Traveling around the world for the last few years I had a certain approach of how I wanted to travel. It was a position against traveling to Europe on the sole premise that “everyone does it.” I didn’t want to travel to popular countries and tourist attractions and instead chose to take the road less traveled. I lived in Eastern Africa and visited places like Somalia & South Sudan, visited the Guiana’s in Northern South America, and found some splendors touring throughout the entire northern coast of Brazil (think the Brazil Maldives).
They were all interesting in their own right but there is a reason why Europe is the most visited place in the world.
There is a reason why “everyone wants to do it.”
I wanted to explore and discover world’s highlights that people may have never heard of. Places that even my travel blogger friends may not have known of. I even had harsh feelings for the United States since that is where I grew up the majority of my childhood.
My attitude of both Europe and United States changed once I arrived from living in India. Living conditions in India are so drastic that I would consider it 4th world. Once in New York City there was a blizzard on the horizon and having acclimated to life in India I told a friend we better prepare with snacks and food just in case it gets very bad.
This was the blizzard in early 2013 and it was supposed to be one of the worst in ages.
My friend turned and laughed and said “this is New York City they deliver in blizzards.” I also laughed because I realized that I was too accustomed to living in India.
This made me realize that although I may not appreciate the United States as much as I should there is something special about every country in the world. At that moment my attitude changed towards the United States.
My outlook on Europe also changed when I arrived in early this year. I was able to tour through Belgium, London, Berlin, and of course, Barcelona.
I decided to stay for roughly a month to catch up on some work and didn’t have the best experience in the city.
In the city’s defense I wasn’t in tourist mode and instead was focused on completing some projects I have for my day trading business. It was at this point that we had a high level of day traders quitting their jobs and becoming profitable with the Congressive Trading Strategy I teach at the Day Trading Academy.
I didn’t have the best experiences with cuisine, I often didn’t enjoy conversations with people, but I did love the history and architecture.
I felt discriminated against and as though I was on the bottom of the food chain.
Many people around the world have pride in their citizenship. This is even more true in the Catalonian region of Spain where Barcelona lies. There is even a law that states all signs have to be in Catalonian instead of Spanish. They want to preserve their history and consider themselves to be Catalonian and not Spanish.
People on the island of Sicily consider themselves Sicilians and not Italian and even Texas in the United States are a special breed of Americans.
There are always these special regions in the world.
I explain this because of the way I was treated. While the Spanish are known to be more open they still consider themselves higher in the food chain. This is especially the case when compared to Latin Americans from Central and South America.
Although I am half Spanish and half Italian my Spanish dialect is from South America.
Just as Americans look down on Mexicans for coming to their country and doing dirty jobs the Spanish do the same to Latin Americans. The situation has grown a more dire as the Spanish consider many foreigners to be stealing their jobs away from them. There is quite a bit of irony here as the Spanish once looked down on Moroccans as well. The Spanish are actually fleeing Spain in search of jobs in Morocco.
Latin Americans have been arriving at the shores of the Spanish (among other countries) to look for opportunity or decades.
The amount of money one could earn cleaning toilets in a city like Barcelona is still 10 times the amount someone could earn in their home countries. This includes high paying jobs such as lawyers or doctors in South America.
This creates a negative perception of the people exactly like the observations that most Americans have Mexicans.
This is precisely the reason why the Spanish look down on people that come from Latin America. Most of the time they are doing all of the dirty work.
When you interact with someone if you don’t have a proper Spanish accent this is normally the attitude that arises. Many tourists may not have experienced the same behavior as they come from countries of higher class. In other words, Americans don’t go to Spain to clean toilets and sidewalks.
Another item I wasn’t particularly impressed with was the food in Barcelona. When I speak to many people about my dislike for the cuisine in the popular city many think I’m crazy. Outside of paella, sangria, and good fish, the only thing remaining are greasy meats and breads.
For the better part of the month I was in Barcelona I was eating international cuisine such as Starbucks and sushi. That is one of the great things about Barcelona is that it is such an international city.
I have been officially invited to explore the wonders of the Catalonian region by the Catalonian tourism board in Spain. I definitely look forward to giving the city a second chance as I think it does deserve a closer inspection. Very excited to be able to get outside the city of Barcelona and visit The Pyrenees as well as the other unique destinations in the region.
