Monday, February 8, 2016

Quirky Barcelona

Barcelona, Spain- Endless corners of cafés, bars, open air markets, and florist shops.

I was very fortunate to spend a few days in this beautiful city. I spent my time with my friend from high school who is currently studying there. Along with some suggestions from a friend, Matt and I went out throughout the week to make sure I got a true sense of Barça.

Lining the streets of Barça are palm trees and plants hanging from the balconies of apartments above. Every building is a chance for fancy architects to show off.

My first full day in Barcelona was all about retracing my steps to remember all of the Spanish that I've learned throughout my life. This past month in Italy has completely rerouted my understanding of language. Italian and Spanish are so similar and yet so different. Some words can be spelled completely the same but are pronounced different due to an accent. I can almost never decipher the two languages, but in my experience, it's only a matter of time before an Italian starts talking about gnocchi. 

Comparing Barça to Florence, this city was too big for me to handle. After a few days I was able to understand the metro, but the city was more spread out than I'm used to at school. In Florence, everything is within a 20 minute walk. The only time I feel like I need a taxi is if I'm walking home alone after midnight (which never happens).

Arc de Triomf 

Parc De La Ciutadella
La Barceloneta Beach 

There are many unique landmarks in Barcelona that you have to be a bit of a tourist to see. Here's a list of my favorite places that I saw and restaurants that I ate at! 

1. Las Ramblas - a very famous street in the heart of Barça, full of flowers, postcards, and other goods. Visit for all of your touristy dreams! But this is where the pick-pocketers are, so watch your bag!! But it's such beautiful area, you have to walk down the street and marvel at the buildings above. 
2. La Boqueria - Barcelona's most beautiful open-air market, home to dozens and dozens of shops. Don't forget to get a fresh smoothie for 2 euros. I got a banana-mango-pineapple one and it was the highlight of my morning. (Located on Las Ramblas). 

3. Arc de Triomf - The Arc was so gorgeously designed with no messing around when it comes down to the detail. Walk through the arch, get a picture, and walk down the strip filled with palm trees and beautiful skies and it will take you to many more parks. 

4. Park Guell - Dozens of escalators take you up to the top of the city, the park reminded me so much of Central Park in New York City, a never-ending maze of paths leading to different art inside of the park. 

5. Brunch and Cake - (Restaurant) - This one was recommended to me by one of my followers. Make SURE you get the Eggs Benedict and Banana Bread. Especially if you're studying abroad and you're missing some American food. The food was a tad bit pricey compared to how much food usually is in Spain, but it was so good I felt like I was at home again. 

6. National Congress Building - Located on the top of the scenic mountain on the lower left hand side of Barcelona, there were so many views of the beautiful city. We had to take hundreds of pictures from the top of Monjuic. 

7. Tapa Tapa - (Restaurant) - Also recommended by one of my followers, you have to get Cava Sangria from one of Tapa Tapa's locations. We went to the location right on Passeig de Gracia, and it was so delicious. 

8. Make sure you visit Barceloneta Beach!! It was beautiful even in the beginning of February, so depending on what time you go, bring a swimsuit and enjoy the restaurants on the beach. 

Spain was definitely less expensive to live in than Italy. A coffee and pastry was only about 1.80 Euros. In Florence, I'll usually pay about 1 or 2 Euros for a ciocolatto croissant and cappuccino.

Spanish dinners are always rich and fulfilling. For dinner, I wanted to try everything. My choices ranged from croquettes, a mozzarella-like breaded nugget filled with Albizi ham and cheese, to Calamari, a favorite in Barcelona, full of freshness and very crisp. I also enjoyed a Spanish omelette, very filling and delicious.

La Boqueria - Near Cataluyna City Center

I loved the welcoming and hospitable attitude of the spanish and the friendly atmosphere. In each city I visit, I try to get a grasp of how kind locals are to the tourists. I feel like it's important to know to have a better perception of how to act amongst the natives. The Spanish were very accepting and sweet! I loved Barcelona. 

One last thing that anyone who has traveled to Barcelona can agree on, it's the fact that Barça has the most beautiful assortments of cacti. I felt like I was in a dream walking up to stores and I was so tempted to buy them but I knew I couldn't take them back on the plane. 

See you next time, Barcelona!

And keep updated with my blog for more posts about my semester abroad! Feel free to message me on my Instagram (@leytonpee) if you have any questions about Barcelona!! 

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