How my Friend’s Small Hostel in Barcelona Survived

“It’s impossible to know how many of these shuttered hotels and hostel will reopen.”

By Nick Corbishley for WOLF STREET:

“After hitting rock bottom, we finally appear to be turning the corner. At this rate, by the end of May we may even break even for the month, for the first time since March last year,” says Pol. He and his two partners own Hostal Live Barcelona, a small two-floor hostel in the center of Barcelona that was closed for 12 months, from March 2020 through February 2021.

“We have no idea when, if ever, we’ll be able to rent the rooms at the sort of prices we were charging in 2018. But for now at least the worst appears to be behind us — barring another cataclysm,” he said.

It was touch and go for a while. The only reason Hostal Live is still a going concern is that Pol and his two partners had capital to draw upon when the virus crisis hit. That capital was supposed to be used to expand the business. Instead much of it was used to keep the business alive:

“As our bank manager told is in March, the only reason we qualified for an emergency loan is that we had no debt on our books and we had savings backing us up, which we had planned to spend on buying another hostel,” he said. “We may still have that opportunity at some point further down the line. For the moment we are counting our blessings; many of our competitors didn’t make it this far.”

Pol and his partners also owe a debt of gratitude to the Spanish government’s furlough program, which has paid out 70% of their workers’ wages and most of their social security costs for 14 straight months. The workers are still on furlough though Pol and his partners are now covering the limited hours they’ve been working since the hostel reopened.

Another lifeline was provided by the landlord, who in the fall agreed to a 50% reduction in rent for six months. When that period came to an end, he agreed to extend the conditions for another six months.

Hostal Live finally reopened its doors, albeit to only one of its two floors, in early March. At that time Spain’s economy was still in partial lockdown, non-essential travel between regions was prohibited and a 10 o’clock curfew was still in place. And there were virtually no tourists at all in Barcelona.

“The timing may seem strange,” says Pol. “But we wanted to make some big changes to the hostel before properly reopening to foreign visitors. Most importantly, we wanted to install and test out a contactless key system so that our guests could access reception, their rooms and other hotel areas with their phones. This would help to minimize contact between guests and members of staff for as long as this pandemic lasts.”

But to fill its rooms at a time of almost zero tourism, Hostal Live had to offer historically low prices. In March, that meant charging an average price of €30 room per night, less than half the average price for a normal month of March. But the plan worked: people came to fill the rooms, albeit not from as far and wide as usual.

“With the exception of a few French tourists, almost all of the guests were Spanish. During the week we catered to workers who had come to Barcelona for the day and suddenly found themselves in need of a bed for the night. At the weekend we tended to attract young couples, often from the suburbs surrounding Barcelona, who had pleasure rather than business on their minds. By the end of the month we had achieved an occupancy rate of 15%.”

That may seem pitifully low but it was better than nothing, especially considering that most hotels in Spain were not even open. In the first quarter of this year more than 70% of the country’s entire stock of hotels remained closed, according to a report by STR and Cushman & Wakefield. The average revenue per available room (RevPAR), a metric that is widely used in the hospitality industry to measure the operating performance of a lodging unit such as a hotel or motel, was down 65% compared to the same period of 2020.

Tourism’s share of GDP in Spain collapsed by more than half last year, to 5.5% from 12.4% in 2019, according to one study. That was after international tourist arrivals by air, land, and sea had collapsed by 77% from the prior year, to just 19 million foreign tourists. That trend has continued through the spring of 2021. In March, the latest data available, the number of foreign tourist arrivals was still only 490,000, the lowest level for any March since at least 1995. It was the 13th consecutive monthly decline in tourist arrivals.

“It’s impossible to know how many of these shuttered hotels and hostel will reopen,” says Pol. “Many owners didn’t have such a large financial buffer when the crisis hit. The number of hotels for sale began rising sharply last summer before plateauing at the beginning of this year.”

