Barcelona and Me: The Complicated Relationship Continues

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This past March, I visited Barcelona for the first time.  As you may recall, I was massively underwhelmed, finding the city dirty, crowded, and expensive compared to the rest of Spain, and even the lovely architecture couldn’t lift my spirits.

This September, I had a day and a half to spend in Barcelona between TBU and the Bloghouse.  So, did my opinion on Barcelona change the second time around?

Well…maybe a little bit.

As much as I went in with an open mind, Barcelona in the late summer wasn’t that different from Barcelona in the early spring — only that the streets were much more crowded and the city seemed to be controlled all the more by tourists.  In addition to that, the weather shifted between cloudy and rainy for most of the time, and since we were there on a Sunday, many attractions, including the market, were closed.

That said, Barcelona seemed much more beautiful this time around.  Particularly for the few minutes when the sun came out and the entire street was enveloped in light.

So what did we do to enjoy Barcelona this time around?  We ate a LOT of ham.

My friends Dylan, Emma and I started our day with lunch (our day started with lunch?  Yes!  It’s Spain!  Everything starts late!) at a nearby restaurant.  We ordered a big plate of jamon iberico along with our tinto de veranos and it was so good, the nutty flat marbled into every slice, that it turned the rest of the day into a happy blur.

Next up?  The Erotica Museum.  It’s right in the center of Las Ramblas and we had always joked while passing it.  Why not actually go in?

(This is probably the only picture from the visit that I can post here.)

It cost 8 euros, included a cup of champagne, and was absolutely worth it.  (And not only because they have free WiFi).  The museum is a mass of erotic art from all over the world, with everything from Japanese cartoons to African sculptures.

An added bonus?  Step out onto the balcony and the tourists on Las Ramblas start pointing at you and laughing.  “Look at them!  They’re actually in that museum!”

To finish off our day?  Even more ham.  If you turn left when walking out of the museum and take the first street on your left, you’ll find a lovely store that sells jamon iberico in all forms — including in a cone.



For five euros, you got a lovely cone of delicious jamon.  Anyone who says that there aren’t enough meats in a cone in the world needs to come spend time in Spain.

And as we walked through the gorgeous Gothic Quarter through my ham-filled haze, I realized that I felt much more comfortable in Barcelona this time around.  Between booking a nice Barcelona hotel and having two great friends with me, I didn’t feel the need to walk around hunched over my purse the whole time, fending off any would-be robbers.

My Barcelona takeaway this time around?  It still may not be one of my favorite cities — but I had a great time there.  After all this time, I just might be warming to the most popular city in Spain!


Where to Stay in Barcelona


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26 thoughts on “Barcelona and Me: The Complicated Relationship Continues”

  1. Haaaa… I can’t believe you.
    That’s the problem with towns which give to much expectations to people I guess.
    It’s been my new base for about a year and it’s a town which has several levels.
    Once you have passed the step of town with massive turism, it’s probably one of the city around the world that might surprises you the most.
    I can understand your point of view, I wasn’t that impressed at beginning especially living near Las Ramblas but once you know the secret places around, this city has a lot to offer.
    Be my guest next time and I’ll try to change to point of view (a little bit) 🙂

  2. Just stumbled into this website today while gathering info on Cambodia. Interesting read. Went to Barca for the first time in 2005 fresh out of college and hated it. Returned in 2011 to spend 8 glorious days there, including being in town when Barca won the Champions League and during the protests. It was electric and vibrant. It’s easily one of my favorite cities in the world, strictly because of the food, culture, people, architecture, beaches, weather, nightlife, soccer, charm, the list goes on. Much like New Orleans and Hong Kong, among others, I’ve definitely left a piece of my heart in Barcelona!

  3. I visited Barca for just a couple days several years ago and really enjoyed it – I was also fortunate enough to be staying with family who lived in the center of town and have my own personal tour guide take me out with her friends. It always comes down to timing and who you’re with I guess…it’s interesting to hear about other people’s experiences and opinions of a place!

