And at last we reach the end of this life changing trip! Today we talk about my final stop of the Iberian peninsula: Barcelona!
I loved the whole trip, but I would say that Barcelona was my favorite. I don’t know if it’s because by then I was already more comfortable with the European way of things but it just felt like home. The vibes that I got there reminded me of Austin, TX (which is my favorite city in the US) and I just felt that if I were to ever move to Spain, Barcelona is where I’d go. So why did I love it so much? Let me tell you!
We hit the ground running in Barcelona. Well, after a little rain…*Side note: as I was getting ready for this trip, I asked my tour guide how and what to pack. She recommended bringing a rain jacket. Guess who didn’t bring a rain jacket… Listen to your tour directors!*
What To Do/See
Our hostel was in a pretty central location, so again, there was a lot of walking! I don’t think we ever rode the metro in Barcelona. Our first day there was getting acquainted with the area, but the second day. That’s when everything happened! So much to see!
The Park Güell is a public park system composed of gardens and architectonic elements designed by the famous Gaudi. This park was supposed to be a neighborhood, where people could buy land and build their own homes. However, when that didn’t work out, they transformed it into a park and opened it up to the public! There is small fee for getting into the inner part of the park and I suggest getting there early to beat the crowds!
This majestic Basílica is a large unfinished Roman Catholic church also designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. Construction on this has been going on since the 1800s. Five generations have already witnessed the temple’s rise in Barcelona. Construction continues today and could be finished in the first third of the 21st century.
Unfortunately I did not get to go inside of Sagrada Familia and it is one of the things I regret not doing in Barcelona. I do plan on going back once it’s finished though!
This is a VERY popular attraction! Get tickets online to avoid waiting in line. Be sure you can make your time, they do no offer refunds! They actually use all the money brought it from tourism to fund the construction of this church.
You don’t have to be religious to admire the beauty of this building. And it is a must see! I know when I told anyone I was going to Barcelona, they said I just had to see Sagrada Familia!
Street of Barcelona
Everywhere you look in Barcelona is beautiful! And there is literally history everywhere!
Those scribble looking drawings…Picasso.
The damage on this church’s walls was caused by two bombs during the civil war on 1938. Located next to this church in a children’s school. On the day of the attack, the first bomb was dropped, killing 30 children. Shortly afterwards, while people were trying to rescue survivors, a second bomb exploded in the square bringing the death toll to 42.
As we walked around, we looked for the street festival everyone was talking about. Each neighborhood in Barcelona competes against each other to see who can create the highest “human tower.” They include people of all ages, but place the children at the top. While it was fascinating to see, I don’t think I would ever partake in such a ritual! I was so nervous for them! They literally only use their bodies and I was close enough to see if there was any type of net or cushion just in case anyone fell!
What to Eat
If there’s anything I learned about Spain is that they know how to cook! Speaking of, I got to experience an amazing opportunity! Cooking paella in Spain!
Paella Cooking Class
This cooking class was another extra activity that our amazing tour guide set up for us! Why didn’t everyone signed up for it still boggles me. I mean we’re in Spain, they invented this stuff! It’s their signature dish! And there was sangria….
The chef hosting us was amazing! We began by going to the mercado, where he explained to us how to select the best ingredients and then picking them out fresh for our paella!
Once we had all the ingredients, we went back to his restaurant. He began by explaining to us the history and meaning behind the paella. You see, if you say the word slowly and in spanish, it sounds like “para ella”, which translates “for her”. The reason behind this is that women would begin the week by going to the mercado and buying items for cooking weekly meals. By the end of the week, the women were tired and food was running low. So the men would step in and gather whatever they could find in the kitchen and cook, for her. Is this the real origin for paella? I don’t know, but it’s a very cute way of thinking about it!
When we asked for the recipe, the chef said that when it comes to paella, you can put whatever you want into it! We made two different versions in our class, one vegetarian and one seafood. The seafood paella is pictured above, but I was not able to try it (even though it looked amazing!) because I have a shellfish allergy! *cry*
I’m not sure why I didn’t take more pictures of my food in Barcelona, but here are a few of my favorite places and why.
About a block behind our hostel was this little restaurant we stumbled upon. We were all craving tapas so we decided to all pick out two and share. There was a five us so we had a lot of yummy food! I loved this moment because we truly embraced to meaning behind the Spanish cuisine. Tapas are meant to be small rations because they are for sharing. The reason behind this is that when people meet for tapas, they meet to talk and share in each other presence. Having huge meals keeps people from talking.
By this point in the trip, I already knew my fellow travelers pretty well. So when we gathered for this meal, we were comfortable with each other and conversation flowed naturally. I bonded with this people more over this meal than at any other point!
Okay, I look at this picture and salivate! This was so good and such a great deal! I ordered from a three course menu (but the half portion) and got the salmon, dessert (not pictured), and the ENTIRE BOTTLE OF WINE! Yup, you read that right – ENTIRE BOTTLE OF WINE! And no I did not drink it all by myself! *rolls eyes*
This was another special moment because it was the last dinner I had with my Sam! Sam is the bestest friend I could have made on this trip! (More on that when I review EF Ultimate). We were able to just talk about our experience on this trip before we met with the rest of the gang for our farewell dinner. We all left for home the next day. 😦
Barcelona was truly amazing! I didn’t get to talk about everything because for the most part I was so engulfed in it all I didn’t get to take pictures. Or I was just too tired! Lol. But if I could go back, I would. In a heartbeat!
For example, don’t forget to check out La Rambla, the shopping strip! Tons of European stores as well as all the major designers! But be warned, all stores are closed on Sunday!
If you have any questions or need recommendations on Barcelona, please reach out to me! And if you’re planning a trip there, let me know! And take me with you!
Have you ever been to Barcelona? What was your favorite part? Any other recommendations you’d like to share?