The World’s Best 10 Cities For Surfers: Barcelona


From Stab issue 58: Stab reveals the metropolises where a man can lock down a satisfying occupation, be entertained in the most degenerate manner, where he won’t be vilified for his free expression and where a hunk of fiberglass can be put to exceptionally good use…

Number seven is: Barcelona, Spain

Words by Paul Evans

After a quiet couple of millennia since being founded by those Romans, Barcelona again rose to the fore in 1992
after Freddie Mercury’s rousing anthem to the olympic city of that year.
It promptly became the Mecca for skateboarders worldwide who came to shred its smooth regenerated concrete and post post-modern marble, enjoy inexpensive drugs and chase some of the most delectable womenfolk in the universe. These days, Russian oligarch’s mega yachts moor up in the shadow of a spanking skyline while students, fashionistas, suits, sultans and street urchins ramble up and down las Ramblas basking in the glory. Of the top five most beautiful women ever to have breathed air, it is reputed that 1, 2 and 5 all lived within a cig smoking distance from Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia.

Why me? It’s not easy to find one of the major Old World cities with shred credentials. If you dig chic urbanism, art, culture, history, architecture, fashion, etc, etc London, Paris, Berlin or Prague might beckon, but your wetsuit will languish desiccated, unloved. Enter Barça, where you can get barrelled all morn between the jetties, towel off and within a short brisk stroll, be diggin’ Las Ramblas the very centre of the centre. Summers are hot and sexual (although seldom wavey) while autumn, winter and spring are balmy by mainland Euro standards, and can have surf on average three days a week, on a good season.

El shred: Swells are reliably predicted and with no tide, like less than one cm, when it on, it on. Barceloneta is the beach right downtown, and gets busy but fun! Generally, swells from the north-east favour spots east of town towards Badalona while swells from the south, south-west light up westside breaks towards Sitges. It’s reasonably straightforward, follow the coast road and look out the window. You’ll be surprised at the power for what is basically a glorified lake, but ditherers beware, it’ll drop from solid six feet clean to one foot slop before elevenses!

How cold's the drink? Speedos all summer and a good 3/2 in winter although if the north wind is blowin' off the Andorran snow peaks, can be mucho frio…

Where to stay: Something for every budget here, from backpackers to six-star ridiculous. Rent is pricey, as you might expect, digs are cramped and parking troublesome. Stab felt safe yet excited at the very modern B Hotel overlooking Plaza Espana, a snip at 99 Euro a night ($130). If you wanna rent anything more than a shoe box semi-near the mix, be prepared to shell out a couple of large/month minimum.

Mucha fiesta! Stab, just like everyone else enjoys Nasty Mondays and Crappy Tuesdays, club nights where kool kids get down to sound of the underground at La 3 Valencia. Such is the lure of the parquet, Euro pros Ben Sanchis and Tim Boal reportedly got ‘lost in club land’ this year, spent the entire winter in Barcelona, only surfaced for a quick Maverick’s trip, then went straight back to the dancefloor.

Politico: Traditionally, leftist-separatist, unSpanish-ist. Catalans recently banned bullfighting and generally despise Madrid and the fascist shadow of General Franco. Our advice: don’t get ‘em started on Catalan separatism… Zzzzzzzzz

Fidel gastro: Fiercely proud of their Catalan culture n’ cuisine, Catalan’s gastronomic heritage consists of tomatoes (from South America), beans (from South America), aubergine (from India). Kind of a less memorable, less tasty version of Italian… anyhows, you can get anything you want in this foodie city. Stab delighted at Tapaç24 for uber modern hip yet inexpensive tapas funk fusion and was impressed by the noisy kitsch of Bar Celta restaurant in the Barri Gotic, (between the shred and the downtown).

Crime: Plenty of smackheads around Barceloneta. If you park streetside near here you’re 100% guaranteed to get broken into. Or, at the lights, a thin, dark, hook-nosed man might open your passenger door and grab your messenger bag! Muggers and pickpockets make decent coin like in any urban port city, so keep a rolled C-note up your bum for emergencies.

Cultural hits: A global heavyweight on the culture vulture front, Barca got it all. Buildings come in the shape of some of the foremost art nouveau, gothic, post post-modern, styles, it being the only city in the world ever to be awarded a RIBA royal gold medal (usually reserved for individual architects). Iberian daddy macks Picasso, Dali, Miro all get a bit of wall space in this town, while the MACBA is not only the most kickflipped down steps in the cosmos, but also a canny decent modern art gallery.

Work: If you are Lionel Messi, world’s greatest footballer, you might win around 200,000 Euro a week ($256,000). If you’re a dish pig at Pans & Co (Spain’s answer to Subway), you might get Spain’s minimum wage, a pitiful 160 Euro a week ($200). Spain’s economy, like that of any Eurozone country that worships Popes and is culturally disposed to siesta, is rogered and bleeding, although urban hubs like Barca tend be to be in their own bubble of prosperity. Stab recommends learning a bit of Spanish, getting a bar gig and dedicating nocturnal hours ploughing half-Argentine, half-Norwegian art students. Sound like a plan?

The Good and the Not-So-Good
+ Y’ain’t gonna find a better city to live in if that crazily amorphous thing we call “culture” is your kink. The architecture! The art! The fashion! And, the gals! And, y’ever surfed in the Med before? Better than y’think.
- Yup, waves can be better than y’think, but there’s a lot of downtime between wedges. And, it ain’t exactly the North Shore, power-wise. Still, if y’hear Mundaka’s lighting up, jump a flight to Bilbao and you’re back in biz.