Some of my favorite blogs are by writers who aren’t native English speakers. I even sift through countless blogs in Swedish, French, and Spanish, of course – I love to see different perspectives on life, love, fashion and travel from around the world. Makes life more interesting. One of my favorite expat travel blogs NOT written by an American or Brit is the lovely Aga from Aga Nuno Somewhere Barcelona who is originally from Poland. My family is Polish so I love reading her blog, tales from the motherland! Aga blogs about life in Spain and traveling around the world with her Portuguese boyfriend Nuno in English AND Polish, thumbs up for a bilingual blog! Based in Barcelona for two years, Aga has some great insider tips about this heavily trafficked and equally loved city. Check out what she has got to say in my latest installment of The Expat Files.
1. Describe Spain in 3 words
Diverse- every region has its own traditions, cuisine, sometimes language. Outdoors- life in Spain is lived in the streets. Tasty- what can I say, I am a foodie.
2. What’s your favorite food in Barcelona? Where’s the best place to find it?
I like simple food, that´s why I am a huge fan of tapas. In Catalunya the most famous are pa amb tomaquet (bread rubbed with tomatoes and drizzles with olive oil) and patatas bravas. My favourite bar is a tiny place, called Quimet&Quimet, run by the same family for (4 or 5) generations, where you can try delicious montaditos and drink homemade vermut or beer. It is so small, always packed, so people stand outside, it is loud and vibrant and the floor is covered with paper napkins (in Spain a dirty floor means a good bar).
3. What do you think is the most beautiful spot in Barcelona? Where’s the best view?
There are so many great spots in Barcelona, my personal favorite is Gaudí’s Park Guell (when it is not packed with tourists) and old Hospital de Sant Pau in Raval district. You can find many great views over the city from Montjuic, Tibidabo or from Arenas shopping center (I’m unable to pick just one). And if you want to travel around Cataluya, I would recommend you Dali’s triangle (Fugueres- Port-Lligat and Cadaqués.). Or Montserrat- for the best view.
4. How did you end up in Barcelona? What made you decide to move to Spain?
In life most of the things happen by chance. Long story short, after graduating I lived for almost a year in Bucharest, Romania, with my Portuguese boyfriend, who later on was given a job offer here in Barcelona. I didn´t hesitate for a minute to follow him, as I already had lived for a year in Lleida, Cataluña during my Erasmus student exchange and had visited Barcelona few times and loved it. In other words, it wasn´t me who chose the region, I just followed my heart where it took me.
5. Name one thing to do or see in Barcelona that is not in any guidebook
The problem is that guidebooks about Barcelona are so extensive and list probably most of the things you can see and do, that it is quite a challenge to think of one that has not been described. But somehow not many tourists go to the Barcelona´s oldest and most romantic park, Labyrinth Park of Horta. And then there is unique street art, you won´t find in any guidebook where to look for graffiti on persianas (metal roller blinds).
6. What’s one thing you dislike about Barcelona
Well, Barcelona being so popular has its disadvantages. There are simply too many tourists, during the peak season, I have to avoid certain zones. And it gets frustrating that my favorite bars are always overcrowded. But the biggest downside is how bad the service can be in restaurants. And it is not only my opinion, when you read some reviews on trip advisor there are just too many people who give the same feedback: good food, bad service. Of course there are places with good service, you have just to be luck and patient to find them.
7. Have you ever had a funny cultural mishap or misunderstanding in Spain?
I majored in Spanish language and literature and I speak the language fluently. But still, in some situation I confused similar words. Once I went to buy contact lens solution and instead asking for liquido para lentillas (lenses) I asked for liquido para lentejas (lentils). The other funny misunderstanding also is food related. I wanted to buy some shrimps, and asked for 200 gambas, forgetting to add the word grams. The lady gave my strange look and asked if I wanted exactly 200 and if she had to count them one by one.