First and foremost, my trip has been wild from start to finish. Friday morning I woke up at 4:43 AM to Jordan breaking and entering into my container to wake me up for our bus to the airport that left at 5:00 AM. OF COURSE, I hadn’t packed yet. So imagine two frantic girls sprinting around Lyngby and Copenhagen just to make sure we don’t miss our 6am flight to Barcelona, which was honestly a miracle that we didn’t. I do not recommend following my lack of punctuality and I have learned that I really need to improve on that this semester, especially being in an unfamiliar continent and region where punctuality and organization are regularly practiced ways of life.
We arrived to Barcelona and immediately felt the need to be cautious and weary of all our personal belongings, considering the city is notorious for pickpocketing and I have an uncanny habit for leaving my valuables around. We made our way to visit one of my best friends, Tara, who is studying abroad in Barcelona this semester! I was/am so happy I got to spend the weekend with her.
We started our day in Gràcia, which is similar to your stereotypical European neighborhood with narrow walking alleys, cobblestone streets, balconies lined with flowers, and lots of local owned shops/boutiques. It was nice walking around and getting a small taste of local life in Barcelona, especially since one of my classmates back in Copenhagen is from this area and recommended some places to go! We found a really nice gelato shop, which has a nice story I will share later in the post!
Later that day we walked over to Arc de Triomph, which is one of the main attractions of Barcelona. We got our pictures and then rented boats in the little park across the way. This almost ended badly because I should not be trusted with oars and I am extremely uncoordinated when standing in an unstable boat, but it was still really nice/chill. Also, this is a popular activity for couples trying to turn their modern day romance into a scene straight out of The Notebook ft. Ryan Gosling. We found our way over to a nice restaurant filled with all the tapas, bocadillos, and sangria that my heart could possible desire.
The next day we went to Castelldefels’ Beach, which is 45 minutes south of Barcelona by bus. This beach is far from the usually busy, tourist friendly Barcelona Beach. I honestly preferred this taste of wholesome, local life. This was a really nice day trip with Tara’s friends from Wake Forest who are all in the same business program as her in Barcelona. It’s really interesting how their program is so different from ours back in Copenhagen. Different because all their classes and the majority of students in their exchange program are from their university; whereas our exchange program isn’t just UF students, we take classes and live with so many students from all over the world. Personally, I really value the enhanced multicultural experience that I am being exposed to at DTU while abroad and wouldn’t have it any other way.
After spending time at the beach Jordan and I went for our own self guided walking tour through the city’s other main attractions, it was loads of fun and a great way to burn off some of the gelato!
Sunday morning, Jordan and I woke up early to attend an English mass at the Sagrada Família, which is one of the world’s most famous Roman Catholic churches designed by the famous Antoni Gaudí. We arrived at 8:45 AM for the 9:00 AM mass and were turned away because we didn’t arrive early enough, of course. I recommend arriving by 8:30 AM at the very latest if you want to attend the mass. Alternatively, we decided to attend 10:30 AM mass at the gothic, Barcelona Cathedral, which was given in Catalan. The moment we walked into the cathedral, I was in awe of its beauty. Although there was the obvious language barrier during the mass, this was one of the most spiritual moments of my life. Fun fact: I was raised in a Muslim household and practice Islam, but I still feel that this was truly a once in a lifetime experience and I am so happy I was able to experience that during my time in Barcelona.
Shortly after the mass we walked around the city center and stumbled upon a massive protest for the independence of Catalonia from Spain. Naturally, we tried to avoid this as it could be a potential safety risk, but this is an everyday thing in Barcelona. Therefore, don’t be surprised if you experience that when/if you decide to pay Barcelona a visit in the near future. We ended our last night of the trip having a Taco Night with Tara and her Wake Forest friends, celebrating International Guacamole Day. Yes, I made the guac. Yes, it was dank.
We returned to our favorite gelato place in Gràcia, La Lletera. Why is this our favorite spot, you ask? Well, the owners are probably the cutest people in all of Barcelona and spread such great vibes all around. 10/10 recommend the Mandarin and Stracciatella flavors. Pay them a visit in Barcelona and give them some love on Instagram!! @lalleteradegracia #SupportYourLocalGelateria. Sidenote: I am amazed and truly inspired by Jordan’s love for gelato, we almost consumed gelato by the pound that weekend. No regrets at all.
Monday morning we made time to visit la Sagrada Família, which is constantly under renovation. So the inside of the structure looks infinitely more modern than you would hope/expect from a church that has construction dating back to the 1800s, but these restoration efforts are obviously necessary to keep the building standing. For most people it will be worth the 15 euro visit, but I personally enjoyed my visit to the Barcelona Cathedral much more because it was antiquely beautiful and way more low key (not a tourist trap).
All in all, Barcelona treated us well and I hope to return one day soon! Hope that my experience can be of service to your future trip!! See you next week 🙂