The first thing a tourist traveling abroad thinks about is the location in which they are traveling. They want to figure everything out about this location and what it has to offer. There is some type of curiosity involved that triggers the want to travel and an excitement that comes along with it. This excitement can be distracting though, taking away from actual concerns that are at large. Most tourists come prepared, and from what I’ve observed in Barcelona, many are. Having said this, American tourists fall victim to judgment everywhere they go, so no matter how prepared you are- you might encounter issues anyways.
The first issue has to do with the language. No matter how prepared you are as an American tourist, you will encounter some problems if you can’t speak Spanish or Catalan. Ordering at a restaurant, taking a taxi, asking for directions, or even checking out at a store can prove to be difficult.
The next issue is being able to concentrate on your surroundings- not just the beautiful sights! This is the main reason why American tourists and tourists in general get pick pocketed or taken advantage of. Keeping an eye on your belongings and the people around you is extremely helpful and will save you from a lot of preventable problems. Doing things in groups, while comfortable, can also put a target on your back as a tourist that doesn’t know much about their surroundings. Trying to do things alone isn’t always a bad thing- you’re in a foreign country! You need to get out of your comfort zone while being aware, it’s not as hard as it looks.
Video of two American tourists taken in the evening outside of Sagrada Familia. The woman, Shari, was staying at a close hotel for the week with friends. The man, Chris, was staying near Las Ramblas with family for a few days. Both were coming from dinner and claimed they wanted to see the marvelous Sagrada Familia at night.
You will most likely want to blend in and not stick out as a tourist while in Spain. BUT unfortunately there is no avoiding this. Everything from your clothes, body language, brands worn, volume of talk, language spoken, pace of your stride, and even the things you order at a restaurant may give you away as an American. You will not even realize these things until you are officially in Spain, in public, in a touristic area. Once you are dropped into this different environment, you will see that it is hard to change these American things about yourself- and that’s okay! There is a connotation that foreigners don’t like Americans, and this is true in some cases, but for the most part these people are interested in you! They are surrounded by our pop culture and politics and get a dose of American culture more often then you may think, but they probably have never hung out with or met a real American before, so they can be really interested in what you have to say or the things you do. In order to maintain positivity between cultures- it is important to not reinforce any negativity that Spaniards may have about us. So here are a few things to do in order to maintain respect:
- Avoid being arrogant! Respect those around you and don’t think you know everything or are better than anyone around you simply because you are ‘American’
- Try to speak the language. Even if you suck at it, trying shows you care and are willing to adapt to the culture
- Don’t assume everyone speaks english. They don’t. 9 times out of 10 the person you approach will not speak english well, so you have to ask first if they do before you blurt out a full sentence in english and freak them out
- Do some non-tourist activities. Getting to know the real culture involves getting out of your comfort zone and visiting some places that locals go to. This shows that you really care about the Spanish culture, not just some pretty architecture.
- Talk to people! Get to know the locals and other tourists alike, you never know what they may have to offer (maybe some good food suggestions?!)
Pictures and video of the famous La Rambla, La Boqueria, and Sagrada Familia with a focus on the tourist life around these hot spots!
Being a tourist involves you having to look things up A LOT. Make use of your cellular devices and get searching!!
These will definitely help you out for directions, places to go, and places to stay. Try out an old fashioned paper map too! They definitely get you using your brain a little more and accustom you to the culture and surroundings more.
These are my observations from my few months hear in Barcelona. Even though I am a tourist myself, now that I have been here for 3 months, I see a different perspective and was able to remove myself from the group ‘tourist’ for the purpose of this multimedia report. I can definitely see the tourist habits around me better because I went through it myself! If you are an American or a tourist visiting Barcelona I would use my observations to better your experience and help you to grasp a perspective of Barcelona that you may not have seen before. Tourists add so much to communities, even though the locals may claim they hate them- they really benefit from their presence in the long run.
Being a positive tourist, no matter where you’re from is the best way to go about the process. Really take each moment and cherish it because Barcelona is a place like no other- and if you’re here traveling- you’re a lucky one. Comment or contact me if you feel like you have questions or want further information about Barcelona tourism, there is plenty to learn- but come here and doing it yourself will be the most beneficial!