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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.

LIKE THIS? THERE’S SIX MORE TO COME. AND GUESS WHAT? THE NEXT ONE’S ON ITS WAY. SIT TIGHT.

BUY STAB ISSUE 58 ONLINE, HERE.

  • Barca

    This is ridiculous! There is sometimes waves in Barcelona (north of the city, Barceloneta), but beware! Guys are telling you they can have a 100 days of waves per year, nd that’s not true. You’ll have some days with correct conditions, and 90% of those days will be crap, pure crap! If it’s on, you’ll have zillion of kooks in the water, morey, SUP, longboards, you name it, but 10% of them know how to surf, the rest are just accidents waiting to happen.

    Barcelona is good for party, for visit, for living, for working, but NOT FOR SURFING.

  • Kevin

    I live in Barcelona, and although it is one the best cities in the world, it is a very frustrating city for surfers. It does get 3 days of surf a week on a good season, but only in winter, and 80% of these days will be crap to any standard. A fun swell in California would be considered epic swell in Barcelona. We get maybe 3 or 4 overhead swells a year, and in summer (may-september) we can consider ourselves lucky if we get 4 or 5 surfable (read: knee-waist windswell crap) days in total. Also, a 3/2 in winter won’t be enough; 4/3 minimum.

    I don’t plan on moving because it really is an amazing city, but if I do some day, it’s because I want to surf. This article is mostly spot-on, but you should have put Lisbon in the list instead.

  • jokerman

    4/3 bullshit Kevin you must weigh 50kg I was there for a year and found a 3\2 was even a little too much in the winter and also had 3 good surfs a week you just need to stay out of the clubs and be on the ball as swells can last for a few hours wake up Kevin.

    • Bibo

      Fuck off Jokerman… You have no idea man. All that you’ve said is shit !!! 3/2 in winter in BCN ?? This is almost impossible in 12ºC water…

  • BCN

    hahahahaha!!! BARCELONA!???????? Are you kidding me??? hhahahahahaha!!! I’m from Barcelona and it’s not a good place for surfing! I had to move from there to find a good place for surfing. and in winter you need more than a 4/3 sometimes. but still best city in the world.

    STAB BARCELONA AND BULLFIGHTS ARE NOT GOOD FRIENDS. ITS FORBIDDEN IN ALL CATALONIA.

    • Maria

      Hi Mr Hayden, I’m a Spanish surfer, Ive been sifnurg for 5 years already and i cant complain with my sifnurg level, this summer a did a surf trip to Hossegor and came back very motivated. but we don’t get much waves here in the south of Spain during de summer so i haven’t surfed for about two months, and i fill quite stiff.I would love if you could send me that personal training routine you talked about above because i don’t know how to contact with you , the deal is that the 30th of October startsthe sifnurg circuit that its done every year from October to April .. and id love to be prepared to do it the best i can, its important to me so if you can help me id feel enormously gratified. Thank mateGreat website and videos PEACE BRO

  • Kevin

    Good for you Jokerman if you can surf 12ºC (54ºF) water in a 3/2 :)

  • jokerman

    Idiots I lived at bells for years and never wore more than say a top range ripcurl ebomb and I was fine your all weak.

    • jokerman

      i don’t like jadson andre style. i’ve never been to barcelona. i’ve never surfed bells and i hate those rip curl wetties. if you use then a lot they will last a year or less.
      you’re annoying everyone with your shitty comments everywhere on this site fakeman

  • quiro nada

    degnt tallk bout skating kegnt. degnt goew to barcelona kegnt.

  • lol-surf

    STAB = lolz all the way!

  • pedrolp

    JAJAJAJAJAJ
    You went so low with this one! BARCELONA?!?! Are u pretending just to be cool?

  • Joebin

    I lib in icdelland and neba were wetsuit. suck dick poosies!

  • Chief Chef

    Barcelona, Reykjavik, Casablanca, and Tel Aviv don’t deserve to be on this list. Neither does New York. Amazing cities no doubt but calling them “best” is a joke. An attempt at being hip and nothing else. Lisbon deserves to be on this list more than any other city in my opinion. Why? Within 2 hours there are literally dozens of surf spots, including some within the city limits, and the world class waves in Ericiera and Peniche. The area can handle any swell and wind the surf in that respect is second to none for consistency. Further, Lisbon has an incredibly rich and vibrant urban culture on it’s own: clubs, food, scenes, beautiful women, history, charming people, etc.

