Skip to content

My Life in Barcelona

Last updated on July 18, 2022

My life in Barcelona is about the simple things.

Raval Street Art in Barcelona - By Ben Holbrook
Thoughts, reflections and photographs by Ben Holbrook.

It’s about ham that glows like gold and melts like butter.

It’s about street gangs of 80-something-year-olds who hang out on public benches all day smoking cigars and giving people dirty looks. And 30-something-year-olds who still live with their parents.

It’s spending days and nights at the beach with children shooting rockets at each other… and at you.

Nightclubs that don’t open until 1am. 

Being amazed by the vibrant architecture on a daily basis.

Elderly Spanish people talking ona bench in Sants, Barcelona
The gang at the end of my street.
Barcelona breakfast with wine at 8am - by Ben Holbrook
8.30am. Breakfast.

It’s about waiters who don’t give a damn how long you’ve been waiting.

Waiters who expect you to know exactly what you want without seeing a menu.

It’s about finding amazingly attentive waiters who greet you with a smile and a menu, promptly take your order, but forget to bring half of what you ordered anyway.

Menus that advertise “brave potatoes” and “untidy eggs”.

It’s about constantly being amazed by how god damn good Catalan wine is.

Life and light on Carrer Ferran in Barcelona's Gothic Quarter - by Ben Holbrook
Light and life on Carrer Ferran.

It’s about nights that begin at whatever time you wake from your siesta.

Saturdays that don’t stop before Sunday starts.

Palm trees and the Mediterranean sea breeze.

Sun-blazed beaches.

It’s about the Chinese bazaar shopkeepers who pretend they’re not following you around to check you aren’t stealing.

Buying 12-packs of beer at the supermarket for €4.44 and world-class wine for less than a tenner.

Spanish leg of ham / jamon - by Ben Holbrook
Bright as gold. Melts like butter.

It’s the infallible self-belief possessed by every single Spanish person when talking about absolutely any subject.

People on the street who appear to be on the verge of fisty-cuffs but are actually just talking casually about what happened on Big Brother last night.

It’s about people walking down the street while having intimate conversations on their phones and not feeling the need to whisper. 

Girl wearing Catalan flag in Gracia, Barcelona - by Ben Holbrook
Anarchy in Barcelona - by Ben Holbrook
Apples and anarchy.

It’s about intense displays of public affection.

It’s all “Vale, vale, vale!” and “Claro!” and “Que chulooooo… no?”.

It’s old timers showing the youngsters how it’s done, drinking wine and reading the paper at 8.30am in the morning.

Finding the best wines and tapas at the grungiest little dive bars.

Barceloneta beach at sunset - by Ben Holbrook
Votarem! ~ 01/10/17 Catalan Independence Vote in Barcelona
Patiently and peacefully waiting to vote ~ 01/10/17

It’s deliberating over the quality of your bravas and tortilla as if they were the work of a genius, but never quite being satisfied.

It’s about streets drenched in light.

Art at every turn.


Passion for politics.

It’s hating Las Ramblas, it’s loving Las Ramblas.

It’s complaining about all the guiris at Barceloneta beach, but going anyway and having a grand old time.

It’s wearing shorts and t-shirts in winter and being genuinely surprised when it gets cold.

Plaça del Sortidor, Poble Sec, Barcelona - by Ben Holbrook
Sunday vibes.

It’s moving in with random people who become lifelong friends. Feeling heartbroken when they leave.

It’s about going on adventures to new countries and spending half the trip talking about how much better Spain is.

It’s speaking your very best Spanish when you enter a shop or bar and the staff responding in perfect English.

It’s being offered a job because you’re a native English speaker.

It’s making friends with other native English speakers and spending most of your time with them, speaking English.

It’s reading the English version of El Pais.

It’s meeting locals who speak to you in perfect English and can’t understand why your Spanish is so bad… 

… despite the fact that you’re entire life is in English.

Plaça de la Concòrdia, Les Corts, Barcelona - by Ben Holbrook
Plaça de la Concòrdia.

It’s going for a bike ride and stopping at a terrazza to cool off with a beer, then arriving home hours later and realising that you’ve left your bike locked up back at the bar.

It’s about realising you are no-longer entirely British, that you are also a tiny bit Spanish, and also Catalan. That you no longer belong anywhere, actually. 

It’s about living well and making the most of each day.

My life in Barcelona is about the simple things.

Rambla Badal, Sants, Barcelona ~ by Ben Holbrook of
Home sweet home.


So You Want to Move to Barcelona ~ A Happy Expat’s Guide

Support Me: Buy Me a Coffee/Vino

Buy Me a Coffee/Vino

Make a PayPal donation to show your support and help me publish more posts and shoot more videos:


  1. Jackie Jackie

    Loved this one!! Really gave a feel for the place and time, and how it feels to move around in Barcelona just on a daily basis. Thanks for posting.

    • Gracias Jackie! Yes, exactly – it’s just a collection of moments from my everyday life in Barcelona. Really glad you enjoyed it!

  2. Sarah Sarah

    Ooosh this really resonates with me! I’m moving back to London next month and I’m not sure I can now after reading this…. Ah! :)

    • Back to London from Barcelona? Moving is never easy, especially when it’s from a place like Barcelona/Spain! I wish you a smooth transition either way.

  3. Hugo Hugo

    Came across this beautiful piece. Thank you for sharing that with us Ben!

  4. Rob Perez Rob Perez

    Absolutely lovely essay. I’m spending 3 months in BCN this autumn. Glad to get a traveler’s perspective. Thank you Ben.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Support / Tip Ben

Buy Me a Coffee/Vino