Bustling, Beautiful Barcelona

I returned from Barcelona late last night and so the weekly post had to be put off until today.  I’m not really sure what to say about Barcelona at this point.  It was beautiful, that cannot be denied, but it was huge.  Much too big for my liking.  I have this inkling feeling that my upbringing in the rural Midwest has probably ruined me for big cities.

arc de triomf               sagrada familia

Luckily, through AHA International, my fellow students and I only have class four days a week so that we might be able to travel and enjoy longer weekends at the European destinations of our choosing.  However, even though we are lucky enough to have long weekends there are some places that just cannot be seen in three days.  Barcelona was one of those.

The best day in Barcelona, was Saturday, after we had all rested from our travels.  We came to Barcelona via an eight hour overnight bus, which would have been no problem if I were the type of person that could sleep on planes, trains, or buses.  Unfortunately, I am not.

I will admit that I was a little grouchy upon our arrival.  It had been a long night and we weren’t able to check into our rented apartment (airbnb.com, check it out for your next vacation!   It’s a great site!) until two in the afternoon.  That meant that we had to entertain ourselves in Barcelona with our heavy backpacks from around 8 in the morning until we could make our way out of the city to where we were staying, just a train ride away.

Our apartment was really nice.  It had small rooms, which I had learned is customary in Spanish homes, but they were beautifully decorated and we were able to cook for ourselves for a change for a couple of meals while we were there.

Saturday was my favorite day.  I was much more well rested and ready to explore Barcelona.  It was a long day.  We left the house around 9 in the morning and didn’t return until almost 9 at night, with a total of 14 miles of walking.

We started the day by going to Park Guell.  Guell was a modernist architect who built a small city within the city where the rich aristocrats could live.  It was the most fantastical place I had ever seen.  It was in Northern Barcelona and we had to climb a long hill, which was actually part of a mountain range, through the city to get there, but once there the view was certainly worth it.  Though I had not had warm feelings toward Barcelona from the day before once I saw the sea from the top of Park Guell I changed my mind almost immediately.  I can’t even describe it, just take a look at the pictures below.

park guell                 guell me

After the park, we made our way down to La Rambla, a huge market in the south of the city.  On our way down we passed through the “ritzy” part of town.  I felt completely out of place looking like the bedraggled tourist that I was as we passed by stores like Prada, Chanel, Valentino, and every other designer label you can think of.  It was certainly a beautiful part of town though.

La Rambla is the biggest market I have ever seen.  There were stalls with wonderful looking fresh produce, fresh baked breads and sweets, and of course meat.  The Spanish certainly do enjoy their meat which is perfect for me, because so do I.

Our last two stops at the end of the day were to see a very old cathedral.  Again, I simply do not have the words to describe its beauty, but luckily I do have some pictures:

cathedral                        cathedral inside

Finally, we went to the port and watched the sunset over the water.  Near the sea is a statue in honor of Christopher Columbus which looked absolutely magnificent against the backdrop of the setting sun.  Having never seen the Mediterranean Sea I wanted to touch it, just to say that I had.  And so I did.  Barcelona turned out to be much better than I had anticipated.

port                mediterranean

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