BEING A BETTER TOURIST

Vivir en una ciudad tan turística como Barcelona tiene sus trucos: evitar ciertas zonas en ciertas épocas del año, tomar una línea de metro en lugar de otra y no sentarte en según que sitio para que no te cobren un precio “turista”. Un día cruzando las Ramblas mientras cargaba un montón de materiales de trabajo y esquivando gente, recordé un post escrito por Gadriana hace algunos años sobre como ser un mejor turista./  Living in touristic city like Barcelona has its tricks: avoid certain areas at certain times of the year, take one metro line instead of another and don’t eat at certain places to dodge the “tourist” price. One day crossing the Ramblas while carrying a lot of work materials, I remembered a post written by Gadriana a few years ago about being a better a tourist.

✈️🗺 BEING A BETTER TOURIST ✈️🗺

A diferencia de otros lugares donde he vivido, Barcelona es una de esas ciudades donde siento que todo cambia muy rápido y el turismo es un factor clave. No soy político ni sociólogo ni tengo estudios de turismo, así que mi intención no es hacer una crítica o aportar teorías de como solucionar esos problemas. Pero si que hay pequeños actos que pueden ayudar a que viajes mejor y que las personas del lugar al que viajes estén más cómodas con la presencia del turismo, es decir actos que ayuden a ser un mejor turista. No quiero hablar de reglas, más bien reflexionar sobre nuestra manera de viajar y ver que podemos mejorar para crear una mejor experiencia tanto para nosotros como para los demás./ Unlike other places where I have lived, Barcelona is one of those cities where I feel that everything changes very quickly and tourism is a key factor. I am not a politician or a sociologist, nor have I studied tourism, so my intention is not to criticize orshare theories on how to solve these problems. But there are small acts that can help you to travel better, respecting the residents of the place you’re visiting and make them feel more comfortable with the presence of tourism. All in all, acts for being a better tourist. I do not want to talk about rules, rather reflect on our way of traveling and see what we can improve to create a better experience both for ourselves and for others.

 

De hecho, tengo que confesar que la primera vez que visité Barcelona en 2008 la experiencia no terminó de gustarme. Posiblemente fuera el intenso calor y el hecho de que sólo visité los puntos más turísticos y obvios, sin permitirme tener otra experiencia que la que me ofrecía el tour que tenía contratado. Pero hey, ahora llevo desde 2015 viviendo aquí y la ciudad hizo que me tragara mis palabras, encontrando un encanto en un montón de cosas, sitios y costumbres que son difíciles de ver si solo te enfocas en los sitios típicos de las guías./ In fact, I have to confess that the first time I visited Barcelona in 2008, I didn’t quite like the experience. Possibly it was the intense heat and the fact that I only visited the most touristic and obvious spots, not allowing myself to have any other experience than the one offered by the tour I had contracted. But hey, now I’ve been living here since 2015 and the city made me swallow my words, finding a charm in a lot of things, places and customs that are difficult to see if you only focus on the typical places in the guides.

Ojo, tampoco soy de demonizar los sitios muy turísticos, porque al final son lugares que todos queremos ver y que inundan las postales por alguna razón. Tampoco queremos formar parte de un turismo pretencioso que reniega de ciertos sitios porque al final cada punto en la ciudad tiene un significado y la experiencia de cada turista con ese punto es única. Pero también hay un valor en interesarte por la cultura del lugar que visitas y en salir de la burbuja./ But here’s a disclaimer, I’m not the kind of traveler that demonize very touristic sites either, because in the end those are places that we all want to see and they are famous for some reason. Nor do we want to be part of a pretentious tourism that denies certain places because in the end each spot in the city has a meaning and the experience of each tourist with that place is unique. But there is also value in taking an interest in the culture of the place you are visit, so go out of the bubble!

 

A la vez cuidar de ese lugar como si fuera tuya y entender que en ese sitio hay personas viviendo, con sus vidas diarias, sus aficiones, y sus problemas. Por ejemplo, en mi viaje de Mayo 2022 a Roma mientras cenaba en una terraza, vi como una turista le hizo una foto descaradamente a un hombre local mientras cenaba, desencadenando una discusión donde el hombre obligó a la chica a borrar la foto porque estaba violando su intimidad./ At the same time, being a better tourist is taking care of that place as if it were yours, understanding that there are people living there, with their daily lives, their hobbies, and their problems. For example, on my May 2022 trip to Rome while eating at a terrace, I saw how a tourist shamelessly took a photo of a local man while he was dining, triggering a fight where the man forced the girl to delete the photo because the tourist was violating his privacy.

