6 Things People Don’t Tell You About Barcelona
Barcelona is a wonderful beach city. Online searches will produce thousands of images displaying the points of interest and glamour of Barcelona. On a recent trip there I discovered that there are many little quirks that no one seems to mention.
So, I’ve decided to tell you all about the 6 things that I found interesting or strange.
1 – Patterned Pavements & Walkways
As you walk around Barcelona, you’ll notice that the pavements are covered in beautiful hexagonal shaped slabs which have elegant patterns on them. As you walk along the upmarket streets and popular shopping areas (Passeig de Gràcia), on an early morning you might even find people sweeping and mopping the beautiful tiles in order to keep them looking clean and new.
The history behind the decorative concrete slabs is very interesting, dating back to 1907, but I won’t bore you with the details – click here for more information.
2 – Park Güell
Normally when you mention Park Güell, images of brightly coloured ceramic tiles come to mind, but when you visit the attraction the reality is that only a small section is actually covered in those beautiful ceramics. You have to pay to visit that exclusive section of Park Güell, but you see amazing stone structures everywhere you look, a lot of which are undergoing rigorous time consuming restoration.
3 – Terrain Ranges from Beach to Extremely Steep Hills
In the morning you can be walking along a lovely flat sandy beach but if you venture further in to the city, you’ll find yourself walking up some very steep hills. Make sure you wear comfortable walking shoes and its a good idea to have a bottle of water, especially if you plan to head towards Park Güell, Tibidabo or Torre Bellesguard. Also, remember that everything in Barcelona is very spread out so you can’t just walk from one attraction to the next, but the city has an excellent transport system. The hop on hop off tour buses can be a good idea, they are a very cheap and go to all the major attractions (but they don’t go all the way up the steep hills, so there is walking to be done).
Personally I used the Tour Bus as my main mode of transport, it was easier than trying to plan out my routes using the metro – yes that was lazy but, I got to see every attraction in a day, I got a free useful map,access to an app to track the tour buses so I knew when to be at the stop, free headphones for the onboard tour recording which pointed out a lot of stuff I would have missed otherwise and the best part… It only cost 11 euro! Bargain!
4 – There is a Tipping Etiquette
Waiters and waitresses are paid relatively well, so if you go for a coffee or quick bite to eat, a few cents is an adequate tip. If you go to a restaurant tipping between 7 and 10% is fine, but check you bill first because gratuities are normally added – you can tip up to 15% in fine dining restaurants.
This early snack cost about 6 Euro 40 cents and I felt comfortable just leaving the change from 7 Euro as a tip.
Taxi drivers are normally tipped no more than 20 cents by the locals.
During my visit, I felt comfortable tipping 1 or 2 Euro, unless I felt that I was over charged – then I waited for every single cent of change.
Private drivers and tour guides are tipped more than anyone else in Barcelona – with tipping ranging from 10 Euro right up to 50 Euro. It all depends on how pleased you were with the service provided.
My golden rule – Tipping in not expected in Barcelona, so if you are happy with the services received, then leave a tip but don’t feel bad for not tipping at all.
5 – The Beach
Barcelona beach is not the cleanest on the coast during the summer months because of the huge numbers of visitors it has, although the city council is constantly trying to keep it clean. In the summer months the beach is so crowded that you might not even find spot of your own for some sunbathing and relaxation. The beaches of nearby towns are just a nice and you’ll actually be able to laze about in the sun.
My last trip to Barcelona was in March and the beach was so quiet it almost felt neglected by the locals and tourists, but it wasn’t warm enough to laze about, so its understandable that no one planned a day at the beach. The sea was busy with surfers and I found that there was something mesmerizing about watching them catch the waves. I had a towel in my little Cabin Max Cadiz, just incase the day was warm enough to get my feet a little wet but… I’m waaay too nesh to risk the chill.
6 – Spanish or Catalan
Barcelona is a Spanish city in the region of Catalonia, which has its own language, Catalan. Whist 98% of the population speak Spanish about 60% also speak Catalan and choose this as their main language. It’s advisable to learn key phrases in both languages so you’re not left feeling a little embarrassed when you greet someone in Spanish and in return you’re greeted in Catalan and left (a little red faced) not knowing what to say.
Cabin Max Cadiz
I took the Cabin Max Cadiz on my trip to Barcelona – a fantastic backpack that folds out from a 20x17x5cm small pouch out into a 18 litre backpack. It is a great thing to take if you visited Barcelona in March like I did, as it meant we could take our coats with us in the morning when it was chilly, then pack them away into the Cadiz when it warmed up in the afternoon. It also has two water bottle holders and light, breathable backpack straps making it ideal for a day out in the city. Priced from £10 on cabinmax.com – http://tinyurl.com/htr4lha
Did you come across any little quirks on a visit you took to Barcelona? I would love to hear all about it.