Before I get in too deep with this post I’m giving a little history lesson about the Sagrada Familia for those you don’t know what it is…
Antoni Guadi is Barcelona’s most famous architect of the modernism era. He is the mind behind Park Guell, Casa Batllo, Casa Mila and the Sagrada Familia. And the Sagrada Familia was not only his dream but the city of Barcelona’s dream . It’s a modernism basilica featuring ornate details and once finished will have 18 towers. The key thing to note is that although construction started in 1882, construction is still not finished. Funds for construction are raised through donations and it’s forecasted to be complete in 2026.
Although not entirely finished you can still visit the inside which is complete. So after or morning tour my mom and I headed to over becasue our tickets were for that afternoon. Even just looking at the outside is a site to see, ever detail is meticulously thought out and all together it’s just breath taking…
I guess I didn’t know what to expect from the inside becasue I’d only ever seen pictures of the outside. And when I walked inside I think my jaw might have hit the ground. I’ve been a lot of European churches and basilicas and I have never seen anything like it. It wasn’t stuffy and dark like I’d expected, it was bright, colorful and airy. It had a completely different vibe and I loved it.
This inside has a more simple feel as compared to the outside but again the attention to detail is incredible. And, I’ve never seen stained glass create such color and light within a space.
While there my mom and I also had the opportunity to go up one of the towers. We chose the towers on the Nativity side. So basically a lift takes you up to the viewing area and bridge that connects the to towers, which was really cool and we got some great views of the city but then it was kind of creepy because you have to take the stairs down and it’s pretty dark/cramped. After we got down my mom and I needed a little breather because it was pretty intense. I mean don’t get me wrong it was a really cool experience but just wish we knew what we were getting ourselves into beforehand, haha.
Moral of the story is if you are in Barcelona you must go visit the Sagrada Familia.
p.s. Also not super happy with the pictures here becasue it really doesn’t do it justice…might do a post with more pictures soon
Day 3 started out with a morning bus tour of the city. The difference between this tour and the hop on hop off was that we got a live tour guide and we got to do some fun activities…
What we also didn’t know about the tour was that it included a ride on the Teleferic of Montjuic (so we got to go again) and a visit to the Spanish Village, which I’ll get to in a bit.
The tour started on the busy Barcelona streets, weaving in and out of different neighborhoods. Our first stop was at the Olympic Village where my mom and I had our first chance to go down to the beach and dip our toes in the water. We also got to see a lot of older folks enjoying the beach.
From there we headed up to Montjuic where we got a history lesson about the Montjuic castle that we had visited our first day and then got a chance to ride the Teleferic again and enjoy the views.
Then we headed to one of our favorite spots in Barcelona, the Spanish Village. The Spanish Village is basically all of Spain just condensed down into a “mini village.” The buildings inside feature architecture from each of the regions in Spain and house shops that feature the food and wine of Spain along with handmade items like fans and blown glass.
It was like this little hidden gem that we didn’t even know existed before the tour and my mom and I picked up some really cool handmade items like fans (which are super popular there). I think if we had time we would have spent the whole day there just going in and out of the little shops.
Our tour then finished with a walking portion through the gothic quarter of the city. We’d been there before but it was nice to get some context and learn about the area’s history. Plus I’m a big fan of walking tours because I think the best way to see a city is on foot.
Once our tour finished we headed back to the Sagrada Familia….which I will go into detail in the next post.
^^tbt to when my shoes where this white
For anyone that followed along during my study abroad travels then you’ll know that my favorite way to travel through Europe is by train. It only seemed fitting that as we traveled from Madrid to Barcelona that we did so by train.
We arrived in Barcelona in the early afternoon and both my mom and I were eager to get to the water, after all Barcelona is a port city. So we dropped our bags at the hotel and headed out to find the water. Our hotel was near Las Ramblas, the major street that takes you to the port so that’s where we started. We stopped for some lunch and sangria and then soon found ourselves at the water’s edge.
What better to do at that point then get on the water? So we boarded a ferry that takes you around the port and the nearby beaches. The views were stunning all around, though a bit windy it was worth every penny. And, we even got a little show as we passed by one of the many cruise ships and got mooned by one of the vacationers.