In April this year, Hostal Live Barcelona opened its other floor to guests. By the end of the month the occupancy rate had tripled to 44%. French and Italian tourists began arriving in fits and starts. During the Easter break, all of the hostel’s rooms were occupied. So far in May the occupancy rate is 60%. And there’s still one week left to go.

That may be a far cry from the pre-pandemic reality, when the average monthly occupancy rate was 93%, but the trend is improving. Foreign tourists, mainly from France but also Italy, Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic, are now accounting for roughly half of all the guests. And Pol and his partners have been able to gradually increase prices, though they are still a fraction of what they would normally be.

Europe’s tourism industry is finally open for business. EU countries officially agreed last week to welcome foreign travelers who have received one of the coronavirus vaccines approved by European regulators, which are currently four: Pfizer-BioNTech’s, Moderna’s, AstraZeneca’s and Johnson & Johnson’s. Vaccinated people will be allowed to enter the bloc, if they’ve received the last recommended dose at least 14 days before their arrival in the EU.

The British government’s decision to leave Spain — and a host of other EU countries including France, Italy and Greece — off its coronavirus “green list” has sparked concern. The move means that British travelers returning from Spain must continue to provide a negative test on arrival, quarantine for 10 days and take two Covid-19 tests at home. The UK government’s advice against traveling for tourism or leisure to countries on its amber list, such as Spain, could also invalidate travel insurance.

This could end up deterring many UK tourists — a key market segment — from visiting Spain. In 2019, Spain received more than 18 million tourists from the UK — just under a quarter of the total.

Business travel is also deep in the doldrums. The Mobile World Congress, the world’s biggest mobile trade fair, used to take place every year in Barcelona. Last year it was cancelled. This year, it’s scheduled to take place in late June, but it has lost so many key exhibitors in recent weeks, including Samsung, Lenovo, Ericsson, Sony, Google, IBM, Nokia, Qualcomm and Oracle, that it’s now being dubbed the “zombie show”. But the event’s organizer, the GMSA, insists that the show must go on even as more and more participants pull out.

The trade show — normally with 110,000 attendees — is of vital importance to Barcelona’s tourism industry. Before the virus crisis, it used to generate around half a billion euros each year, much of which ended up in the pockets of hoteliers.

“Even if it goes ahead with just a fraction of the normal number of attendees, it might give a chance for the city and its businesses to begin to get back on their feet,” Pol says. By Nick Corbishley, for WOLF STREET.

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  69 comments for “How my Friend’s Small Hostel in Barcelona Survived

  1. Dbosaka says:

    Hilton and Marriott chains must know something not everyone else does in Japan too as they are not so secretly buying up ‘cheap” land for the big future tourist boom that will be coming.

    • Joe Saba says:

      good for them – good luck
      but in end I DO NOT CARE

      moving forward NORMAL is gonna look different
      hope you navigate successfully

  2. Kurt Liebe says:

    Would love to go to Barcelona again, it’s a great place. But since I won’t get the Covid vaccination, I may never go. Not worth it. I wish Pol and his partners better times.

    • OutWest says:

      KL, let’s be honest for a moment, you have no plans to visit Spain with our without getting the jab, so your comment is a little silly….

      • Sit23 says:

        Give him a break. A lot of us have only ever travelled overseas because it was so easy. As soon as some sort of barrier is put up, we won’t go overseas. It is not a big deal. Classic Pelosi mindreader, you are.

    • Nicko2 says:

      Don’t be afraid of science; the pandemic is ending.

      • MiTurn says:

        Yes, they use guinea pigs in science, and sometimes those guinea pigs are trusting people.

      • c_heale says:

        Think it’s a little early to say the pandemic is ending. Some countries like the UK have opened up and no-one is wearing masks. Other poorer countries have no vaccines. And at least one scientist has said the COVID 19 virus has become endemic and will never go away.

    • Petunia says:

      Australia was well on its way to being a police state before the latest political/medical scam became global. In a city called Darwin they were already testing a social credit system right out of communist china. Australians, like all citizens, have the govts they deserve.

    • nodecentrepublicansleft says:

      I got my 2nd jab of the Pfizer back on 5-10.

