I haven’t had a chance to blog since my last post about Amsterdam I’ll have to split this update into two separate posts to fit everything in. So, I’ll start off with two weeks ago (weekend of July 1-3) when I finally got the chance to relax and spend some time in Barcelona that didn’t involve classes, homework, or cabbing from my apartment to the airport. One of my roommates went to Paris and three others went to Italy, so my one other roommate, Katie, and I decided to embrace our stay-at-home weekend and check everything that we’ve been wanting to do here off our lists. Basically, we were super tourists.
On Friday we spent the day at the beach, which was so nice since I have class until 5 on the weekdays and rarely get to go. I can literally feel the temperature climbing by the day now that it’s the middle of July, so the water felt amazing. While we were at the beach we decided to try out Bacoa, this burger restaurant one of our friends told us about. It was a build your own burger kind of thing, and my burger was so big I could barely even fit it in my mouth. I think all the people sitting around us were probably disgusted at the way I was shoving this giant burger into my mouth and spilling half the contents onto the table in the process, but it was totally worth it. So delicious. We also walked down the street a little and discovered a little Mexican place with tequila flavored ice cream. Also delicious. Friday was our most relaxing day, which was kind of ironic because I think it’s the first Friday since I’ve been here that I haven’t been on a train of a bus on my way out of Barcelona.
Saturday we made our way up to Tibidabo Amusement Park. It’s literally an amusement park on the top of a mountain. When I say on top of a mountain, I am not exaggerating. It took us about a 30 minute bus ride, all uphill, to get there, and once we finally arrived it was nothing like we expected. As Americans, we’re used to parks having maps at every corner and signs pointing to different areas and rides every few steps to guide us around all day. I guess Tibidabo didn’t get the memo because I don’t think I saw a single map and the signs were scarce and also meaningless because we didn’t know the Spanish names of any of the rides because there weren’t any maps. Fortunately, my roommate and I are both pretty laid back about these kind of things, so we just decided to wing it and pretty much rode every ride we came across. Oh, did I forget to mention the park was separated into 6 floors of different rides and attractions? It makes sense because it was on a hill, but I never thought I would go to an amusement park where I had to use a giant glass elevator to get from one ride to the next. Despite the overall confusion of the day, Tibidabo was so much fun. Every ride we went on (pretty much all of them) was amazing because around every twist and turn we could look out and see the entire city of Barcelona stretched out in the distance below us. We were so high up we were actually in the clouds. The weirdest part of the park was that the top floor had a random giant church just sitting there a few steps away from the restaurants and rides. Only in Spain can you find a church at an amusement park. They put those things everywhere and anywhere. What was even funnier about it was that someone was getting married in the church while we were there. We saw the bride and groom taking wedding pictures on the carousel. Interesting theme for a location wedding. When we got back at the end of the day we went to a seafood restaurant that trip advisor claimed had really good paella. Trip advisor was right. Our waiter came out with a giant pan and split it into two plates full of saucy rice and mussels, clams, shrimp, fish, chicken, and sausage. We could barely finish half that night so it lasted us for two dinners.
The final day of our tourist weekend we took two metro lines, two trains, a cable car, and a funicular to the summit of Monserrat. In case you don’t know, because I definitely didn’t, is basically just a train that goes almost straight up the side of a mountain. The town of Monserrat was really cool just because there are restaurants, shops, museums and a beautiful cathedral all isolated an hour outside of Barcelona and on the top of a mountain. Kind of like Tibidabo but way more isolated and without the ferris wheel and roller coasters. So the main town was impressive, but the best thing about Monserrat was the hike to the summit of Sant Jeroni. It was about 1,200 feet up and took us a total of around 2 hours to do the whole thing. The hike was this beautiful trail weaving through the woods and around giant boulders. At the top was a long, steep, stone staircase leading to an overlook with a 360-degree view of all the rural land and cities around us. There was a kind of sun dial that pointed out which landmarks and mountain ranges were in each direction. The wind almost blew us off the summit, but the view was amazing and definitely worth the walk all the way back down to the main town (which included at least 200 flights of stairs).
Last but not least, Monday. It’s not technically the weekend, but it basically was because it was the 4th of July. It honestly wasn’t that weird celebrating in another country because all my friends here (and basically my entire program) are American. It was kind of funny being at the beach with our little American flag and country music when everyone else around us was just laying out and swimming like any other beach day… probably hating us in the process. We did the most American thing we could possibly think of and booked a booze cruise. So I was at the beach, out on the boat, and surrounded by Americans. It was basically like any other 4th celebration, except of course we were in Spain, so it was actually a lot cooler.
Things I checked off my Barcelona bucket list:
- Get in as many beach days as possible
- Eat good paella
- Navigate my way through a Spanish amusement park
- Hike from a monastery to the top of a mountain
- Obnoxiously celebrate an American holiday in another country while all the locals judge me