I had never been to Spain prior to my living here for the next four months. Although I did some research about Barcelona’s culture and people, I still wanted to be awe-struck when I explored the city in person. Barcelona’s sheer diversity is probably what surprised me the most.
On our second day (we had each gone to bed wildly early our first night because jet lag and exhaustion), we were able to take a combination bus and walking tour. This was our first opportunity to see anything outside of our residential neighborhood. We started by passing La Vila Olímpica. Barcelona hosted the 1992 Summer Olympic games and much of the Olympic village still stands today. Then, we drove up into Montjuic, a small mountain in Barcelona, to catch a glimpse of one of the best views of the city. We were able to see the Mediterranean on our right, the city below and the Pyrenees on our left. Before this, I had no idea how enormous the city truly was. We drove down into the more touristy sections of town and wandered down Las Ramblas, marveled at La Catedral de Barcelona and La Sagrada Familia and finished the night off with some tapas.
We tested out our metro-riding skills, which are quickly improving even though I almost led everyone the wrong direction on our way to class today, by traveling down by La Barceloneta (the beach) and perusing some of the bars there. I got to test out my Spanish skills and shocked a lot of Spanish-speakers in the process.
Yesterday we attempted to hike Tibidabo, which also offers incredible views of the city. We successfully reached the base and looked for the cable cars, or funicular, to take us to the top so we could hike back down. What we didn’t check before we left, however, was if the funicular was open.
The citizens of Barcelona have this (in my opinion) crazy idea that people don’t want to be outside in the winter, when the coldest it has gotten while we’ve been here is 50 degrees. So, the funicular was closed. We did get some above-average views, though, and a lot of exercise.
So far, I’m amazed by the richness in culture that you can almost feel in the air here in
Barcelona. The architecture is unlike any I’ve ever seen and the Catalan pride is palpable. Today we toured La Sagrada Familia and, although I’ve seen a lot of cathedrals throughout Europe, I couldn’t help but lean my head back and gape at the basilica’s enormity. Antoni Gaudi truly was inspired when he dreamed up this still-unfinished masterpiece. It’s difficult to describe in words, but as one of my fellow study abroad-ers said, “The light really lets you know that God is in this place.” Stained glass dyes every surface with color.
If it’s only day 4, I think I’m going to like it here.
- Don’t wait until 11:50 p.m. to get on the metro when it stops at midnight and you need to make a transfer
- Selfie sticks should be banned anywhere near holy sites
- Crawfish look like small lobsters and are very difficult to eat