This past week was study week at university so there was no class so Anna and myself took advantage and made a little trip down to Barcelona, Spain. We had a wonderful time in this magnificent city with a great culture and even better weather. Who would have thought that I would need to bring a pair of shorts to Ireland, I didn’t so I had to buy a pair and thank goodness I did. The weather was beautiful, but I would have died walking around a city all day in jeans.
Our first day of the trip started with us getting up at 1am to catch the bus to the airport so we could make our flight at 6:15am. Although it was not very fun being up that early, it did gives us most of the day in Barcelona. Once we arrived, we headed into the city centre, Placa Catalunya, before heading to grab a bite to eat for lunch and then going to check in at our Airbnb. Our apartment was right in the middle of the old Gothic Quarter and could not have been any better. Great location, with a great host and lovely apartment. After check-in,
it was time to start sightseeing and we headed to Placa Espanya where we walked up to the Museu Nacional D’Arte de Catalunya. It was a magnificent building with spectacular architecture and views, but we decided to save our money and not go into the exhibitions. From there, we went and got some tourist information where we realized that F.C. Barcelona had a futbol (soccer) game that night. It was too go to be true, so we bought tickets for the game. From Placa Espanya it was on to Tibidabo, one of the mountains in Barcelona. Getting there was an adventure as we rode the train way too far and missed our stop by ten stops, but we eventually made it. On top of the mountain is a very nice church and the oldest amusement park in Spain. The real reason to make the trip though, is for the magnificent panorama view of the city and it was definitely worth it. We then rushed back and had a quick, little dinner at a coffee shop so we could make it to the game. We ran to the stadium and after finding our seats took in the view. We were in
the famous Camp Nou watching some of the greatest soccer players in the world and all-time. We were able to see Messi, Suarez, Neymar, and Xavi all score leading Barcelona to a 6-0 win. The atmosphere was unbeatable with 65,000 fans cheering and when seeing the stadium only ¾ full and thinking about the atmosphere at full capacity…mind blowing. After the game, we tried to fit in with the locals and just walk down the middle of the street with no regard for traffic. That lasted only a few minutes before we decided to head back to the sidewalk, but nonetheless it was an experience and ended our first day in Barcelona.
The second day in the city didn’t start near as early as our first day had. We decided to use the hop-on, hop-off bus to see as much as the city as possible. We started at Placa Catalunya and made our way past the Cathedral before heading to the harbor and driving past some of the beaches of Barcelona and then turned back inland. The first stop that we hopped off at was Sagrada Familia Basilica. This masterpiece of the famous modernist Gaudi was one of the
most impressive and unique churches that I have ever seen. The basilica is not finished to this day and construction is constantly happening. It is hoped to be finished by the end of 2016, the 100th
anniversary of Gaudi’s death. We returned later to enter the basilica. We then made our way to Park Guell, laid out by Gaudi and also his home. The park provided a tranquil space in the midst of a bustling city. From Park Guell, we went to two more Gaudi work, La Pedrera and Casa Batllo. Both were very unique and impressive buildings. La Pedrera, with its wave like façade was neat and Casa Batllo just seemed out of place in the midst of all the other more classical designed buildings. We then made our way back to Placa Catalunya and walked down La Rambla to the huge market of La Boqueria. Quite the hustling and bustling place, we got to see some rare fruits and many other foods along with some we found more “normal”. After La Boqueria, it was a short break before heading back to Sagrada Familia to actually go inside. Walking into the basilica left me breathless. The ceilings seem like
they stretch to the heavens and the unique design left me entranced. It was one of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen. This was the perfect way to end our second day in Barcelona, speechless and awe struck.
Day three we started by visiting the beautiful cathedral in the Gothic Quarter before walking and seeing the Generalitat, Adjuntament, Palau Guell, another Gaudi building, and Gran Teatre del Liceu. We then caught a train and made our way to Montserrat. Montserrat is a mountain top monastery that has a statue of a Black Madonna, a Virgin Mary with dark skin. The train took us to the bottom of the mountain and then we took a cable car up to the top. We immediately went to the basilica and caught a portion of the choir performance. After the performance we stayed in the church and admired the beauty before going out and walking around the few building that make up the monastery and tourist attractions. We treated ourselves for lunch to some of the famous sweet bread that is made there and only there before going back to the basilica to wait in line to see the statue. The
La Rambla is a famous street that leads from the City Centre (Placa Catalunya) to the sea.
statue was beautiful and of course, very unique. The statue overlooks the entire church so we also got a magnificent view of the church. After viewing the statue we took one of the funiculars down to where we could walk to Santa Cova, the cave where the statue was hid and later discovered by some townspeople who then built the basilica. All along the walk, there was statues depicting the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The view along the way was amazing as well. We finally decided we should head back to Barcelona and when we got back we went and looked at the Palau de la Musica before going to get some churro and chocolate and then some dinner. This dinner was a real Spanish dinner with tapas, patatas bravas, pan con tomatoe, and then paella for our main dish all washed down by the best wine I have had. It seemed like a perfect way to end our trip in Barcelona.
I loved the city of Barcelona. The culture was so relaxed and the food was delicious. Spanish culture reminded me of my time in Italy and that always brings back good memories. Of
course, I would be remiss if I didn’t thank my travel companion for this trip, Anna, as she planned everything and let me come along for the journey, a journey that was great fun filled with many memories.
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