Kindness makes lasting impression
If you’ve been following my blog you know that I like to write about experiences that shape my image of a destination. The kindness of my hosts absolutely made my stay in the Provence last summer.
The tone in Barcelona
Barcelona is arguably beautiful. There are many great people here, like in any big city. There are some not so great people. As in any big city.
When I moved to Barcelona I took a Spanish class. In one of the first lessons we learned how to order in a restaurant. I remember being surprised by what I was taught to say. I was used to asking if I could please have a salad. The Spanish translation was something like “bring me a salad”. And this is how people order in restaurants over here.
You get used to hearing it. It made me less and less uncomfortable, even though to this day I cannot order anything without at least adding a please or thank you. You know, how sometimes you miss something without knowing until it is right in front of you?
Kindness in Portugal
Anyway, last weekend I went to Porto with a friend. We were visiting her former colleague Maria that she stayed in touch with, but I met for the first time. Maria is the founder and CEO of Sanare natural cosmetics and her personality can be most adequately described as sunshine.
Maria took us to a local Portuguese restaurant and placed all our orders, because we don’t speak Portuguese. From the moment she started talking to the service staff Maria smiled, used a polite tone of voice, and even though I didn’t understand a word, I noticed the kindness with which she treated the waiter. Faith in humanity restored.
Later, over dinner we spoke about cultural differences and I asked her what she perceived to be the biggest difference between Porto and Barcelona. Her response was about the way people treat waiters in restaurants and that being as nice as she is used to being at home meant she had to wait forever to even be served a coffee in Barcelona. I learned I am not the only person who was shocked by the Barcelona manners.
Kindness matters everywhere. Every day.
Don’t get me wrong, there a lot of nice people in Barcelona. But often the image we get of a destination is shaped by few individuals we encounter. I like Portugal because the people I met there were extremely courteous and kind.
Back in Barcelona this week, on the bus there was a young man who wouldn’t move his backpack off the seat beside him to allow a standing passenger to sit. If I were a tourist here, that scene would not have given me the impression Barcelona is a city full of kind people. It’s always the little things.
Make this world a better place. Be kind to one another. Show respect to service staff. Offer the elderly a seat on the bus. Say please and thank you. Smile.