Oh yes, that lovely time of day. Empty streets, full restaurants. Don't expect shops to be open between 2pm and 5pm (some only close between 2pm and 4pm). However, we do feel the urge to demystify this urban legend: not everyone goes have a 3 hour nap in the middle of the afternoon. Long lunches accompanied by wine and followed by never-ending cafe solos are usually taken place during this mid-afternoon break. " Mañana, mañana". If you live here, you know what it means. We love it.
Travelling About Town
Taxis are cheap. Flabbergastingly cheap. If you don't know what "flabbergastingly" means... look it up. But know that taxis are very cheap. Especially when shared with 3 other people. But don't expect to find available taxis on a Friday or Saturday night - they are impossible! Queues in Pl. Catalunya can range from 15 minutes to 2 hours on a Friday or Saturday night..
Buses are easy to use and get around. Nightbuses don't run that frequently though. Getting the bus from the airport to Pl. Catalunya costs 3.65 euros and the average journey time is about 25 minutes.
The metro stations are HOT! In the summer, they are boiling hot. Girls should walk around in their bikini tops - that should be made a rule. But the metro itself has air conditioning and is usually on time. And everything is pretty much within half an hour reach. A 3 month pass for under-21 year olds costs 100 euros, which is excellent. And the pass works for bus and metro. For over 21 year olds it is 112 euros, so there is not much of a difference. Overall, it is cheap, reliable and hot. Boiling hot. And that's all I have to say about that.
Beers have average bar price of 2 euros. Cubatas shoot up to over 5 euros. Sorta expensive... So, what's the alternative then? Head down to your local Champion, Dia or SuperSol and find the cheapest bottle in stock. You can easily make a 1.5L bottle of Cuba Libre (whisky-coke) for under 3 euros. Any plaza should be the perfect setting. Have a couple of bottles, mingle with the locals and the night is set... Note: Doing the botellón is illegal (no drinking in the streets) in Barcelona. Watch out for those Mossos - You have been warned!
The Ping-Pong Table
Random fact: there are dozens of ping-pong tables around the city of Barcelona, most of which are located near playgrounds in residential areas. And there is a great vibe going on at these spots. If you know how to play this amazing, exhausting, uber-competitive Olympic sport then stop and ask those at the table if you can have a match. 'Ping-Pongers' tend to be a nice group of welcoming people that like to share 'chocolate' and beer. You know what I mean. Watch out for windy days.
Relatively easy to find them if you are a Spanish speaker. Even better if you also speak Catalan. If not, look in loquo.com or English pubs around the Ramblas. Don't expect to be paid a lot though. A normal 4 hour/day part-time job will pay you about 300 euros per month (obviously, it also depends on your job). In other words, Spain is not the richest country in the world and hence you don't get paid so well as you do in other European countries. But then again, where else can you find sun, fiesta and sangria like you do in Barcelona....?
They are out there! In the heart of Barcelona, flooding the Ramblas (and not only) after 2am, totally transforming Barcelona from day to night. If you are a group of guys walking through the Ramblas, it is guaranteed that at least one of them will grab you and ask, very blatantly, if you want sex. Our advice: Run. The most likely thing is that they will go for your pocket to try and steal your wallet or mobile. Or they will take you somewhere dodgy and steal from you there. Either way, don't do it. You will look like nothing but a 50-year old frustrated English businessman, and people will make fun of you. I know I will!
The Street Beer Sellers
There are dozens of Pakistani/Indian beer sellers around Bairro Gotico, Raval and the Ramblas. Remember: They are your friends, not your enemies. There is no reason to be afraid of them. I have yet to hear a story of anyone getting robbed by a beer seller. They sell beers for 1 euro each and 5 euros for a pack of 6. If you know how to talk to them, you’ll be able to bargain it down to 70cents a beer. They swear they are not part of a mafia. Yet they share beers and change constantly. The truth is out there...
Cigarettes And Tobacco
Since the first day of 2006, an "anti-smoking law" has been put in place by the Government. However, it doesn't obligate any establishment to ban smoking. Instead, it gives them the option to choose whether they want to ban smoking or not and notify the public with a banner outside the establishment. Needless to say, you can smoke pretty much everywhere. Cigarettes are cheaper in specialized tobacco shops (" Tabacs"). The only other places to buy cigarettes are from machines in bars and certain kiosks.
This article has been contributed by A Brighter Place - a site for students looking to study abroad - www.brighterplace.com