What an incredible weekend! I don’t know how to even give my time in Barcelona justice with one blog post – it was absolutely amazing!
In our group of 28 students at AHA, almost 20 of us went to Barcelona this weekend. I spent most of the time traveling around the city with 4 other friends. We took a bus from Segovia to Madrid on Thursday evening (about an hour away) and stayed at a hotel near the airport. Friday morning we flew from Madrid to Barcelona (only an hour and fifteen minute flight). Then we took a short bus ride from the airport to the center of Barcelona – La Rambla! This street is filled with street vendors, stores, restaurants, street performers, a famous market, etc. The quintessential image of Barcelona! We got some gelato and had fun taking pictures and exploring for a few hours before checking in at our apartment. In Spain, a popular alternative to staying in a hostel or hotel is to rent an apartment by the night. Ours was only a few metro stops away from La Rambla and worked out well. The cleanliness was a little questionable, but at least it had air conditioning!
Friday night we went and took pictures at La Plaza Catalunya, which is located at one end of La Rambla.
After spending some time exploring that area, we hopped on the Metro and went over to la Sagrada Família to take pictures of it in the evening. This place is absolutely breathtaking! It is a Roman Catholic church designed by Antoni Gaudí. The construction on the church began in 1882 and is still going on today; they don’t expect to finish until 2030.
Saturday morning we headed back to La Rambla to check out a famous street market. But before we could even get there, I acted like a true American and screamed with excitement when I saw a Starbucks. By the way, my name is spelled “Istifanía” in Catalan.
Once I was caffeinated, we headed to the market – La Boquería. They had all sorts of fresh fruit, vegetables, meats, fish (ew), breads, wine, etc. The seafood was so fresh some of it was still moving. This clearly meant I held the camera over my head and looked away to get a photo.
After the market, we got on the metro and headed to Park Güell. I should point out that by this time, we became experts at navigating the Spanish metro systems. Anyways, Park Güell was also designed by Antoni Gaudí (same Catalan architect as the Sagrada Família). After walking up a set of stairs approximately the same height as a 20 story building (not exaggerating), we were at the top of Barcelona and had an amazing view of the entire city. We spent a lot of time there catching our breath, enjoying the scenery, and taking pictures!
From Park Güell we headed back to visit la Sagrada Família during the day. You have to pay a fee to enter the church, which goes to the construction funds. We decided to also buy the audioguide sets to do a self-tour, which was the best decision we made all weekend! We probably spent 2-3 hours listening to our headsets and exploring the inside and outside of la Sagrada Família. I learned so much about the church… I could write a post (or a book) just on that! The size of la Sagrada Família is just overwhelming in itself, but the thought and detail into every inch of the facades and interior of the church is spectacular! It’s truly the most amazing architecture I have ever seen.
Saturday night we went out to experience Spanish nightlife and ended up at a club called Razzmatazz, where we met up with some more friends from our AHA group. This place was huge and had something like 7 dance floors. To say the Spaniards love to party is putting it mildly! The place did not even get crowded until about 2 am, and people were there long past sunrise when we left.
After a few short hours of sleep on Saturday, we got up Sunday morning and checked out of the apartment. We headed to the beach area where we spent a couple of hours eating lunch and taking pictures of the pier, boats in the marina, and the beach. I can now say I’ve touched the Mediterranean Sea!
Clearly, I had an absolutely wonderful weekend! I only wish we had more time there. Barcelona is definitely on my list of places to visit again – there is so much to see and do! I have a lot more photos on my Facebook than I had room for on this blog. Tomorrow we’re visiting Alcazar (the castle in Segovia), and on Friday we’re going on an excursion to El Escorial. Stay tuned for more updates this week!