My Favorite City in the World

Another crazy weekend in the books. This weekend we took a four-day trip to Barcelona because our university was closed for the 1st of May so we had an extra long weekend. After 4 jam-packed days leading to over 30,000 steps per day, I am not regretful at all that I got the chance to visit this beautiful city. Every step was worth it, even the really painful ones at the end.

 

Friday

 

Once again my trip started with a brutal 6:30AM flight that was only chosen because it was Ryan Air and it was 15 bucks. After dosing on the plane for an hour we took a train to the center of the city and popped out right in front of one of Gaudi’s most famous buildings, La Casa Batlló. We then continued on to see Barcelona’s version of the Arc Du Triumph (sorry Paris but Barca has you beat here) and to explore the Parc de la Ciutadella. After meeting up with Allison in the Gothic quarter, we took a walking tour of the Gothic quarter and then went to Park Guell to see the famous “view point” of the city that costs 8 euros and really isn’t worth it. At the Park we met this really nice student who was from Switzerland but had lived in Chicago for 10 years and was on vacation in Barcelona with his family. He ended up having a lot in common with our group (he was a Cubs fan after all) so he accompanied us as we caught some dinner and finished off the night with a light and water show at Font Magica. Pictures below!

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Arc du Triumph
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This is the Cascada fountain at park de la Ciutadella, one of Gaudis first works as an apprentice and is based off the famous Trevi fountain in Rome.
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Entering the Gothic quarter, this is Barcelona Cathedral
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Inside of the Cathedral
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The marks on the wall of this church are from a bomb Franco dropped here. Also, any Evanescence fans might recognize this place from the music video “my immortal”
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The previous world record (it was just broken this year) of the highest castell (a human tower)
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The old art school where Picasso studied. The school was moved a few years ago and people got upset that it moved so they vandalized the building
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Last stop in the Gothic Quarter: Plaza Del Rey. This is where Christopher Columbus was welcomed home
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The entrance to Park Guell, a park designed by Gaudi
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The famous viewpoint 
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Font Magica for the light show
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The Barcelona gang

 

Side note, Gabe (the Swiss) and I talked a lot about the differences between Switzerland’s and the United State’s education systems. The Swiss education system is pretty different from ours but is really efficient as well so if you ever want to learn a little bit about it I’d be happy to talk with you! 😀 Here’s an attention grabber: the kid is only a sophomore in college but next semester he is taking a break to do a 6-month internship and is going to make over 7,000 bucks a month. Pretty rad!

 

Saturday

 

We were all pretty exhausted from walking everywhere yesterday so what did we do today? Why, get up and do it all again of course! Allison and I had tickets to see the Sagrada Familia at 2:30 so we filled our free time before the church with some sight-seeing and then after the church with a hike up two different mountains; one to see the Bunkers del Carmel and the other to see Monjuïc Castle and catch the sunset over the Mediterranean. We topped off the night with one last push (our feet were killing us by this point) to see Sagrada and the Torre Agbar lit up at night.

 

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On the left is Casa Amatller and on the right is Casa Battló, both designed by Gaudi
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La pedrera, another building designed by Gaudi and was specially designed for its rich residents. Allison and I would return here tomorrow to explore the museum inside
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On the right is Spain’s flag and if you turn it vertical like the one on the left, it means you want Catalunya to be independent. I definitely saw more vertical flags than horizontal
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La Segrada Familia, the epic church designed by Gaudi and is still under construction to this day
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Inside Sagrada
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Inside Sagrada
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The ceiling of Sagrada
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The way the lights from the stain glass windows illuminated the white interior was breathtaking
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On our way to hike up to see the bunkers we pass by El Hospital de la Santa Creu. This hospital is over six centuries old
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On top of the bunkers Del Carmel, used as anti aircraft batteries during the Spanish civil war
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Our next stop was a walk through Park Montuic to see Castle Montjuic and…
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The view of the port that it provided
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Sagrada has a completely different feel at night
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Torre Agbar, home of Agbar water company

 

Sunday

 

We had been so successful with our sight-seeing the past two days that we were pretty disappointed to have a day of many failures. We had planned to visit the National Museum of Cataluña, the Picasso Museum and the Botanical Gardens because normally they are free on the first Sunday of every month. However, once we walked for over an hour to each of these places, we were pretty disappointed to find that they were free on the first Sunday of every month unless that Sunday happened to be May 1st… which it was. Nonetheless we still found plenty of things to do today because if this study abroad experience has taught us one thing, it’s how to be adaptable. From the Olympic Stadium to more works of Gaudi to watching aspiring artists perform in Park Ciutadella, this day was far from wasted.

 

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National Art Museum of Cataluña during the day (this is where we saw the light show 2 nights ago)
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The outside of the Olympic Stadium! The whole area around the the stadium was incredibly spacious and modern
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Still looks pretty good for being built in 1992
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Now Allison and I are on top of La Pedrera. These things sticking up are supposed to represent everyday things you see on the tops of buildings (like electric cables and satellite dishes). Gaudi certainly had an interesting perspective on things. 
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Plaza de Cataluña
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If you take a stroll through the Parc de la Ciutadella on a Sunday you will find many people practicing their hobbies. We saw everything from guys playing music to doing acrobatics to walking tight ropes to juggling swords

 

Monday

 

Since pretty much everybody caught a flight home yesterday, just me and a couple of friends were left to explore Barcelona today. They had plans to go see Montjuïc and the surrounding gardens (which I had already seen) so I spent today alone, walking down the famous Las Ramblas to the beach to walk the shore and take in the beauty of Barcelona’s coast. Although I definitely missed Allison, there was something really nice about walking around a foreign city by yourself, especially one as magical as Barcelona.

 

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Walking down Las Ramblas, the famous touristy street of Barcelona where you will find everything very over-priced 
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La Boqueria, Barcelona’s market
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This statue was located along the beach and was designed specifically for the Olympic Games of 1992
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Maremagnum, Barcelona’s biggest luxury mall
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Walking down Barceloneta, the touristy (and prettier) area of Barcelona’s coast

 

So after it was all said and done, Barcelona turned out to be my favorite city I have visited so far. The city really has a little bit of everything; you can see some awesome monuments and crazy architecture, go hiking and catch a sweet view, walk to the beach and sun yourself (completely nude if you so chose), or just walk the beautiful, amazingly clean streets and get your big city feel. And to top it all off, the weather was absolutely gorgeous. There was so much to do in Barcelona that even after 4 action packed days of exploring, I still feel like I missed so much. Oh well, it just gives me a good excuse to come back 😀

 

So that’s it for this blog! I wanted to take a quick second and make a shout out to everyone taking finals this week! One last push and you can begin relaxing in the sun like me 😉

 

Choa,

 

Brandon 🙂

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