whatever you do, don’t eat on La Rambla. Every restaurant there is an overpriced tourist trap. If you see a place with white table cloths sitting outside, walk right past.
There is an amazing Japanese sushi restaurant (with non-sushi stuff too) off of a Plaza Real side street you should definitely try. Their menu has pictures of everything so all you have to do is point and pay in cash.
For a large colorful selection of ready to eat food, fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and seafood, hit up La Boqueria off of La Rambla. The vendors there have plenty of cheap fresh cut fruit for €1 and smoothies and fruit by the kilo and fish by the kilo and fresh eggs and everything else you could want. There are a few restaurants hiding inside La Boqueria but they are overpriced compared to non-rampant tourist areas.
There’s a subway, busses, taxis, rickshaws, rent-a-bike services, rent-a-scooter services, or, my favorite, just walk everywhere.
Things to Do
Enjoy the overpopulated beach, take a trip down to Sitges on a train, roam the confusing gothic streets barely wide enough for one car. Get lost. Find your way home.
Take a trip up to Tibidabo on the funicular to watch the sun set over the city.
Visit George Orwell Plaza. Visit Gaudi churches. Visit old Roman grave sites. Visit the local Apple Store.
Buy and hoard European toothpaste (Fluocaril 2500) with higher fluoride content than the US allows in over the counter products.
Things to Not Do
Do not buy drinks from people walking around streets offering to sell you beer. They keep the drinks cold by stashing them in sewer grates.
Do not buy drugs by people weakling by mumbling about marijuana, hash, cocaine, meth, …. Apparently they keep it all in their jackets?
Do not buy things (usually sunglasses) from people selling things on the ground.
Do not visit Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald’s, Burger King, or KFC.
Do not go to the beach without sunscreen.
Do not not have a good time.
Leaving is arriving in reverse, except when you leave you’ll be dragging your luggage back alone, in the rain, up hill. Enjoy.