I Tried Hating Barcelona
I tried hating Barcelona, it even tried to help me when I arrived. From the six euro fare on the A2 bus into the city, from where I had to walk another half hour, to the 2.72 euro hidden tax at the Sant Jordy Hostel, I thought this city was trying to rip me off. I spent a week and a half year and by the end I made up my mind Barcelona is one of the most authentic big cities I’ve been to.
The more I travel, the more I realize, I hate big cities, cities that are renowned, porous with tourists because everyone knows them, and whose centers are built around tourism. The problem I see with these cities is that they’re giving in to entrepreneurs who don’t give a shit about the authenticity and culture that attracted people in the first place; for them it’s business. Many big cities have over the top, preserved centers, or specific neighborhoods, yet are contrasted by monotonous residential areas and chain stores, making them as boring as the DMV to go through. I love how Barcelona is the opposite; the center is obnoxious with it’s Starbucks and McDonald-like clones, and everything around it is still preserved and more authentic.
What I Love
I saw Barcelona in early December and it wasn’t hot like I expected, but I loved not having to walk through herds of moseying tourists (except for on Saturday night, that sucked). I like space, and I like walking unimpeded; In Barcelona’s center I could avoid people by roaming the alleys, there’s so many everywhere! I love how few cars ride those streets, compared to my capital Vilnius, Lithuania.
Barcelona has a level of detail that’s unique to me. I love how
there’s waterspouts everywhere. If you’re paying for water in Barcelona, you shouldn’t be. I love how few skyscrapers there are, and how little you have to walk until you come across a plaza, city square, or park. These buildings are traditional, they’re quiet and this area is huge! Every time I wander the city I find something that wows me.
I can’t do big cities for over a week now without needing to run away, and I’m glad I discovered Montjuïc (pronounced mont-zhuyk), the closest mountain to the city, and an amalgamation of parks. It was here I found my true love.
If You Like Climbing…
…you’ll love Montjuïc. Wandering through the parks I came across a valley with a rugby field and bouldering hall. I walked past the boulder hall until I reached a long tunnel that cut through the mountainside and to my surprise, it was filled with climbing holds spanning the entire length and 180 degree area!
A Sikh Experience
Apart from climbing at La Foixarda, eating lunch with the Sikhs was my favorite activity. My hospitality exchange host showed it to me, and though we weren’t supposed to speak during our meal, the charity of the Sikhs amazed me as much as the food was delicious.
If you’re a respectable person, you like vegetarian Indian food, and you want an authentic experience, there’s a Sikh Temple on Carrer de Hospital that you can visit at lunchtime and eat amazing food (Note: you must wear long pants or a long skirt and you’re not allowed to have eaten meat or smoked that day to enter). Once you enter, you take your shoes off, wash your feet in the nearby foot shower, wash your hands, wrap a bandanna around your head from the nearby deposit, enter past the seated people who are eating and walk towards the altar (where you can leave a donation in the gold box). There kneel down, give thanks, be grateful. Then walk to a kneeling man across from the altar and kneel in front of him with open hands, he’ll scoop a lump of sweet porridge in your hand, which you’re supposed to accept, return to kneeling where you were while eating it, and then afterwards go sit down with the other eating people; someone will bring you a metal dish, spoon and cup and people will walk by with buckets of curries and rice which they’ll scoop on your dish. Afterwards bring your plate up the stairs, wash it, and be on with your day.
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