Barcelona without Tourists. Spoiler alert: it sucks donkey balls

The other day I was walking down the Rambla.

I know, I know.

The Rambla sucks. It’s so full of tourists. The pickpockets. The crowds. Etc.

Except now there are no tourists.

It still sucks, but in a completely different way.

The pickpockets are all working from home, pretending to be Nigerian princesses on the internet, or something, and the crowds are gone.

All that’s left are the locals.

God, how I hate that expression: the locals.

But that’s all you see now, when you walk around Barcelona. And let me tell you, it’s pretty dismal.

There are a few people in masks. A couple of joggers. The people running the newsstands…

And that’s the whole scene on the Rambla.

At one point, I walked past Boquería market, and I had my usual gut reaction: “Man, Boquería sucks! Always so many tourists. You can barely squeeze in the door.”

Then I paused and took a second look.

It was empty. Duh.

barcelona without tourists
That’s Boquería this morning. Notice the stunning lack of 10,000 tourists.

I’d heard rumors that there are actually 6 or 7 old Catalan ladies who still go to Boquería, elbow their way through the tourists to buy fish every morning, and then go home to the flats in Gótico they’ve owned since the 1950s.

Well, today I met those ladies.

We were the only ones in the market. Me. And those ladies.

And all that beautiful food, just sitting there, probably to rot.

I know people can get frustrated with tourism. But let me tell you: if we don’t get some tourists to spend some money really quick, this shit is gonna suck fucking donkey balls.

(There’s an official “Catalan donkey”, in case you’re wondering. They’re endangered. In fact, there are only about 400 of them left, and they’re about to get their balls sucked.)

Catalan donkeys. Photo by CeGe. CC-BY SA 4.0.

Because, and I’m really sorry to say this, but…

Barcelona needs tourism.

Most of Spain needs tourism.


I used to go to a burger place called Bacoa, right on the beach. I’m pretty sure I was the only “local” there on most days.

For a while, the place was ranked “top restaurant in Barcelona” on some app that all the Asian tourists were using.

So I’d go in, and it’d literally be me, 25 Asian tourists, and the people who worked there.

Take away the 25 Asian tourists, and there’s no point in opening the restaurant at all… My 13€ burger isn’t going to save the whole Spanish economy.

Maybe if you live in Soria, you’re going to be less affected by this. But hey, I’ve been to Soria on holiday, and I spent money there. I’m sure the local business owners appreciated it, whether or not they were completely dependent on tourism.

Like that burger, my steak in Soria isn’t going to solve this problem and save the Spanish economy.

But hey, let’s do what we can.

Here’s a point I’ve been beating to death: SUPPORT LOCAL BUSINESSES.

If you are in any position to do so, go to some local restaurant that’s open for takeout, and buy something.

I bought some food I didn’t need at Boquería today. I’ll find some way to use it. Whatever.

Because as bad as Boquería was before, it’ll be worse if it closes down.

Also, the Red Cross food banks are accepting donations. There are also some neighborhood associations.

Here’s one, from Ciutat Vella, which includes the neighborhoods of Born, Barceloneta and Gótico…

I’ve given money to the Red Cross, and I’ll probably give some eggs and rice to these Ciutat Vella folks soon. (I’m not an expert in these things. If you know of some more efficient way of getting food to people who need it, in my neighborhood, please let me know.)


Let’s try to look at the positive side of this

I’m usually a fairly positive guy.

I believe in the “power of positive thinking”.

But let’s be honest: those donkey balls aren’t going to suck themselves. We’re all gonna be sucking them. Hopefully for months, but not years. I’m optimistic like that.

Anyway, today I was talking to a friend.

He said, “Well, real estate prices might go down, and that’ll be nice.”

And he’s right. Thing is: I was around for the last crisis. And yes, real estate prices went down. But for the most part, everyone was so busy sucking donkey balls that it hardly mattered. Lower rent prices are hardly a cause for celebration if your boss hasn’t paid you in 6 months. And most people can’t just go out and buy a flat at half price if none of the banks are giving mortgages.

So yeah.

Donkey balls.

But hey, let’s all do what we can. Enjoy Barcelona without tourists. And also, support anyone you can in these difficult times.

Nobody makes it alone. We’d all be dead without the community.

So do something for it.

The time for taking photos of your slipper socks and patting yourself on the back for watching Netflix all day is over.

So sanitize your goddamn hands and go out and do something.


Mr Chorizo AKA Mr Daniel.

P.S. If you’ve got a business in Madrid, Barcelona, or hell, even Soria that needs some support, let me know. I’ll write about you for free.

P.P.S. I hope those people who were protesting against tourism a few months ago are having the time of their lives right now. ‘Cause this is their moment of glory. Soon they’ll have their throats so full of donkey pubes they won’t even be able to shout their damn slogans.

P.P.P.S. Sorry to any donkeys reading this article. It’s a goddamn metaphor. Get a life.

P.P.P.P.S. Update: we’re now in Phase 2. And by the time you’re reading this, who knows? Anyway, as of mid-June 2020 they’re planning to start letting tourists back into Spain. We’ll see how that goes.


How did I end up in Spain? Why am I still here almost 20 years later? Excellent questions. With no good answer... Anyway, at some point I became a blogger, bestselling author and contributor to Lonely Planet. So there's that. Drop me a line, I'm happy to hear from you.

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