Barcelona: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Sometimes, a city and I just don’t make magic together.

I already feel bad acknowledging the fact that I am one of those people who did not like Barcelona as much as I thought I would.  I wanted to love it so bad but it didn’t happen.

I think this is a good thing. It means I’m maturing as a traveler.  The best part of traveling is learning the unexpected. I’ve been around the world enough to know what excites me, what turns me off and what keeps me interested.

Ten years ago, I probably would’ve been spellbound by big-city Barcelona. So what changed?  I did. And so did Barcelona.

As I stood on top of Las Arenas overlooking the Plaza de España, I realized I left my heart somewhere along the way. Madrid? Sevilla? Málaga? I wanted to be where I can feel the REAL Spain, not another New York City. But that doesn’t mean I did not appreciate Barcelona’s allure at all.

Barcelona is no doubt a beautiful city with magnificent landmarks and a rich culture. Artistic. Whimsical. The city is big in many ways.  There are a lot to see and do in Barcelona, so if you have limited time, choose wisely.

Needless to say when in Barcelona, the Sagrada Familia is a must. We all know that it is famous for being unfinished. If you don’t, then this must be news to you. Yes, construction is ongoing so don’t expect to take a perfect Instagram photo without cranes and equipments hanging above it.

As for me, my favorite part is the interior of the church. It was simply breathtaking.


Barcelona is ridiculously expensive so if you are on a budget, be mindful of what you’re spending on. Taxi, food, drinks.  It is a tourist destination after all. I know I shouldn’t be surprised about how expensive the city is but my problem was more about quality. High price for ok food is not fine with me. Maybe I didn’t go to the right restaurants? Maybe I got used to Madrid’s La Latina and Sevilla’s more traditional fares?


La Rambla

La Rambla is a famous street for tourists and locals alike. Restaurants lined up the street. There’s usually an extra fee for dining outside or if you want a good view.  We walked the street toward the direction of the port called Rambla del Mar. The walk was fine although sometimes you get hounded by vendors from time to time.

As we walked back to our flat, a few sketchy people tried to get our attention and tried to sell us ‘stuff’ by the dark inner alleys. Yea, no thanks. Pickpocket is also rampant at these parts of the city so always be on guard!

Nevertheless, I prefer Barcelona by day.


Plaza de España



The early October weather was perfect for walking around the city. I liked  Plaza de España and I especially liked going up Parc de Montjuïc. Don’t let the stairs scare you, there are escalators on each side!


Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time to see all of Barcelona. But that’s always the case, isn’t it? There will never be enough time. You just have to make the most of it and enjoy the city as best you can. Sometimes, it will be love at first sight. Sometimes, it takes a while. And sometimes, it’s just not for you.

I love Spain. Period. Some cities more than others. But a bad day in Barcelona is still better than being stuck at your desk job.



Jen is a Chicago-based traveler and a full-time Director of Development for an arts & culture organization. Originally from Connecticut, she created JetsettingJen as a place to share her travel stories and photos with friends and family. Now, it is a place for adventurers, explorers and dreamers. Its purpose is to inspire and encourage people to see the world and achieve a better work-life balance.