Barcelona is a city of colour, vibrant culture, and a selection of shops and restaurants that leave visitors and locals alike spoilt for choice.
When they’re open that is.
This summer I was probably one of the many visiting Barcelona that wasn’t up to speed as it relates to a certain practice –“city-wide vacation”. During August, many stores close up shop. Personnel essentially take their vacation in one of the world’s peak travel months.
Usually I do my research before travelling to new places, but in this case I hadn’t made the time to. Though I was staying with a local – another expat – I hadn’t even considered this concept and as such, didn’t think to ask if stores would be open or not. Imagine my surprise when even some bakeries, popular Spanish clothing, grocery, hardware, and a variety of other stores high-end and otherwise, were shut up tight, but promised their return in September.
Coming from Barbados, a country that currently relies heavily on tourism, the idea of this practice in the busy months was shocking to me. I wondered how these businesses managed to avoid what I saw as potential financial fallout. When you think about it though, if all your competition is closed too, you’re in the clear.
To add to their epic relaxation vibe, tourists or not, when restaurants decide it’s time for siesta, hunger pains can wait. I recall my partner and I searching for a place to eat after exploring the city for a few hours. Early afternoon seemed a good time for this.Or so I thought. One by one restaurants along a busy street boasted closed kitchens until 5 pm or 8 pm. It didn’t matter what kind of food you were in the mood for – there was no room at the inn.
This may sound like a bit of a downer if you’re planning to head to Barcelona some August. Don’t let the closed shops fool you though, there’s tons more to enjoy in the city. Remember, not everything shuts down; major chains, American-style bistros, and more are open all year round. Though I had disappointments wanting to visit stores I couldn’t, just being in Barcelona and experiencing the slower pace, beautiful scenery, and of course, delectable pastries, made it worth my while.
Places of interest like the incredibly detailed work of art,Casa Vicens, known as Antoni Gaudi’s first major work, are open to the public for small fees. Casa Vicens was one I visited and as a fan of architectural triumphs, this was truly a treat for me. Like this building, Barcelona’s landmarks are easy to get to if you’re staying in the city, or even if you’re on the outskirts. If you’re not within walking distance, trains, buses, and trams are available, or just look out for taxis with the green light on, as this signals they’re free and you can hail away.
Closed signs aren’t the end-all of your Barcelona August visit. Take a gamble and experience this luscious city for yourself.