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Currently in Barcelona

Disclaimer: this is my personal perspective. My husband and I are currently in Barcelona as tourists, arrived Sept. 27. We knew about the referendum but chose not to change our travel plans, which were already set. We debated whether we should stay in our apartment the whole day on Oct. 1 but decided to take a group tour to Girona and Figueres. The tour was without incident. There was a large gathering in Pl. Catalunya when we returned but we walked home just fine. We're keeping a close eye on the local news. It was horrifying to watch events unfold. I can't believe this is happening in the year 2017. A part of me wishes we were home, but life happens. My heart goes out to those that call Barcelona home, because they have to live this reality. We know tomorrow will be the general strike and everything will be closed. Our plan is to walk to some squares we wanted to see, and look at some churches from the outside. I apologize if it sounds selfish or callous, but I still plan to make the most of it & find what positivity we can.

Posted by Enric
Barcelona (Catalonia)
1699 posts

Why shouldn't you? this is not being selfish, nor disrespectful towards us... Besides, you won't find any sort of violence coming from regular citizens or "our" police here in Catalonia. However, avoid areas with heavy presence of Spanish police, especially their paramilitary, as they can be unpredictably violent as seen during the referendum day. So as not to be mistaken, have a look at this BBC video (1) to distinguish between Spanish police and Catalan Police. You will also find the local Barcelona police patrolling the city.

(1) Yes, this was Barcelona two days ago, yes this is 2017, yes this is a Western "democracy" as understood by the Spanish Prime Minister

Posted by GoodmanTX
Texas
23 posts

I think Enric is being a bit partisan. I doubt either the police (national, provincial or city) or the separatists will bother tourists, but some areas could be blocked off. You probably have more to be concerned about from pickpockets. Stay alert as you should in any large city; if you see or hear what may be trouble ahead, walk the other way; but don't go down dark alleys at night.

All that being said, Barcelona is a very enjoyable city (especially the food), and I am already booked to return.

Posted by Suki
New York
1270 posts

The animosity of the Catalans va Spain was obvious when we visited. Catalans, Basques , both in Spain but not of Spain. Let them go!

Posted by Enric
Barcelona (Catalonia)
1699 posts

Food for thought to those saying I'm partisan -which I am, of course, how can't I be?, yet I'll be quoting different local newspapers so no one can say I'm also biased:

Surely those of you that have visited before recognize some of these places.... is this "disruptive" enough for a would-be visitor?

Posted by Carminia OP
San Jose, California
15 posts

@GoodmanTX -

Too late, we've already walked down many dark alleys 😁 cuz there are lots of those where we are.

This is our 2nd trip and as predicted we are loving it. We've seen so many beautiful places and had great food in the past few days. Also we've done SO much walking that I'm looking forward to a day of rest today. We went to the grocery yesterday to stock up.

Looked out the window just now: lots of tourists walking around but of course everything is closed. Will do a leisurely wander later.

Posted by Maria
Ontario, Canada
523 posts

Thank you for the update Carminia and your grace in your comments. However, I am sorry that you feel you need to apologize.
I feel for the people of Barcelona and Catalonia as things unfold. After all, this is their city - their lives. But today, I also feel for those who arrive and still have the commitments to lodgings to try to figure out how to get there, what is running, where and how will they feed their families today. It may seem petty to some, but not to them.
This is an important time for the Catalans, but tourists cannot be expected to have the same emotional investment. They need the practical details of how to function in a city of uncertainty. Yes, they need to be flexible, aware and empathetic; but they still have commitments and financial and emotional investment of their own for the time they are in Barcelona. They are tourists. They need to be recognized as 'tourists'. They are not supported by travel insurance or airlines to change plans as there are no safety risks at this time so they either go, or absorb the costs (which could be significant). They should not have to apologize for needing to ask for practical help, or for wanting to still enjoy their time there.
I don't write this to upset regular posters, or to be callous; but I am of a practical realistic nature. Right now, there are different realities depending on each one's identity - tourist, Catalan, Spaniard - and I feel they all need to be respected and recognized as not all feeling the same. (perhaps I should also add the disclaimer: this is my personal perspective).

Posted by Enric
Barcelona (Catalonia)
1699 posts

... I hope my "Why shouldn't you?" response above is understood to be for Carminia's last sentence "but I still plan to make the most of it & find what positivity we can" :)) as I totally agree with Maria.

