1. Barcelona, Spain, Catalunya.
No, it’s not Spain. There is no bull fighting, and no passionate flamenco dancers pounding the pavements, and even when you find sangria, they kind of turn their nose up at you for ordering it. This is Catalunya, the locals are quieter and more reserved than their screaming Spanish counterparts. Even those who want to remain part of Spain are proud of the fact they are Catalan, they have their own language, their own culture, and their own behaviour. So, remember, if you want to live in Spain, buy a ticket and take the fast train to Madrid.
2. Don’t live in noisy parts of Gòtic, Borne, or the Raval.
People say that you should only use your bedroom for sleeping. If you fancy a nap, or want to read, do it in the living room, if you want to have a quickie, make like a porn star, and do it on the balcony. Point being, that social areas of the Barcelona really should be left for socialising and not for living. When you first arrive, you may think that living in C/ Ample or Passeig del Borne is a dream of an idea; you’ll be in the heart of the action and only a 15-minute walk to the body beautifuls on the beach. And you’ll be so popular, with all the parties in your pad. Perfect. But having bars and restaurants, above, below and beside you may lead to problems, i.e. your liver, and once you’ve settled in, and start partying, and then discovering the after-parties, you may also find getting up and going to that very near beach of yours a near impossibility. (My advice; when you’re going out on a Saturday night, bring a towel, and protector and wear you swimming costume underneath!.). Barcelona has amazing public transport system, living outside the aforementioned areas is not ‘miles away’ as some people will have you believe. It will be quieter, and the rent will be cheaper and venturing in to the party areas at night will be kind of like living in a country that has four seasons, when the summer arrives, you appreciate it so much more. Unless that is you can find a place in the middle of it all, that doesn’t compromise on a little bit of peace and quiet when you need it.
3. Arrive single.
Being in a relationship and arriving in Barcelona could be like a child carrying his favourite novelty and walking into Toy r Us for the 1st time – in shock, you might just drop the novelty or worse …be dropped. So luckily enough, there is lots and lots of eye candy. (A good pair of dark sunglasses is vital so you don’t look like a complete perve). You will probably fall in love 10 times a day. But don’t worry, after living here for a while, you’ll get used to it you stop perving as much.
4. Don’t Share an apartment with your best friend.
If your bestest friend back in Copenhagen is missing you (i.e. jealous) and excited (i.e. pissed off) hearing all your stories from Barcelona, and suddenly decides to move there, be supportive and be excited, but then tell them that you will give them a hand looking for a room! Don’t live with them! You’ll end up fighting over the Argy guy, or the Swedish chick. Or worse, whose turn it is to clean the pubes out of the shower. Live with someone you don’t know, or even better, get a dog, and if so, it should be a Barcelona-standard-issue i.e. a French bull terrier.
5. South American friends.
Be careful with the Latinos. They are beautiful, funny, and happy. They are also, the biggest party people in the world and put the Irish to shame. I don’t know what it is, but they never seem to work, so they constantly want to go out, they’ll have you exhausted and broke. Expect to hear: “oye, chicos, vamos tomar algo – ya llega el lunes, vamos a celebrar!” – Any bloody excuse.
6. Learn Spanish.
Do you really want to be sitting there saying “sí” & “no”, “yo sé”, “claro”, and desperately trying to look like you know what’s going on when instead you resemble a senseless Thunderbird puppet, your head bobbing all over the place because you don’t know whether it’s time to agree or not to agree. Learn Spanish for god’s sake. It’s just not cool if you can’t speak the language. You can have as many mother-tongue friends as you want, but you will always feel there is something missing, you’ll feel left out, and never really part of Barcelona. You’d feel the same if they came to live in your country. So, learn the local lingo! Opps I forgot, it’s not the local lingo!
7. Learn Catalan.
Ah ha, there we go. Now we’re talking, if you really want to feel like a local, this is a must. It will go a very very long way in the brown eyes of a Catalan, and after a few years, you may even get invited to lots of calçotadas.
8. Lastly, don’t buy a bike.
Even if you store it on top of your penthouse terrace apartment, put a lock on each wheel, and the seat, attach an elastic band around it and then tie it to the penis of a Rottweiler, it’ll still be robbed.