In Florence, men walk through the streets trying to sell you flowers. Red and white roses to be exact. In Barcelona, the streets are crowded with men trying to sell you cans of beer. Why any one would buy a beer from a stranger on the street is beyond me, but nonetheless, I LOVED Barcelona.
Bryana, Allie, and I decided to go to Barcelona through Bus2Alps, a tour operator that offers really great travel deals for students. But instead of taking the bus, we chose to fly to Barcelona instead. This allowed us to avoid a long bus ride, and stay a whole extra afternoon and night exploring Barcelona. Bus2Alps provided our accommodations at the St. Christopher’s Hostel.
I had never stayed at a hostel before, and it was pretty strange at first only because I had never experienced something like that before -I’ve always had my own room with plenty of space. We were placed in a room with six bunks and had a shared bathroom. All of the people we roomed with were supposed to be other students who were also traveling through Bus2Alps, but due to a rooming issue, this was not the case. But we made friends with some girls who were from Spain that were staying there. – I wish I had taken Spanish in high school, but Bryana understood Spanish and could communicate with them pretty well. It’s always interesting to me to meet new people and learn new cultures.
Everything about Barcelona was absolutely beautiful, but my favorite place that we visited was Park Güel, which was designed by architect Antonio Gaudi. And believe me -Parc Güel is not your ordinary park.
The amount of detail that went into designing the park is absolutely astonishing. It is filled with billions of tiny recycled tiles that form these unique, beautiful mosaic pieces of art.
It captures Gaudi’s style, the essence the Spanish Branch of the Art Noveau, known as el modernismo. He also was a strong supporter of ecology so he chose to use recycled glass and ceramic materials in much of his work.
The park itself is high above the city and you have to walk up what feels like a billion steps to get to it. It’s like the walk the top of the Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence, maybe even steeper! But of course, the walk is totally worth it!
Much of Gaudi’s work was greatly influenced by nature, and this is evident through many of the park’s components, such as the giant lizard fountain in the park. The park also has many walking trails for visitors to explore.
During our walking tour of the city, we visited Parc de la Ciutadella. Although it wasn’t as magnificent as Parc Güel, it was still pretty beautiful. In the center of the park is a waterfall and fountain that was also designed by Antonio Gaudi. We also walked through the Arc de Triomf.
Besides giving us awesome recommendations of places we should visit and taking us on walking tours of the city, our Bus2Alps tour guides brought us out to bars and clubs at night.
On Saturday night, we went to a massive dive bar called L’Ovella Negra. This was my favorite place we visited because it was really spacious, super casual, and lots of fun.
Afterwards, we went to a nightclub called Opium, which was located right on the beach. This club was unlike any I had ever seen before, with dancers hanging from the ceiling and people dressed in costume walking around on stilts.
We also visited the George Payne Irish Pub, which had karaoke and had a similar feel to The Red Garter, one of our go-to bars in Florence. We also went to Placa Reial, a square that is busy with people during the day sitting and eating, and at night-time it transforms into a popular bar square. There, we went to Jamboree Dance Club.
During our stay in Barcelona, we tried some authentic Spanish cuisine. We stopped at an open market called La Boqueria.
It was huge and had just about every kind of food you can imagine – although I only came for the guacamole, since guacamole apparently doesn’t exist in Florence and I had been craving it for weeks. We also stopped and got churros. In Spain, it is common for people to dip their churros in chocolate. It was probably the best thing I have ever eaten!
Since Italians only drink cappuccinos, we really missed our iced coffee..and we were super excited to find out that Barcelona has a Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts on almost every corner – we even had a Starbucks right across the street from our hostel.
While most restaurants in Florence are strictly Italian, Barcelona offers a wide selection of nice restaurants that appeal to almost every culture. Our first night in Barcelona we actually went out for Mexican. People in Spain also love fast food. They have McDonald’s, Burger King, and their own fast-food chain, called Pans. People go to authentic Spanish restaurants for tapas, or appetizers/snacks, but tapas are eaten as the main course.
Everything about our trip was amazing, and I have to say that Barcelona is my favorite destination thus far. While I am happy to be back home in Florence – it truly feels like home now- I hope that one day I get to visit Barcelona again.
My next destination is in two weeks and I will be traveling to Budapest, Vienna, and Salzburg. I am super excited for this trip and I can’t wait to share more of my travel experiences with you! For now, Arrividerci!