a city full of life, intense, a port open to the past and future"
- Le Corbusier
Barcelona: the city of dreams. This was the first trip of my study abroad experience that required traveling on an airplane. You would think that it would make more sense to travel by train or bus, but the truth is that a flight is the most efficient and cost effective mode of transportation. Personally, I also think flying is much more exciting. I will never truly comprehend how in just a few hours, I can be in a completely different place that is thousands and thousands of miles away. It’s a magical thing.
While I’ve traveled throughout Spain before, this was my first time visiting Barcelona, and I had no idea what to expect. I knew close to nothing about the city; all I knew was that Barcelona is typically known for its distinct architecture, its beautiful beaches, and considering themselves independent from the rest of Spain. Knowing how much I love Madrid, where I got my first taste of this incredible country, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself also falling in love with its rival city (for those of you that aren’t aware, Madrid and Barcelona have had an intense rivalry since the beginning of time, especially when it comes to fútbol, but even in competing against each other to be the “better city.”)
After an exhausting day of packing and rushing to the airport after class, I successfully arrived in Barcelona Thursday night. I was traveling with my friend Christy, who I was introduced to through my señora’s friend one of the first few days of the program. We were staying with her cousin’s fiancé, Isa, who was completing her master’s degree. Our first test was to figure out how to get there, and this proved to be quite difficult. Everything was in Catalan, the official dialect of Barcelona, and I definitely underestimated how much this would truly make a difference. You might as well consider Catalan to be its own language entirely, for there are very few similarities to castellano, or what we just consider as Spanish. The people were not the most friendly in trying to help us find our way, either, but despite these obstacles, we figured it out and got there safe and sound. Isa was so sweet and she greeted us warmly with dos besos. I was so lucky and fortunate to be able to stay with her…I mean, I’m a complete stranger! Christy and I were both exhausted, so we just went to a restaurant down the street, L'Oreneta, to eat dinner. To be honest, all I was in the mood for was a burger, and it was actually really good. We also had the best sangria we've ever had, which was served in this really unique, artsy jug. I can’t say we didn’t think about taking it with us.
We woke up early, ready to take on the day. Our schedule was jam-packed; it was supposed to rain the next day, so we wanted to fit in as much as possible. Thanks to some recommendations from friends that have previously been to Barcelona, we were able to plan a complete itinerary for the weekend:
Las Ramblas: one of the most famous and busiest areas that goes through the heart of the city. Federico García Lorca, a Spanish poet, said that Las Ramblas is "the only street in the world which I wish would never end." The street does seem never ending, and it has such a great atmosphere, lively and unique in character. Las Ramblas seemed to be constantly filled with people shopping at the different vendors or eating at one of the many restaurants that line the street. On one of the terraces, a woman came out pretending to be Marilyn Monroe, waving to everyone passing by, as if she was the main attraction amongst all the activity. I have to admit, I did stop to take a picture of her.
La Barceloneta: After what seemed like we were walking forever from the port, we finally made it to the beach! Bordering the Mediterranean Sea, the beach looks like it goes on for miles and miles. It was absolutely beautiful, and it was so nice being on the beach. It just makes me look forward to the summer and going back to my little piece of paradise in Rhode Island. Restaurants and nightclubs line the boardwalk, and we ate at a really cool burger joint called Maka Maka. This place seemed like it came right out of California. I ordered a burger called “Hot Mama,” and the sauce was definitely hot. Overall, we had been eating really well in Barcelona, but everything is definitely a little more caro, or expensive, much more so than in Sevilla.
After being out and about for almost 12 hours, we went home to relax before taking on Barcelona at night. We didn’t even want to leave to go get food because we were so tired, so we just ordered Domino’s pizza (can’t take the America out of the American, am I right?). Our friends Lucy and Bridget were also here in Barcelona visiting friends, so we all went together to one of Barcelona’s biggest night clubs, Opium. That night, there was a DJ, so the place was packed. The energy was unreal. I felt like I was at a concert. What was really cool was if you wanted to step outside for a bit, you could go right to the beach! The night was full of surprises, because we also ended up running into my friends Miguel and Dan from PC, who were in Barcelona for the weekend, so we had a nice big friar reunion!
La Sagrada Familia: Gaudí also constructed this church, and it was absolutely breathtaking. It was the most incredible church I had ever seen. Gaudí died while working on the project, and at this point in time, only a quarter of the church was complete. The construction is still going on today, relying on donations, and the final product is scheduled to be completed in 2026, the centenary of Gaudí’s death. The columns looked as if they could reach the heavens, and the stained glass windows completely illuminated the building with the colors of the rainbow. I was actually getting emotional standing amongst it all; I’ve never had a building have an effect on me like that before. Honestly, the pictures or my words can’t do this sacred building justice.
Feliz cumple a mi!
Yes…I was in Barcelona for my birthday weekend! I couldn’t believe that it was already almost February 22nd, but more importantly, my 21st birthday! Although it is kind of irrelevant obviously turning 21 in Spain, I was happy to be in such a cool city for my special day. After the game, I went to get drinks with Lucy and Bridget to begin celebrating. Christy and I headed back to begin getting all dolled up for the big night. My friend Rita was staying in a hostel with some girls from her orientation group, so we went there to meet up with them. It was nice being with a group of people at midnight, and they really helped make my birthday one to remember. We went to Opium again, and we didn’t get back until 5 AM! Don’t worry everyone, I didn’t celebrate as hard as some people who would be turning 21 in the states would. It was just a fun night with friends and the real celebrating will have to happen once I get back!
The weekend was such a blur and it all happened so quickly. Time truly does fly by when you’re having fun, or when you have every hour planned so that you can take advantage of everything you possibly can! Two days is not nearly enough time to truly begin to appreciate everything a city like Barcelona has to offer, but I think that I did a pretty good job of seeing what Barcelona was all about.
Stay tuned for my trip to London!