Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Hola Barcelona: A Weekend Away from London

This past week was the end of our first two classes followed by a lovely "holiday" in Barcelona for me and a few friends. By Thursday, our final papers and tests had been taken and it was time to get ready for our Barcelona excursion. The good thing about London is that it is not too far from European countries and so we are able to travel many different places while we are studying here. The trip to Barcelona was my first time leaving London and it came at a perfect time. The weather has been unusually hot as I've mentioned before but when we left for Spain on Friday, it was starting to rain so we were able to get away and enjoy Spain's naturally hot climate and then return to a cooled down London.

We arrived in Barcelona at about 6:30pm, it is an hour ahead of London so that makes it six hours ahead of America! We had a delicious dinner of various tapas including chorizo and risotto along with artichoke chips; those were the best thing I have ever eaten! Although it was pretty late by the time we settled into the hostel and went to eat, the restaurants were still crowded because they eat so late there. Afterwards, we went to a beach bar and were informed that people tend to stay out all night. The beach was packed with people, some swimming, some just hanging out. I had a sort of eye opening moment that night when I realized that I was in Spain and I just relished in the thought that I had never thought I would end up there. It was one of those moments that you just think about the rest of the world and all the people in it and I felt that a lot of things became clear to me. Part of the reason that I had this moment is the fact that Spain is absolutely breathtakingly beautiful. Each site that we visited was more beautiful than the next. London is amazing and historic, but Spain has so many amazing views and places that really make you think.
Crowded Barcelona beach at 4am.
On Saturday morning, we went to a local market near our hostel and grabbed some food for a picnic on the beach. We got to the beach and it was already pretty packed but luckily we found an umbrella and were able to enjoy our picnic. Realizing that we were in Europe quite quickly based on the fact that some women were topless and completely nonchalant about it. The ocean water is so blue that it seems almost unreal. It was funny to think that we were on that very same beach not too many hours prior and the only difference was that the sun wasn't out, there were just as many people.
The same beach as 4am, now at noon.
Gaudi Museum.
After enjoying our stay on the beach, we went to the Gaudi museum. Anyone who has seen Vicky Christina Barcelona (I watched it for the first time in preparation of my trip) would recognize the artist's remarkable work. Many buildings in Spain were designed by him and he has a distinct style of making his works look almost like they're melting. The tour of the museum starts at the very top where you can look over the city and it is amazing. It was there that the four of us decided that we never wanted to leave. That night we had a dinner of tapas once again!

Sunday was a full day for us! We started out eating an amazing brunch and then made our way to Park Montjuic, it is a mountain with a castle on top that has the most amazing view that I have ever seen. We took a cable railway, known in Barcelona as a funicular, up the mountain and were able to look out onto the city as well as the beautiful water. Every time I turned around or walked a few more feet, I had a better few than where I was before. After that, we went to the Sagrada Famila, a church designed by Gaudi. The church is still under construction, but the inside was quite impressive. The stain glass windows were nothing short of impeccable and the ceilings were so high that when I looked up, I felt like they went on forever. That night we had paella on the beach, to say that it was delicious would be an understatement. I am not a very daring person when it comes to trying new things but I am very happy that I was brave and ordered this dish!
View from Montjuic 

                                Left: Stained Glass Windows Inside- Right: Outside Sagrada Familia

Monday we didn't have class so we were able to walk around and go shopping at Las Ramblas where there are some international stores such as Zara but there were also local Spanish designers. Luckily, I took Spanish in high school so I was able to navigate my way around but surprisingly enough, most people were able to speak English. Monday afternoon was our flight back to London and I have to admit I was pretty happy to be coming back. It took a trip out of the country to realize that after five weeks, I am starting to think of this place as a second home. When we got back, it was nice and cool out, I've been waiting for this weather since four weeks ago when it started getting hot!
Our last night in Barcelona! Enjoying what we can of the beach, there were even fireworks!
Yesterday, we started our new classes. It is crazy to think that in a short five weeks, we will be back in the US! Today I have my first class of Food Society and Culture in Britain, yesterday was History of Modern Design. We went to the Victoria and Albert Museum and were able to look at actual pieces of work from the period we were learning about; it was a very helpful aid in fully learning what we are being taught. I look forward to what these next five weeks and two new classes will bring!

1 comment:

  1. Your weekend in Barcelona sounds really great! I can't believe that the beach was packed at 4 am! When we went to Vienna, the night life was pretty much nonexistent! It is crazy to realize how unique and culturally different each country truly is. I understand how you felt returning to London, when we returned from Vienna to Prague, it felt oddly like I was going home.