SURPRISING FACTS ABOUT BARCELONA – PART 1
By moving to this city for Erasmus or any other reason you are in for a great experience! Sunny weather, warm sea and friendly people, it’s just the right mixture for an enjoyable stay. To make the most of your stay, there are a few surprising facts about Barcelona you need to know.
Here’s the first part of surprising facts about Barcelona!
To get you well prepared we have made a list of things that are slightly different here than… in the rest of the world. Some Spanish customs are quite original and it is better to be aware of them or you can get lost in the translation.
1. Air kissing when saying “hello”
When you meet somebody new or meet up with friends you normally cheek kiss them twice. Actually, you touch cheek to cheek with the greeted person and make the kissing noise, just like at the beginning of Almodovar’s movie “Volver”. What’s interesting this occurs not only in friendly informal situations but also in the formal business ones.
2. Learn some Catalan
Keep in mind that even though you are coming to Barcelona, Spain, in fact you are going to live in Catalonia. And Catalan is spoken here. Never forget that it is a language, not a dialect. And be prepared to hear and see it everywhere. From the airport through metro ride up to the people you will meet on the streets and in shops. More importantly, you will have classes in Catalan at the university. Check up front what selection of classes you have and in what language they will be led to avoid surprises. Meanwhile, you can start learning Catalan at parla.cat.
3. Go anywhere by Bicing
What is the best way to move around Barcelona? Get a Bicing card and take advantage of bicycle sharing system. It’s the cheapest and most comfortable means of transport in the capital of Catalonia. Of course, if you plan to live within Barcelona city where all the stations are located. Register online for the system at bicing.cat and pay an annual fee of 47 euros. And you´re in. Just need to wait for the card to come to your address and you can go for a ride. Take the bike from a station near your home and leave it on any other close to your destination point. In order to find Bicing stations you can download free Bicing App. It’s just as simple as this.
4. Don’t even think about eating out of the schedule
The Spaniards are pretty serious about their meals. They eat them at the same hours every day. At least when it comes to lunch and dinner. In Barcelona you eat your lunch between 2pm and 4pm and any exceptions from the schedule will inspire questions and strange looks. This is also the time when some grocery shops, small and traditional businesses close for lunch. If you do not get acquainted with the eating timetable, this beautiful Spanish tradition, you are very likely to be starving in Barcelona from time to time. For example, take the restaurants, even on weekends most of them are closed after lunch and until dinner, i.e. from 4:30pm till 8pm! Just about time for an early dinner or late lunch on a lazy Sunday. I think I will never get used to it and they… can’t be bothered.
5. Not common to leave tips in the restaurants
You can take it as your petit revenge for the previous one. The Spaniards rarely leave tips at the restaurants. I’ve never seen one doing so. If you are very kind or especially liked the service or food, you are most welcome to leave a tip. But if you can’t be bothered, then you don’t have to.