As week two draws to a close I still find myself making little mental notes as I walk down the street and pass things that catch my eye. My wandering is usually accompanied by sporadic thoughts like, “Make sure I come back to try this cafe,” and “Oh, this street is really picturesque, I really should come back with my camera.” The bucket list that should be shrinking has only grown in length, but luckily I have a few months to check it off. Plus, the adventures (and stories) are usually better when you start off with one plan and end up in a completely different one. So, here are 5 Mini Adventures you can take if you ever find yourself in Barcelona:
1.) The Arc de Triomf & Parc de la Ciutadella:
My roommate and I ventured out on a rainy (rain in Barcelona? – gasp!) Sunday afternoon with intentions of checking out Parc de la Ciutadella. However, on our way there we were greeted by the massive and beautiful Arc de Triomf that acts like a doorway to a wide paved street lined with palm trees and street performers making gigantic rainbow bubbles that float off into the sky. If the fact that I just said “gigantic rainbow bubbles floating off into the sky” hasn’t sold you on going already, then keep walking until you hit the entrance of Parc de la Ciutadella. It’s the perfect place to go when your craving the nature and greenery that the city lacks. Buy some bocadillos (sandwiches) and enjoy lunch in the grass, or rent a small paddle boat and row down the lake all the whilst your surrounded by swans and ducks. After wandering through the parc, we were set on going to the Picasso Museum, since entrance is free on sundays from 2-8pm. But the line was very long, and we were very hungry, so we made a vow to come back… and then we booked it to the nearest cafe for churros con chocolate and lattes!
2.) FC Barcelona Football Game:
You absolutely cannot go to Barcelona without witnessing an FC Barcelona football game at the world famous stadium Camp Nou. The streets are electric the day of a game as fans are repping Barca gear. My professor even let us out early because it was game day, and for the short amount of time he kept us in class I could here people chanting outside the whole time. My roommates and I snagged tickets for just 17 euros and met up with a group of 12 friends to enjoy the game together – I even met a girl from Bolivia who was just ending her time abroad in Barcelona and she gave me some travel tips. The stadium was packed and it was obvious that everybody was taking advantage of the cheap tickets. To get in the spirit I bought my very own FC Barca scarf. You can find these in most of the touristy spots around the city like Las Ramblas but I found mine in the metro station of all places. The guy was asking 20 euro – and even though I was nervous, I tried to heckle him down to a cheaper price – and it worked! I got the scarf for just 10 euro which is a really good price compared to most. My roommate got a scarf and a Messi Jersey for 40 euro. If you have time head to a bar beforehand, like we did, so you don’t have to pay for overpriced drinks at the game. Oh and one more thing, rest your voice because you will be screaming “GOOOOAAL!!!” the entire night. If you can’t make it to a game, at least head to a bar and cheer on the team with some locals, this is what I’ll be doing on the day of the big game (Madrid vs. Barcelona) when tickets are extremely pricey. This ended up being one of my favorite nights thus far, so make sure to put it at the top of your bucket list.
3.) Montjuic & Museums
Montjuic is a hilltop in Barcelona that offers breathtaking views of the harbor and is home to the stunning Palau Nacional. In 1929 Barcelona hosted the World International Exhibition, and so they built the Palau Nacional for the sole purpose of impressing visitors. After the exhibition Barcelona intended to tear the building down, but its beauty captured the heart of the people and so they petitioned to keep it –today it serves as home to the National Art Museum of Catalonia. On Saturday Afternoons admission to the museum is free after 3:00pm, and even if you aren’t an art gallery type of person, the elaborate ceilings and white sculptures will offer you a new appreciation. The best part of the National Art Museum of Catalonia, however, is the terrace at the very top! The views are jaw dropping. If you make it up to the terrace by 5:30 you’ll be lucky enough to witness the sun set over the city. This was the best view of Barcelona I have seen yet. As you head down the hill to leave you will run straight into the Magic Fountain, make sure you stay to catch the show that combines water, lights, and music. After the show, head into the city for some tapas!
4.) The #WomensMarch
If you haven’t heard about the Woman’s March that took place all over the world on January 21st… have you been living under a rock? If so, its okay because I was living under a rock too – and by rock I mean my apartment’s broken Wifi. For me, the women’s march happened accidentally. I got off of the metro on my way to meet up with some friends for lunch and found myself in the center of a sea of posters and a massive crowd of courageous women. I am so happy that I was asked to lunch that day, and that the metro stop happened to be the meeting place for the march. I am so happy that I was able to take videos and pictures of all the beautiful women fighting for what they believe in. The best part of the whole thing was that I was able to feel the energy that was buzzing through the streets, and the hope and the happiness of a more united and equal future for females. It was a day I will never forget, and one that will be shared in history books for years to come. In general, Barcelona is a very politically active city, meaning peaceful marches happen quite often, if you have the chance to get involved in something you are passionate about… go for it!
5.) Park Güell & The Sagrada Familia
If you’re a fan of architecture, Antoni Gaudí’s work will not disappoint. I’m talking about the infamous Park Güell and Sagrada Familia. These are two of the most popular landmarks in Barcelona, and you can’t leave without checking at least one of them out. Park Güell offers whimsical and winding mosaic tiled benches, gingerbread-esque looking Gaudi houses, and colorful lizards sprinkled throughout the park. It’s a great spot for views of Barcelona and picture taking.Tickets will put you back 8 euro, but if you order online beforehand you can knock off a euro and see the landmark for just 7, plus you get to skip the ticket line. Park Güell resides in the same beautiful barrio as my apartment – Gracia. Make sure to check out the graffiti and plazas while you’re here. The Sagrada Familia is even more spectacular, in my opinion. It is a gorgeous church that has been under construction since 1882 – and it is still not finished! The projected finish date is now 2026. You can enjoy its beauty from the outside, or you can buy a ticket to a guided tour (13 euros) which I would definitely recommend. The inside is even more amazing then the outside with stained glass windows that create a kaleidoscope effect when the sun shines through. Words cannot explain, so go make sure to check it out for yourself when you come.
Some other “not-so-adventerous- but-really-funny” things that happened to me this week: I fell down some stairs, I accidentally dyed the bath towels in my apartment blue while doing laundry, and I spent 8 euro on a small jar of peanut butter because I just really needed some.
Until next time,