Storefront shutter art. Lots of shops in Born (our hood) pulled down shutters at night when they closed. These shutters were often covered with surreal images and interesting art. We saw a huge range of styles-- graffiti, whimsical cartoons, delicate line drawings, you name it. If you're interested, see more storefront pix here.
Hotties in abundance. Overall Barcelona struck me as a city filled with stylish good looking people-- sort of like New York or Tokyo, but taken down a notch, much more relaxed. Very sexy populace. Also, for some reason EVERY person in the city seemed to be wearing fashionable-looking architect-type glasses. I'd never seen so many people wearing designer specs (or faux designer specs). What's that about?
Loads of public space Everywhere you went, there were places to congregate-- squares and plazas, thoughtfully placed benches, playgrounds integrated seamlessly into the surrounding urban areas. I wish SF were more like this! In general, one things that really bothers me about modern U.S. life is the disappearance of public space. The town square has been replaced by the mall, which, as private property, affords you none of the pleasures and freedoms of the square.
Shared bikes. They had these city bikes all over the place, for use for by anyone via 'Bicing' (city bike share program). I think it just took a credit card? Anytime you needed a bike, you'd swipe, unlock one off a rack, ride it to wherever you need, and drop it off at the closest city bike rack there. There were tons of people biking around on these shared bikes. Old, young, suits, students. It was a bit like Amsterdam except some of the people riding looked like they were getting on a bike for the first time ever!
Aesthetics - Barcelona is a city where little things like the trash cans, the markers signaling rise in street incline, the park playgrounds seem to have designed by someone who cared how they look. We shouldn't settle for ads on every conceivable surface, billboards on every corner, ugly plastic bus shelters. But that's capitalism you say. Cities are broke you say. Well let's raise taxes then! More taxes, less billboards, that's my platform. I should run for mayor
The food. Blaargh! retch! heave! Spanish cuisine and Barcelona Haute Cuisine are not my bag, turns out. .
For instance: they don't take the heads off the shrimp. They are animals! (The Spaniards I mean not the shrimp (shrimp are monsters from the briny deep)) I rapidly switched to an all-Asian diet (w/ occasional doner kebab) and was much better for it.
The omnipresent dog shit. Shit was everywhere... do Euros not have pooper scooper laws?
The nonstop smoke-athon taking place 24-7 in every restaurant, bar, business, church and hospital in the city. Barcelonians (?) smoke like chimneys. It's crazy, you'd think you were in China. They smoke inside, a lot. I'd forgotten that you can do that in some places. (Barbaric places!) I'm all for smoking but come on peoples, not in church! Someone told me recently you could smoke in LIBRARIES there, for real. 'Ardkore. We had to stay on high alert to keep Izzy from picking up the habit. (Can babies smoke? I bet they can as a party trick)