      I felt nothing from the first jab and a tiny bit of soreness from the 2nd.

      You’re living through a global pandemic. I hope you grow some nuts and man up. Not getting vaccinated = coward.

      “Not worth it”? Tell that to my friend who drowned on his own bodily fluids because he thought Covid was a “hoax” (a Fox “news” viewer). His 86 yr old Mother is still alive!

      It’s called reality…..embrace it. Or keep on sucking down your conspiracy theories….

  3. Finster says:

    “… the only reason we qualified for an emergency loan is that we had no debt on our books and we had savings backing us up…”

    There’s a lesson in there somewhere …

    • Joe Saba says:

      as my grandmother used to say about farming
      if you can’t take LOSSES(many) then you shouldn’t be in business
      pretty much ain’t got PASSION then you don’t love every day you go to work
      time to exit

      • VintageVNvet says:

        Good one JS,,, some of my ancestors said similarly, especially when I said I wanted to keep the farm rather than let it go to developers who wanted to subdivide and make hundreds of houses..
        Overruled by the parents, today, we, we being my 4 sibs and I would have sued their sorry a**es and stayed there..
        And it, the farm, bought for $16K,,, would be worth somewhere in the vicinity of $25MM,,, though we would probably still not sell due to the very clearly beneficial ”green belt” taxes, etc., etc.,,,
        And just keep farming as we were in the early 1950s… just saying!

    • MonkeyBusiness says:

      Yeah I thought the same while reading the article. Who knew that savings will tide you over bad times? Certainly not Americans. Heck when it comes to American companies:
      1. Spend all your money buying back your own stock.
      2. Ask for a bailout when things go bad.
      3. Repeat.

    • raxadian says:

      Yeah that the term “emergency” is the lian is a lie.

  4. Seneca’s Cliff says:

    I applaud the flexibility of your friends, their landlords, and their employees. That is what is lacking in much of the commercial and multi family landlord business in the US. They have had good times and now it is time for them to sacrifice for the good of the economy. Instead of trying to keep lease rates up to maintain property values they should cut them to the bone to keep business’s and the economy afloat, even if it means eating rice and beans for a decade. We have lost our perspective of who is pulling the cart and who is riding in it. After all, during lean times on the desert island who do you set adrift in the canoe? The fisherman? The guy who climbs trees to get the coconuts? Or the guy who charges rent on the thatched huts?

    • 2banana says:

      The new five year plan will require much sacrifice.

      “and now it is time for them to sacrifice for the good of the economy.”

    • “Seneca’s Cliff” asks:
      > During lean times on the desert island,
      > who do you set adrift in the canoe ? The fisherman ?
      > The guy who climbs trees to get the coconuts ?
      > Or the guy who charges rent on the thatched huts ?

      We’re swimming in fish & coconuts !

      Housing, on the other hand, is going from bad to worse
      because everyone thinks that they don’t have to pay for it.

      Democracy is 90 tenants & a landlord voting on who should pay.
      Eventually, there will be no more landlords.

      • CRV says:

        You assume that houses don’t need capital to obtain, mortgages don’t need to be paid if capital is not sufficient, don’t need maintenance, taxes don’t have to be paid, things don’t break and need repairs, renters don’t wreck the place and renters always pay their bills on time.
        If you don’t want to make your landlord rich while doing nothing, buy a home yourself and find out what that home’s running costs really are.

      • Mira says:

        Why, no one .. you will die without water, there are fish, coconuts, rainwater, there might be edible plants .. watch what animals (which are meat supply) eat (not especially birds, they eat stuff that we can’t). to gauge safe foods.

      • “cb” replied ( to me ):
        > 90 tenants per landlord equals a rentier economy.

        Attacking landlords won’t increase the landlord-to-tenant ratio,
        quite the opposite.

        > It’s a “gentile” (for the landlord) form of slavery.

        If you don’t like this “genteel” version of slavery,
        buy a house & experience the _real_ thing.