Posted by Carminia OP
San Jose, California
15 posts

Update: we walked around Pl. de Sant Felip Neri, El Call, Santa Maria del Pi, the outside of MUHBA, Pl. Del Rei so I felt we were still able to be tourists without any problems. Some restaurants, bars and stores were open as well as Carrefour. El Corte Ingles seemed to be open. La Boqueria had a handful of stalls open. Walked up to Pg. de Gracia and since the street was closed we walked in the middle.

At Via Laietana we encountered a huge protest march. Many tourists were actually running away from it. No police were blocking the way. It was peaceful. We wanted to pay our respects, so to speak, and just watched from the side. It was everyone: young people, school children, the elderly. You could feel the emotion in the air. At no time did we ever feel uncomfortable or like people wanted us to leave. We saw the Mossos answering questions from tourists with luggages. Nobody was aggressive to us in any way.

We found a restaurant near our apt and had a sit down lunch. It was a little touristy but so nice to sit down after all that walking!

We wouldn't have changed our travel plans because it would have cost us a lot of money to do so. Above all we want to be respectful but acknowledge that of course we are tourists. We are flying out very early Friday morning but we'll be back, Barcelona! Just like many people, we will return.

Posted by Maria
Ontario, Canada
523 posts

Carminia, thank you for the update - from the ground. When there are generalized posts that 'everything is closed', it makes it difficult to know the impacts. So thankful marches are peaceful and Mossos is calm about it. I expect more days like today in the near future.

Posted by Sassenach
Hershey, PA
4 posts

Thank you for this post, I am following as my husband and I are currently in Bath, England set to fly to Barcelona on Saturday. Really unsure what we should do at this point as our Air Bnb is strict cancellation policy and I don't think we would get money back from our flights either, (been planning for over a year so not pocket change to us ) but also don't want to put ourselves in an unsafe climate or be insensitive to the local people and what they must be experiencing just to see some sites.

Posted by Enric
Barcelona (Catalonia)
1699 posts

@Sassenach... this is only your decision of course. Nobody knows how the situation will evolve. I can only post facts and personal views on the situation in the street -as I live here.

As per the open suggestion of another member yesterday here at RS, I have asked permission to the Webmaster to open up a specific thread so I could be posting there the developments as they occur. I, however, have not received yet any answer, although I suspect when I do RS will prefer not to alter its policies -which I understand. In that case, I might open up a temporary blog for those interested.

In any case, and this is just my very own personal view, I wouldn't cancel your trip -at least not just yet. As I've mentioned before, there are no issues on personal safety in the streets even in the large demonstrations... which are all peaceful. Yet, of course, we also thought the Spanish police wouldn't savagely attack innocent civilians last Sunday....

Posted by Ken
Spring, Texas
623 posts

My wife and I will be flying into Barcelona on 12 October. We will then start the Rick Steves' Spain tour on the 14th. I'm optimistic that the overall situation will be much less volatile by then. I'll continue to watch the Forum for updates.

Thanks to those entering updates.

Posted by Maria
Ontario, Canada
523 posts

Ken, things may (or may not) be quiet. October 12 is Spain's 'National' Day, and being a Thursday, some people will also take off the Friday and leave town. Others may use it as a day to voice their side of the current situation....so just be aware.

Posted by Vivian
Kingston, ON Canada
206 posts

I am very thankful for this thread. We will be arriving, jet-lagged, early Friday morning (6 Oct). I don't have a desire to change my plans, nor would it be very practical if I did want to. We are to spend 3 nights (Fri-Mon) in the Eixample area (Best Western Premier Dante), and then embark on a cruise which ends in Rome. We have tickets for the Sagrada Familia and La Pedrera. We had planned to take the AeroBus from the airport, and to use public transportation during our stay.

Now, it seems that everything is up in the air -- I don't know how we are going to get to our hotel -- I have no concept if taxis are even operating. I don't know if our tickets will be wasted. What was a feeling of excited anticipation has turned into... what? I'm not sure. I feel some trepidation, some sadness, some regret.

I really do appreciate that the locals are dealing with incredible uncertainty at this time. But I can't help but wonder/worry about how it will all affect our time there. Sigh.

Enric and Carminia I am very grateful for your "on the ground" feedback -- both, with regard to the emotional atmosphere, and with plain practicalities. If you start a blog, Enric, I would be very interested in following it.

Thanks,
Vivian (& Bryce)

Posted by Carminia OP
San Jose, California
15 posts

Hi Vivian,

This General Strike is only supposed to last for one day, which is today. Of course things could change, but keeping my fingers crossed that transportation and the airport are back to "normal" on Friday - when we fly home!