  4. I feel the exact same way about BCN. After studying abroad, I spent my last few days in BCN and was sorely disappointed. A few years later, right before settling into Seville, I went with my grandmother during their big city festival, the Merce, and was delighted to warm up a bit to the city. I’ll be heading back this Christmas with my parents, now knowing much more Spanish, much more about the cuisine and loads about the current political climate.

  5. Ham in a cone! That takes meat-flavored ice cream to a whole new level- just drop the ice cream. I’m in Arequipa, Peru right now so I feel you on spending time in a crowded, dirty city that leaves you underwhelmed…

  6. I have wanted to go to Barcelona for ages and looks like I will get my chance next year so can’t wait!! As a veggie though I will have to pass up pn the ham! 😉

  7. I’m glad I read this before going to Barcelona. I hate visiting a buzzed about place and being let down. This happened to me in Macau and it cast a shadow over the whole trip. I love the rest of Spain but am glad to know I should moderate my expectations for that city by the sea. Ham in a cone though, that will win some points!

  8. I am so saddened by the fact that you didn’t enjoy Barcelona so much! I was there in the spring for 1 1/2 days and was enthralled. Hope to come back and see more! I guess every city has its day….I lucked out with a brilliant spring day being introduced to Gaudi. Made it all worth while. Never did try ham in a cone…always a reason to go back. (Like I ever needed one!)

  9. Appreciate any excellent post. The place different might anybody wardrobe types of information in their normal fantastic approach of publishing? I’ve a display future few days, that i’m around the seek out like data.

  10. Loved this article as it is true – a relationship with Barcelona can be very complicated. The first time I visited, I spent 3 days in the city and found it to be crowded, dirty, and overwhelming. I wasn’t sure I would ever return. Three years later I moved there for work – and fell madly in love with the city. To this day, I think of my time in Barcelona as one of the most amazing points in my life. What truly changed my perspective was the friends I made that had lived in Barcelona for years and knew the unique ways in which to appreciate the city. It’s true Las Ramblas is probably one of the worst parts of the city (tourists, crowding, robbery) but goodness when you get out of there – there is so much to find! Once you start exploring the neighborhoods, you will find a whole new Barcelona 🙂

  11. Barcelona is one of my favorites. Question for you: did you visit the neighborhoods El Born or El Raval to the east and west of the Gothic Quarter. As beautiful as the Gothic Quarter is, those 2 neighborhoods have a great vice with alot of innovative shops and restos. The Food in Barcelona is amazing, I see you enjoyed the jamon, but did you have a paella, they make great ones in BCN, not just in Valencia. The Catalan people are super friendly and helpful. The weather is great. Really, there is not much to hate (except maybe the crowds in August)! AND they have one of the best city beaches Ive ever seen, and great nightlife.

    1. I really need to return and give Barcelona the third chance that it deserves! I don’t think I visited either of those neighborhoods, and I didn’t visit the beach either. :-O Food-wise, I got spoiled in Costa Brava, but it made me realize how amazing Catalan food is!

  12. Isabel Villaça Limoli Silva

    I’ve been in Barcelona twice, sinceraly I would go back several times if It wasn’t so expensive for me.
    I loved the city, it’s so beautiful, the weather is gorgeous, the architecture is amazing, the Ramblas are so charmming and the Mediterranean food is delicious!
    Finaly I love Barcelona.

  13. I echo your sentiments about Barcelona Kate, I’ve been living here for a year and a half and I just don’t see whatever it is that causes people to fall in love with the place.

    Don’t get me wrong, there’s some great places in the city. Montjuic is really beautiful, Parc Guell is nice and you can do some great hikes in the hills above the city.

    I think I’ve been spoiled by living in Australia and New Zealand and being around beautiful landscapes. I’ve realised that I need to be around nature and don’t live in what I feel is a massive concrete jungle!

    Each to their own I guess. It’s these differences i opinion that make the world a great place!

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