Hej, hola, and hello! Last week was my first free travel break, and I chose to spend it with my friends Brooke and Rachel in sunny, beautiful Barcelona. We had such a great time. Although the weather forecast called for rain for many of our days there, we got really lucky and were gifted with sunshine every day! I even got tan… my friends say I’m probably the tannest person in Denmark right now 🙂
We flew out of Copenhagen on Saturday morning, connected in Stockholm, and then arrived in Barcelona that night. Rachel, one of my travel companions, had stayed with a Spanish family for a month in Barcelona for an exchange program in her high school. They have a daughter, Maria, who’s 21 and who was kind enough to pick us up from the airport!
We checked in at our apartment, which was at the beach-end of Las Ramblas, and then walked to a restaurant. It was so nice to be able to eat and drink our sangria outside! We were pretty tired from traveling, so we grabbed a beer at a nearby bar and then went to bed.
The next day, we went to Sagrada Familia, the famously always under-construction church designed by Gaudi, for Palm Sunday service. The palms there put American palms to shame; the boys held long poles made out of palms, tied with ribbons, and the girls held elaborately decorated structures made out of palms.
Afterwards, we got some coffee before heading to Maria’s house around 2 to get ready for lunch. We talked to her family and helped get things set up, and then sat down to a delicious dinner of duck, fried pastries filled with cheese, wine, and salad.
When we finished lunch, Maria drove us to Park Guell, a park designed by Gaudi. This was the one time during the week when the rain affected us, and we had to cut our visit a bit short due to periodic rain.
Maria dropped us off near the Picasso Museum, and we spent an hour or so walking through the building (which used to be four castles!) until the museum closed.
The next day was supposed to be our nicest day in Barcelona, so we decided to head to the beach! First, though, we made a stop for some churros con chocolate! Yes, I know, I know, it is a nighttime snack, not a breakfast, but Rachel really wanted some! Who was I to refuse? The churros were my favorite part of this dish, as the chocolate was a bit much for my taste, but it’s clear the chocolate is actually what sets the Spanish version apart. The chocolate is thicker than hot chocolate, almost like a hot pudding. It was very delicious, but I didn’t need to eat chocolate for almost a week after that! We also stopped at La Boqueria, a huge market, to grab some food for later that day.
The beach was only a twenty minute walk from our apartment, so we meandered along the harbor and finally found a place to spread out and enjoy the sun. After a while, we got hungry and walked to a restaurant by the beach to meet a friend from DIS and get some paella!
When we finished, we stopped by our apartment to drop off our beach stuff and then walked to Casa Batllo, a house designed by Gaudi (if you haven’t noticed, Gaudi is a pretty big deal in Barcelona!). We walked through the house (possibly even slipped past some ropes to check out hidden spaces) and went back to our apartment for a light dinner of fresh ingredients we had gotten at the market earlier (bread, cheese, avocado, tomato, mmmm…)
We kicked off the next day with some shopping! The clothes were so amazing, and I could actually afford to get some…unlike in expensive Copenhagen. I split up with my friends so I could meet up with Justin and his friend Dave. We all walked a a random restaurant to have an unfortunately very mediocre meal. When we finished lunch, I was a bit chilly so we went back to our apartment so I could change. We ended up meeting Brooke and Rachel there and then all went out to check out some of the churches together.
Dave and Justin went back to their place, and Brooke, Rachel, and I went to the most amazing restaurant for tapas. Some of my favorites were the patatas bravas (mom, please learn how to make these!) and calamari. We also had clara, which is a surprisingly delicious mixture of beer and lemonade–kind of like an alcoholic Arnold Palmer.
At the restaurant, we were sitting next to a couple who sounded like they were speaking Danish. Naturally, then, we asked them “kommer fra Danmark?” and they started going off in Danish. We told them we barely spoke any Danish, and that we didn’t understand them, so they switched to English and we proceeded to talk for almost two hours! The man was from Australia, and he had met the woman when she had visited Australia. Now they live together in Amager in Denmark! (that’s close to Copenhagen).
When our delicious food was unfortunately gone, we walked back to our apartment and started getting ready to go out. I walked to meet Justin at a metro stop, and the strangest thing happened… this random Asian guy came up to me and started asking for metro directions in Spanish, but I could tell he was American. So I told him I spoke English and he said he was studying in Cambridge and was traveling on his break by himself. I felt bad for him because he was wandering around alone and looking for something to do, so I invited him to come out with us. When Justin got off the metro, we walked back to our apartment to meet up with Rachel, Brooke, and Maria before going out.
The next morning looked like it would be rainy, but the rest of the day was so beautiful! We walked around some parks by the Olympic Stadium and just took everything in. I couldn’t believe how nice it was, and how lovely the gardens were, and I had to keep taking time to just soak it all in and enjoy it.
We had tapas again for lunch, and continued to walk around until we were exhausted and our feet were sore. We headed back to our apartment and I accidentally took a little siesta 🙂
That night we went out to watch flamenco dancing!! It was so fun and expressive, with lots of hand clapping and foot stomping and what looked like artistic interpretation of the music. It looked so natural.
On our last day, Thursday, we woke up and went to La Boqueria to get some fresh juice before heading back to get in some serious sun at the beach! We met up with Justin there and got some pizza before going to the Barcelona club soccer stadium. Maria’s family was trying to get us in for free (they are members there) but since we couldn’t use their membership cards (they had pictures) we were forced to walk around outside instead.
Back at the apartment, we reunited with Justin and went to the delicious tapas place from the other night. They remembered us and we got free tomato bread!
I went to a club with Rachel and Maria that night. I really appreciate how Spain treats women–we got in for free and got a free drink (men have to pay, heh heh…). Copenhagen could really learn a thing or two. However, people didn’t start going out until so, so late! We went out after midnight but the club didn’t start getting full until 2! Crazy! We had our flight back to Copes the next morning, so we couldn’t stay out too late.
The next day was another beautiful one, but we unfortunately would not stick around to enjoy it. We flew to Oslo, where we were reminded of Scandinavia’s killer high prices, before connecting to Copenhagen. This weekend, I have mostly just been relaxing and enjoying the (finally!) sunny weather. Now, it’s back to school, and I need to buckle down to make it to the next travel break in two weeks! Yay!