If I had to guess, your tickets probably will be fine. There are thousands of tourists out and about, trying to do what touristy things are possible. So far nobody is angry at us about this. There were many walking tours still going on while we were out at midday. I guess our apartment is in a touristy area because many shops and restaurants are open on our street. The cold-pressed juicery across the way is doing a brisk business. When we asked yesterday, if they would be open today, they said YES.
Have a nice visit when you are here!

Carminia

Posted by Maria
Ontario, Canada
523 posts

If I may add, I have read elsewhere, that if Sagrada Familia is closed (like it is today) and you prebooked on their website; they are automatically refunding tickets....not that this helps your wish to see it...but they are taking responsibility.

Airport transport was running, but about 50% capacity. Taxis are around. Metro and buses have set hours they will run - usually during commuting hours.
There is the reality that the strike today was called by specific unions, and independent businesses were to allow their employees to choose whether to work or not - and they could choose whether to close or not. Carminia has seen not all chose to close.
My nonpolitical, practical voice says that as they lose dollars for every day closed, there may be fewer closures for repeated strike days.
But as it is still early days, 'one day at a time' may be the way it is.
I appreciate Vivian that you are there only a few days and were so excited. I am optimistic you can salvage part if not all your hopes. Perhaps you may be willing to research some plan B which includes parks or outdoor spaces. Parc de la Cituadella, Barceloneta, Mont Juice and its botanical gardens. Parc Guel (without the monumental area), walking the streets Eximple picking out modernista facades. It isn't fun having to make changes, but one can decide to keep the lemons or make lemonade.

Posted by conniebarton
20 posts

I appreciate everyone's comments about what is actually happening. My spouse and I will be ending a cruise in Barcelona on the 20th. Our plans are to visit Granada, Sevilla, and Madrid for 10 days total. Hoping all goes as planned but if life sends curveballs we will adjust. It doesn't seem unsafe at this point. Thank you all for the updates.

Posted by Vivian
Kingston, ON Canada
206 posts

Thank you for your encouraging words, Carminia and Maria. They are truly appreciated.

My husband and I are, indeed, "walkers" -- so we would definitely be getting out and about, going to parks, etc. I had hoped we might have time to rent bikes and ride along the Barcelonetta, even.

Even though we will only have "carry-on", walking from the airport to our hotel would be a bit much, though. ;-)

Thanks again. We will certainly be flexible (we will HAVE to be!) but, since I am the planner, it would be nice to have a feel for what to expect. I'm the type of person who, when planning, actually uses Google Maps Street View so I can actually SEE what the bus sign looks like and EXACTLY where it's located... etc... so this is throwing me off balance a bit. No worries -- it's all good -- it's just hard to change gears after what... a YEAR?... of planning! But, it could be worse. FAR worse.

Happy travels!
Cheers,
Vivian

Posted by Carminia OP
San Jose, California
15 posts

Night-time update: after bingeing on all the snacks we bought in case restaurants were all closed (many were open) all we wanted for dinner was an ice cream. We headed out to Pg. del Born on foot. The ice cream shop was crowded and out of the corner of my eye, I spotted people hanging out in front of El Diset, a wine bar just across the way. We walked across & entered. Loved it! I had the best glass of rose and we shared 3 small plates, which exceeded the quality of any bar food back home. Our favorite was the spicy sausage with goat cheese & honey, on crystal bread. Amazing! A great experience & a lucky find. As said previously, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade! Or gintonics! Despite the circumstances we still managed to have a great day, on vacation, as tourists.

Posted by Stacy
Connecticut
231 posts

We are flying into Barcelona on Sunday Oct 8 to start the RS tour on the 9th. Like everyone else, we've been looking forward to our trip for a long time, and hope things calm down, not just for ourselves but for everyone living through it. This thread has been helpful. Lessons so far: be flexible. Be patient. Be aware of your surroundings. Be considerate and sensitive to people's emotions and opinions. Thanks to those of you who have related what you've experienced in Barcelona these last few days.

Posted by Vivian
Kingston, ON Canada
206 posts

Lovely, Carminia! Your post made my heart sing. :-)

Posted by Gypsy girl
2 posts

This is all so incredibly helpful - thank you to everyone who is there giving live updates. We just want to gather as much information as possible to make our decision on whether or not to still come and stay in Barcelona. Continued updates and tips are much appreciated!

Best wishes to all who call Barcelona home. We hope to visit your beautiful city and embrace your culture!

Posted by Lane
Seattle, WA, USA
862 posts

I know this is a highly volatile and constantly evolving situation, but I just want to say I'm more than a tad bit envious of you, Carminia, and those others on this thread who are heading to Catalonia soon. You are in the middle of history in the making. How thrilling to be there to witness the goings-on. And thank you (and thanks also to Enric) for sharing your experiences with us.

