A couple years ago I went to Spain with my then boyfriend. We were lucky enough to get to visit several different cities: Madrid, Valencia, Ourense among a few. It was great fun with great people, late dinners and lots of music. The one draw back though? Smoking. And I mean everywhere. So this year, when my now fiancé suggested Barcelona for our honeymoon, I was a little hesitant. Did I really want to spend my honeymoon coughing and reeking of cigarettes? Or should I chance it?
After hearing wonderful reviews from every person I asked about Barcelona, we decided to chance it.
From the Picasso Museum to Montserrat to the Sagrada Família and more restaurants than you can shake a stick at, there is no shortage of things to do in Barcelona, but while all of the museums, tourist attractions and our hotel, were smoke free, smoking is still very much a part of every day life in Spain.
Our first evening in Barcelona we went to Bel Luna Jazz Club and were offered seats in the non smoking section. It reminded me of being a little girl in Sacramento begging my parents to sit in the non smoking section, it helped but obviously it wasn’t smoke free (the music was great though!).
The rest of our stay there we made it a point to find smoke free restaurants and clubs and thankfully we didn’t have much of a problem. There were still a few places we went to that allowed smoking…ashtrays on every table, even cigarette machines in corners and in one smoke free restaurant I even got to see someone with an e-cigarette. It was amazing to me, just how quickly cigarette smoke can take over a room, burning my eyes and throat. I’d forgotten about that feeling, as most of us in California probably have.
It really was an interesting experience, watching people buy cartons of cigarettes on the plane, Catalonians quickly taking one more drag of a cigarette before entering a store, chain smoking while having a glass of wine or listening to live music. It seems that while Barcelona is making strides in smoke free dining, they have yet to effect any real social norm change. Smoking is very much a part of this city’s culture.
As I was writing the end of this post, I googled “smoke free Barcelona” and found this article. Interesting…sounds like when we go back to Barcelona to celebrate our 5 year anniversary, I might just get to enjoy any restaurant, café or club I like. I can’t wait!
Planning a trip to Europe? Check out this neat map to find out about smoke free legislation in the EU.
— Erin Archer Reynoso