Now being picky is genetic for me, but I have been jokingly embarrassed into facing it. And for all those that nit-pick about less than perfect conditions, I am qualified to do that for you here. Hopefully you won’t dislike Barcelona for its warts and wrinkles if I give you a little HEADS UP.
Barcelona is known for its TILED sidewalks, especially on Passeig de Gracia with ones designed by Gaudi. The tiles are not colored or glazed but they do have patterns, most commonly with a circle theme. Much of the city has sidewalks which have patterned concrete, individual tiles, or both.
This is a great way to give even more character, but it is very difficult to maintain. So there will be a lot of variation, new and old, irregulaties and uneven areas, etc. PLEASE don’t mention this to any NATIVE resident as they are very proud. They even emblazoned their clothing with their tiles.
Now remember that everywhere in the world you will find this. It doesn’t always mean a derelict area so don’t get scared if you see it here. It is pervasive. The businesses have pull down security doors that cover the entire store front. They will be TAGGED by budding artists if they are unpainted and blank. The answer – tag it themselves. Many business have hired graffiti artists to paint these large pulldowns with more interesting designs or scenes, which seems to prevent random tags and shows that the wanna-bes respect the pros.
And I mean ALL forms of “smoking.” No matter where you walk, people will be smoking. It was really surprising to me as I had thought we had mostly won the battle against “big tobacco.” Even when dining al fresco the guests next to you or even UPWIND are often smoking. (Not to mention that you are often charged EXTRA to dine outside.) The restaurants have non-smoking policies INSIDE so guess where the smokers eat? Many smokers also roll there own cigarettes so it doesn’t always mean they are using marijuana – but often THEY ARE. Especially in the evenings and in favorite tourist areas you WILL smell a lot of this.
When you head for the servicio/aseo/etc. don’t be surprised if the opposite sex is in there with you. No, no there … only the sink area is shared, and not ALL the time. But the main reason for this is that there is just not that much space available. So you may have to stand beside the toilet to close the door for privacy and then wash your hands in the smallest sink you have ever seen.
Now, here is a treat for you. A clock under your feet, with one light for hours and one for minutes, still working and accurate, from the 1929 International Exposition. It is located at C/Rocafort 2 just outside a bank branch.
Public water fountains are common in European cities and especially Barcelona. They are old but well maintained and a welcome sight especially in the hot, humid summers. Some are quite elaborate – more photos on the GALLERY page.
Lastly, when you get back to your piso/apartment/flat in that wonderful 100 year building, you will be met by THAT door. The doors are tall but not too heavy with NO door knob – just a big pull. So you have to use your key to unlatch and then push to open. And on the other side – again NO KNOB. Not difficult to close but fun to open each time you go out. Oh…Did I mention the quite fancy peep holes?