This weekend (some of) the old Imperium crew was back at it again- this time with Anna!
We went off to Bar-“thel”-ona, Spain for the weekend, and I couldn’t have been more excited, even though I don’t speak Catalan.
After an 8 hour bus ride- with prettier countryside to the east- we arrived in Barcelona around 4:30 pm on Friday and checked into Kabul Hostel. Huge thanks to my cousin Anthony (who studied in Florence last semester) for the recommendation!
Since our hostel was in Plaça Reial right off Las Ramblas, we spent the first afternoon strolling up and down through the flea markets and stopped into La Boqueria for some fruit smoothies and croquetas (my favorite Spanish food). Everything was SO FRESH. And much cheaper than the Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid…
While dinner is included at this particular hostel, “the chef was drunk all day” so dinner wasn’t up to par. Instead, we opted for some authentic
American cuisine at the nearby McDonald’s. However, we did get a free pitcher of sangria from our generous waiter at a local place, which really set the tone for the entire trip.
After walking up and down the boardwalk and exploring the city by foot, we took advantage of the free cover from the hostel to a Barcelona club and danced the night away with some lovely Italian boys.
The next morning, we had breakfast at the hostel and rode the metro the La Sagrada Familia, a giant basilica designed by the famous Antonio Gaudí that has been under construction since 1882, and is scheduled to be finished by 2026. No joke. The building was beautiful, with every inch of it dedicated to art. We spent a lot of time there and were amazed that in Europe, religion has motivated so much art and war, creation and destruction, in a way that wasn’t carried over into U.S. culture.
Later, we took the metro across town and then hiked up to Park Güell to get a great view of the east coast of Spain and see the tile masterpieces also constructed by Gaudí. We had perfect weather, and I swear nowhere has a bluer sky than Spain.
Later that night, we had dinner at the hostel again (better this time!) and hung out in our 24-person room. There were Italians, Australians, Germans and French (I think?) and some Americans studying in Segovia (where I’m going on Friday!). It was really cool sharing stories about our travels, and the others were impressed at how much of Spain and Portugal we have covered in such a short time. The hostel life is definitely an interesting one, and I’m really glad I get to add it to my list of experiences.
This week/month in Barcelona, there are festivals and free concerts in every square and plaza across the city, so Hailee, Rachel aka Voldemort (she lost her voice), Rhiann, Anna and I bought some cheap wine and enjoyed the concert from our balcony, people watching and comparing it to Cuse’s Castle Court. We ventured into the crowd and met some interesting people, but decided to walk down the boardwalk again to enjoy the scenery there. We laughed and talked and genuinely enjoyed our too-short time in the city. I’m already making plans to come back someday.
The next morning, we checked out of the hostel, said, “Ciao!” to our Italian friends, and went off to the beach. It was my first time in the Mediterranean Sea, and we collected sea glass, swam in the crystal clear water, tanned like Barcelonians do, and soaked up the sun. I don’t think I’ve ever been more tan in my life.
The bus ride home wasn’t bad, and we made it back in time to catch the metro. All around a great mix of art, culture, beach, fun, and history. I love Barcelona, but I was happy to be home in Madrid and I’m glad I’m studying here instead.