Spain, Barcelona in particular, was the first European stamp in my passport. In July 2010, I landed in Spain with my friend Anne, eager to meet up with a big group of fellow Longhorns who spent the summer in Spain’s second largest city. Upon entering though, I did not realize I was not really in Spain, but Catalonia. Catalans hardly consider themselves Spaniards and the independentists are fighting hard for secession from Spain as I write this. Barcelona is hoppin’ 24/7, which makes it one of the most lively cities in Europe and an excellent first stop on any Europe trip. The contagious energy brought me back again the following summer.
fantastic view from The National Museum of Art Catalonia
The city is characterized by the architecture of Antoni Gaudí, with his most impressive work, La Sagrada Familia still underway (to be completed in ~15 years). There are museums, monuments, and sites galore to explore. The unique building facades through the city make routeless exploration ever interesting.
How to: look like a tourist
La Sagrada Familia
Much like Rome, the sound of Mopeds will either buzz you to sleep or keep you up all night.
Barcelona is well known for it’s soccer club, FC Barcelona, and while I’m not huge soccer fan, Camp Nou is a fantastic spectacle and and the influence of the team throughout the region (and heck, the entire world) are unmissable. The team is worth an estimated $1B USD. (source)
When you are meeting up with friends studying abroad, it’s all about that famous Spanish schedule: siesta, late dinner, and partying until sunrise. In the US, while clubs close at 2 am, the Spanish clubs are just beginning the party.
The first time in Europe meant the first time I’d laid eyes on red & white french fries. I remember being disgusted. Now, I admittedly love it.
The day I landed in Barcelona, Spain’s national team was playing German in the 2010 World Cup Semi-Finals. Spain won and the celebrations around the city were absolutely nutty.
Texas girls take over Barcelona: this bar, Le Cyrano, had a particularly unique concept. If you ask for a whiskey-coke, for example, they hand you the bottle of whiskey to pour for yourself into the glass and then hand you the mix on the side. So essentially, you can pour yourself a double, triple, or even quadruple…
Among many exciting new European discoveries, the fact that I could drink on the streets in many European cities had to be a favorite. Opium was my friends’ favorite club and they even spotted some FC Barcelona players there on occassion.
Jonathan was my travel companion summer 2011 and Dow Jones in Barcelona had to be our favorite of the entire trip. The menu prices functioned like the stock market and fluctuated upon demand. Every once in awhile, there would be a “crash” where sirens would whirl and the prices would hit rock bottom. If there and Tatiana still works there (or probably even if she doesn’t) – ask about the Hand of God shot. It’s pure madness.
Just like any great European city, you can expect a fantastic market to get lost in freshness and an array of smells (can’t say all of them are good smells, beware sensitive noses).
What do/would you love about Catalonia’s capital city?