Barcelona without Tourists. Spoiler alert: it sucks donkey balls

May 14, 2020

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.)

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.

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About the Author Daniel

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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  1. Small correction: I was also one of the ‘locals’ sitting at Bacoa until I switched neighborhoods. 🙂

    I hope I can return to Barcelona soon!

    1. Man, Emily, I wrote an article about donkey balls and all everyone wants to talk about is the word “local”. Are we locals? I feel like the average Catalan person takes about half a second to look at me and decide I’m not local. What do you think?

      1. Dear Mr. Chorizo,
        Even if you tried, your physical aspect identifies you as a perfect guiri in Spain. Do not need to be sorry… That’s also my case when I visit your country!
        Take Care.

  2. Why do you hate locals? You sound like you think mass tourism that makes all the “locals” move out and kills the city is a good thing. We don’t want your racism here.

    1. What I meant is that I don’t like the expression “the locals” to refer to people who live in a place. But thanks for calling me a racist anyway. Have a great day! 🙂

  3. Instead of “donkey balls”, use the more “local” expression «colló de mico» (it could be translated, with difficulty, into spanish as «cojón de mico» or english as “monkey ball”). “Local” flavor, after all.

  4. You smashed it as always Mr.Chorizo! Great blog post. Very jealous of your dystopian city meanderings…I have been itching to get out and see the tourist-free centre for weeks. I have a toddler though so getting one block from my house without dealing with a meltdown is an achievement (and I think families can’t go further than 1km from home).

    Anyway – back to your post. Spain is going to be truly devasted by this, the economy is so dependent on tourism. Hypothetically, if the country can’t open itself back up to tourism (or tourists aren’t themselves free to come) as soon as the government and tourist sector would hope – what sectors could Spain fall back on? Agriculture, wine, other industries?

    Thanks for the link for the place accepting food donations, and yes we’ve been trying to support our local restaurants by buying takeouts we don’t really want or need, when we can.

    All the best!

  5. Hi Chorizo ! thanks for sharing , I enjoyed your observations very much .
    I have family in Madrid , Zaragoza and Barcelona , what you say is totally true , and those that complained about tourists , are now crying … Thank you for being kind and helping. here in Florida we are doing much better, restaurants are opening at 50%, beaches and pools are open … so little by little we are getting there .
    Take care , be safe , turbulent times up ahead in Spain…

  6. Loved your article. Have been to Spain on many occasions and love the people and the country, and when this present situation allows, I’ll be back!

  7. Actually Barcelona was sucking donkey balls well before the pandemic and will long after. I lived there for four years. I hated every minute of it. Barcelona is a listless city and its people are a bunch of ugly, obese, rude and ignorant cunts. Whatever shit happens, you deserve it. You elected that dirty drug addict pissing bitch as communications director to the city; an utter scumbag. That was the final straw. Barcelona smells like sewer and weed, and its people are the most horrible on the fact of the earth. Im glad that Madrid fucks you up the ass. I hope they give you your independence and wall you off to speak your ugliest language on earth in isolation. A hydrogen bomb would be the best cure for you nasty cunts.

  8. Hi Mr.Chorizo,

    This is an interesting article. I totally agree: the city feels different without tourists and those who complained so much about them are probably now regretting they’re no longer wandering the streets.
    That being said, I don’t think the city’s empty because there are no tourists. I know, Barcelona has many tourists, but I find hard to believe there are more tourists than people from Barcelona (trying to avoid the word “local” here). Of course, the streets are now empty because there aren’t any tourists, but I think it is also due to the fact that “locals” are not going out as they used to due to restrictions and the fear this situation has caused. I don’t think Barcelona would be empty if only the tourists stopped showing up.

    I find your writing very nice 🙂 From what I can read in Mr.Chorizo (by the way, the name made me laugh), I’m not sure you’re really enjoying life in Barcelona. As you say in your article, it’s nice to try and look at the positive side of things. I hope this helps you enjoy your time in the city.

    Congrats on your blog.

    Take care and stay safe!


    1. Hey Aída, thanks for commenting. I actually wrote this article in the first part of the “desconfinamiento” and my opinion has changed a lot since then… It’s better now. But I still wonder how long the economy will resist most things being closed most of the time. And I’m worried about how people (myself included) are just adjusting to everything being prohibited.

      Anyway, as I read on Twitter the other day, “Everyone wants to live in interesting times, until the times actually get interesting.”

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