1. No, we are not “Spain”.
It’s easy to notice that something here is not like the rest of the country. We speak a different language and celebrate our own independence day, wearing T-shirts that claim we’re on the verge of a new republic. The battle for independence between Catalonia and the Kingdom of Spain is no news, so it’s important to be aware of it. If you hang out with locals, you’ll often find yourself embroiled in some debate over whether we should stay with Spain or secede. There’s no being neutral when you get called upon for an opinion, so study your facts and have a good answer ready.
2. Our city isn’t just a summer playground.
Every year, the jump in population numbers due to tourism is…well, dramatic, to put it lightly (to be totally real, it’s absolutely insane). Just last year, we went from 1.6 million regular residents to a whopping 9 million during the hot months. You do the math. I don’t even wanna know what the numbers for summer ’16 will be, but here’s the takeaway: though long summer nights are the perfect scene for wild house parties, clubbing at La Terrrazza till 5am and hitting up the 24-hour rave after, some of us still have to get up and go to work. Now, having to jump over a passed out English bro stuffed in a tutu for his bachelor party on my staircase is not exactly the Monday morning start I hope for. Please, be mindful that the city is home to a lot of people who need sleep and try to keep it down.
3. We have one of the best cuisines in the world.
Move over, France. Even the god of all travel, badass chef Anthony Bourdain recognized our simple, yet brilliant cuisine, and I quote: “outside of Asia, Spain is the single greatest place for culinary achievement in the world.” Simple as that. We want you to know that you can fix yourself a ridiculously delicious pa amb tomàquet with a piece of bread, a tomato and olive oil. Our jamón, both ibérico and serrano is top notch and so is our Manchego cheese. We’ve got fresh bacalao and mussels coming in from the Mediterranean every morning that we casually throw in an esqueixada, juicy butifarra and alioli (which I personally put on everything). Even if you only came here to eat, it will be worth your while.
4. No one runs errands on the weekend.
Because we’ve got lives! Actually though, we do like to rest and hit up the Montjuïc trails with or go biking in Sarrià, so don’t expect anything to be open.
5. We want you to get your health on.
“Good you wake up early, you have to take care of yourself,” my girl tells me as she hands over the coveted café con leche every morning at my usual 365 bakery spot. Even when busy schedules get to us, we still find 30 minutes here and there to circle around Barceloneta with our rollerblades on, skate by MACBA or run by the port. Barcelona locals like to eat well, exercise and spend time with family and friends because to them, this is wholesome life. Roll with them long enough, and you’ll learn to enjoy life a little more.
6. We’ll teach you Catalan for free.
Catalans love speaking their own language and are always happy to help others learn it, too. The government had even rolled out a free integration program where you can take 3 basic levels for free before deciding whether you’d like to stick with it or not. I’ll tell you this much – if you’re an expat or even a visitor who speaks Catalan, your time here will be much more authentic and you’ll be treated as a close friend.
7. We don’t take any BS.
You’ll notice that Barcelona locals speak their mind a lot. Be it to encourage or argue with you, whether it’s bargaining for a better product at a smaller price or negotiating salaries, locals feel very comfortable representing themselves and demanding exactly what they want until they get it. Take notes.
8. Tolerance is important to us.
While Europe has been facing one of the toughest migration processes lately, lots of countries are skeptical and even unwelcoming to refugees. Not us. The “welcome refugees” poster graced Plaça Sant Jaume all summer because as long as you need help and come with good intentions, we’re here for you.