    • Kenn says:

      Desert Island questions;
      1, Who built the Huts? Is there a mortgage that has to be paid?
      2, Is the fisherman catching any fish?
      3, Are there coconuts in the trees?
      4, What is causing the lean times?
      5, If the times are so lean, why would you sacrifice a valuable canoe?

    • Sierra7 says:

      Seneca Cliff:
      The time for the luxury of “rice and beans” came and passed in ’08-’09…….too late now…..gonna be “mud pies”!

  5. Paulo says:

    Your article painted a human face on the numbers and situation. I hope they recover in quick order.

    I did glean a cautionary tidbit, and that applies it to where I live as well. For many years our Provincial Govt touted tourism as the ‘future’, eschewing traditional thanks and support for our foundational industries, namely mining, forestry, fishing, manufacturing, and construction. Tourism was to be the future, and the race was on for whale watching tours, bear viewing, glamping, kayak excursions, etc. This past year everyone has been very very thankful for our booming forestry and mining sectors. To quote one local politician 3-4 years ago, “The Willow Point 7-11 alone grosses more than every eco tourist company on the north Island, put together.” Coffee to go, smokes, and lottery tickets for working stiffs.

    Needs and wants……I guess. People need lumber and copper wiring. Food. Tours? Not so much. And yes, I do realise that Spain is dependent on tourism, especially from GB and Germany. But maybe….

    • Nicko2 says:

      Sorry Paulo; BC’s largest industries are Real Estate followed by Tech/Retail/Manufacturing/Healthcare. BC is a globalized 21st century technological power-house.

    • Xabier says:

      Europe is though, unlike Canada, pretty much exhausted after 2 centuries of intense industrial exploitation and wars; and small farming doesn’t really pay, so even the tough hill farmers of the Pyrenees have to do some eco-tourism to stay afloat.

      As the landscapes are often still beautiful, despite creeping faux-Green turbines, etc, and the architecture too, where it hasn’t been ruined, it seemed a good option for many – in fact, there are no others!

      Tourism in general, though, is clearly due to be downgraded or eliminated in pursuit of the economic readjustment required by the age of energy and resource crisis – and probably depopulation which we are entering.

      It might be that domestic tourism is encouraged for a while, but soon city and regional lock-downs ‘for the climate’ will come along, so one shouldn’t bank on it….

      • nodecentrepublicansleft says:

        So tourism will be shut down in favor of regional lock-downs for the climate?

        That is preposterous.

        Where on earth are you getting such ridiculous ideas from?

    • Lone Coyote says:

      A bit off topic, but anyone else hate the concept of ‘glamping’? Even the word sets my brain a bit on edge.

      • nick kelly says:

        Ya, the word is as disgusting as the concept. The same ilk as building a mansion out of wood on a lake and calling it a cabin. And the mega-yacht, i.e., a personal cruise liner, is for non-mariners, who need a crew to function.

  6. OutWest says:

    About 18% of Spaniards are immunized at this point. As soon as that percentage gets closer to 50%, the tourist will probably come back.

    I’m in a city right now that breached the 50% mark and masks are coming off, and tourists are showing up again. Vaccinated people, many of which have tourist dollars, don’t want to get sick so they self-select and associate with others who are vaccinated.

    • Christiaan says:

      One other reason not to travel is de mandatory tests that are valid for max 72h and which, for some countries (as NL) costs around 99 euro/ person. And we don’t even talk about the hassle doing it for kids, with different age requirement per destinations.

      They try to find a common ground in UE, but the whole schema is shady at least.

      Freedom to travel might be a thing of the past soon.

      • josap says:

        In Cancun, the hotel has a testing room. You email and get an appointment. The test takes about 5 minutes to fill out a form and get the swab done. It takes about 2 hours before you get an email with the results. There is a scan code for airport and airline use. You can upload the code to some of the airlines. All done and done for free.

        I thought it would be a big deal or time sink. It was super easy.

    • Ethan in NoVA says:

      If only they used the opportunity provided by the pandemic to clean up the food supply in the USA and help the population get a bit more healthy.