Nos vamos a Barcelona Tio.
Update: Heading back to Barcelona and even Portugal this summer and booked an apartment with OK Apartment Barcelona. Going to spend about a week or more in the city so will be great to experience it again!
We didn’t LOVE Barcelona either. It was on our our last cities we visited on our RTW trip. It was a HUGE let down. The architecture wasn’t as great as many other parts of the world. I found the people unfriendly. The food was mediocre. It was the high season.
On the other hand, we LOVED Pamplona (we ran with the bulls), the metropolitan feel of Madrid and loved Northern Spain even more. Although, I would make a bet, if we to have gone during the off-season- we would be sure to enjoy ourselves more!
We are interested to see how your second round goes! Cheers!
Will definitely have to check out Pamplona K.T. Thanks for the note!
I’m a US citizen living in Mexico.
I have had several “encounters” with the Spanish here in Mexico. Most of them are here looking for work or going to university. Why? They don’t have any jobs in Spain. That is definition of irony. The Spanish people that I have met were arrogant, racist, condescending, slightly nationalist and thought they were better than Mexicans and most Latin Americans, for that matter.
As a Black woman, I have zero use for Spain and the Spanish. I don’t have sympathy or empathy for their country’s economic crisis. They used to be an empire during the reign of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinando but now they are just another tiny country struggling through the fall of the euro, clinging to their glorious past of conquering and racism.
Read the works written by the Catholic priest, De las Casas, he has a lot of things to say about Spain in the Americas.
I also know about the human sex trafficking of African women to Spain, and the fact that Spain was denied the FIFA World Cup, twice. Why is that? They have a bad reputation about racism towards Blacks and people with dark skin. They were even penalized by FIFA a few years back.
I am no patriot or nationalist of the United States, which is why I will never step foot in the US, but at least North Americans discuss racism, race, classicism openly especially in light of things like the Oscar Grant and Trayvon Martin murders.
When will Spain apologize for its part in the Atlantic Slave trade and when will Spain acknowledge its sordid history in Latin America from the Dominican Republic down to Ecuador?
I have heard Spanish people congratulating themselves for colonizing the Americas. “Well at least we brought the savage indigenous people the Catholic church and the Spanish language. They’re more civilized now.” unquote. What hubris! As if the Catholic church is something to be proud of.
What is so special about Spain? What is so remarkable? Architecture, art, food? Those are in other countries too. What matters to me is a people’s collective character. Are they welcoming? Are they warm? Has the country atoned for its past?
Spain has no jobs and their youth are pouring out of the country with university diplomas in hand, hopes, dreams for the future, racism in their collective psyches, and arrogance. Yet they are fleeing to Morocco and Latin America with this attitude. That is irony.
Interesting notes Kyli.. thanks for the comment.
Excuse me. I’m Spanish. NEVER IN MY ENTIRE LIFE have I discriminated against someone because of their skin color or procedence. NEVER IN MY ENTIRE LIFE have I “congratulated myself” for colonizing the Americas. On the contrary, I find what we did over there to be disgusting.
“Human sex trafficking”? What???
“Arrogant, racist, condescending, slightly nationalist and thought they were better than Mexicans and most Latin American”???? Well, I’m sorry you’ve encountered people like that, but neither I nor ANYONE I KNOW IN MY COUNTRY are like that, fuck you very much.
I don’t have a problem against your skin color or where you live. I DO have a problem against YOUR racism against my country and my people. The way you generalized here is truly DISGUSTING.
For the rest of the people in this article, Catalonia is a special place in Spain. Come visit the rest of Spain, I guarantee you’ll feel very welcome and you will find very warm and nice people. My country has many wonderful places. It has its faults, like every country, but it has way more virtues. Come see by yourselves and don’t listen to hateful people who get mad about racism against them and then are racist against others in return.
Waiting for you in Spain! 🙂
Oh, and what is that about the FIFA? That’s not true at all. I have NO IDEA what you’re talking about. Amazing, what you read on the internet sometimes.
Oh! I do hope you like it better this time. I have had the good fortune of spending time in Costa Brava twice in the last calendar year and I absolutely adore it. Friendly people, great food and gorgeous scenery.
