I’ve been strolling around the city lots this week. My friend Mayra is staying at the Hellhouse for some days and we love wandering and chatting for hours. Big time! I’ve also started some running training, using different routes avoiding to get bored and trying to find the most suitable for such activity. I’ll tell you about it soon, but I’m finding some difficulties in improving due to my right knee, which is quite swollen.
The more you move, the more you discover and observe what’s going on in Barcelona, and the more you’re in touch with people, the more you end up despising them.
Having walks with friends who don’t live in the city is funny due to their remarks. You can love Barcelona but there are certain undeniable facts.
- Barcelona stinks and is dirty: it was 1995 the first time I visited Barcelona for a show. I remember passing by Arenas bullring, smelling like dead cats, and moving around Gotic and Raval areas, with streets and alleys stinking of wee. I’ve been living here for 8 years, and still have the same feeling. In general, even though I’m conscious of the cleaning local units, there’s a constant smell getting more intense as you get closer to the port, thousands of bugs inhabit downtown, and from time to time, some rats say Hi! You see the pavement dirty, and there are areas, so saturated of people, which end up in a mess. Whenever I see one of these tourists barefoot, I have this terrible feeling of disgust. Barcelona is very filthy.
- Hobos everywhere: I’m not sure whether it’s Summer, there’s crisis, or perhaps that Barcelona is an easier city to live outdoors due to the gentle weather. I think this year the number of homeless people has alarmingly increased. Trolleys, cardboards, blankets, dogs, people sleeping in benches, churches, cash points… I’ve seen people shitting on the street, I swear, and lots of drugs (shooting in public) and booze. Everybody seems to ignore this side of Barcelona, but it’s for real.
- Too many foreign people: on one hand you have tourists, hordes of them concentrated during summer, but very present throughout the year. Barcelona in that sense, has become a tourist city oriented, thus prices for leisure have increased accordingly, also the pubs and clubs are always looking for pleasing the wealthy temporary customer. On the other hand, the city’s been said to be very cosmopolitan, with different cultures and nationalities coming together. That’s bullshit! As alien people do not feel like fitting in society, adopting the established culture and manners, and the tendency of gathering together, and isolating from the rest, the raising of ghettos downtown is noticeable. I don’t like passing by El Raval area feeling observed by Indian and Pakistan guys, staring at me as if scanning me naked. I’m not the only one who feels that way, even though it might sound xenophobic.
- Increasing feeling of insecurity: now that I can say I’ve visited many important and big cities in the world, I reckon Barcelona is probably one of the most unsafe. I cannot really qualify the actual danger, but it’s definitely more than it seems. On one hand there are pickpockets on the hottest spots, junkies everywhere, hobos, prostitutes and pimps, and lots of lunatics who can scare the shit out of you… you know what I’m saying, when the night comes, depending on the areas you’re walking by, feeling uneasy is not so uncommon. Don’t think I’m exaggerating, I’m not referring to the outskirts nor slums, I mean right in the heart of the city.
- You’re transparent: I really hate this feeling. When you seem to be like a ghost and everybody ignores and pushes you. Sometimes I wonder if I should wear fluorescent yellow clothes in order to be noticed. Nah! People just don’t care about the rest of the world. I understand you can be more relaxed on holidays, but there’re others around and moving too. Terrible experience when a street is blocked by just 2-3 people and you’re running, or that moment you’re crossing a street and people don’t move to let you pass by. I’d love to have a bazooka at that point and start doing some cleaning, if you know what I mean. What a shame to realize how rude people are towards pregnant women and elderly people all the time. Hottest spots in Barcelona are absolute mayhem.
All this been said, you might wonder what I’m doing here. It’s been 8 years, I told you already about it, and it’s not the tourism nor the sea, nor the cross of cultures… I couldn’t care less about that. Barcelona is cool because it’s a big city, with its vibe, not as stressful as Madrid or London, but offering a large catalog of cultural activities, mainly shows. Yes, this was the main reason I moved here. Perhaps it might be superficial in your opinion, but it’s essential to me, so, fair enough.
Unfortunately many negative points are arising in the last years and this beautiful city is losing its charm quickly, same as London for instance, on behalf of tourism, with what this implies: everything is really expensive, tourism attracts crime, and the real core of Barcelona has been replaced by shops, restaurants and other entertainments addressed to these temporary and wealthy customers, forgetting about the local ones.
Time to face it, or leave it…