Barcelona or Bust

This past weekend was my third time in Barcelona, and the city continues to hold a dear place in my heart.

The atmosphere, the people, the architecture: the city does not disappoint.

One of the greatest perks to living in Munich is that it is central for traveling anywhere in Europe. And with my friend Liana and I having an extended free weekend, why not return to our favorite city in the EU! (Aside from Munich of course.)

From the instant we landed in the city of sun and fun, we walked into an atmosphere of excitement and relaxation that can only be found in a city like Barcelona on a Saturday night.

It was only a six euro, thirty-five minute bus ride with AeroBus from the airport to Placa Catalunya.

Rather than stay right in the center of the city, Liana and I opted to stay closer to local areas. I instantly fell in love with the beautiful architecture and alley ways.
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One of the greatest things about Barcelona is that they have beaches for you to recover on after a rough night out. So we started our Sunday with a few hours of sun to re-energize after being out until sunrise, and then Liana and I made our way over to see the Picasso museum. But as it is free entrance on Sundays, the line was obnoxiously long.
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So we settled for indulging in chocolate churros and exploring La Rambla. The best part of the famous street is the La Boqueria market. It is popping with bright colors from fruits and vegetables, tables lined with rows of Spanish desserts, and smelling of freshly caught fish.
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For dinner Liana and I found an adorable local place called Hugo for a meal of Paella and Sangria. The workers were so nice and kept bringing us complimentary shots. Needless to say, it was a good time!
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Right next to Hugo’s is the Arc de Triomf, with an absolutely beautiful park and laid back atmosphere. Groups of locals can be found running, roller-blading, skateboarding, and biking through the park, along with groups of people relaxing on the grassy areas. It is a much more local feel then Park Guell, and in my opinion, even more charming.
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Even without having the sun for the rest of the weekend (which was such bummer), we still enjoyed every second of the city.

After two failed attempts my last two times in the city, I finally managed to visit the Sagrada Familia. A local had given us the tip to purchase the tickets online, which would allow us to skip the line, which we were glad we did as the line was wrapped around the entire building! The audio guide is also worth the investment, as it gives some really interesting information and quotes from Gaudi.
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Gaudi himself knew that the church would take many years to complete, and stated that it is the “responsibility of centuries to complete the Sagrada Familia”.
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The inside of the church is lined with pillars made to look like trees, to give visitors a sense of peacefulness in nature. The windows are also very strategic, as all are stained glass except for the windows over the alter becuase Gaudi wanted that specific light to be completely natural.
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It is quite the experience to enter a church that is aimed to provide calmness and peacefulness and hear jackhammers and drills on the roof above.
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Another gem of Barcelona is the fountain show at Placa Espanya. From 9:30-11:30 pm during the spring and summer, a spectacular show is put on at the massive fountains. Every fifteen minutes the music changes and the water choreography changes. It’s the perfect place to enjoy sangria and the Spanish night. Just be warned, if you go on a Sunday the metro closes at midnight (as we were unaware of, and it resulted in a long walk home).

The four days in Barcelona flew by, but as always, I enjoyed every second of it. Already planning my next return trip.

I LOVE SPAIN (the final destination)

I went back to Barcelona with the intention of completing my to-do list, as when I was there a few months before I had instead gotten into the party atmosphere of the city. On the train ride over I sat next to two lovely girls from London, who were also headed to the city for the weekend! We agreed to go explore Barcelona Beach that night together.
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Unfortunately they had housing problems and were not able to make it out that night. So I decided to head out on my own and try to meet people in the hostel bar. On my way down I ended up running into Andy, who was my hostel roommate in Berlin. He was wearing George’s baseball cap! He introduced me to all of his friends and we spent the rest of the night telling the epic stories of Berlin to them.

The next day I went over to my two London friend’s apartment for dinner. My phone stopped working on the way over and could not call them to let me in. I did not know what room they were in, so I spent the next 10 minutes knocking on every door until they answered. (Their apartment was the very last door I knocked on.) We had a lovely girl’s-night of margaritas and paella.

On my final morning in Barcelona I ran into my friend Matt in the hostel lobby, whom I had met a few days before in Paris. We decided to do a walking tour to mark off some items on my to-do list before I caught a train to Seville that afternoon.
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I met my friend Alex in Seville that night (I had met her three months before in Budapest). Seville exceeded all of my expectations as they had the most beautiful buildings, the nicest people, and the cheapest and most delicious tapas and sangria!
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On the first day we explored the Seville Gothic Cathedral, which is the biggest in the world. It is not officially the largest Basilica (which is St. Peter’s in Rome) because the Pope refused to bless the church after the townspeople had held markets inside! We then climbed forty flights of stairs to have the best view of the city.
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Afterwards we went across the street to explore the Alcoraz de Sevilla. It is a Moorish inspired building with beautiful tiles and breath-taking gardens.
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That evening Alex and I went to our first authentic Flamenco show! The dancers were incredible as they commanded the stage with beautiful and dramatic performances. I particularly loved how the female costumes are made to accentuate the female curves. This is a must-do for anyone going to Seville.
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The next evening we went out with the rest of our hostel for a tapas night! In most cities of Spain, whenever someone orders a drink, a free plate of food (tapas) is also brought out! It allows for a delicious, and extremely cheap, meal.

