Press the button outside the bank of lifts to select the floor you want. Get in the lift and realise there’s no button inside the lift. What if you change your mind? Too bad. Wait, the lift didn’t stop at the floor I wanted. Why not? Get out of the lift and press the button for the right floor. Get back in. Now the lift has descended back to where I started and it still didn’t stop on my floor. What’s going on? Finally, someone explained it to me after I’d been up to the 19th floor and back down again. Once you’ve pressed the button, you have to check the display to see which number lift you should take. You can’t just take the first lift that opens on your floor, as it may not be the right one for you, even if it is going in the right direction. What if you’re blind or partially sighted? There’s no audio function on the lift – either to tell you which lift to take, or to tell you which floor you’re on or which direction the lift is going. If you can’t read the display when you’ve pressed your floor button, you have no idea which lift to take, and no idea whether the lift is actually stopping on the floor you want or not. An incredibly frustrating experience.
Where’s the traffic?
Barcelona is a large and busy city. It has lots of big main roads. But where are all the cars? I walked around during rush hour, in the evening, at the weekend, on roads in busy areas, and yet there was hardly any traffic. I’m not complaining, but it felt a bit odd. There arent even that many people on public transport. And given that it’s warm and sunny, there are cycle lanes, and it’s all flat, why aren’t there more cyclists? How do people get around the city? Maybe they just all walk – there seem to be a lot of pedestrianised zones.
The lack of Americanisation
I’m not complaining about this either, but I was surprised that given Barcelona is such a cosmopolitan city, and that so many foreigners live here, not to mention the enormous number of tourists that visit, there’s a distinct lack of Starbucks, McDonalds’s and so on. Tiny scruffy Spanish bars seem to prevail over bright cappuccino bars with free wifi. Although Barcelona does have a lot of free wifi hotspots.
The obsession with glass and concrete
Barcelona is renowned for its design and culture. And it has some fantastic buildings, not just those courtesy of Mr Gaudi. There are some incredible funky modern glass buildings.
Why is there so much dust in Barcelona? Everywhere you go, dust is guarantted to blow in your face, even with sunglasses on. You can feel it in the air, you can smell it, and you can see it. In general, it’s quite a clean city. There’s not much rubbish lying around and there are plenty of skips, even if they’re sometimes smelly and overflowing. But the dust is pervasive. Maybe it’s all the building sites (of which there are an awful lot). Or does the sand just blow in from the beach?
Everyone knows that you put your ticket in the machine to the right of the barrier you want to pass through. Except in Barcelona, where the security man watches you put your ticket in, the green light comes up, and you try to pass through the barrier which doesn’t open. Smack. After 3 attempts, he comes along, shouts at you in Spanish, and you finally realise that you need to go through the barrier to your right, not to your left. Why?
Tiny swimming pools
I don’t expect an Olympic pool in my hotel. After all, the beach is right there, and you can swim as far as you want in it. But seriously, call this a swimming pool? It’s pretty, but it’s barely bigger than my bath. You certainly can’t actually swim in it, though it’s good for doing a hippo impression.