I'll start out by saying this - I am SO blessed to have been able to visit not one, but two countries in the last 10 days. At DIS (Danish Institute for Study Abroad), we are given three separate weeks throughout the semester where we either travel on our own, or have a pre-planned trip to somewhere in Europe with our core course. Last week was the first travel break, and I decided to fly on over to Barcelona, Spain (and then Munich afterwards!). It was my first time in Spain, and simply put, it absolutely blew me away!
Our flight was on Friday night, so my friends and I decided to take the train and metro to Kastrup Airport from our dorm, which was super convenient (public transportation in Copenhagen is amazing!). We took Vueling Airlines - it was my first time flying via a Spanish airline and I have to say, it was more than good enough for me: The flight was around 2 and a half hours, most of which was spent catching up on sleep (I had a midterm that day, so the night before was a struggle). We got in around midnight and we headed on over to our home for our short stay in Barcelona.
A friend and I used Airbnb to find a suitable, yet affordable place to stay. We ended up selecting Merxe, who is an adorable Spanish woman living in a cozy, yet vibrant apartment with her feisty kitty cat. The apartment was more than good enough for us and it ended up being that we were only 10-15 minutes away from La Rambla, which is the main street in Barcelona, lined with restaurants, souvenir shops and clothing stores. We unpacked, washed up and prepared for our first official day in Barcelona.
Simply put - we woke up around 9 AM (everyday) and walked almost everywhere! My feet were always sore and probably hated me by the end of the day. The first day, we explored the city and looked around the flea markets that open only on Sundays. The jewelry that was sold was interestingly very eco-friendly: many of the pieces were made out of recycled material, such as plastic or forks and spoons! The most extensive market was right around Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulàlia and another in Plaza Reial. From the beginning, I could tell that this city was so alive and full of culture and art. The people seemed so relaxed and of course, there was Siesta, where many of the stores would close mid-day and open up again at night. We ended with Tapas, which were simply delicious. My sister has been complaining that all I seemed to be doing in Europe is eat, but then again, food is culture in my opinion!
The second day was scenic - we took a zipline cable car from the sandy beaches of the Mediterranean to the top of Castillo de Montjuïc. I'm so scared of heights, but honestly I thought to myself, when am I ever going to be able to see Barcelona from a cable car unless I see it now?! Afterwards, we walked on over back to the harbor and went aboard a mini sunset cruise. The freshness of the sea and the wind in my hair - it all seemed like a dream! The sun was so pretty as it touched the skyline of Barcelona. The cruise was simply therapeutic. Afterwards, we went back to the hostel and rested up (my friends went out for paella but I simply didn't have the energy to... sadface).
Monday was a major tourist-y day. We started off by visiting La Sagrada Familia, which is an unfinished church in the heart of Barcelona, designed by Antoni Gaudí (he designed many of the buildings and structures in the city). The inside portion of the basilica took my breath away. I hadn't seen anything like it before - honestly, it is one of the most beautiful things i've seen in my life. We took an elevator to the top of one of the towers (Torre Naixement) and again, I was scared out of my mind. BUT! The view was absolutely amazing and the detail put into the church's architecture was worth it. Afterwards we walked on over to Park Güell, which is another creation of Gaudi's. I didn't know that it was an actual park! There are trails that you can walk along and there are musicians at every turn - there were people playing the cello, chinese flute, acoustic guitar and of course, singers. The famous mosaic tiled bench was great, and of course, I had to take a picture of the lizard you are welcomed into the park by. We ate lunch at a nearby cafe (where I finally tried Paella!) and went home, exhausted but satisfied!
Tuesday started out a bit differently - my flight was scheduled for 8 PM that night, but there were still so many things I wanted to see! My friends were due to leave the day after, so I said my goodbyes and went off to see La Casa Milá (La Pedrera) and La Illa de Discórdia, on the luxurious and chic street, Passeig de Grácia (Both, you guessed it, masterpieces by Gaudí). Afterwards, I headed on over the La Palau de Música Catalana for a 1 PM tour I had reserved earlier that morning. The concert hall was absolutely amazing. It was designed and created by Lluís Doménech i Montaner. The concert hall was created as a successor of the Opera House, which was solely used for classical operas and orchestral performances (usually only available to the upper classes), whereas La Palau housed performers that were more contemporary and relatable to the general public. Afterwards, I walked on over back to Merxe's house, said my goodbyes, and headed - not to the airport! There was one last place I wanted to go to...
Camp Nou! Home of the glorious football team, FC Barcelona - aka Messi, Messi, Messi! In high school, I played for my school's varsity football team and part of the reason why I had chosen the number 10 was because of Lionel Messi. The stadium was gigantic - I love their slogan "Mes Que Un Club", which means "More than a club". It was really great to see the history of the team and how it had it's ups and downs. Of course, they displayed their four euro cup trophies and Messi's individual awards. After about 2 hours of being awestruck - I headed to the airport, fully satisfied with my short, but amazing stay in Barcelona.
Before going, I didn't have much expectations for my trip to Spain - mainly because I had never been there, and had only learned about it via textbooks in Spanish class (But my spanish did come in handy!). I was completely swept off my feet by the culture and passion that I experienced while in Barcelona; the city is so alive, no matter what time it is. I know that if I ever have the chance to, I'd love to go back, especially with a group of close friends or with my family. iGracias Barna! iTe amo muchísimo!
Until Next Time!