  7. CRV says:

    Good article as ever.
    I wonder what the people who, before C19, were so against all those tourists are thinking now. It may have felt like a pest to some, but everybody eats from the same trough.

    • josap says:

      Everyone should not eat from the same trough. Everyone could go hungry all at once.

      There are many other troughs in other parts of Spain.

    • nodecentrepublicansleft says:

      I’ve been reminding folks for years that the same “snow birds” everybody complains about spend a few Billion Dollars here every year.

      So yeah, tourists are a necessary evil.

      Especially when your state and federal govt bends over backwards to let the wealthy and huge corporations not pay their fair share.

  8. Nicko2 says:

    “landlord, who in the fall agreed to a 50% reduction in rent for six months. When that period came to an end, he agreed to extend the conditions for another six months.”

    That sounds like a depression. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when eviction bans and rent freezes are ended in North America.

  9. Engin-ear says:

    – “Even if it goes ahead with just a fraction of the normal number of attendees, it might give a chance for the city and its businesses to begin to get back on their feet,” Pol says

    Barcelona’s tourism industry is in obvious oversupply versus tourists flow for now and very probably for years to come.

    Unless the Spanish gouverment accepts to lower the taxes and minimal wages (via new laws or subsidies), the only way to be profitable someday is to overlive the competition, burning cash until then, but is it worth it?

    Pol doesn’t say if he ever considered to cut the losses. Or does he?

    • Gl says:

      I have heard lots of large manufacturers are also pulling out of the IMTS show at McCormick Place in Chicago. I have felt for a long time that the internet has obsoleted these trade shows. Still lots of companies falling for the organizer’s line; “if you aren’t at every show, people will wonder if you are distressed”. Really, what logic is there in spending a million dollars to make it easy for your customers and potential customers to also stop in your competitor’s exhibit? Now these companies are spending that money to fly customers to their facility and show and have a captive audience.

      • Seneca’s Cliff says:

        It’s a little early to learn who will be displaying at IMTS as this is an every 2 year show that is not scheduled to happen again until 2022. Every year there are a few grumps who think they can sell machine tools without the show, but they usually change their mind and come back. There are some things you can evaluate virtually, but hearing and feeling a Cnc lathe cut heavy chips is hard to replicate online.

      • random guy 62 says:

        I sure hope trade shows go away. There are far too many, and the value of them has significantly dropped with the advent of the internet. Sure, some products are best seen in person, but most shows are just an excuse to go have a nice meal and drink in a different city…getting away from work for a few days. As an exhibitor at several each year, we despise them, but always feel obligated to attend for some silly reason.

  10. Xabier says:

    Great article, Nick: I do hope a mother-in-law free existence is not proving too hard to bear?

    If you ever get to Poblet, or down the coast to El Vendrell, say hello to them from me, stuck in a freezing and cloudy England!

    I just had to have a large cup of Pamplonan hot chocolate with some Torres brandy in it after ‘sitting in the sun’ this morning……

    • Nick Corbishley says:

      :-) My heart goes out to you, Xabier.

      Even by normal standards, the UK weather has been unseasonably miserable since the end of lockdown. If you think you’ve got it bad, though, my poor parents have just begun their second week of a two-week holiday in Scotland. They apparently just had their first glimpse of the sun.

  11. David Hall says:

    Royal Dutch Shell has been ordered to reduce its carbon emissions by 40% in the coming years. Battery operated autos and buses with windmills and solar cells for power will not be cheap. Tourism might become expensive.

    Hostels are cheap. Hotels offer more space and privacy. Had a nice experience renting an attached apartment from a family via Airbnb. They visited me and told me about the place I had traveled to.

    There is a story about Ponce de Leon looking for the fountain of youth in Florida. He was killed by natives and did not make it back to his home port. Many exhausted funds looking for paradise, but did not find it.

    • josap says:

      Hostels are much more enjoyable than a hotel. We prefer to stay in hostels and have done so since 2002.

      We are usually the oldest people staying in a hostel, the kids are great. The kids know every good, inexpensive place to eat, what is fun to see, how to easily get around a place.