Just stay safe! Given recent events, that is a caution that applies everywhere, and there's not always anything you can do to avoid a dangerous situation. I hope that events in Barcelona do not put anyone in harm's way, including the local people, and while I know there's no easy resolution to what's going on, I am rooting for outcomes that are peaceful.

Posted by Vivian
Kingston, ON Canada
206 posts

Testing. 1.2.3. I'm feeling like I'm not seeing the most recent posts on this thread.

Posted by Lane
Seattle, WA, USA
862 posts

Vivian, I have noticed that the timestamp does not actually show when the last new reply was added to a thread, but when the last edit to the original post or to any reply was made. And this causes the thread to jump up to the top of the All Posts list.

Webmaster, if you're listening, it would be great if you could fix this. I think edits to existing posts or comments should not cause the entire thread to get an updated timestamp.

Posted by jeffrey.goupil
2 posts

Thanks for all the comments on this thread.

We are in San Sebastián-Donostia now and head to Barcelona on Monday the 9th, we then train to Madrid on the 13th for a flight home to Seattle early on the 14th

Like everyone else on the thread, we are a bit nervous about the uncertainty, especially with the pending Declaration of Independence, expected "end of the week or this weekend".

We have adopted a wait and see approach, but changing plans will be difficult.

The one thing I am worried about is the train from Barcelona to Madrid as we did not leave ourselves a ton of wiggle room to account for strikes.

Please keep the "on the ground" posts coming.

Safe travels everyone!
Jeff and Jenny

Posted by April
Portland, OR
619 posts

We arrived in Barcelona yesterday and drove directly up to the Costa Brava. We are here until Saturday and are scheduled to return to Barcelona for a few nights before flying to Sicily. There was no acitivity at the airport and we didn't go into the city. Keeping our fingers crossed, but worst case scenario we will just stay on the Costa Brava until our scheduled flight out of BCN.

Posted by Vivian
Kingston, ON Canada
206 posts

Wow! I think Barcelona is my new favourite city! We arrived at 08:15 this morning, having flown overnight from Toronto.

We boarded the Aerobus (very easy, affordable and efficient) and jumped off and walked to our hotel. It would appear that EVERYTHING is running as I would expect them to, normally.

We had fun shopping in a local supermarket and now we are enjoying our own little tapas dinner in our gorgeous hotel room and balcony (wow... did we score well with this one!). We are sipping some Catalunya wine while we are waiting for our cava to chill. And... I am starting to fade.

Posted by jeffrey.goupil
2 posts

We've been in Barcelona since Monday and all is running normally. We feel safe and welcomed with no sign of political tension.

Happy travels!

Posted by thistleamy5
63 posts

We had no problems in Barcelona during our visit from Oct. 7 - 11. On Sunday my mom and I were trying to get to the Palau de la Música during the anti-independence protest. At first all was fine but the crowd grew from a few hundred to thousands within minutes catching my mom and I off guard. It was very peaceful but my mom has a heart condition and we could not move. It was a bit scary for a while as I really needed to get her out of the heat and crowds. A hotel in the area provided a place of refuge and the people at the front desk were so kind to let us rest and wait out the crowds. Based on their kindness - I would highly recommend visiting the Room Mate Pau hotel near Placa Catalunya. If not for their hospitality my mom may have had a heart event. Again the people marching and protesting could see the severity of our situation and were very kind in letting us through and trying to help us. No matter your views, I am forever grateful to the people of Barcelona on that day.

Posted by geesteve
4 posts

Currently in Barcelona and walked through today’s demonstration at Placa de Catalunya. Other than police blocking several streets you really didn’t see them. Peaceful, almost jovial mood. Young, old, families, some with strollers at the rally. Most people going about their daily business, lots of tourists on Las Ramblas, El Born, etc. But get the sense the situation could change on a dime so definitely monitor the news. For now, it’s a great time to be in Barcelona.

Barcelona was wonderful! I posted a few weeks ago on this board and several, including @Enric, were very helpful and insightful.
The culture, the people, the architecture, the food... all amazing. I had many trepidations due to political situation, but it actually made travel more interesting - I would ask people their opinion on Independencia. Demonstrations seemed peaceful, both sides coexisting (from my limited time & observation there - a few weeks earlier Nationalist police did forcibly suppress voters and hurt some Catalonians. A very bad optic for central government. ) Anyway.. I am very glad to have been able to go. It was my first visit to Spain as a solo traveler.