Barcelona Language, Weather & Safety

Mar 19th, 2004, 12:35 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 13
Barcelona Language, Weather & Safety

Hi all,

I'll be travelling to Barcelona late May and was hoping I could pull from the wealth of advice from fellow travelers.

First, in trying to teach myself the language. I understand that Catalan is preferred. So am I better off trying to manage with a few Catalan key words/phrases from my guidebook or learn Spanish comprehensively from a CD?

Second, I've viewed the weather websites (high 70's) but wanted to get some feedback...what's the weather really like so I can dress appropriately? Would jeans be too heavy or frowned upon cuz it's not stylish enough? Medium heeled sandals to much? T-shirt vs sweater? Will it be humid? I live in San Francisco so I'm not use to extreme temps.

Lastly, since I'm a woman travelling alone, I know enough to stay away from dark and lonley streets but what sketchy areas/streets would you suggest I stay away from in the evenings. Someone suggested to avoid trouble by not smiling too much, not looking anyone directly in the eye, and acting indifferent. I don't think I'm going to make too many friends this way. I'm thinking about staying at Hostal Plaza across from El Corte Ingles and near Placa Catalunya so hopefully will encounter some single travellers in their early 30's.

Thx in advance and happy travels!
morensa is offline  
Mar 24th, 2004, 09:25 PM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 5
Hi Morensa;
Im glad you asked, Im going to be in Barcelona for the first time too (late may), albeit on my honeymoon with my wife. She keeps asking me what she should bring. So I hope someone answers. Your other questions also good.
stalyn is offline  
Mar 25th, 2004, 12:31 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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If you are visiting only Barcelona and are never likely to go to other parts of Spain or another Spanish-speaking country, then you might as well learn Catalan, but I don't think you will have a problem using Spanish in Barcelona. I've had no problem getting meals and drinks, buying tickets, etc, in Barcelona speaking limited Spanish. Many people there also understand French because the border is not far away. Signs on the metro and elsewhere are generally in Catalan ("sortida", for example, is "exit"), but written Catalan is not too difficult to understand if you're familiar with Spanish and French.
GeoffHamer is offline  
Mar 25th, 2004, 12:45 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,178
Hi Morensa,

I've attached a link to a thread asking a similar question which might help.

Sorry I can't help re weather as I was there in January, but hopefully somone will advise. I also second GeoffHamer's comments re language.


JJBhoy is offline  
Mar 25th, 2004, 06:43 AM
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Having been to Barcelona recently you won't have all that much trouble if you only speak English. In terms of "stylish wear"....denim is EVERYWHERE in Europe, especially on younger folks and if you've privced any of that stuff lately you will see why nobody who can afford it will be sneering at you if you wear it.
Weather..expect the usual close to a major body of water heat AND humidity and dress and stay in air conditioning accordingly.
Mar 25th, 2004, 07:33 AM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 2,260
If you learn a few words in Catalan, it will be seen as signal of kindness. At least you will receive some extra smiles as a bonus.
lobo_mau is offline  
Mar 25th, 2004, 09:57 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,785

According to, the average high and low for Barcelona in May 68F and 53F, so I question the "high 70s". Figure it will be spring-like - jeans and t-shirts with a light jacket or long sleeve shirt at night.

A few Catalan phrases would be nice, but I spoke English or Spanish to everyone and was always understood. One good reason to learn Spanish - at least one of sites had explanations in Catalan and Spanish, but not English.

Also, if you know Spanish, you can get the gist of written Catalan.

As for the advice you got, that might be true when you are walking down the street, but I wouldn't avoid people in bars or anything. The people I met when I traveled there alone last month were very friendly and I talked to lots of people in tapas bars etc. And I would certainly smile and look at people in shops and restaurants when I am talking to them!

Just a semi-warning about Hostal Plaza: I remember seeing it. This area is VERY busy at all hours. It will likely be noisy - the streets are just as busy at 2am as they are at 2pm. Just so you are prepared, because it is certainly a great location.

Have a great time.
kaudrey is offline  
Mar 25th, 2004, 10:10 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 136
2 cents from someone currently living in BCN: You do not need Catalan- everyone speaks Spanish as well, and there are many people who actually dont speak Catalan. English is also widely spoken in tourist areas especially. A couple key phrases if you DO want to use a touch of Catalan:
Bon Dia (instead of Buenos Dias) is good morning
Molt Be (instead of Muy Bien) is very good (dont pronounce the T)
Adeu is Adios (but most people dont really say the A)
Hola and Gracias are used for both.

Stick to whatever Spanish you can manage, and English, and smile a lot and youll be fine!

One word about Plaza Catalunya- it is very noisy and always busy. If you find something on Rambla Catalunya, you will still be central, but it will be much more peaceful. The Ramblas are also loud, and Barrio Gotico (Gothic Quarter) is the place to not walk alone at night. Hope that helps!
cherikm is offline  
Mar 26th, 2004, 10:58 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 13
Thank you so much everybody!! I really appreciate the advice. I've switched my hotel to the Gran Via after reading great reviews but I also have one at Hotel Paseo de Gracia, not the 4* Prestige but the small budget one. It's 20Eur cheaper than the Gran Via and it's in the same neighborhood. So many choices but having fun. Thanks again!
morensa is offline  

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