No matter if you’re a local or an expat, if you live in Barcelona, you know that summers can get a little tough around here. It’s not just the heat and the tourists – although these certainly play a role – it’s just the fact that you’re living in a city that is a holiday destination for most people, and a natural living environment for you. We’ve come up with a few tips to help you work through your issues with the city you love (but sometimes almost hate), make the best of your time here, and get a little less annoyed this summer.
1. Reconfigure your mindset and make August your most productive month of the year.
August is in interesting period in the life of Barcelona every year. It’s as if you pass through a wormhole on the 31st of July and reemerge on the 1st of September. In the meantime, you find yourself in a strange, foreign dimension where every business closes for an entire month and nothing, we repeat, nothing gets done. So what can you do? You catch up with the work that you’re behind on. God forbid, you start working on projects you have scheduled for the fall. You take advantage of the fact that offices have air conditioning, and just embrace that being productive at work is your best option, since A) you can’t do anything outside of the office because everything is closed, even your favorite restaurant, B) the city is so full of tourists, it makes it hard to move around.
2. Find alternative routes to get to your workplace without having to elbow your way through a crowd of tourists.
If you live in areas like the central part of L’Eixample, El Gótico, El Born or Barceloneta, you’re gonna have to give up your good old routine, and maybe even take a couple of unnecessary turns in order to avoid sidewalk traffic jams caused by clusters of gawking tourists in the vicinity of popular attractions. Not to mention Segways. The devil invented Segways with the sole intention of blocking up Barcelona sidewalks and running over peaceful citizens who are just trying to live their lives.
3. Avoid Barceloneta. Go to Montjüic instead.
We don’t need to explain why you should be avoiding Barceloneta, but we would like to make a case for the slopes of Montjüic. Catalan families definitely prefer the cozy shades of the hill’s gardens to crowded beaches, and you won’t regret packing a picnic basket and sprawling on a blanket under a tree on a melting-hot summer day. Expect more ants than you would on the beach, but less noise and a much more tranquil environment. Note: we take no responsibility for any potential insect bites.
4. Exercise in the morning.
Yes, seriously. For once in your life, get up before the Sun rises and go for a jog (or do some footing, as the Spanish like to say). It won’t kill you, but it will definitely make you feel more energized, less lethargic and possibly even more tolerant to the heat during the day. Just make sure you’re done by the time the temperature starts to rise, because you will not thank yourself if you still have five kilometers to go when the Sun’s already high up in the sky.
5. One word: sunscreen.
We can only wish sunscreen was handed out in summer like bottles of water during a drought. It seems like such an obvious thing to carry in your purse, and yet, no one ever seems to remember it. We’re looking at you, Mr. Krabs!
6. Buy a fan, even if you have an air conditioner. Trust us, you need it.
Here’s a hack that you can use to cool your bedroom if your AC is in the living room or a far-off corner of your apartment: just get a fan, or better yet, a network of fans, and position them to blow the cool air into your sleeping quarters. Sounds like a hassle? Yes. Does it work? Tried and tested. No more questions.
7. Get out of the city on weekends.
There is no reason why you should limit yourself to Barcelona: there are endless opportunities for weekend or day trips in close proximity of the city. Go on a wine tasting tour in the cellars of the Catalan wine region Penedés, travel to the Costa Brava for the most amazing beaches and landscapes, visit the Medieval town of Girona, check out the Dalí Museum in Figueres, go to a party in Sitges, or make a pilgrimage to the Monastery of Montserrat. There’s nothing more refreshing than escaping from your routine once in a while, and it’ll help make you feel better about Barcelona. Even if you were so fed up when you left that you were actually considering living in a tent on the beach in Sitges.
8. Spend some time slowing down, sitting on terraces in the shade and sipping on a cold caña or a glass of wine.
Just sit back on one of those tacky aluminum chairs that are seemingly carelessly left out on the sidewalk, and breathe. Keep repeating the mantra: there’s no place like Barcelona… Just kidding. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Grab a beer (not sangría, mind you, because it’s a rip-off and it’s meant for tourists) and enjoy, without feeling the need to over-complicate things.
9. Eat lots of seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Yep, here we go with the healthy habits again. This is some advice that you might want to take to heart. Barcelona’s markets have a wide range of fruits and vegetables readily available all year round, but the ones that are in season always taste better, and there are quite a few that you wouldn’t necessarily find in other parts of the world. In the summer, look for figs, medlars, piel de sapo melons, nectarines, plums and wild strawberries. And don’t forget about Spanish green beans, beetroot and the inimitable juicy tomatoes, either. They’re guaranteed to make you feel better. About yourself. For at least trying to compensate with something healthy after you had that large, sugary, fatty ensaimada for breakfast. Every day. For the past six months.
10. Enjoy whatever you can and ignore whatever you can’t enjoy.
Go to music festivals if you want to, swim in the sea if it doesn’t gross you out, or have that damned sangría for goodness’ sake if that’s what you feel like. Just don’t be angry. Try to be patient with other people (other people here signifies tourists), and take advantage of the fact that you live in a city that has a lot to offer in terms of events and summer activities. Just think how you’ll miss it all in the cold (cold here signifies mild) months of winter.
Talking about patience and slowing down: sometimes it’s good to focus on yourself and just let go. Try it out and you won’t hate Barcelona during the summer months. How could you ever?