Spring break came none too soon, and after some fun transportation navigation, I found myself in the Barcelona Airport meeting up with a super awesome face from back home! After finding Alex in baggage claim, we worked our way out of the airport and to our hotel thanks to the experience and advice of my friend Autumn, who had studied there the year before. She provided us with a list of things to do in the city, and we spent the next week riding the metro all over the place to see cool stuff and eat awesome food. I have a crap ton of pictures from this trip, and rather than running through what we did day by day, I have sat patiently for 20 plus pictures to slowly load for this post; I will provide a little bit of context, but I promise not to write too much.
During our first day in the city we wandered into the Gothic Quarter of the city, where we got too see some classy architecture and nice narrow cobblestone streets without having to dodge cars.
The Cathedral of Barcelona. This wasn’t actually on our list of places to go, but we stumbled upon it and I really liked the towers.
Some of the Roman ruins underneath the city. We got to see these by stopping in the Museum pf the History of the City, which just happened to be free during the time of day that we went!
Panorama from the viewpoint of Parc Güell; you can see the Mediterranean Sea, the construction of the Sagrada Familia, and some other Barcelona landmarks.
Sitting on the benches around the plaza in the park; it was actually pretty difficult to secure a seat, so I made sure that we had proof of us enjoying the Gaudi-ness.
Underneath the main plaza area of the park; the mosaic type design is all over the place in Barcelona, I will explain it more in a bit.
The famous dragon at the main entrance of Parc Güell; I managed to snap this in between the constant flow of tourists posing for a shot with it. Ok history lesson: the park was designed byAntoni Gaudí, during a time of economic recession for the rest of Spain in the mid to late 1800s. Because of its location near the Mediterranean and its industries, Barcelona remained fairly prosperous and displayed the Modernist style, which is characterized by lots of color and designs inspired by nature, meaning few straight lines and elements that can be traced directly back to trees or flowers. Gaudí’s name is actually the origin of the English word gaudy; fun trivia fact!
This is the Casa Batlló, a building designed by Gaudí, and one of the cool places that we just happened upon when we exited a metro stop. Some say that this building is based upon the story of St George, who killed a dragon, and that the building represents the dragon. the balcony the skulls of the people that it had killed, and the spire with cross tip the lance of the saint. I couldn’t get a good picture of the top, but it is multicolored and sinuous, much like a dragon’s back.
On our beach day, we had to do the most Spanish things possible: eat paella with fresh fish and drink sangria at an outdoor cafe in view of the sea! I’m not usually a fan of seafood, but I love paella and I love shoveling down the little fishy bits with delicious rice.
On the beach in the middle of March! Alex was not pleased that there was this much sunlight, but it was nice and warm and the beach was a nice place to chill for a while. Except that people kept coming up and trying to sell us beers and other less legal things from these plastic bags that they were carrying around…
Wading in the Mediterranean Sea! It was actually pretty cold, but we did see some people swimming in it. I can now say that I have seen two almost opposite ends of the sea during this semester.
IceBarcelona!! This was a bar that was made entirely of ice, including the seats and the cups. The admission fee included one drink and the rental of these big jackets and gloves, which we totally needed. It is apparently the world’s only ice bar that is located at the beach and when we left there was a guy with a camera filming us as we exited, so maybe we will be on Spanish TV!!
The Sagrada Familia Cathedral, designed once again by Gaudí. I have visited a lot of cathedrals in my travels, but this is definitely my favorite. The foundations were constructed before he took control of the design and he died about halfway through its construction, but they are still working on it according to his plans. I think it is a completely unique construction that looks awesome from both the inside and outside.
The front of the interior of the cathedral. We got to go in at student prices, despite the fact that Alex is 25 and his ID is from a high school… The columns are all forked at the top like tree branches and the organic designs continue everywhere. There are lots of stained glass windows that really flood the white interior with color.
The backside of the cathedral. The central scene of the decoration is the nativity scene, and all of the figures seem to be telling stories of the life of Jesus. I went a little picture happy with this cathedral, so there are plenty more detail shots here. We got to go up in the towers on this side, about where the tree with the cross and the doves are, and then walk down the little spiral staircases that I think are pretty famous.
In Parc Monjuic, we went to go see the Olympic Stadium complex from the 1992 Olympic Games. I don’t really know anything more about them, but the entryway leading up to the stadium was pretty impressive and we got to peek inside and look at the field and track where some of the events were held.
New favorite drink: Cava. It’s Spanish champagne and it is awesome. After getting a taste at a small tapas place, Alex and I decided to go find a nice bar and become nice and acquainted with the drink…
Remember how I once said that I don;t know why people decided to let me start calling myself an adult? It’s because of things like this, when the most important part of the giant Boqueria food market was the candy stand. This is only a small section of the sugary goodness, and we were at least able to contain ourselves to just this. In this one tented market they had stalls selling fresh meats, seafood, fruits, pastries, and all kinds of edible goodness.
And some of the food fought back! We decided to take our candy spoils to a pier and enjoy it while watching the sun set over the marina.
And there ends the excessive photo tour of my visit to Barcelona; I am now back in Cairo and settling in for the second half of my semester in Egypt. Just to run through some things that didn’t get photographed:
- I love Spanish food, especially their fondness for bakeries with delicious treats and sandwiches. Tapas places are the best when you aren’t quite sure what you want and are thinking of sampling a variety of things.
- I felt so much more confident in my language ability on this trip than I did last time I went to Spain; it probably has something to do with the fact that I have managed to survive in a country where I know much less of the language.
- I really like European culture; it was a nice break from the conservatism that I see every day in Egypt and I am pretty much 100 percent positive that I will be visiting Spain again in the future.
- EgyptAir is a pretty suite airline; they have good food and they played movies on my flight both to and from Spain. The most exciting was when they played Harry Potter 7 pt 2 on the way back, but it also meant that I kept sniffling on a plane full of mostly Egyptians, o well…
- I have to go back to classes now 😦 But I am sure that I will have more fun Egyptian adventures coming up soon, so stay tuned