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How to be a Little Less “Guiri”

Written by Matthew

If you´re not familiar with the term “guiri“, it literally means “stranger”. Basically, it’s just a stereotypical tourist, usually pale-skinned and English speaking – though I’ve heard Germans are an exception.

Tourists copyBeing a guiri has its downsides. Locals tend to see you either as an annoyance or as an opportunity for easy money.

There are a few phrases that will bounce around you as a guiri enjoying Barcelona, such as: “Hello my friend! You like party?!”, “Cervesa, beer, cold beer!” and “Hi! Eat something?” – this one is usually accompanied by something akin to a hug, but is actually an attempt to shepherd you into their restaurant before you realise it´s empty.

But a little more seriously, it is well worth being aware of your guiri status. Barcelona is a buzzing and vibrant city which welcomes millions of travelers every year. However, it is also infamous for its pickpockets, who are of course always on the lookout for vulnerable, sun burnt foreigners who are likely to have a good amount of things worth stealing on their person…

Top Tips

Don’t be that guy on the metro. The guy speaking in, what I like to call, “lunch-bell English” to his partner about what a “swell time” they´re having, with his expensive camera swinging around somewhere behind him, his wallet peeking invitingly from his shallow pockets and his rucksack nonchalantly half open, as he squints at the metro map above him. Sounds like common sense I know, but you´d be surprised how quickly a great day can be ruined.

Wear New Balance trainers. Everyone else does! You´ll blend right in.

ramblasDon´t get lost. Now, of course in unfamiliar territory you may not be sure of where to go, but with the huge technological advances you shouldn´t struggle too much with getting from A to B.

I´d recommend the easy to use and free app Citymapper. Maps not only act as a huge screen to the outside world, but they are a distraction and somewhat of a flag to pickpockets. Also be aware that the kind stranger offering to help may just be a further distraction. Most mobile phone companies offer good deals on roaming charges and for around £3 per day you can use your phone as normal and reduce the chance of needing to ask for directions.

No phones on the table. Firstly, you´re on holiday, don´t be antisocial. Secondly, you may think you´re aware and observant but these people make a living through distraction and deception. People, even locals, always say “I literally have no idea how they took it.”

Wear your rucksack on your front. You´ll see this everywhere. A lot goes on behind your back, so keep it under your nose and try and get over the sensation of being pregnant.

Don´t let all this put you off. I myself have had to come to terms with the fact that, despite living here from almost 2 years, I´m as guiri as the day I arrived. So my final tip is to enjoy your time as a guiri, embrace it  and if you make just a little effort there is nothing that can go wrong in this amazing city.

About the author


Matthew is an aspiring journalist from the North West of England. He has been living in Barcelona for two years, the city that he is now proud to call home.

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