Whenever I thought of Spain, I would first think of siestas–the power naps of the Spaniards taken in the early afternoon. Before we visited Barcelona I thought this meant we would walk down quiet streets, nothing would be open, and that we’d meet groggy locals who overslept. This was not the case. In fact, do they have siestas at all?

Barcelona, by far, is the most liveliest and passionate city I’ve been in. This might have been because we arrived on the last day of the Barcelona La Mercè Festival, a time of celebration and parties before the colder months began.

Barcelona, Spain

Walking down the city’s La Rambla was a chore as crowds of people moved in every direction with street vendors and food markets lining the paths. We took a side street that led to Plaça de Sant Jaume where we found more crowds gathered together. They were all looking up, and as my eye followed I beheld a human tower hovering over us.

Known as a castell, a large man was at the base who was holding the weight of four other people on top of his shoulders. As the climbers attempted this feat, drums and horns would encourage them on. At the very top would be a little kid wearing a helmet. Once he made it to the top he would wave his hand in the air and then immediately begin the descent by wrapping his arms around the human totem pole and slide down. The others would soon follow.

Barcelona, Spain

An uproar would erupt from the crowd whenever a group completed its tower. All the team members would then celebrate by chanting and energetically wave their bandanas around. Shouldn’t these people be sleeping instead of working hard building castells? And where did all these crowds come from…shouldn’t they be having siesta too? I was confused, but put the questions aside and enjoyed the entertainment.

Barcelona, Spain

After watching the castellers we met up with our host, Vita, who we had met in Mongolia while staying in the same hostel. She took us to Ciutadella Park where stages were set up around every corner. There were dance-offs, singing and puppet shows with large audiences at each performance. The park also had an Arc de Triomf with a promenade leading to it that was full of tents offering wine, cheese and meat. We joined in on the fun and tried the local specialities.

Just like La Rambla and Plaça de Sant Jaume, it was completely full of people throughout the whole promenade. On every street it felt like the whole city was wide awake and celebrating life to the fullest. We soon realized that siestas were a hoax. Barcelona never rests.

About The Author

Britnee traveled around the world with her husband on a shoestring budget for a year. A few of her favorite destinations include Scotland's Isle of Skye, Chile's Torres del Paine, Bolivia's Salt Flats and Nepal's Annapurna Circuit.