After three days in Seville Alex and I went to Malaga for a much needed beach detox. The three months of traveling had really gotten to us. For the next two days we laid on the beach from sunrise to sunset.
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On our final night together we enjoyed a wonderful night of cava, tapas, and girl-talk.
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After Alex left, I decided to spend one more day in Malaga to explore. On Sundays the Old Alvarez and Castle are free, so I climbed up the hill to visit both. They provided the most spectacular views of the city, and I stayed up there until sunset.
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My final stop on the trip was Madrid. I was really sad to go to this city alone, so I was pleasantly surprised when I walked into the hostel and discovered my friend Matt (who I had seen in Barcelona) in the lobby! We decided to explore the city center together.

My two favorite places in the city were the Royal Palace of Madrid and San Gines Chocolateria.
Spain was the perfect place to end my crazy European adventure. I got to experience each of the four cities with some great people and fell in love with the Spanish lifestyle (especially the siestas!).
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In total, I was in Europe for 90 days, toured 20 cities in 8 different countries, had 2 cell-phones stolen, and came home completely broke. But every cent was worth the amazing experiences I had. I am so excited to spend the next month at home recovering and relaxing before returning to Munich, Germany for a year. While in Munich during my trip I met a lovely family that I will Au-Pair for. Let the adventures continue 🙂

Sunrises in Barcelona

It is impossible to travel to any city without encountering some type of travel drama. Barcelona was no exception. After arriving in the Barce-Sants station well after midnight, Liana, Kyu, and I hailed a cab to take us to the hotel that my dad had kindly gotten for us. Unfortunately, we got stuck with a cab driver who had no idea where he was going! What was supposed to be a twenty minute cab ride turned into an hour and a half fiasco!

Thankfully the hotel we were staying at happened to be a relaxation resort and the three of us took full advantage of all the perks. After a day of sleeping, swimming, and massages, the three of us decided to head out into the heart of Barcelona to celebrate the 4th of July!

Fully embracing the lifestyle of the Spaniards, we sat down to a midnight dinner on the pier of Barcelona beach and then headed over to a club called Catwalk. It was our goal to meet other Americans to celebrate the 4th with, and it wasn’t long until we met Taylor, Troy, and Aaron—three boys from Oregon who were taking a road trip through Spain with their RV. After a couple of hours in the club we all decided to head to the beach to watch the sunrise.
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As we all said our goodbyes before heading our separate ways I realized that I didn’t have my purse with me! I ran back to the beach to go find it, but by that time it was already gone. In that purse was my IPhone, which meant that I now had had two phones stolen during my time in Europe. I was upset about losing it for about two seconds before rebounding after I realized I had just gotten to watch a beautiful sunrise with a great group of people! That memory was way more valuable than an IPhone and a purse, which both could be replaced at any time. I learned later that day that stolen IPhones were extremely common in Barcelona, as another traveler told us he had had his stolen from him in broad daylight by a group of prostitutes!
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The next morning we checked out of our hotel and moved into the St. Christopher’s hostel. Upon arrival we learned that we would be sharing our dorm room with nine Australian boys-one of which was Shane, our Australian friend from Nice! But the main characters of this room were Jake, Connor, and Nick—three of the most stereotypical Aussies who were also the most sarcastic, upfront, and craziest people we had ever met. At first Liana, Kyu, and I did not like them at all. They always referred to us as “Sepas”, which was short for septic tanks, because they said that “Americans are full of sh—“. But after sharing a room for three days with these Aussies we became extremely fond of them.
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The three of us were having such a good time exploring the clubs of Barcelona beach that we decided to extend our stay for another four days! The three of us became regulars at a club called Sotavento as we spent the next three nights in a row there. Every night we were covered with confetti or bubbles and soaked with bottles of Champagne from the DJ’s on stage.

Because we had decided to extend our stay we had to move to a different hostel that had room. So on that Sunday morning we woke up and attempted to quietly pack our bags without awaking any of our roommates. Our Aussie friends were also attempting to do the same thing. But it was not until we left St. Christopher’s in search of our new hostel that we noticed Jake, Conner, and Nick following us! They had also extended their stay in Barcelona and coincidently became our roommates at the Alternative Youth Hostel as well!

After taking a siesta, Liana, Kyu, and I decided to try to do something cultural in the city. We wandered over to Gaudi park for the most spectacular view of Barcelona and explored the beautiful and unique gardens. When we returned from the park we treated ourselves to a local jazz concert and a delicious dinner of Paella and Tapas.
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Our last night in Barcelona ended up being one of the most epic nights of the whole trip! We went to Sotavento one final time. As we went to leave after the club had closed we met a group of six guys from Newcastle, England (Sam, Jack, Collun, Pat, Dan, and their friend from Papa New Guinea). They were absolutely ridiculous and soon enough they had thrown all three of us into the ocean! The six boys then joined us in the water.

Refusing to go on the metro with sopping wet clothes, the twelve of us dried off on the beach as we watched the sunrise. It was rather hilarious riding the metro back home on a Wednesday morning with our clubbing clothes still on surrounded by a bunch of people heading off to work.

While I left the city with no purse and no cell phone, I did leave with new friends, fabulous memories, and a new appreciation for sunrises.