Monday, February 6, 2012

Barcelona!

This weekend was my first weekend traveling outside of our region of Alicante and travelling alone without the guidance of a group.  We were nervous but excited to plan our whole trip on our own because we had so many places we wanted to see in Barcelona.  On Thursday a group of 7 of us in total left Alicante by train to Barcelona.  However, two of our friends arrived in Barcelona earlier than us but when they arrived to the hostel realized that our reservation was for the wrong weekend!  So, we were only able to stay in the planned hostel for the first night because the rest of the weekend was booked.  At first we were all stressed and worried, but once we arrived we were able to find a sister hostel by the same company in a different (and better) part of the city.  Our crisis was averted!  On Thursday night we decided to browse for a restaurant and found a Mexican restaurant... in Spain!  So we all ate fajitas and quesadillas and had a great time.  After dinner we were able to get together with 3 of our friends from Wofford that are studying abroad there and hang out together. 

On Friday we switched hostels early and walked up and down the shops on La Rambla, the most famous main street in Barcelona.  We walked through an open air market in the city's center that sold fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and fish.  It was cool to see how all of the venders brought their products there each morning to sell.  However, some of the fish and crabs were still moving and looked like they were about to run away!!

Right before sunset we headed to Gaudi's Park Guell, which is right on the edge of town.  At first we had some problems locating the park and wandered through the woods a little until we finally figured out the right direction!  The park was awesome and the views overlooking the city at sunset were phenomenal. 

After the park we met up with our friends from Wofford again for dinner at this really neat restaurant.  During the day it is a market but at night they have a restaurant and it was incredibly fresh.  After a long dinner we went to a bar called Dow Jones, which is based off of the NY stock exchange.  The prices of the most popular drinks were the highest and the less popular were lower.  About every 30 mins or hour the stock would "crash" and the drink prices would drop.  It was fun because you had to sort of make a strategy like you would with a real stock market.

On saturday we got up early because our hostel provided free walking tours of the city.  We took the tour of Gaudi and were able to learn about his works from earliest to most recent.  I really loved the casa batllo probably the most which was only a block or two from our hostel.

Casa Batllo by Gaudi

The tour of Gaudi's works ended at the Sagrada Familia, which was INCREDIBLE.  It was definitely my favorite part of the whole trip and I did not want to leave.  The Sagrada Familia is still not finished and is anticipated to be done around 2026.  We learned also that it has 3 facades on the exterior walls, one is the nativity facade which portrays the birth of Jesus, the next is the passion facade, which shows the death of Jesus on the cross, and the final and still unfinished facade is the glory facade.  Inside and outside took my breath away and the photos I took could not even do it justice.
Outside of Sagrada Familia



Later Saturday night we headed to Camp Nou to watch the FC Barcelona soccer game.  It was SOOOOO cold but so much fun.  Barcelona ended up beating Real Sociedad.


Finally, Sunday ended with another walking tour through our hostel where we toured the Gothic District, the oldest part of Barcelona.  We were able to see the school that Picasso attended, a plaza dedicated to George Orwell, and tour a cathedral.  After the group tour we went to the Picasso Museum.  We waited in line for a long time but it was more than worth it!  The entire museum was dedicated to his works and we had a great time looking at the transitions in his style and his versatility. 

After a very busy weekend, I can definitely say I was ready to return to Alicante.  I absolutely loved the city, but am so happy with my decision to study and live in Alicante.  I feel safer here and more at home than I did in Barcelona.  My host parents picked me up from the train station which was so sweet.  Last night a group of us watched the super bowl haha to still be American over in Spain.  We had a good time but it also made me miss being at home and watching it.  This week we will contine with our one class at the University of Alicante and our CIEE program has a weekend trip to Madrid on Friday!!

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