Hacer una investigación de esa ciudad / país antes de ir y no verlo como un mero parque de atracciones. Pero también salir de la burbuja, interactuar con el entorno. A mí en lo personal y al menos por ahora, no me interesan esos viajes donde la gente se queda 24/7 en un resort. Hay que tener en cuenta que viajar no es solo un ejercicio físico, sino una experiencia que también alimenta la mente, por lo que estar abierto de mente y remover prejuicios es importante para ser un mejor turista./ Being a better tourist also involve some research on that city/country before your arrival, try to don’t see it just as an amusement park. But also get out of the bubble, interact with the environment. Personally, and at least for now, I’m not interested in those trips where people stay 24/7 in a resort. Keep in mind that traveling is not only a physical exercise, but an experience that also feeds the mind, so being open-minded and removing prejudices is crucial.

¿Qué queremos ser? Un turista que vaya a ver la torre Eiffel porque es lo que siempre aparece en las postales, pero que no tema en salir de la ruta obvia para ir al mercado de Pulgas o a comer al mercado más local. Al final todxs viajamos, entonces no me parece justa una política donde el turismo esté exclusivamente en una parte de la ciudad. Encontrar maneras de viajar que hagan un balance entre nuestra diversión, pero respetando las vidas de las personas que habitan ese sitio. Ser un mejor turista tiene que ver con el respeto./ What do we want to be? A tourist who visits the Eiffel Tower because it is what always appears on the postcards, but who is not afraid to go out of the obvious route to go to the Flea Market or to eat at the more local market. In the end, we all travel, so a policy where tourism is exclusively in one part of the city does not seem fair. Find ways to travel that make a balance between our fun, but respecting the lives of the people who inhabit that place. Being a better tourist also involves respect.

Cuando mis amistades visitan Barcelona me gusta mostrarles puntos de mi ciudad adoptiva que no siempre son los obvios, pero también llevarles a la Sagrada Familia y mostrarles ese pasadizo secreto en lo que llegamos Park Guell. Tener la oportunidad de viajar es algo maravilloso. y no todo el mundo tiene el privilegio de hacerlo, así que, ¿por qué no buscar maneras de elevar esas experiencias?/ When my friends visit Barcelona I like to show them points of my adopted city that are not always the obvious ones, but I also take them to the Sagrada Familia and show them that secret passageway where we arrived at Park Guell. Having the opportunity to travel is a wonderful thing. And not everyone has the privilege to do so, so why not find ways to elevate those experiences while being a better tourist?

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  • You are absolutely on point with your advice on being a better tourist. I’d like to think that we are all inhabitants of earth so it’s only natural to be respectful to places we come to visit as a traveler. It makes sense to care about any place we find ourselves in! Even if it’s in our own back yard, there is always somebody living somewhere. And even if there are no humans, you bet there are critters that live there as well. It’s not only humans that inhabit this world and to fully acknowledge this fact keeps ourselves aware of the environment and how our presence impacts it. As usual, Pablo, I enjoyed the imagery accompanying this though-stirring post and your style! Please do more of these as it’s fun to see the kinds of outfits you wear out in heaty Barcelona. I have never been there so peeking through snapshots you share is one of the ways I meet ‘Barcelona’ through your perspective. Thank you for that 🙂

    Wishing you a wonderful weekend! 🙂

    • Thank you very much for reading out this post, dear Shanaz 🙂

      I really liked how you explained it, I feel that sometimes a few travelers can have a disrespectful attitude with places of the world that they consider as «2nd category», but in the end we are all inhabitatns of this planet earth.

      Thanks also for your compliments! I hope you can visit Barcelona in the future!

      xx

  • Hi Pablo,
    It’s my first time visiting your website and it looks so nice and carefully crafted with grace.
    I love your work and aesthetic.

    I think what you said is so important. As a tourist, we have to be mindful and take care of the place as if it was ours. It was so beautifully written and the photos were so inspiring.

    I’d love to connect with you.

    Keep shining!

    • Hello Grace, and welcome to my little space 🙂

      Thank you very much for your lovely compliments and for your kind words. Happy to see you over here!

