Tuesday, October 5, 2021 | Written by Mira
To quote one of my favorite reality TV shows, Big Brother, “Always expect the unexpected.” This is a mindset that you must adopt during study abroad. My trip to Barcelona started off with one of the trains being canceled a few days in advance due to previous inclement weather. I’m not quite sure how inclement weather from the 14th of September causes a train scheduled for the 24th of September to be canceled on the 21st of September, but “always expect the unexpected”.
Getting a reimbursement for that train was a lot easier than expected, with google translate already pulled up with a French translation of our situation, and what we were asking for. All we had to do was go to the train station, talk to an agent, and reimburse the ticket. We could have exchanged the ticket, but the best alternative itinerary we found didn’t require seat reservations. So I guess I should thank the inclement weather for saving me 10 euros.
We left for Barcelona Thursday evening and had to take an overnight train; I highly recommend booking an overnight train a few weeks in advance so everyone in your travel group can get a room together. On the train we took, each room contained four beds, and unfortunately my ticket was the one that was separate from my two travel buddies. Overall, the experience was quite interesting, and taking this overnight train was what I imagined the Hogwarts Express to be like.
After five trains (and about 20 hours of travel), we finally made it to Barcelona! We had dinner at a tapas restaurant called Dora (Carrer de Provença, 275, 08037 Barcelona, Spain) before heading to a lookout spot. We climbed up the many steps to the Mirador de l’Alcalde, and the view was so worth it! I am a height-junkie, and the most amazing thing about views like this, is that just a mere hour before, we were in the view. From the observation deck, everything looked so small, but the view contained so much life and beautiful bright lights. There were so many things this view captured- too many things to do in just one day. Unfortunately, with the length of our trains, one day would have to suffice for now in this beautiful city.
Our only full day in Barcelona was jam-packed full of adventures! We started off the day with breakfast at a quaint café. The amateur coffee connoisseur in me was ecstatic to try a cortado, a traditional Spanish espresso drink. Next up, the Picasso Museum. Located in the middle of an old, medieval portion of the city (we almost completely passed it!), the museum is home to an extensive collection of Picasso pieces.
Next stop: the aquarium! I think being from the Atlanta area and having the Georgia Aquarium be my touchstone for aquariums, unfortunately made this aquarium a little bit of a let-down. However, the reprieve from the 80-degree heat was much appreciated! I’ve always known my name is Spanish for “look,” but never before had I realized how often this word is used, especially at the aquarium. There were many parents telling their children to “mira, mira, mira” at the colorful fish. Every single time this happened, my friends and I would have to stifle a laugh, so the Barcelona Aquarium was probably the funniest aquarium I’ve been to.
You can’t be in Barcelona without going to the beach! As we mapped out directions to the beach, we walked along the port and came across an art and food market! I found the most beautiful bee earrings, which I just had to buy (Go Jackets!), and these will definitely be what I wear at graduation – my “I got out” earrings. We made it to the beach (after stopping for some delicious empanadas), and it was so refreshing to just relax.
Next stop: Mercado de La Boqueria (La Rambla, 91, 08001 Barcelona, Spain). I HIGHLY recommend this place. This market is a mixture of food vendors including street food but also meat, produce, fish, etc. where locals can come for their regular grocery shopping, and tourists can enjoy a real feel for the city. The market reminded me of the markets (shuks) in Israel, and it felt like a piece of home.
Our final stops of the day: The Arco de Triunfo de Barcelona and La Sagrada Familia Basilica. Two absolutely beautiful structures! If I do come back to Barcelona, which I hope I do, I will come back to La Sagrada Familia in the daylight. We were there after the sun had set, and the basilica wasn’t really lit up as we expected, but it was beautiful all the same.
Barcelona definitely can’t be done in one day – I could probably spend a week there and still not feel like I fully experienced it. So, instead of a “goodbye” to Barcelona, the trip home was an “until-next-time.”