Being a tourist in your own city verses a new one is very different. While exploring Chicago, navigating was very easy because we already knew where the landmarks were, how to use public transportation, and had working GPS. In addition, Chicago is our home city so I did not feel as nervous to look like a tourist because I know I am not one. We also hear in the news that Chicago encourages tourism. Specifically, Mayor Emanuel states that his goal is to “attract 50 million visitors every year by 2020.” When I see people around Chicago taking photos or selfies, I have never looked at that as a bad thing. However, in Barcelona, the locals seem to see it as something completely different.
In Barcelona, the experience was incomparable to Chicago’s project. I had to use a paper map of the city, learn how to use the public transportation system, and try to communicate in a new language. We learned before arriving to Barcelona that locals are struggling to accept all the tourism in the city. After hosting the Olympics in 1992, Barcelona has had an influx in tourism. Twenty- seven million people visit Barcelona each year and the locals are unhappy. Karen, a guest lecturer came this week and encouraged us to watch a video called “Bye Bye Barcelona” which explained how locals feel and suffer from the influx of tourism. They have been pushed out of the city because of hotels to accommodate visiting tourists.
Even though the people of Barcelona are not fans of tourists, we had many great encounters with the locals during our first week. The day we all arrived, we went out for a tapas dinner. We found a wonderful place called Casa Jamie and the waiter that served us was extremely friendly and made us feel very welcome. He was patient with our broken Spanish/ Catalan and even teased us for not knowing the language very well. We told him we wanted to learn the language and he started to teach us how to order and taught us new words. I am sure he hod a good laugh at all of us. Over all, the experience between both assignments opened up my eyes to how different people think and feel about tourists coming to visit their homes.