To my delight, the next location on my itinerary was Spain – the only country I had visited outside of the United States before this summer. While studying abroad and interning there as an English teacher last year, I had the chance to visit everywhere from Nerja to Córdoba to Pamplona to Santiago de Compostela. With over 15 Spanish cities checked off my list, one iconic location still remained: Barcelona. Since Perpignan is only a short train ride away, I took advantage of my proximity and crossed the border into what is one of my favorite places in the world. I spent a few days in the beautiful seaside city consolidating research notes, strengthening my interview questions, and planning later portions of my journey. With a trip this large it was impossible to plan every component before I left, so extra preparation was required while on the road.
During my stay in Spain I also allowed time to visit a variety of Barcelona attractions. On my first day I explored the Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, more commonly known as “La Boqueria.” Located along the La Rambla (one of the main streets in the heart of the city), this massive food market sells everything from tropical fruits to fresh empanadas to exotic seafood. One of the six Australians staying in my room happend to be a chef, so that evening we were treated to homemade seafood pasta made from fresh ingredients procured at La Boqueria. (Later on in my stay he also cooked a mushroom risotto that was to die for).
One of the hightlights of any trip to Barcelona is to visit all the unique buildings designed by the famed architect Antoni Gaudí. On a free walking tour I was able to view each building and learn an extensive amount about their construction. Later on in my stay I returned to La Sagrada Familia – Gaudí’s iconic cathedral – to pay the entry fee and spend the morning touring the architect’s largest project (which still remains unfished long after his death).
These city adventures were made all the more enjoyable by visits from Lena and Nick – a new friend from Germany and one of my best friends from Northwestern. Lena and I stayed in the same hostel while in Perpignan, France and were able to meet back up again in Barcelona. Nick was awarded an Undergraduate Research Grant from Northwestern to conduct research in Hamburg, Germany for the summer. (You can read his blog by clicking “Back to the Roots, Persian & German” on the left or by visiting http://blog.undergradresearch.northwestern.edu/nkg/
). When we realized we would be in Europe at the same time, we planned a short visit to Barcelona – a city we’ve both always wanted to see. Together we explored La Sagrada Familia, Park Güell (another Gaudí masterpiece), took a Gothic Architecture walking tour of the city, ate enormous amounts of seafood paella, visited La Boqueria more times than I can remember, and hiked up a nearby bluff to get a breathtaking nighttime view of the city.
The weather was hot, the city was beautiful, and the people were amazing. Barcelona turned out to be a wonderful stop in my journey around the world – I only hope it won’t be long before I return again to Spain!
Gaudí Architecture Tour
Palau Güell Casa Batlló Casa Amatller (Designed by Josep Puig i Cadafalch)
Casa Milà (La Pedrera) La Sagrada Familia
La Sagrada Familia (Antoni Gaudí)
Park Güell (Antoni Gaudí)