When you study abroad in London, you’re spoiled with the number of airport options you can fly out of to visit another place. By the time my trip to Barcelona had come around, I had already flown out of two of England’s airports, Heathrow and Gatwick. On this trip my friends and I were scheduled to leave from Stansted, which required purchasing bus tickets in advance to make it to the airport from our apartments. The bus ride should have only taken about one hour from King’s Cross to Stansted, yet we ran into a lot of unexpected traffic, had to transfer buses and almost missed our flight.
This entailed some full-fledged sprinting through the airport post-security sans shoes and dying under the weight of heavy carry-ons. The four of us were focused, determined and though the walk to our gate was 20 minutes and we wanted to stop and rest, we knew it would mean losing our chance to go to Spain. In the end, we made it to our gate just in time. Lesson learned, never EVER take the bus to the airport.
Hola Barca! My first morning here reminded me why people need to wear sunglasses and the incredible feeling of glowy warmth as the sun shone on my face. Yes, real sun! I was staying in an awesome hostel – The Black Swan – which I have recommended to many people since and would recommend to any student traveling abroad! It was just a ten minute walk from the Arc de Triumf and the rest of Cituadella Park, a gorgeous sprawling park full of palm trees and happy Barcelonians.
We walked through the park enjoying the gorgeous weather and made our way down a series of cute narrow streets that reminded me of Naples, and into a random huge cathedral that was incredible inside. We were on our way to the Picasso Museum – one of my favorite museums that I visited in Europe and part of what made the trip to Barcelona so worth it. The museum was brilliantly curated. His work was shown chronologically and next to each wall was an explanation of where he was when he created those masterpieces and what was going on in his life at the time that could have been possible inspiration for them. I learned a lot from this museum because I had not realized that it was only towards the end of his life that his paintings changed so drastically and are what he is most famous for now.
Hungry from exploring, we left the museum to go to lunch. This was the point where I realized that Spanish meat is incredible and decided to be sure to eat some each meal for the rest of my trip. These skewer kebabs were amazing!
There comes a time each day while exploring different European cities where you wonder if the best move would be to succumb to the heat and exhaustion and take a siesta, or to power through it and continue doing as much as possible fueled by treats and caffeine. Though we were exhausted from the journey the previous night, we realized that we only had a few days in the city and were not a far walk away from Barcelonetta – the beach – which we all wanted to see. We did the trek, getting lost only once and getting harassed by street performers as a consequence, but made it to the beautiful dock where we sat under the palm trees for an hour, letting our legs dangle over the sparkling clear blue water. This was the life.
We lingered on the dock soaking up the sunshine and beautiful Spanish accents chirping around us. I had missed the beach the past few months and felt so blessed to have had the chance to experience it in the land of the Cheetah Girls 2, Gaudi, Picasso and these wonderful people. On the walk back to the hostel we came across an outdoor market, similar to Borough Market in London, and got fresh fruit juices – mine was Kiwi – which were delicious and held us over until dinner.
When we got back, Ben went to the hostel to nap for an hour and Adrianna, Kelly and I went back to see Cituadella Park at night. It was so nice to see the sunset behind the Arc and there were a handful of Spanish children blowing bubbles that would catch the reflection of the orange crème sky and palm trees.
Back at the hostel we went to a paella and sangria making class, which was awesome! The sangria was so yummy and the food was delicious. Apparently the recipe can be cooked in a wok instead of the big paella pan they used, so it’s possible that you’ll see my own attempt at it up here at some point!
We befriended some of our hostel roommates, a group of Irish guys and an American girl traveling Europe on her own for six months, and joined the hostel pub crawl. This took us to three pubs and two clubs on the beach. It was a super fun night and we met a lot of interesting people. This was what I had always thought staying in a hostel would be like!
Stay Classy! xx