    • nodecentrepublicansleft says:

      Oh poor Royal Dutch Shell!!! Get my fainting couch, Mother!!

      I too will shed so many tears for a massive conglomerate who has been shitting on people and the environment for decades.

      Extracting trillions of dollars while throwing a few pennies here and there to their victims, please, let me cry for them.

      Oh now some rules/regulations have been placed on them!?! Oh dear, no!! Usually people that in their way are murdered (in S. and Central America for example). Since these people are Dutch, due the attorneys.

      “Tourism might become expensive.” I’m sorry to have to break this to you, but Ponce de Leon was not looking for the “fountain of youth”. That’s what is called a “Fairy Tale”.

      His quest was for gold and people to enslave (places to “colonize”). The Calusa Indians who kicked his ass in FL are admired by folks who don’t like empires showing up to colonize them (you know, “Freedom Fighters”).

      His death was a fitting end to a military officer who had previously murdered a bunch of Taíno Indians (indigenous people of the Caribbean). Ever hear the phrase “live by the sword, die by the sword”?

      Neither Dutch Royal Shell or Hernando de Soto are admired. If either showed up in your community, it spelled doom.

      Clearly, you write satire.

  12. Gerrard White says:

    @Nick Corbishley

    It is known that many in Barcelona, and Spain, objected to the over investment in tourism, the clearing out of central ‘quaint neighbourhoods’, the real estate speculation, the dead zones created by overseas owned yet rarely used apartments, let alone the plague of airbnb and ‘luxury’ shopping

    Is there any way of reaching – is any discussion begun- any form of consensus as to what levels of tourism are sustainable and on balance benevolent as opposed to destructive

    • Maximus Minimus says:

      What struck me is the number of arrivals for March: ~half a million, and that is the bottom.
      What could it feel like to have 10 million arrivals per month.
      I was there a while ago late in the season, and it was crowded about 100 km south of Barcelona.
      My guess is those residents who don’t directly depend on tourism are counting their blessings.

  13. rodolfo says:

    Nick, best to check out current prices at your pals hostel. Hostel Live on gran via de las corts in barcelona is charging 135 euro per night for June 8th and 9th on

    Yeah lots of sad stories in hotel business amongst others but it appears that they are out of the woods.

    Looking at Barcelona hotels and prices in general I myself would not go back. I was there in 91 with the peseta and it was great. For these high prices I can see why tourism is hurting.

    We are going on Mexican road trip and 24$ US a night buys luxury. But to each his own.

  14. sdb says:

    I paid 200 Euros per night in July 2019 (4 nights actually ) .

    Where did the money go ?

    No buffer for the rainy days ?

    PS . : Not @ Hostal Live Barcelona

  15. Nick Corbishley says:


    I agree that that is quite high. Pol tells me that around 15% of that price goes to

    The hope is that by mid-June international tourists will be arriving in numbers that have not been seen since the pandemic began. My guess is that it will be the best month since October 2019.

    But there are no guarantees that Pol and his partners will actually be able to sell at that price. Right now it’s far from clear what sort of prices the market will bear. Everything has been somewhat made anew by the virus crisis. So like most hoteliers, they are setting prices high and adjusting accordingly.

    I can’t fault your decision to spend your vacation in Mexico, where prices will be quite a lot cheaper than they are here in Spain. In my estimation there are few better places to visit on planet Earth. My wife and I will hopefully be doing the same in August.

    • rodolfo says:

      Nick, very interesting how the markets for rooms move. checking for tonight may 27th checking out saturday may 29th says only two rooms available at this hostel at a price of 182.00euros for two people.
      Yes I know bookingcom charges 15% of that. If I check in on this Friday to stay the weekend the price goes up to 195 euros.
      Later in June for the trade show he is showing just over 200 euros.
      So apparantly they are varying prices based on demand which appears to be good demand

      Your friend is out of the woods in my opinion and is now making good money.

      Good to hear you plan on Mexico. i too have a Mexican wife. Not a bad deal.

