Oh the Surprises of Barcelona...
1. Despite the rainy, cold and gray arrival to Barcelona in the first couple days of my stay here, I actually ended up really liking Barcelona. Its warm sunshine in my last two days and the friendliness of the people won me over.
2. Barcelona boasts that it is one of the most wheelchair accessible city in the European Union. I scoffed at this in the beginning of my journey here, but thus far, it has proven to be very true from all the EU countries I've traveled to. The curb cuts are a bit too steep and bus ramps are also steep as well, but otherwise very good!
3. Some words I've learned/relearned over the course of my stay: vale --> ok, abajo --> straight, down, fades --> fairies, ayudarme --> help me, manos --> hands, londres --> London. I was able to use the little bit of Spanish I retained from my middle school and high school Spanish language classes and was surprised to find how much this knowledge helped me!
4. Due to its accessible public transportation and tropical weather, Barcelona is the only city I think I can see myself living long-term in so far.
5. People here speak Spanish and Catalan (a strand of Spanish); more people speak Catalan than Spanish. For example, in Spanish the word for chicken is pollo, but in Catalan the word for chicken is pollastre. It's similar but also very different as well.
6. About 50% of the people in Barcelona wants to become Independent from Spain because of the financial burden the country is putting on them. Spain is currently near bankruptcy and the only two cities keeping it afloat is Madrid and Barcelona, but mainly Barcelona.
7. Antoni Gaudi is truly a talented architect and artist. I recommend you all to go into the La Sagrada Familia (the family Church) when you go to Barcelona. It was a surreal experience for me. My other two favorite attractions were Tibidabo and the Barcelona man-made beach. *Interesting fact: The sand for the Barcelona beach actually comes from Egypt.
8. Spanish price means cheap prices, and Spanish time means a trend of running 10-15 minutes late.
9. Like in any major city, you will find beggars; Barcelona is no exception. However, what was different here was how many beggars used their various disabilities to incite sympathy. They prominently displayed their disability to lure in sympathetic passerby. This had a direct negative effect on me because many times when I asked for directions, the people would pretend they do not see or hear me. This was extremely infuriating and frustrating for me. I saw a trend of this going on in Rome as well.
10. Even though the country is near bankruptcy, I actually found staying in Barcelona to be very expensive. This was especially true in terms of eating out and purchasing various commodities. I once heard that Barcelona is unlike the rest of Spain. Prices in the rest of Spain are a lot cheaper.
11. Not very many people speak English here, so prepare some survival Spanish phrases before you come. You can do it!
12. St. Jordi's Day on April 23rd is Barcelona's version of Valentine's Day. The guy gives the girl a rose and the girl gives the guy a book. You do not necessarily have to be in a romantic relationship to celebrate and enjoy this holiday. Many consider this to be a very fun Catalan holiday. I hope to come celebrate it sometime!