A typical day involves me first waking up around 6:00-7:00am, and I then head out to the Pakistani grocers that populate the Raval area. They are great for finding cheap bargains on food staples, such as meat, vegetables and fruit. I remember I bought 4 avocados for 5 euros and a whole chicken and sausages for 7 Euros. It may seem odd to be so money conscious, however it is very easy to overspend in Barcelona. Tourist traps like Las Ramblas make it easy to spend over 35 Euros on a dinner. Avoid buying something on the main street at all cost.
I do enjoy la Boqueria which to me is the only reason to walk Las Ramblas. Although it’s on the tour maps, locals shop there, so it’s touristy but not a trap. What I love about the market is I can experience foods that are unique to Spain like butifarra, jamon and morcillia. I have spent 20-30 Euros some days on these items. If food and drink is not your milieu, Barcelona has plenty to offer such as Barceloneta beach I have never liked beaches. I get sand in my tire treads and you see half naked people that have no business being half naked.
I do know a lot of people that come here for the beaches, so if you like them then you should have no problems liking these. There is sand and surf and people-watching. The greatest aspect of this city is that no matter what your interest is you can find something to like. Arts and culture are well represented with Gaudi, museums and quirky neighborhoods.
Barcelona has plenty of hassles to go with its joys. My Butcher shop is located on top of a well-worn cracked step, so the Pakistani butcher with their blood-encrusted aprons lift my chair up and I make my meat selections in gringo Spanish. I think a portable ramp may be a good investment in the future. That’s probably my least favorite aspect of the city not everything’s ideally accessible but you make due and try not to get down.
Aside from food shopping, the other part of my day is usually assignment work. Be it writing blogs, reports or research, I try and make my work the focus of the day. If I have any down time I usually spend it internet surfing or trying to read George Orwell’s Homamage to Catalonia. It’s amassing that a lot of what Orwell wrote 70+ years ago about Catalans is still true. He writes no foreigner can avoid learning the word “mañana”, even the Spanish joke about their poor time management. Later in the same paragraph, Orwell writes the Catalans show a great generosity of spirit, where if you would like a cigarette they would not hesitate to give you their pack. I do not know about cigarettes, but I have seen a man pay my 2 dollar bus fare while I was fumbling with my change and have had guys tie my bags so they are secure without any prompting. That generosity of spirit is still there, so hopefully others get a chance to see it.
By Jacob Renner
Ball State University
You are living the life, Jake! Nice post. I enjoy hearing about your travels!