Thursday, May 21, 2009

Barcelona

Sorry for such a delay for those of you who are still reading my blog, I've been quite busy since my return to the States and now I finally have a chance to sit down and write a blog post for the final trip I took during my Semester Abroad.

First of all, I would like to thank iAudioguide.com for their great podcast of Barcelona. The content covered the major sights to see in the city and it gave great history and background of each place. From all of Gaudi's work throughout Barcelona to the Camp Nou Estadio, where the famed Football Club Barcelona plays, the iAudioguide podcast gave me much more insight and understanding of each place, allowing me to appreciate the sights of Barcelona even more. One thing I would suggest to improve the audioguide is to provide greater detail about the interior of some buildings, but other than that it was a great audioguide. There are many cities (European and American) to choose from at iAudioguide. To learn more information visit www.iAudioguide.com

Thursday: my flight left at 18:10 from Madrid so right after school I had to eat a quick lunch and then make sure I had everything ready. I got to the airport just before the plane boarded - perfect timing. We got into Barcelona and arrived at our hostel around 10ish. We got into our room and put our baggage away and decided to plan out what we wanted to do for the next few days.

Friday: We woke up at 0800 in order to take advantage of the free breakfast and get ready to go explore Barcelona. We were going to take a free tour of the city but we got lost on the way so we ended up not making it there and we decided to get back to the hostel and then go to the beach. However, on the way to the beach it started raining and instead of trying to wait it out the group decided to go back to the hostel - essentially wasting half of the day doing nothing. After adjusting our plan of action and eating lunch we headed to the Montjuic park (where most of the 1992 Olympic games took place) and got a great panoramic view of the city! After that I met up with a friend I met in Ireland who has lived in Barcelona his whole life for a drink. He suggested some places for me to see and explained some things about Barcelona that the guide books don't explain. Once I was done meeting up with my friend, I headed to the magic fountains of Montjuic to meet up with the group of people I traveled here with. The magic fountains are one of the coolest things I have ever seen. It is a huge fountain with mechanized water spouts that shoot water off synchronized with music and as the sun went down, lights began to illuminate the water - it was spectacular. We were all tired after the show so we went back to the hostel to get some sleep.

Saturday: Once again, we enjoyed our free breakfast at the hostel in the morning and then had to change rooms for our last night. After that was out of the way, we went and visited a few of the more famous places in Barcelona, most notably the Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell. The Sagarada Familia (meaning Holy Family in Catalan) is the most visited construction site in the world. It started in 1882 by the famous Catalan artist Antonio Gaudi but he died before it was finished and it is still being continued today with an expected completion date of 2026 (read the Wikipedia article for more information). Parc Guell was also designed by Gaudi and has a very Dr. Suess feel to it with bright colors and strange architecture. Originally it was planned to be a neighborhood for the wealthy but that fell through because it was too far away from the city center of Barcelona. It eventually was opened as a public park and now it is a very popular tourist attraction and it even houses an elementary school. After those two famous sights, we looked at some other minor Gaudi designed buildings and then headed down to the beach (even though it was a very overcast day). We spent some time laying on the grass next to the beach (we didn't want to get all sandy, of course) and after a while we headed home so we could beat the approaching rain clouds. Dinner included sandwiches we made after buying supplies at the local grocery store (much cheaper than eating out) and we just took it easy until later. We had heard about a supposed "Stock Market" bar in Barcelona, so we ventured out to see if it existed -- and to our surprise it did! This very unique bar ("Dow Jones Bar") has a different way of selling its drinks. The prices are displayed on monitors above the bar just like stocks are and when a drink is purchased, the price will rise a few cents and when no one has bought a particular drink in a while, the price will fall. Quite an interesting concept and they even had ESPN America which was a great relief for my friends and I.

Sunday: I woke up, ate breakfast and split off from the group because I wanted to tour my church (AKA Camp Nou Estadio). It was amazing to be inside the biggest stadium in Europe, making my way from the locker rooms to field level, up through the stands, in the press box and through an amazing museum and trophy display. The stadium was absolutely gorgeous and I can't wait to go back someday to watch my believed Blaugrana play a game. After spending about 3 hours at the stadium, I headed back into the city center and wandered around the main street, Las Ramblas and got a good view of some more of Gaudi's famous architecture. I met back up with the group and we eventually headed to the bus station to catch our night bus that left at 11PM and we arrived in Madrid at about 6AM. It was quite a long trip back but we all made it to class and didn't fall asleep (at least not too many times).

Barcelona is a magnificent Mediterranean coastal city, with wonderful art, architecture, beaches, and football. What more could you ask for. I would rate this in the top 5 places I've ever visited (my list isn't that long yet, so take it with a grain of salt) and I would recommend a trip for everyone if you get a chance.

--Jamie

2 comments:

  1. James Barger9:19 PM

    Hey Jamie! I stumbled across your blog again today and I was happy to see that you're updating it from Spain. Sounds like you're having a great time and getting to experience a lot of neat things! Have a blast and I can't wait to hang out again when you come back to the states. Later bro!

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