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On how tourism is making Barcelona both dearer and tackier.


Last week, Catalonia Today's Marion Cadier asked half a dozen tourists for their views of the Catalan capital and got much the same answers from all: lots to do, friendly locals, heaps of Gaudí. Had a thousand been interviewed, they wouldn't have come up with anything more perspicacious, even if Marion had threatened to whack it out of them with copies of the Rough Guide in the crypt of the Sagrada Família: sightseeers everywhere are famous for their powerlessness of observation. Odd, though, that the interviewees didn't mention the city's expensiveness (it is the 20th priciest metropolis on the planet, beating Berlin, Madrid and even Moscow). Little could they guess that before tourists began to choose Barcelona for their holidays – as opposed to the Catalan beach resorts – any citizen on the then equivalent of a modest salary could live the nightlife of Riley and eat out at least once a week to boot. Since then, bar and restaurant owners have taken to celebrating the presence of hordes of transient spenders by charging a lot more for a lot less. Take Can Ros in the Barceloneta neighbourhood, for instance, once a friendly, reasonably-priced seafood restaurant. When I went there recently, I was served an over-oily and only partly identifiable fish that cost its weight in saffron by Catalan waiters who had been trained to snap at the mainly foreign clientèle in an English broken beyond the use of superglue. I ruefully stared at a copy of the Barcelona Time Out City Guide lying on a busy nearby table. The first person to include Can Ros in that book had been myself, years ago, when, desperate to keep the job, I had tried to impress the editors by including places frequented exclusively by discerning locals.

- Textos i contingut: Matthew Tree - Disseny i programació: Nac -