1. Monogamy can be highly overrated.
I quickly learned that a twenty-something in the hottest Mediterranean city in no way has to be committed to just one person. I figured out how to juggle my novios just right: one for a pulpo a la gallega dinner on Monday; one for flamenco at Tablao on Tuesday; one to go to the fiesta de Gracia with, and one with whom I arrive at Otto Zutz, but not necessarily leave with. As long as no expectations of exclusivity are set, I’m free to enjoy my time with whomever I please, while discovering different sides of my personality brought out by each novio.
2. Catcalling isn’t so bad.
Brutish and incoherent as the infamous “GUAPAAAA” may be, I found catcalling in Barcelona funny and sometimes flattering. It certainly felt pretty good to be whistled after on a Sunday when the American in me was cruising the streets of Poblenou in basketball shorts, a ponytail and nerdy glasses. I certainly prefer that to a man’s awkward, barely-there crooked smile when seeing me walk by, decked out in my finest dress and fur, scared to give a girl a compliment.
3. Plenty of bacalao in the sea.
“You’ll find another guy,” my mom always says, “just be you.” Wow, she must’ve lived in Barcelona at some point. Truth is that Barcelona has a large population of beautiful people, and the more I went out, the more of these mortal gods I met. At times I wondered how it could be that easy. One stroll down Passeig Marítim and I had two attractive males introduce themselves. Ten minutes at Dow Jones, and I’ve got chupitos-brokers bidding for my number. Losing a guy in Barcelona isn’t the end of the world, since a gorgeous new tio is waiting around the corner.
4. Ask and you shall receive.
Before moving to Barcelona, I had always struggled with approaching/flirting/hitting on a guy. Why? Because chick flicks led me to believe that it was he who had to make the first move while I stood in the corner, trying to come off as pretty and timid. Bullshi*t. I learned that if I want something, I have to go and get it. “Hola, I like you. Care to dance?” Boom. Done.
5. Hips don’t have to lie.
Gone are the days of “I’ll call you,” when my true intentions are to have a one-night stand with a charming Catalán and move on. No phone numbers, no Facebook profile exchanges, hell, we don’t even have to share our real names. The flirt heaven that is Barcelona taught me that it’s cool to end a fling if I don’t have serious intentions.
6. Don’t leave your piso without your confidence.
I’ll be damned if I ever leave my confidence at home again. Barcelona taught me that confidence is sexy as hell, and the more I exhibit it, the more men are attracted to me. There’s nothing sexier than a girl who’s firmly comfortable with herself and isn’t afraid to be a boss.
7. Sit back and watch him work.
I used to put a great deal of effort into pampering boys. Ciao to that! I figured that after years of putting together care baskets of wine and Lindt truffles for my sick boyfriends, shopping for monogrammed wallets or bringing them Soviet Union souvenirs from Russia, it was time for them to spoil me. I let my Spanish beau choose our restaurant for dinner, take me hiking up in Montjuic, buy me a Damm at Bar Manolo in El Raval and end the night with my favorite brand of cava at Nova Icaria. That’s more like it.
8. Say ‘yes’ to invitations…
Beach day at the Costa Brava for our 2nd date? Hell yes!
9. …but not to all.
We met 5 minutes ago on Pacha’s dance floor and you want to take me on a 5-day, all-expenses-paid vacation in Dubrovnik? Umm, I’ll pass.
10. Romance is alive, thank God.
Just as I was convinced that the height of romance boiled down to eating pizza and watching Netflix in my underwear with a boyfriend, a dashing Catalán comes in and gives me a rose at sunset atop Tibidado, publicly showing his affection by showering me with kisses. Nicholas Sparks, if you’re reading this, I grant you the rights to my story.
11. Todo vale in Opium.
No judgement here, no holding back, just the deep bass of electronic music while I dance with the fun crowd I just met. I can sneak out for a stroll around the Barceloneta with someone and start dancing with someone else when I return. Dancing on the table? Why not, as long as I don’t break my heels. All goes down in Opium.
12. Jamón = sex.
Tortilla = breasts, and garlic = an orgasm. Barcelona is a very sensual city in every way, from cuisine to art to sex. Watch 1992’s Jamón Jamón with Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem (aka the sexiest actors alive) and you’ll see what I mean.