Break in Barcelona

Hola! So its the mid way point in my semester! I can’t even believe I’m halfway done. Its gone by way too fast. But this past week has been so much fun! It started out a little crazy because it was midterm week. I had a bunch of assignments due throughout the week that kept me pretty busy. So once I had that out of the way I was definitely ready for spring break and some sunshine.

Carmen, Shannon, Cindy and I left for Barcelona on Saturday. Our flight was pretty early in the morning. It was so beautiful! We flew over the Pyrenees Mountains then just before we landed we were over the Mediterranean Sea. I was at the window so I was able to catch a glimpse of it all! I even saw some ships, which put me back in Virginia Beach for a brief moment.

We arrived in Barcelona in the early afternoon so I thought we would have time for a nice afternoon but unfortunately myself and few others were sick. So by the time we got to our hostel we were exhausted. After some rest we decided to grab dinner. We went to this delicious pasta restaurant that was in the Gothic Quarter. It was off on a little side street but it was packed. I was a little nervous because none of us really spoke Spanish but luckily most of the staff spoke English. We ate some delicious pasta and then we were back to the hostel for some much needed sleep.

On Sunday we went on a walking tour with Runner Bean tours. This was a recommendation from my mom, my parents were in Barcelona in October of last year, just so we could get acquainted with the surrounding area. Our hostel was situated along La Rambla, which is a beautiful pedestrian street lined with outdoor restaurants and shopping. This street is the southern border to the Gothic Quarter. We decided to take the walking tour that runs through the Gothic Quarter. Our tour guide was awesome! He was born and raised in Barcelona so he pretty much knew the city like the back of his hand. The Gothic Quarter is the Ancient Roman portion to the city, which was founded by Emperor Augustus. We saw the remnants of the outer wall of the city as well as a small part of the aqueduct that brought water to the city. The streets within this section of the city twist and turn and they are only wide enough for people to walk them. It was such a beautiful day! The sun was out and it was in the mid 50s which was absolutely amazing compared to crummy London weather.

 

The Barcelona Cathedral

After the walking tour we continued to explore the Gothic Quarter. Then we headed up to Park Guell. We were kind of rushed for time because we wanted to catch the sunset and the park was on the other side of town. And uphill. So we decided to take a taxi. That was definitely an experience because both our drivers to and from didn’t know any English. God Bless City Mapper and iPhones. I was able to pull up the name of our destinations on my phone to show the driver where we wanted to go. Saved the day! Park Guell was so beautiful! The view was incredible. We could see all the way to the sea from the top of the park. This park was designed by Antoni Gaudi who not only designed a ton of buildings in Barcelona but Park Guell and Sagrada Familia. He has such a unique form of architecture that makes it so different from traditional architecture. He uses so many colors within his mosaics and buildings, it was so fun to see!  We caught the last little bit of the sunset and the lighting was perfect for some great pictures.

On Monday we headed out early to get to La Boqueria, one of the biggest covered market in Barcelona. Our hostel was in the best area. It was close to that market so we didn’t have to leave too early. But we wanted to get there in the morning so we could see the market in full swing. We bought some delicious fruit and drinks and perused the market. It all looked delicious! From fish, to vegetables, fruit, meat, and sweets, there was a huge variety of food. After the market we headed back into the Gothic Quarter for some shopping. And by shopping I mean mostly window shopping and then a few purchases. But all good ones! With another beautiful day it was a perfect morning for shopping.

That afternoon we planned time to go to Sagrada Familia. Oh. My. Goodness. That was my favorite part of the entire trip! It was absolutely incredible. The architecture and the colors! I remember seeing the church from the road the last time I was in Barcelona in 2009, but we didn’t go in. When we planned this trip I knew we had to go back for sure. Sagrada Familia is designed by Antoni Gaudi and construction started in 1882 and it won’t be completed until 2028. That’s insane to think about how long this basilica has been under construction and that it will be finished soon. But the space is massive! Its so hard to describe because it was so beautiful and my video and pictures don’t do it justice. There were tons of stained glass throughout. And since it was such a sunny day the colors that came through were absolutely stunning. Carmen managed to capture a picture that shows what it looked like.

Taken by Carmen, this shows how amazing the colors were!

I had an audio guide on my phone so it was interesting to listen to it while walking throughout the space. Gaudi was really inspired by nature while drawing plans for the church and he wanted the main columns in the middle of the space to be modeled after sequoia trees. Those trees aren’t small. So you can imagine how big these columns were.

We spent a good chunk of the afternoon at Sagrada Familia marveling at how incredible it was.  Afterwards we headed over to the beach! Well, not really, we made a wrong turn and ended up at the marina. But it was still really nice to see the water. There were tons of sail boats as well as a few mega yachts. We meandered our way back to the hotel via the marina and la Rambla where we grabbed some downtime.

Then we were back to la Boqueria to grab some ingredients for dinner. Our hostel had a fully equipped kitchen. Since we don’t have access to the kitchen in our dorm we decided to cook dinner that night. And oh man was that a good decision. Carmen wanted to make a really easy pasta dish. All we needed was some basil, tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and of course pasta. We were able to find most of those ingredients at the market so we had fresh tomatoes, basil, and garlic. Carmen did a fantastic job cooking dinner! I really missed home cooked meals. We sat around for a few hours talking the night away. We decided to turn in early becasue we had an early flight back to London the next day.

Barcelona was so pretty! We had the best weather. I loved being back in the city exploring new places as well as some familiar spots. And it was awesome exploring with some great friends! I made a video as well so definitely check that out! That’s all from me!

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