This post is a result of listening to Ed Sheeran’s new album, hearing his new song Barcelona, and then remembering I never posted a blog about my adventures there! So, thank you Ed! (I highly suggest listening to his song while reading my post! You can find it here.)
We only had a bit over 24 hours in Barcelona and I wanted to make sure we did and saw everything in that time! As soon as we arrived we booked it over to our first stop, Park Guell. Along the way we realized a few things that were different from our beloved city of Madrid:
- You have to pay to use the bathrooms here! Not cool!
- Catalan is not Spanish
- Catalonians are really rude
- You have to pay for all the sights 😦
- People rather speak English with you than Spanish cause they’re really not a fan of Spain here.
So, just a bit of background before I get into things. Barcelona really hates Spain and everything Spanish. In fact, when I told my host Mom I was headed to Barcelona she said “Why would you do that?? The people there are so rude and you have to pay for everything!” Well folks, she was not wrong. About 50% of Barcelona’s population wants to separate and become the independent country of Catalonia. They do not consider themselves to be Spanish. They also really hate tourists. I personally did not experience any hostility, but I have some friends who did. I actually found Barcelona to be an extremely touristy city. Unlike Madrid, every place seemed to be packed with tourists and the city just felt less…authentic than Madrid.
So, getting back to my activities! Park Guell was…interesting. I highly recommend making a reservation before visiting as the line for tickets was very long and specific visiting times were being given out. For all the time we spent waiting I really didn’t find the park to be worth it. I don’t know if it’s just that I don’t really understand or appreciate Gaudi, or that it was a cloudy day, but I just didn’t see what the big deal was. It also seemed like a tourist destination. Unlike Retiro in Madrid that is always filled with locals and tourists alike, Park Guell felt like it was solely there for tourists to take pictures of. It is also kind of far away from everything and not really accessible by subway, making a cab your only option for transportation.
(Smiling on the famous tile bench in Park Guell. Not pictured: the tons of tourists around me!)
(The famous Gaudi houses…we called them Gingerbread houses! They were interesting to look at but, again, I just didn’t really understand them)
Just a moment on transportation before I move on. The subway in Barcelona made me miss the Madrid subway. The subway here was extremely confusing, a bit dirty and expensive (2,50 euro each way!) It also didn’t really stop at many of the main attractions. I just remember feeling so happy to be back on the Madrid metro when I got back home!
After Park Guell we checked into our hostel. We stayed at the Mediterranean Youth Hostel. I HIGHLY recommend it to any student travelers! The place was clean, cheap and in a good location. I met a lot of cool people here too since I was too sick to go out to the clubs. I loved how the hostel seemed to encourage getting to know other people without being a “party hostel”.
We then headed into the Gothic Quarter which was one of my priorities. It did not disappoint! Besides from being lined with beautiful gothic building, there was also a huge festival going on for the city’s patron saint. This festival allowed us to have a true cultural experience as we got to witness dancing and many other Catalonian traditions. It was almost like traveling back in time!
(Traditional dancers in front of the Cathedral of Barcelona)
(Gigantes! We saw them inside but the next morning they were carried and marched around the city!)
(There were many markets too! This one had some traditional toys! We have a christmas ornament similar to this little wooden toy figure so I thought to take a picture!)
While walking around that night we also stumbled upon a huge fire display which included drums, dancers and little children walking around with giant spinning sparklers. It was quite the scene!
The next morning I got up early to see La Sagrada Familia. It was definitely worth it. The outside was so interesting looking. I remember feeling really small looking up at it. The church is still not complete. In fact, it is not expected to be completed for another 30 years! The cranes really do ruin the beauty of the building.
My favorite was the inside. After paying the steep student price (16 euro) to enter, we found ourselves transported into what felt like a tropical rainforest. The church was actually created to look like a forest. The beautiful pillars combined with the breathtaking stained glass was amazing. I’ve never seen a church like it in my life.
Comida: I have to say that Barcelona did have the best food out of all the Spanish cities I visited. I had the best paella here (even better than Valencia, which is where paella is originally from!) I also had an incredible salad at a restaurant called ‘BN’. Our favorite meal was brunch the next morning. I somehow managed to find a brunch place with SCRAMBLED EGGS AND PANCAKES. All of us were very content.
(The breakfast place also had amazing drinks! Here’s my banana toffee latte!)