My Sunday in Barcelona posts are taking a break, such is my social life :), but since I noticed that there are some people actually reading what I write around here and very few of them are from Barcelona as per the stats, I thought about sharing my suggestions for a newcomer in the city. They can apply for people living here longer, I´ll share some secrets with everybody 🙂
I shall not discuss practical info such as the nightmare of finding an apartment, the obscene price of living, how to get your documents in order, health insurance, Internet providers or stuff like that, mainly because I want to keep an upbeat tone to this post and also because I do not know all the needed details. However, should you need any type of advice on that, I could try to help, so just leave me a comment.
Before getting to the point, I need to say it again, beware of the pickpockets and try to avoid scams of all sorts. You can read my advice on this topic here. It would also be a very good idea to follow Mossos (local police) on Twitter and/or Facebook. They share a lot of relevant information and they sometimes post it in English also.
In no particular order, some tips for your Barcelonian adventure:
Once you have your N.I.E. and Empadronamiento sorted out (that is, when you are officially registered here), one of the best ideas is to register at the nearest library. The Library Red is quite extensive and you´ll surely find one close to you. Useful links: details on the libraries and online information
The library card (free, valid in all public libraries in Catalunya and with no expiration date) identifies you as a user of the Network of Municipal Libraries of the province of Barcelona. It allows you to use those public library services that require identification and to enjoy many advantages (theater discounts, library shops discounts, generally a lot of discounts). You can request the card online or at your nearest library.
In the libraries you can obtain (for free) 2 very important treasures: WiFi and air conditioning. You can connect to the WiFi even if you are not yet registered with the library and that can prove very useful, because as you´ll find out with the price of your own neurons, 3 days are never 3 days and you´ll wait even weeks for the magical “técnico” who´ll connect you to the www. 🙂
Another very nice perk of being a barcelonian is the Gaudir Més barcelovers promotion, about which you can find details here. They reunite multiple discounts: free access to the sites of Museu d´Historia de Barcelona, free entrance at Guell Park, free access to Monestir de Pedralbes – I´ve written about is also, free access to Castell de Montjuic – recommended by me also :), free entry to Jardí Botanic and multiple others. The process of registering is not very difficult, you just need to go to a OAC office and they´ll take your fingerprint and then you are free to go (you can find detailed steps on their page). Highly recommended, I think. Museums are not cheap here, while some of them are very beautiful. When you´ll go for the hundredth time to visit Guell with some of your guests, you´ll be happy that you have free entry 🙂
I would not call Barcelona a particularly bike-friendly city, mainly because bikes get stolen all the time but also because the traffic is a bit hectic. However, there are some decent bike lanes and there are not many things more barcelonian than going to the beach with your municipal bike and not finding a place to park it 🙂 There is a red of public bikes, including electric. The fee is not very high, you only pay it once a year, 47.17 eur and with this you have 30 minutes free for a ride, which is generally enough to get almost anywhere. Check more details on their page. My opinion: it is useful, but don´t expect too much quality or a great client service and be very careful.
A very useful site is Barcelona és molt més where you can find plenty of suggestions. Subscribe to their newsletter and you´ll receive a weekly e-mail with plans and updates. A similar one, but focused more on cultural events in the town, is Barcelona Districte Cultural. And of course, not to be forgotten, Time Out, which is a great resource for daily recommendations.
If you wish to start learning Catalan (it would make your life a lot easier if you could understand a bit, at least), you can do that for free in many places, but the most centralized option so to speak is Consorci per la Normalització Linguistica. If you want to learn Spanish, do yourself a favor and try to find a place in a public official school. The price is amazing, a lot cheaper than most others and the quality is superior (I think). Check that out here. As you can imagine, the demand is a lot bigger than the offer, they even have to organize a lottery for distributing places, but it is worth trying.
Finally, another point of interest that you should search for is your nearest Centre Civic. These are magical places with many specific community events, conferences and all sorts of classes, from yoga to cooking to English and mindfulness, the whole range.
Barcelona has a lot to offer beyond its well-known face and you´ll become a #barcelover in no time once you´re here! Hope all this will be useful for someone sometime and I´ll share more in due time!
To finish, I leave here a video of a very popular song (I do not like the lyrics very much, but that does not actually matter , it is meant to show you the spirit of the people here, during La Mercé, which is the city´s major celebration, coming next week):