I personality really enjoyed Barcelona but this was as a tourist (with no ties to Spanish speaking) but I enjoyed it for its liveliness and architecture. Though hearing your view is rather interesting too.
Better luck next time!
Great picture of the Sagrada Familiar by the way
Interestingly your experiences reflect ours of a few years ago but we put it down to the fact that we spoke a little Spanish but no Catalan. This was our worry this year when we visited the Costa Brava (out of season) but it couldn’t have been more different. Lovely people, delicious food (away from the touristy hotspots) and glorious countryside.
Barcelona, once you’ve seen the architectural attractions? Over-rated. Now, Pamplona, I agree with the previous comment…even without the bulls…wonderful.
May be heading to the bull run very soon Lynn.. thanks for the comment!
Like a traveler, born in Barcelona and living in Barcelona I think that your opinion seem a “tourist travelers guide” (food and monuments) IMHO. If you come back, just email-me and, maybe, you can know another city: No Gaudí, no Ramblas, no paella, no sangria and no bulls. That’s the tipical Spain image. And, finally, “Catalonia is not Spain” that’s no the same that Texas or Sicilian people. Talk with the catalan people. Best regards and good luck next time.
I felt the same way my first time in 2007. Being from Puerto Rico, felt the snub the minute I started talking. A few years later, I visited again, this time staying with locals and it changed my perspective. Now Just after my 4th visit, we’ve decided to have our destination wedding there. Were received great service from the restaurants we visited and the food/wine was excellent at all the tastings. I’m happy I gave it a second chance. Hope you enjoy your second time around!
Thanks Jessica it was much better the second time around
Love Barcelona. I lived, worked and studied in Bcn in 2007 and again 2011. It is one of my favorite cities in the world. Creative, lively with positive atmosphere. There are things do do for any type of people at any point of the day. Still, the city is not too big and has many spots where you can relax and enjoy.
Dont love the Catalan pride. This part makes Barcelona ugly and unattractive. The locals, even more in the city surroundings are absolutely obsessed with the topic, bringing it up constantly, even if you just met them. In certain parts they are right, but I have noticed that they created a bubble with the same “reasons for independency” that are circling around without even being true.
I also had an opportunity to participate at a Q&A with one of the tourism bodies and it left kind of a bitter taste. While they are doing an amazing job with tourism marketing and development for the region, at the same time the Catalan independency “issue” cannot be avoided (although the words are always chosen wisely).
Although it is very annoying, Bcn has so many more positive things that take my attention while im there.
Sagrada Familia looks so breathtaking even from the pictures! Great post!
Its def an amazing piece of architecture
I’ve been several times now and there’s always things to see, although, I confess, I have to put some effort in getting over hordes and hordes of tourists (and tourist menus, and employees looking to take advantage of tourists) every time. However, the last time I completely fell for the Montserrat Monastery! I would recommend, if people have the time, they visit Montserrat for the day — a beautiful beautiful mountain monastery that’s easily reached.
Interesting perspective … it’s funny how the tables have turned now that a developed world country like Spain has tanked, while Latin America’s star has continued to rise in spite of the economic troubles in the world.
The Sagrada Familia, I cannot wait to see when I do make it to Europe!
I have thought about that irony quite a bit Tim
I’ve found the Sagrada Familia more beautiful with its 4 finalized towers (the 2008 look). I’ve gotten used to that design.
It’s a bit weird seeing the plans of what it’ll become…
Loved Gaudi’s lizard! Too bad they don’t make exact replicas for souvenir. The ones they sold had different colours 😛
Can’t wait to visit Barcelona for the 4th time! 😀
Very interesting. I was there for a few days earlier this year and I have to admit the city didn’t do much for me. Maybe because it was such a short trip? But there have been places I have visited for less time and really liked. Maybe it’s because the only ‘big’ city that I have been to that I love is Paris. I generally prefer the outdoors and away from large groups of tourists in a queue.
I did spend some time in the south of France near the Spanish border and loved it there, so I am really curious to read about when you see The Pyrenees
You know Damien… I can still say the same to be honest about the city. I will most likely be going back around June/July so look forward to giving a fourth/fifth shot.