MTSU grad writes of life in Barcelona during the Coronavirus pandemic

Story and photos by Christa Adams

Adams is a travel writer and 2017 graduate of MTSU’s School of Journalism and Strategic Media. She is a native of  Morristown, Tennessee, and is currently based in Barcelona, Spain.

Christa Adams, travel writer and MTSU graduate currently living in Barcelona, Spain.

Life right now feels like it’s been pulled from a dystopian novel. Police officers monitoring eerily empty streets, citizens unable to leave their homes without ‘a good reason’ and an unfamiliar quietness has given Barcelona a different mood.

We are a week into Spain’s 15-day lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. Cities have seemingly shut down, several villages are quarantined and travel is scarce. What’s even stranger is the lack of tourists, especially here in Barcelona.

For a city that receives over eight million visitors a year, even just a day without seeing a tourist is seemingly unheard of if you live in the city center. For me, I live in a touristic neighborhood called the Gothic Quarter where you’ll find popular attractions like the Barcelona Cathedral, City Hall, and the picturesque Plaça Reial.

A homeless man sits along the empty benches in front of the Barcelona Cathedral, where tourists are usually swarming. The streets are now silent. (Christa Adams)

Typically, I’m greeted by tourism and life the moment I step out of my door, but for the past week it’s been quite the opposite. I walk out of my door to take out the recycling and I pass one person tightly wearing a mask and walking with his head down.

On the other hand, I take the long route to the grocery store to catch a glimpse of an unfamiliar empty plaza and the Barcelona Cathedral behind it, where there’s typically a long line of tourists waiting to go inside. A couple of locals are crossing the plaza but only one person is seated on the benches where life usually flocks.

That person happens to be a homeless man. He’s sitting down among pigeons with a cart of his belongings. I can’t help but wonder what considerations have been taken for the homeless during this pandemic. Has the man even a clue to what degree with virus is affecting the rest of the world?

While heading back home, I see a group of police officers. Instantly, I’m filled with fear—what a scary thought to be filled with fear at the sight of those who are supposed to keep us safe. During the lock down, police officers have been given permission to fine or arrest anyone who is out without “a good reason.” Instead of passing the officers, I decide to take a different route to avoid them all together out of fear that having my camera and taking the long way home was going against “good reason.” It truly felt like a scene from The Handmaid’s Tale.

The spread of the pandemic has had a dramatic effect on tourism in Barcelona. On the left, tourists fill Carrer de Ferran street in May 2019. On the right, the same street stands empty on March 17, 2020. (Christa Adams)

Though our world has been turned upside down, many of us are still living life in high spirits.

People are spending more time on their balconies playing guitar and singing or inside working on projects they’ve been too busy to finish. Others have taken to the internet to spread positive messages and make uplifting videos. These human actions indicate that though many of our countries may not have been prepared for this kind of pandemic, we as people will get through it—together.

And here in Spain we haven’t forgotten about those fighting against this virus on the frontline. Every night at 8 p.m., we all step out onto our balconies or open our windows to cheer and clap for the healthcare employees who are working hard 24 hours a day to beat this pandemic.

With every action we are saying “we are all in this together.”

To contact Editor-in-Chief Angele Latham, email

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