The travels continue! Because exams are spread out over nearly a month at University of Edinburgh, and my only exam is on the third-to-last day of testing, I have quite a bit of free time. I had been hoping to make it to Barcelona, so once my exam schedule came out and I learned of another exciting detail, I just had to go! Exciting detail: Shannon was visiting Barcelona the weekend after my final papers were due – so a very convenient weekend indeed!! Things worked out even better once I found out my friend Kata would be in Barcelona during that time, as well. Kata has lived in Barcelona for a few years; she is currently studying at the University of Edinburgh, which is how I know her. But, I found out she would be in Barcelona when we were there, and she said she would love to be our tour guide for the weekend! Yay!
I flew in to Barcelona on Thursday. This first day was not all too exciting – it was simply a travel day; my flight was delayed and I did not get to the hostel until about 10 PM. Luckily, in Spain, that is prime dinner time – so I checked in and immediately got something to eat.
Friday was much more exciting! Shannon arrived in the morning, along with her friends Digby and Kathryn who were also studying in Sevilla for the semester. I had met both of them when I visited Shannon in February, so it was nice to be reunited and to get to know them over the span of the weekend!
Our first order of business was a walking tour in the morning. It was quite long – three hours – so we learned a great deal of information about the city that we certainly would not have known otherwise. After the tour, we got lunch, and then met up with Kata! She took us all around the city – we saw so much that afternoon! First, we went to Plaça Reial, where Kata and I took this photo:
Next, we went to La Boqueria, a public market with food galore! We each got a fresh juice – I chose strawberry and coconut. Yum! Here is a photo we took outside La Boqueria:
Shannon, Kathryn, Digby, and I. With our juices… except for me, because I had already finished mine. Oops.
Next, Kata walked us to the beach!
After the beach, Kata showed us her favorite church in the world: Basilica Santa Maria del Mar. She hopes to get married there, and I absolutely see why – it is stunning. The stained glass is beautiful, and the architecture is outstanding.
Next, Kata took us to Valor, a chocolateria, where we each got a hot chocolate. She really is the best tour guide, because she understands what is important. 😆 She told us they serve the best hot chocolate in Barcelona. I don’t have anything to compare it to, since this was the only hot chocolate I had in Barcelona, but I anticipate I’d be hard-pressed to find a viable competitor. It was so delicious!
After Valor, we went to the Barcelona cathedral. This, too, was stunning. See for yourself:
Kata had to meet a friend, so we went on our own after the Barcelona cathedral. Digby, Kathryn, Shannon, and I hopped on the metro and then walked a bit for our final destination of the night – The Magic Fountain of Montjuïc! The show started at 9:00, and it was beautiful!! I do not really know how to adequately describe what we saw, but there are plenty of videos online that could perhaps start to give you an idea of just how cool it was. The fountain lit up different colors and the water looks like it is dancing with the way it moves! This is definitely something you have to see to understand. Here are a couple photos I took:
The magic continued into Saturday, as it was a very special holiday: Sant Jordi. This romantic holiday honors one of the patron saints of Catalonia, and is celebrated by giving a book and/or rose to loved ones. The whole city was filled with book stands and rose vendors, especially Las Ramblas and Rambla de Catalunya. We walked through these streets, which were packed with people, to witness all the festivities going on.
Then, we walked on Passeig de Gracia, where we saw Casa Batlló and Casa Mila, two of the Antoni Gaudí houses.
The Gaudí sightseeing continued – next we went to Sagrada Família, an enormous and colorful basilica designed by none other than Gaudí. We stayed there for a couple of hours, and I easily could have stayed longer. Being in that building is a spiritual experience like no other. The colors from the sun shining through the glass, the enormous pillars, and the intricate architecture just put me in total awe.
We finished our Gaudí trail at none other than Park Güell! I had seen so many pictures of the beautiful bench / wall mural in Plaza de la Naturalize (within Park Güell), but nothing could compare to how incredible it looked in person. Even with the ominous clouds (which shortly thereafter turned into a downpour), the panorama of the city was magnificent.
Sunday was our last day all together, but we made the most of it! We met Kata in the morning and she took us to the Bunkers de Carmel, where we enjoyed a stunning lookout over the city. This was the second of her four favorite places in Barcelona (the first was Santa Maria del Mar). We sat here and enjoyed the sunshine, the view, and each others’ company for a while before getting back on the bus into the city.
Then, Kata and I went to Parròquia de Santa Anna for mass, while Kathryn and Shannon went to Hillsong for church, and Digby explored the city. We met up on Las Ramblas and then went to the third of Kata’s four favorite places – a Greek cafe called Dionisos. I ordered a gyro and, at risk of sounding hyperbolic, it was one of the most delicious things I have eaten in my life. After this life-changing experience, we went back to the beach!
There was so much sea glass among the rocks on the shore, so I walked up and down the beach collecting it. I got a little carried away!
Unfortunately, the beach bumming was the last of our exciting weekend activities all together, as Digby, Kathryn, and Shannon had an evening flight back to Sevilla. So, we went back to the hostel and said our goodbyes! My flight was not until Tuesday morning, though, so while the girls headed to the airport, I continued exploring. I walked around the gothic quarter a bit, then to the Arc de Triomf, then through Parc de la Ciutadella.
I got a sandwich at Bo de B, which my sister recommended to me, and carried it to the beach where I ate it! It was a lovely spot for a peaceful dinner.
Monday was my last day in Barcelona, and it was absolutely perfect! Kata took me to Montserrat – the fourth of her four favorite places in Barcelona. We took a train to Monsterrat then hiked the mountain. There was an option of taking a cable car up to the top, but we both love hiking and it was a beautiful day outside! Montserrat very quickly became another place on my ever-expanding list of “Most Beautiful Places I Have Ever Seen.” We visited the church at the top, Nuestra Señora de Montserrat. Photos were not allowed inside, but it was beautiful, of course. Then we ate lunch before hiking back down the mountain and getting on the train back into the city. I could not have asked for a better final day in Barcelona. The weather was perfect and Monsterrat was fascinatingly gorgeous, but my favorite part of the day was spending time with Kata and getting to know her better. I will treasure those moments forever!
Once we were back in the city, we got dinner at 100 Montaditos, then parted ways. I was very sad to say goodbye to her, but she would return to Edinburgh in a week’s time so I was already excited to see her again. I did some final explorations around the city – souvenir shopping and revisiting La Boqueria, then went back to the hostel to get ready for my Tuesday morning departure.
Barcelona was great – I will be back! Until then 🙂