  • I agree! I think a great part of being a better tourist, and also enjoy a city more, is to mix obvious places to visit but also go for those «hidden gems». Try a new area, or go for a less known park etc. Also, I think from a tourist perspective, you can explore so much of a city when walking or renting a bike. I’ve never understood people who take the taxi from the hotel to have lunch at a famous place, taxi to do some shopping and then taxi back to the hotel before taxi out for the night. Haha, like the best part of seeing a city is to walk according to me. Like, buy a nice snack and a drink and start walking! I mean, most of the European cities are very walk-friendly, so there’s no excuse! Xx

    • Hey Mia, thank you very much for stopping by 🙂

      Bike is also an interesting option for many cities, specially in European cities. But hey yes, me neither! I only take taxis when it is almost an emergency haha, I try to save that money for food for example 🙂

  • Thank you for another post that is both thoughtful and thought provoking Pablo. I live in New York City which is one of the most visited places in the world so not surprisingly I have some thoughts of my own about this topic. I really like your point about better tourist and respecting the place and having some consideration for the people living there and wish more people have this awareness and would do this. I agree that doing some research beforehand is crucial so that you have some understanding of local customs and culture so that you can behave accordingly. I’m a big foodie so I always research the food beforehand and try to find eateries that are popular with the locals. This has always served me well. I also think that visiting a mix of popular tourist attractions as well as experiencing the local culture is the best way to have a full experience. Whenever anyone who is visiting NYC asks me for advice, I always try to steer them towards things are that aren’t necessarily written about in guidebooks because I’d want that myself and I have gotten good feedback. It nice how you’ve made Barcelona your home even though you didn’t like it so much when you first visited. I enjoyed your point of view as well as your photos showing off your stylish fashion sense and the scenic local views. I hope to visit Barcelona one day and I will definitely be seeking your advice before I do ^_~

    • Hey Rowena, thank you very much for your inspiring and detailed feedback.

      Living in New York must be similar to live in Barcelona when we are talking about tourists, as you well said we should be aware of the citizens of that specific place right?

      Same as you I try to research the food before jumping into the plain, but then I also try to discover random places while taking a walk.

      Hope you can come to Barcelona one day in the future 🙂

  • Hola Pablo, how’s going this start of fall?
    I bet you’re feeling better now that the temperatures are lower but there is still plenty of sun and warm enough to stay comfortably outside all day long, isn’t it?
    Do you know that Autumn in Rome is pretty famous (well, it’s not the perfect moment yet but it’s question of weeks) for the very nice weather and the unique golden light?
    One time you should visit Rome In October, believe me!

    Anyway, lest’s pass to the topic of the day!
    As you know I live in one of the most touristic city, in one of the most touristic Country of the world, and at the same time I’ve traveled pretty much in my life, so I can totally feel what you mean here.
    And I have to say that you’re totally on point!
    With a more respectful behavior we would all be more happy!
    But unluckily too much people, even the most polite at their home, seems to have a tranformation as tourists and became incredibly derespectful and rude.
    I’m living in an archaeological area, so it’s pretty touristic (as almost all the city to be honest) I’ve saw a lot of time tourists trating monuments of hundreds years and local people as they’re in a zoo or in some amusement park and can freely do everything they want!
    The most polite are the a Asian, are the only ones that ask the permission before takeing a picture of you!
    On the other side we romans are open and friendly people but even pretty short tempered, so it’s very easy that a situation like the one that you’ve described could happen (and could have go even worse…)

    As tourist I have the same approach of you when I travel: I like to visit the most famous spots (rightly, if they’re famous there is a reason) but even get lost and explore the place aimlessly, maybe looking for the most typical and traditional spots like markets and little traditional restaurants out of hand.

    As usual I’ve talked (or better: wrote) a lot: but really your topics are so interesting that I would speak for hours!^^
    Amazing pics as well: even your photos are so so aesthetic!
    And looove the 1st illustration, I’d be perfect printed on a silk scarf!

    Take care and have a nice week ahead,my friend!
    XO
    S
    https://s-fashion-avenue.blogspot.com

    • Hey Silvia, thank you so much for your detailed feedback, I really appreciate that you took the time to read and comment 🙂 And yes, I’d love to visit Rome during autumn, there’s always a reason to go back to the city and it would be awesome to meet you one day! Autum here is kinda hot, a bit strange but you know…. global warming, but honestly I keep wearing tank tops and shorts during certain days… oops!

      And you are the best person to share some thoughts about this problem. I know Rome is one of the most visited cities in the world and I imagine the situation over there is similar to the one we have in Barcelona. Same as here some people see the city as an amusement park but wait…. there’s people living a daily life and respect should be seen everywhere, right?

