Everyone knows Barcelona! Someone visited the city as a tourist before and someone knows it from the “Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona” or the “3 meters above the sky” (even cheesier).
Sure! Everyone knows these movies and the incredibly romantic and intoxicating energy of this crazy city. And, of course, everyone wants to have some long term relationship with Barcelona.
So, if you are already on your way to come and be here for one year for your studies, there are things you must know about this beautiful place.
1. Let’s start with culture. First, you MUST know and get USED to it, that from now you are obliged to kiss everyone twice on cheeks instead of just saying “hi” and shaking hands. Yes, you got me right! To kiss everyone, twice, on the cheeks!
This must be understood correctly. These people are even exhaling “love” and they are always happy to see each other and they are really being close to each other so you need to respect this unwritten rule and obey the destiny. I understand that for people from different cultures this can be not that comfortable, but believe me, the hardest will be in the first days, then you are going to like it so much that people in your country will be worried about you when you visit them on you holidays! You just literally will be kissing everyone!
2. Let’s continue with food. If you are meeting locals, yo need to know what is “El Vermut”. It takes place before having lunch, and during weekends it is very common to see friends drinking Vermut (typical beverage) and eating some “tapas” with it. Tapas are a small portion of any kind of Spanish food. They are delicious!
3. Languages! Be aware of the fact that in Barcelona, as well as in the rest of Catalonia, there are 2 official languages, Spanish and Catalan. All Catalan people are Bilingual!
4. Accommodation. I know how you feel about this big step and what you are thinking about it.
So, first of all, calm down and do not panic. It won’t help you. Believe me, I have checked!
One of the most important question which makes you stay hungry and causes insomnia is the accommodation question.
However, instead of dropping our hands and changing our mind let’s try to at least be aware.
You must know that Barcelona is a small city and if you are trying to find anything closer to the school, consider that from the farthest side of the city to BEBS will take maximum 50 minutes of commuting. So it is not a big deal, since transportation system works really very well and you will always find a way to get home at any time during the day (and night 🙂 Thanks to Google maps and night buses).
But let us divide Barcelona into areas:
Yes, you are right! The blue part on the bottom of the image is the sea, you are going to spend there a lot of time, no doubts.
1. Cuitat Vella
This is the down-town with the Plaça Catalunya, el Born, el Gotic , El Raval, Sant Pere, Santa Caterina i la Ribera and La Barceloneta .
All of this is the old city, beautiful, crowded and busy, yet with an authentic character thanks to its unique architecture, cafes, restaurants, churches and shops.
In English “The expansion district”. It’s the borough where the famous Sagrada Familia is. Also, other important buildings are there, such as La Casa Batlló y La Casa Milà/ La Pedrera. The district was designed by Ildefonso Cerdá during the 19th century. During that period, the movement Modernism was in its peakest time, and that is the reason why a lot of buildings in that area have beautiful modernist façades. It’s a must visit and a very nice place to live. The prices can be relatively higher depending on the specific areas.
This district has the Montjuic Mountain, a big park in which there are a lot of things from the Barcelona Olympics that took place in 1992. The main stadium is there, but also the “Barcelona pavilion”, a building designed by Ludwing Mies Van Der Rohe for the 1929 International Exhibition.
Sants is a very important place for you if you have a wanderlust soul because the main station is there. From Sants Station you can go to a lot of European places by train 😉
4. Les Corts
Not a crowded place, but one of the most important buildings is here, at least if you are a soccer fun. Yes, you guessed it! The home stadium of FC Barcelona is there. Its name is the Camp Nou, and last year its museum was the most visited museum in Barcelona.
5. Sarrià-Sant Gervasi
Originally it was a village, and a century ago it became part of Barcelona. Nowadays It’s the wealthiest district and still retains a unique atmosphere with its houses with garden, narrow streets and the main square with old people sitting on a bench feeding pigeons. Mainly reminds as a residential area.
This Borough is well-known by young people in Barcelona. Bohemians traditionally have chosen this place to live. It’s full of life, artists, art spaces and special boutiques. Also, Its buildings are special because their façades are colourful and it is common to see windows with pots full of flowers.The district is full of beautiful cafés where a famous person can be sitting next to you.
It’s mainly a residential district, and there is a labyrinth. Yes, as the one in Alice in Wonderland. Its name is Labyrinth Park of Horta. If you decide to visit it, don’t forget your ball of yarn to make sure you don’t get lost 🙂
8. Nou Barris
Its name means “Nine neighbourhoods”, and it is located in the North of the city. This Borough is known for its multicultural population. This means there are a lot of restaurants with food from all over the world. Going through its main street is a great experience, it is like visiting different countries at the same time.
9. Sant Andreu
During your time in Barcelona, sooner or later, you’ll hear about the shopping mall “La Maquinista”. This shopping mall is in Sant Andreu. But, obviously, the district has many more things to offer, such as its churches. There are many of them because Sant Andreu used to be a village before joining to Barcelona, and all of the villages around Spain have at least one church, because until last century Spain used to be a very religious country. These churches are beautiful, and if you have time, they are worthy of paying a visit.
10. Sant Martí
This district has more than one beach, so it is a must visit because it is not so overcrowded as La Barceloneta. Also, it has the “Glòries tower”, mostly known as the “Agbar tower”, one of the symbols of the Barcelona of these days. If you want to have the feeling of living close to the sea without living in a big city, this is your quarter!
Once we have understood these 10 districts, we are almost done 🙂
Now, it’s time to do some research online. With patience, you’ll find a good flat. We advise you to make some calls instead of writing emails because it takes longer to have a response, and I must admit that it sounds crazy, but I’ve lost more than one flat because of waiting for an email from the owner. In Barcelona, the difference between renting or not is a matter of hours. Most flats are not advertised for more than a 3-5 days because there is a big demand. So, whatever you decide to do, don’t hesitate, do it!
5. Last but not least, let’s speak about the public transport. It works very well, and there is plenty of possibilities to go to every part of the city. In Barcelona there are underground, buses and trams. There is a common ticket for all of them, and if you are not going outside of Barcelona, tickets for Zone 1 are perfect for you, it will even get out to the suburbs of Barcelona!
There are 3 main fares:
T-Jove: If you are under 25 years old, you are lucky because you can buy a 90 days pass with unlimited journeys. It’s and individual non-transferable travel card. This is the most affordable option, but sadly not all of us are under 25. So, for the rest of adults there are different options.
T-trimestre: the same as the T-Jove, but at a higher price.
T-mes: it’s the same as the T-trimestre, but with a 1 month duration.
T-50/30: this option is to do 50 journeys within a month, it is valid for one person.
T-70/30: this option includes 70 journeys within a month. It differentiates from the last one because it includes more journeys and can be used by more than one person.
T-10: If you are not a commuter, this is your best option. It includes 10 journeys, and more than one person can use them. Also, you can use it for more than a month.
If you want to use the public transport, you follow a healthy lifestyle and/or you are concerned about the climate change, there are bikes. Their name is “Bicing”, and it has electric bikes and non-electrical ones. The fares are different and it is the most affordable option. It’s a nice way to travel because you can discover the city meanwhile you are on your way to your destination. Plus, you are doing some exercise.
Now, with all this information, you are ready to live in Barcelona, the city is at your feet 😀