      And mine unfortunatley has a mother and father who have passed. no need to share our apartment.

  16. stoneweapon says:

    Business owners will be livid if their recovery efforts are disenfranchised by EU bureaucracy and stupidity!

    “The European Union welcomed an agreement on May 20 to establish a European Covid vaccine pass as from July 1. It will now be be compulsory for travelers within the European Union.”
    (Spain no longer requires a Covid test for the Brits).

    It’s interesting to note that travel requirements are far worse returning home, ie. UK. I think this is where it becomes more clear that these draconian policies are about economics and keeping capital from leaving the country under a “Reset Agenda” rather than an incoming virus.

    The Soviet Union collapsed for a reason. The EU Marxist technocracy seems oblivious to all the moving parts of the working class…. and throw history on that list too!

  17. Clyde says:

    These days a lot of countries (and hotels) are starting to cater to digital nomads who can work from anywhere, all they need is a good WiFi connection.. they (and me ) usually stay for a month or longer at each location. He might think about creating a web presence promoting it.

    • josap says:

      When we have gone to Europe we would stay for 3 weeks. This was the longest I could be away from my business.

      Once we retired we went to Spain for 3 months, the longest time allowed. A lazy vacation with travel by train. Two old people with backpacks.

      We will go back to Paris next year to meet up with friends from Ukraine. I haven’t started looking at options after that. Current cheap hostel prices in Paris are $67. nightly per person, breakfast included.

  18. Rosebud says:

    Barcelona, Spain’s San Francisco. The planet has a fleet of cruise ships that only weigh anchor when scratched.

    • nodecentrepublicansleft says:

      Yes! Barcelona and San Fran are wonderful cities, loved by many.

      Have you ever been on a cruise ship?

      I went on one for a day trip that I won at work back in the 1980s.

      They are god-awful. It’s not traveling. It’s getting on a bloated sea-bus full of drunk elderly morons who line up for the buffet like so many cattle.

      Bad entertainment, bad food. You’re trapped on it with the slaves, I mean employees of the ship.

      As somebody who has traveled a fair bit, I can tell you this much: If you hate yourself with a passion, you should book a cruise ASAP.

      And if you’re lucky, you’ll get stuck on that disgusting floating petri dish for a few months. Do you really not recall the horrors that unfolded on cruises ships just last year?

  19. Heinz says:

    (Vaccinated people will be allowed to enter the (EU)bloc, if they’ve received the last recommended dose at least 14 days before their arrival in the EU.

    Starkly reminiscent to me of an earlier time when people were stopped on the street with the question “Ihre Papiere, bitte”.

    • josap says:

      You can’t travel out of the country unless you have a passport. You have to show your passport to get out of the country and again when you arrive at the destination. Your passport on your person is mandatory to re-enter the US.

      You have to show your passport (and sometimes turn it over) when checking into a hotel. Also required to rent a car.

      You show your passport when you cross a border. The stamp means you are allowed in that country.

      You have to show proof of vaccination for Yellow Fever to go to some countries.

    • Wolf Richter says:


      In the 1990s, I traveled for three years without ever going home, to a lot of places where deadly diseases were widespread: yellow fever, malaria, typhoid, you name it, they had it (Africa, Asia, South America). To protect myself, I did what I could, including getting a bunch of recommended vaccines and some pills.

      In order to cross certain borders, you had to have certain types of vaccines (depending on the country). They were noted in my “International Certificate of Vaccination” – also called Carte Jaune or Yellow Card – a yellow multiple-times folded piece of paper that shows all your vaccinations, when you got them, and signed off by the doctor.

      I got mine from US Dept. of Health and Human Services, and doctors that administered the shots filled out the lines. You can still get them today. I still have mine. I should post it for people to see. Proof of vaccination is no big deal. The system has been around for a long time. Everyone who’s been around for a while and got out a little know this.