      Thank you very much again and have a lovely autumn time!
      Pablo

  • Pablo! Tengo que confesar que mi primera y única experiencia en Barcelona tampoco fue muy buena, por un motivo parecido al tuyo: en vez de morirme de calor, apenas pude salir del hotel a causa de las tormentas. Me alegro de que al menos ahora hayas podido disfrutar de la ciudad tal y como te mereces. Barcelona tiene enclaves preciosos. Estoy de acuerdo contigo en que para empaparse de verdad de la esencia de una ciudad, hay que callejear y apartarse de los puntos más turísticos (que tampoco hay que dejar de visitar, claro está).
    No conocía el pasadizo secreto que mencionas al final, tendré que pasar por allí si algún día me animo a visitar tu ciudad (me pilla un poco lejos de Madrid jajajaj)
    Me ha encantado el post, un beso enorme desde https://sophisticatedmeblog.blogspot.com/

    • Hola Sofía!

      Espero que puedas volver pronto a Barcelona, si que es una ciudad compleja y a veces lo del turismo la puede volver incómoda 🙁 Pero hay lugares tan bonitos que si que valen la pena ser descubiertos.

      Madrid también tiene cosas que me encantan *_*

  • Hey Fungi!

    How’s everything?

    These are definitely some great things to keep in mind. One of the things I enjoy doing the most before heading somewhere new is researching about the place and finding the things to see and experience. It gets me excited for the trip and a lot more prepared.

    Hope you had a happy weekend!

    http://www.fashionradi.com

    • Hey Radi, everything is going well over here 🙂 I hope everything is going well on your on your side too :)!

      Excited to see more of your upcoming trips, hope you had fun in NY!

      Tons of love, xx

  • Hi Pablo!!! I love the topics you choose to write about/highlight on your blog. They’re always thought-provoking, even the fashion ones! What made you decide to live in Barcelona?
    I’m actually planning a trip to a country I’ve never been to before. I won’t lie, aside from not having the finances, I don’t exactly jump at the chance of visiting different countries. I get very intimidated and concerned with how I’ll manage with the language and culture. I’m intrigued with different cultures but it’s also a concern that I have to not offend anyone because we all don’t live the same way. I am hoping to take the jump and have fun on this trip I’m planning. Lots of research is going into it though lol, rightfully so. I think that helps me feel a bit more comfortable and hopefully be a better tourist 🙂

    Des | https://www.itsbetterinheels.com

    p.s.
    Love the images!!!

    • Thank you very much for your compliments, Des! That really means a lot and it is good motivation to keep up with the creative work 🙂

      That plan of visiting a new country sounds super exciting, I am excited to see where are you going 🙂

      Lots of love!

  • Hey Fungi! I hope everything is going well for you!

    You are so cool in Barcelona, and Barcelona is so You!!!
    The first illustration is really lovely, and I would love to enter with Goro into your illustration:) That building with the owl at the top is curious.
    Someday I visit Barcelona, I will promise to be a good tourist.
    Thank you for sharing beautiful advices and ideas<3

    akiko
    https://kimonosnack.blogspot.com

    • Hello Akiko, I am super happy to see you over once again!

      I hope you can visit Barcelona and Spain one day soon! You would be part of my illustration taking a walk with Goro 🙂

  • This is a fantastic post and I love the way that you have spoken about having respect when you’re visiting somewhere or are in a touristic space, I do feel like a lot of people lack respect in a lot of aspects – not only tourism so to see you mention this really caught my attention as I always have respect for places I visit and see.

    It’s always great to get away and visit new places, exploring and enjoying the surroundings, life is far too short for anything else and I’ll be going through your other posts too in the coming days as I love the way you write. 🙂

    Hope you’re well!!

    xx

    Layla

    https://www.sprinklesofstyle.co.uk
    https://www.shopsense-online.co.uk

  • What a thoughtful insight on being a better tourist! Wow that experience in Rome sounds intense! It sounds like the tourist was treating the local like a zoo animal 🙁 I love the idea of making an effort to visit the more authentic parts of a city like the flea market!

    This post made me think about my boyfriend and I’s road trips. We usually like visiting National Parks when we travel and it’s really devastating to see trash in natural places. I feel like another way to be a better tourist is to leave no trace!

    Jill
    https://jilliancecilia.com/