Barcelona is Spain’s second largest city with 5.3 million inhabitants, and Spain’s most cosmopolitan city. It is the capital of Catalunya and sits on the Mediterranean Sea between Costa Brava to the north and Costa Daurada to the south. Most of its people speak Spanish and Catalan, but you can find people in the tourist areas who also speak English.
On the good side, we were fortunate enough to visit this beautiful city in late May to early June 2011 when two events were capturing much of Spain’s attention.
The first event was FC Barcelona’s 3-1 victory over Manchester United on Saturday. 28 May. Their victory parade, on 29 May 2011, literally shut down major portions of Barcelona.
The second event was a series of demonstrations against the current political and economic situation in Spain that were dubbed the “movimiento 15-M” - the “May 15th movement” - and “los indignados” – “the angry ones.” These demonstrations are similar to the ones taking place in Greece, Portugal, and even the U.K., where people accustomed to receiving handouts from formerly spendthrift governments are resisting the current economic reality. We have several photos of the Barcelona protest in this section.
On the bad side, Barcelona has a huge crime problem and thieves seem to specialize in stealing from tourists. Pickpockets ply their trade and thieves will steal anything unattended for even a second.
Also, many people who make their living in the tourist trade seem to hate tourists. Understand, right now Spain is the forth most popular tourist destination in the world (after France, the United States and China) with 52 million tourists visiting each year, and tourism generated some €62.1 billion ($91.8 billion) in 2010 according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. Even though tourism is a huge source of income, many people resent the tourists and, in many cases, make little effort to provide tourists with the services they pay for. This is evident in restaurants where some waiters seem to forget their establishments have menus in English and in many vendors who expend little effort to aid prospective shoppers. It’s counterintuitive, but these people would rather spite the tourist than make an honest sale. You can see this sentiment expressed in the photo to the right.