OK, although Barcelona is one of my favourite places in the world, this story is one that could apply in pretty much any foreign place on the planet.
In this case, it was 2007 and I was in Barcelona for the third time in a relatively short number of years. Each would be worthy of a story in its’ own right, but this one makes this travel point the best.
This trip happened when I was working at Radialpoint in Montreal. Marcie Weber was our vp of marketing communications. Marcie is a friend and the best marcomm person on the planet! How good? Well, on this trip, she managed to get me a speaking spot on a panel on Net Promoter Score (NPS) at a cable conference. Why is this such a big deal? At the time she secured the spot, I had never even heard of NPS!
The day before the trip, I went and picked up The Ultimate Question by Fred Reichheld. I had already read and was a fan of The Loyalty Effect, so at least that helped. Anyway, I read the book on the cross Atlantic flight, made some notes, was glad it was a panel so I didn’t need slides, and kicked off my day 1 with an engaging panel.
After a few days of conference events, my colleague and friend, Frank Kouretas and I decided to blow off the last night of events and really see Barcelona the proper way. OK – this is how I would recommend going to any foreign city – especially if you don’t speak the language. We skipped the concierge (who is likely almost certainly paid to recommend things) and went to the valet guy outside. We asked him for somewhere to go for dinner and drinks – the “only” requirement was … where no tourist had ever been, where no one spoke English, and the food was good and authentic.
The area turned out to be about a 15 minute walk from the hotel. We went and found a great restaurant where it was so busy we had to eat at a counter on stools like we were in a diner. The food was ridiculous.
Moving from there, we went into a few clubs until we hit a small one with a really good vibe. The patrons were young and no one could speak English, including the waitress and the bartender. Frank ordered two Heinekens and it came to 5 Euro. He pulled a 10 and left the other 5 euro as a tip. Tipping truly is not a local thing and it took awhile to get the bartender to understand it was meant for her. I bought the next round from the waitress – same scene. A few minutes later they come over with shots for the four of us and won’t let us pay. Good times.
To be honest, I can’t remember the name of the restaurant, club or even neighbourhood, but it doesn’t matter really – there have to be dozens just like this one in every big city.
We walked back to the hotel before it got too late knowing we had a flight in the morning, but feeling like we really experienced Barcelona. As I mentioned, I recommend this technique almost anywhere you go. Just be safe 🙂
’til next time … Kirk, out!