      • Joe100 says:

        I think I still have my “Yellow Card” from travel in the 60’s as well – my family was in France (Nice) for a couple of years while I was in boarding school back in the states. A lot of cheap travel during the summer and no crowds (actually pretty quiet) in the major art museums. Venice was a priority due to someone I met on my first trip…

  20. Micheal Engel says:

    1) How is Mimi.
    2) Did Barcelona rent rolled back become more realistic.
    3) Was there a better reason for your friend’s landlord to agreed to a 50% discount.
    4) There is hope that the frog cooking will stop. A recession might finish them off. Their net assets are trending down. Preserve, don’t expand .
    5) This is SchumPeter creative destruction of overcapacity. Printing slowed the process down. It’s sad, very sad story of deflation that most people don’t understand.
    6) Options #1 : the chart : “Tourists Arrival In Spain” will cont with no pulse. Option #2 : a V shape recovery.
    8) The Brits protect the Pound.

  21. Micheal Engel says:

    1) The chart : “Tourists Arrival In Spain” Murphy’s law : from the
    Catalan independence lower high in 2019 @10M tourists, to zero in Mar 2020 and “recovery” to 500K in Mar 2021. Things will be better during the simmer, until next winter, but how far.
    2) This chart have a history of wild osc and spikes since 2009. It might be a broken system.
    3) How can small business survive those wild rides.
    4) Your friend should consider cutting his losses, selling during the next peak, instead of spending good money after bad.
    5) When Messi is gone Barcelona will fade.

    • John says:

      5) unless Gareth Bale joins!

      • c_heale says:

        Bale is also old, and no comparison to Messi. It’s not possible to build a team around him, due to his style of play. He also didn’t learn Spanish after 8 years in Madrid, so I don’t think he will be able learn some Catalan and integrate well with the Barcelona team.

  22. rick m says:

    Barcelona, July 1969, what a beautiful city. Must needle up to return, I’ll pass. EU membership has made all the cheap countries too expensive, Spain and Italy and Greece were affordable, coming from Bavaria. The effort and personal sacrifice these people have put into their business is remarkable, their self restraint in amassing savings and avoiding debt in such a cash flow volatile trade like innkeeping is extraordinary. The government is giving the people’s money to the responsible guys with the best shot at multiplying it efficiently. Wish ours would do likewise. Instead, we get condescending radio commercials reminding us that only semi-evolved simians refuse to sing around the vaccination campfire. Well, I can’t sing and don’t sit with my back to the dark. Maybe when all the insanity is done I will get to go to the Prado, for pesetas.

  23. Anthony says:

    Well, the Brits are itching to come and as we’ve injected most people now, I would say July and August will see sights of drunk but happy Brits everywhere.

  24. NICK DANGER says:

    Wife and I have been to Barcelona numerous time over the past 15 – 20 years. Along with Istanbul, it’s our favourite European city. We’ve been there for several days pre cruises ( to get over the jet lag ) and have also stayed longer when we were on a land tour of the country by rail and bus ( both excellent ways to travel ). Every time we went we would try to explore a different part of the city on foot, plunge into the “hood” and just get lost and see what you find – local shopping areas, local food halls etc. It’s amazing what you discover when you leave the touristy areas and it’s pretty much impossible to get lost as the whole city is laid out in a grid with 2 large diagonal avenues bisecting it. What gives me pause to going back again is the loss of so many of the small businesses. I’ve read reports that over half of the small shops, bistros and galleries in the old town ( off Las Ramblas ) have closed up. I must confess I really miss the small bakeries ( there were legions ) we used to frequent for our morning latte and pastry, browsing the used record shops and galleries, the tapa bars and the whole Iberian lifestyle ( outdoor boulevard dining, the whole population out promenading in the evenings, and, of course the Paella. We’re not sure if enough of these will ever return to make the long trip ( from Western Canada ) worth it anymore. We’re eternally grateful that we were able to do our traveling in the golden age when there were no restrictions and life was vibrant. We hope we have enough time left ( we’re both in our early 70s ) to continue on exploring this amazing world but things don’t appear to be very positive in that regard. The ones I feel most sorry for are the young as they will probably never get to enjoy any of these things if, they even continue to exist.

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