HOW DO I NOT LOOK LIKE A TOURIST IN SPAIN?
I’m walking down La Rambla, and I see loads of people who just look like a tourist. Or act like a tourist. I don’t know about you, but when I’m traveling I try to melt graciously with the local crowd (at least when I’m traveling to cities – it wouldn’t make sense to mimic aborigines in Australia, of course). And it’s often just easy: you first need to look around, then when in Rome do like Romans do.
The golden rules for how to not look like a tourist in Barcelona (Spain):
Learn the right name of the sites
We know that sometimes pronouncing foreign words can be challenging, but do try to learn how to pronounce the most important sites right. For Barcelona, that is particularly important with the Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia. Its name means “Holy Family”, so it is the church of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (aka the Holy Family church).
It is not the “Sangria” Familia (you drink sangria in tapas bars, but not in a church!), nor the “Sangrada” Familia (bloody family???). Don’t make things more complex than they are: it isn’t “Sagrada de Familia”, and it’s not the “Familia Sagrada” either… And no, the “Sagrada” family doesn’t live there, LOL.
If you want milk in your coffee, ask for it
In Spain, if you want a coffee with milk, you order a “café con leche”. If you order just a coffee, they are likely to bring you an expresso, or if you are lucky, an “americano” (long black coffee). If then you ask the waiter to bring you milk, he’ll not be happy: that’s not what you ordered. Plus if you’ve already paid, you’ll look like a cheater, because a coffee with milk is usually more expensive than a regular black coffee.
There is only ONE Cathedral (and it’s not the Sagrada Familia!)
Talking about churches… Only a church that is the headquarters of a Bishop is entitled to be called a “Cathedral”, therefore not just because a church is big you can call it that. The seat of the Bishop of Barcelona has been for many centuries the Cathedral of Saint Eulalia, in the Gothic Quarter.
Eat your paella for lunch
If you want to avoid looking like a tourist, don’t eat paella for dinner. Paella is a heavy dish that takes a few hours to digest, this is why locals have it always for lunch. Ordering it for dinner totally looks like a thing only tourists do… and your stomach will hate you for that!
Sangria is a summer drink
Yes, sangria is that mythical drink that any foreigner wants to try when they come to Spain. However, you will look like a tourist if you order it in the winter because it is a summer drink. And please don’t order it in fine (or even regular) restaurants: it is mostly served in tapas bars.
AND BONUS! What about how to dress?
How to not dress like a tourist
In the summer it’s easy to spot tourists because… they dress like a tourist! Specially men! For instance, American tourists love to cover their heads, but Barcelona men don’t wear baseball caps (there are enough trees to hide from the sun). They don’t wear shorts in the city center either (get yourself some fresh linen long pants to match them). Also, FC Barcelona shirts are reserved for football matches, even for kids.
What are your tips to avoid looking like a tourist?
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