  • jordi

    Lived in Barcelona for a year, surfed it 1x. When I did score it I was surprised at how darn good it was, but I never saw it that way again.

    Barceloneta is pretty far away from anywhere on the metro and if you live in the city chances are you don’t have a car. If you do have a car you’d have better chance heading to Tarifa or the Basque country.

    Go to Barcelona for the culture, women and parties, not the surf!!

  • ex-bcn

    all surfing info are wrong. lived there for 3 years +
    - Surfed on winter time 3 times a week the whole season. from 1 foot to 6ft+
    i went even on my lunch breaks from downtown to barceloneta 20mins on the metro, 1 hour surf then back to the office. you have more spots 20-30 mins out of town.

    - summer flat as hell, you need to go up north (basque country,asturias, france, etc)
    - winter: put 4.3 , booties and on heavy winters (snow) hood and gloves.
    - cultural life, girls and nightlife is the best you can get. flooded with swedish/norway girls :)

  • jokerman

    Hey kiddos I did live in spain for a year so I know what the waters like!!!!

    • jeswah

      I lived in all of the cities on this list ever. 10 years each starting in 1989. I wear a 6/5 at all times just to be safe on my kneeboard

  • jokerman

    I am a also massive pole smoker.

  • sam

    Boggy Mcwanker fuck of with your I award you no points you loser.

  • jokerman’s jujitsu coach

    Last time I was in Barcelona a hooker alley oooped a bag of coke into my arse, i got stopped at customs and fingered till it fell out. Apart from this minor inconvenience, and the jail time that followed, it was the best surf trip of my life.

  • Gravy

    I spent the past winter in Barceloneta in a lovely little one bed shoebox 5 mins from the platja for 700 yozbis a month. When the surf was on, it was freezing (air hovering zero, water bringing the brain freeze), and we got one good 2 week, everyday, stretch. I had a good 2×2 and could surf for 45 before my kidneys coagulated but would have worn a top, top, of the range 3×2, or a decent 4×3, if I had one.

    Kooks a-plenty, and at the level to get in your way and take your waves, but not do anything with them. Surprisingly satisfying waves this winter with one bank smack bang on the main beach throwing some consistent slabs. You can beat the heat by surfing by yourself as the morons love company. When it’s on it’ll titillate the fuck out of you.

    Ya can’t get a visa, and sponsorship in a peninsular with 50+% youth unemployment ain’t gonna happen. Blow ins can snag promotion work, some bar gigs, onion chopping and drug dealing. There’s also a thriving ‘spanking’ industry for the soul free ask around the Queen Vic for details (telemarketing scams which prey on the elderly and British).

    Nasty Mondays is so hip it will make you puke, but a whale of a time all the same. Sure Boal and whats-his-name did a few rounds of the dancefloor, but that by no means is the measuring stick of anything. Razz with a few tissues full of madman is where you want to be, or Bollocks for Scandos with full sleeves (Scandos of the freckle you’d like to lick variety).

    These are just my stinking two cents, and they generally aint worth a peseta, but, in retrospect, it was the best winter option for someone interned on the good continent with one foot in the sand and the other on the parquetry.

    And yeah, there’s more Moody’s AAA+ fluff here than anywhere else I’ve rubbed with my perpetually creeping peepers.

    • your grannie

      Nice to know you are promoting scams that prey on the ElderBrits to fund the surfing lifestyle!

      • Gravy’s Conscience

        Promoting, non, making people aware of how foreigners survive in this metropolis, si. I fucking hate spankers, find them to be, obviously, a bunch of wankers without exception, but, like I pointed out, the soulless amongst us will be able to fund their stay by partaking in this immoral, and extremely illegal, activity.

  • leo

    there is good waves around barcelona..its not the best place in the worrld but u can find epic sessions in winter, autum by urself..hard in these days..!! who telling there is no waves is cose..just thinking that just there is waves in barceloneta..!!!!!!!!!

  • Sergi

    How many joints do you smoke a day?
    -Sergi Tarre

  • jokerman

    I can write what ever I please so troll around some where else BOG.

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