Barcelona seems to have everything someone could want in a trip. Great food, miles of beaches and seemingly endless places to see. Coming from the airport by bus, I was dropped off in what most would consider the center plaza of the city. I could immediately feel a buzz as people were feeding hundreds of pigeons in the center of the plaza while others poured into surrounding shops. Making my way to the Airbnb, one thing that seemed unique was the intersections. They were incredibly wide, making pedestrians veer as if they were turning before they could cross the street to continue straight. This allows cars to park around the perimeter of the intersection. After wandering through town for a while, my friends and I settled on a cozy Mexican restaurant for dinner. Sitting on small wooden stools, we enjoyed tacos and margaritas. We spent the rest of the night walking through the narrow, quaint streets of the downtown gothic quarter. Though it was a Thursday, the streets were incredibly packed with locals and tourists exploring and eating outside under tents. Our adventuring took us past the Arc de Triomf, a large, red bricked arch, to the Segrada Familia. This was a church unlike anything I had ever seen. It was as big as any other cathedral I had seen, but incredibly unique in design. Instead of sharp, defined edges, the church had a much more authentic look. I mean this in the best way when I say that it looked like a sculpture made of mud. The size and intricate detail made it an incredible sight to see.
The next morning began with a trip to the beach. Though it was a bit chilly to swim, it was relaxing to walk down the coast. I encountered so many people trying to sell me things, but still managed to be gullible on the beach. A man offered to take a picture of us and was carrying a pail of coconut pieces. I accepted one for myself and two of my friends. It was tasty until I realized he wanted four euro for each piece. We managed to only pay 5 euros total but I was still played for a fool. Further down the beach, we saw people showing off sculptures they had made out of sand. Many of them had water running through them or fire lit as part of them. We made our way through a beautiful park filled with fountains and small ponds on our way back into downtown. It was heartwarming to see the number of dogs playing in the park and joyfully being walked around town — by far the most of any European city I’ve been to thus far. Next up was a market called La Boqueria. It was an incredibly vibrant market with a mix of stands to both eat and grocery shop. From the fresh fruit to the burritos and desserts, everything tasted great.
The highlight of that afternoon was making our way to Park Guell. It’s a popular spot in Barcelona to get panoramic views of the city. We found that the best views in the park were not in the part where most of the tourists pay to see. Instead, higher up in the public part of the park were breathtaking views. Barcelona is tucked in between small mountains and the Mediterranean Sea. The park provided a unique perspective of the city as a whole.
As the sun was setting on Friday, our best night began. We ate dinner outside on the main street called La Rambla that runs from the center plaza all the way to the coast. Here I ordered their traditional dish called Paella and calamari. Paella is a salty rice dish that typically is filled with various seafood. The dish did not disappoint. The rest of our evening was spent at a unique bar called the Dow Jones. Modeled after Wall Street, the drink prices fluctuate throughout the night. If you bought a particular drink, the price of it then went up for the next person while the prices of other drinks dropped. We made friends with some people from Holland and tried very unique drinks. The most interesting was a shot that was set on fire and had to be drank quickly with a straw before it melted.
I’ve saved one of the most important things about this city for last. The pastries were AMAZING. In many parts of the city you couldn’t walk more than two minutes before seeing another bakery with delicious looking pastries. My friends and I enjoyed everything from croissants and chocolate covered strawberries to gelato and kronuts. The kronut was by far my favorite. It was like a donut but made with croissant dough and had frosting and filling on top.
The trip was a short two and a half days, but Barcelona is a cannot-miss city for any student traveling through Europe.