Ciao everyone! It’s been awhile since I’ve updated my blog.. last week was pretty hectic and I’m in the middle of preparing for midterms, so my updates have been a bit delayed. In this post I am going to tell you about my adventures in Barcelona last weekend! And what a trip it was.
We took the train from Florence to Bologna and from Bologna we flew directly in Barcelona. The traveling was seamless and we were all very grateful that we didn’t have any hiccups along the way. When we landed in Barcelona we took an airport shuttle that dropped us off in the middle of a huge square with lots of shops and people. From there it was about a ten minute walk to our hotel which ended up being a REALLY nice place. They even gave us shampoo and conditioner.. it was truly wonderful. 🙂 We found a nice place to eat dinner around 10 pm and we picked this particular restaurant because the prices were VERY cheap, so naturally we thought we hit the jackpot. We ordered fish and chips and when the waiter brought us our food we were underwhelmed by the portion size… they gave us about 4 tiny pieces of fish and about 20 tiny french fries. The food was very good, but not exactly satisfying. We came to find out later that we ate at a Tapas bar, which explains the tiny portion sizes. Tapas are very popular in Spain, and the idea is that a party at a Tapas restaurant order multiple, smaller dishes to keep the meal more interesting! It’s a really neat concept. We retired to our hotel after dinner as we were exhausted.
In the morning we had a delicious breakfast at the hotel and the group of us gathered in a bus to go on a tour of St. Ignatius’ life. St. Ignatius was born in the year 1491 in the Basque region of Spain. He was canonized in 1609. He began his life as a solider in the Spanish army during the Spanish-French War, during which time his legs were badly injured and he could not continue life in the army because of his injury. After dropping out of the army, he had to rethink the direction of his life. He ended up choosing to life a life solely for God. St. Ignatius went on to found the Jesuit Order. We first stopped in Manresa, where St. Ignatius lived as a hermit inside a cave. During the year that he lived in this cave he wrote his most influential book, “Spiritual Exercises.” We also got to see the Cardener River where St. Ignatius experienced a moment of spiritual ecstasy in which he was inspired to write the “Spiritual Exercises.” (At Gonzaga, University Ministry actually offers a Cardener retreat!)
After leaving Manresa we headed to Monserrat, which is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen in my life! We drove up a huge mountain to get to Monserrat, which is a small town on the mountain comprising of three monasteries. The views from the town looking down into the valley were breathtaking. We stopped in Monserrat because St. Ignatius traveled through this area when he was on his spiritual journey; He stopped here to contemplatively pray. While in Monserrat, we got to hear one of the oldest boy’s choirs in all of Europe sing. Their origins date back to the fifteenth century and the boys in the choir today ranges from the ages of 5-9. The boys live in the monastery and receive an education there. They attend school from Monday-Friday and are allowed to go home to spend time with their families on the weekends. The program is very prestigious and it is considered a great honor to be apart of it. We only got to hear them sing for about 7 minutes but it was absolutely beautiful. Within the first ten seconds I had tears in my eyes! We heard them sing inside of a grand church, so the entire ambience was breathtaking and very holy.
We got back to Barcelona in the late afternoon and we decided to walk one of the most famous streets in Barcelona, Las Ramblas. It was a very big and busy street with lots of restaurants and street vendors. We decided to eat a Tapas restaurant, and it was delicious! We had chicken, seafood, vegetables, bread and meatballs. We also ordered paella, which is one of the most famous dishes in Spain. It is similar to a gumbo; It comes with rice mixed with vegetables and chicken with lots of spices. It was really yummy and we also had margaritas! After dinner we continued walking down Las Ramblas until we got to the harbor. It was the most beautiful and warm night and it was one of the best feelings to smell the ocean again! We crossed the bridge to the other side of the harbor where we shopped in an indoor/outdoor mall for a little while. (I bought a dress and a necklace!) We spent some more time walking around, eventually making it back to our hotel where we retired for the night.
The next day, Saturday, was a combination of bus/walking tour. We saw La Sagrada Familia and other architectural buildings, mainly designed by Spain’s most famous architect, Antoni Gaudi. La Sagrada Familia is a massive church and its design absolutely blew my mind. Part of it is has been under reconstruction for many years, and Spanish citizens are hopeful it will be complete in the year 2026. I really cannot but into words how genius and beautiful this church is.. so I’ll let my pictures do the speaking for itself! 🙂 Later that day, a group of us independently took the metro to Park Guell, which again was designed by Gaudi. It is an expansive and beautiful park and Gaudi specifically designed the famous mosaic pieces which are very characteristic of Barcelona. The main reason that I knew about Gauid’s mosaics is because I took Spanish for about 10 years of my life and on the cover of almost every Spanish book there was a picture of one of his mosaics. When we got back to our hotel we decided to go to a restaurant/bar to watch El Clasico, the futbol game every year between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. While I’m the first to admit that NBA Basketball is my preferred sport to watch, I happen to know a thing or two about what’s going on in the soccer world and this match is one of the most watched matches every year. So to be in the city where the game was being played was so awesome. It was very fun watching it was a big crowd of people, obviously rooting for their hometeam. Barcelona ended up winning 2-1. We went out to a bar afterwards for some drinks and went back to the hotel after.
Sunday was our last day in Barcelona, so we grabbed breakfast and walked down Las Ramblas again. We stopped to get a little taste of home at McDonald’s.. fries and coke had never tasted so good. We walked down to the harbor and tried to find some shade to relax in; It was 75 degrees and perfectly sunny! A beautiful and hot day. I got to dip my feet in the harbor, which made me incredibly happy. After relaxing for awhile we got back on the shuttle which took us to the airport to fly back to Florence!
Barcelona was a young, cool, vibrant and exciting city. I cannot wait to go back and I’m looking forward to exploring more of Spain in the future!