When we first set out to plan our epic European itinerary, we thought going to Barcelona wouldn’t be an issue in terms of a language-barrier. Boy oh boy, were we wrong!
Lets start at the beginning of the planning. Eldris was looking into things to do in the other cities we were going to be visiting and preparing her excel sheet (yes, she does excel sheets! more on that in a future post LOL). I started my research on the first leg of our trip; Barcelona.
I researched attractions, historical sites, museums and of course local eats. I came out of my research feeling so accomplished! I created a Pages (Mac) presentation-style document. I listed the sites we could visit, the hours of operation, fees and even mapped out the distance to these places from our hotel.
I recall that I meticulously created this “presentation” with as much information that we could possibly need. I even added photos I found online of the individual places I’d listed. Photos of the map I had created mapping out all of the sites/attractions. I truly believed I had created an all-encompassing itinerary.
However, what none of us had accounted for was the language-barrier. To be quite honest, we didn’t give it a second thought because we are Spanish-speaking and erroneously assumed that since Barcelona is in Spain, we’d get by just fine with the Spanish we speak.
Growing up, we were taught that Spain is where we get our second language from. In Spain they speak, what we’ve always been told, is the correct form of Spanish – Castellano.
What we did NOT know, is that in Barcelona they primarily speak Catalan. Catalan is not a dialect of Spanish, as is often believed, it is a ‘Western Romance’ language derived from vulgar Latin. It also resembles a melding of both Spanish and French.
When we arrived to the city of Barcelona, we instantly noticed that their signs in the streets were in Catalan – luckily, they were also in Spanish. Our Uber driver enlightened us, along with our other travel companion, as to why Catalan was everywhere.
To our great surprise, we also encountered a lot of people who communicated in English. We tried to maintain our plan of speaking in Spanish with everyone we encountered, however, they instantly knew we were American and they let us know we could communicate in English.
Not sure if they just didn’t want to hear our butchered Spanish dialect (sorry y’all!), but we obliged and at several times also attempted to politely speak in Catalan – the few words we knew. The locals seemed grateful for our attempts at trying to communicate in their native tongue.
So we definitely learned a lesson and remembered what happens when we a-s-s-u-m-e.