After our boat ride we (and by we I mean me) decided to head up towards Montjuic which at the top you’ll find Montjuic castle and gardens along with the Olympic stadium and a bunch of other things. Man did I put my mom through the ringer on the hike up there…I don’t think either of us where prepared for the climb, but luckily we took the Teleferic de Montjuic (aka cable car) the rest of the way up which offered incredibled views of the city and sea.
Once at the top we explored the castle until it closed and then headed down towards the Font de Montjuic to see the water/light show. On our way down we stopped at the Olympic stadium and got to see some of the plaza and arenas where the 1992 summer games where held.
Finally we arrived at the Font de Montjuic eager to see the magic fountain show, we grabbed some ice cream and settled in to await the show, which doesn’t begin until it gets dark….so here we are waiting and waiting and it’s getting darker and darker out but no show…we waited some more before we finally called it quits and headed in for the night.
Once I got wifi back at the hotel we were able to find out the show only takes place Thurs-Sat, of course we were there from Sun-Wed and of course would not be able to see the show. I guess that’s just a reason to go back someday…
The next morning we headed out to conquer the other side of town, which included visiting the palace, the palace gardens, the cathedral and the basilica. On our walk over in the morning we had no idea that our hotel was right by the palace so we made good time and enjoyed walking through the palace gardens. Seriously the flowers there were incredible.
We couldn’t actually go inside the palace, I’m not sure if you can on a normal day but there was some ceremony going on that day. Because of that you couldn’t even go into the palace square as it was all blocked off. We were still able to walk around and see the outside, which was just as spectacular.
After that we checked out the cathedral and basilica, which were both very nice. Before our afternoon tour we wanted to find the place we had heard of yesterday on the hop-on hop-off were you could get a 360 degree view of the whole city…my mom couldn’t remember where they told us it was and I happened to be napping during that part of the bus ride so we wandered around looking for some time…
Little did we know that it was the cathedral that gave you access to the views. But it was a separate entrance so that’s why we hadn’t seen it before when we were there earlier. Anyways, we made it to the top and the views didn’t disappoint. I will say thought that there were these giant statues up there and it was creepy being so close to them because they were triple our size (see photo below).
After that we picked up lunch at the San Miguel Mercado, again and sat in the square listening to some lovely music being played by a sweet old man. He was amazing and had a dog so we gave him a couple of euros because we enjoyed it…
p.s. stay tuned for part 2 of the day
Before this trip I had never been to Spain before. So the only pretext I had was what I had learned about Spain in my Spanish classes all throughout school. And my main takeaway from class was siestas and sangria. Shout-out to Professora Thoms, hope you are well and drinking some sangria rn.
Anyways I didn’t really have many expectations for Spain like I did for Paris or for Rome (still mad about the trevi fountain incident). And when we arrived in Madrid I was blow away. First off I had no idea that Madrid is one of the most densely populated cities in the world, cue people everywhere. Secondly the style of buildings and overall architecture is so unique in comparison to other European cities.
After arriving, we headed out to explore the city, and at the top of my list of things to do in Madrid was to row boats in the park and get some chocolate and churros. First stop the park….the Parque del Retiro is a mix between all your favorite parks, it has classic French symmetry, but also lots of trees, a palace and a conservatory and a pond for rowing boats, as mentioned before.
If you couldn’t tell already I was very excited about the boats. I feel like everyone I know that has been to Madrid has rowed boats in the park and I was so excited. It was literally the first thing we did when we got there because I couldn’t wait. I will say I got a little nervous because I don’t have any prior boat rowing experience and there were fish in the pond and I’m deathly afraid. There was a brief moment in which I almost said no to rowing boats but tg I didn’t. I wasn’t a very good rower but I certainly would not call myself the worst…but my mom might lol.
To be completely honest this was the highlight of the trip. I loved every minute of and it did not disappoint.
We laid low the rest of the day enjoying the double decker hop-on hop-off bus and the sun.
But, our day wasn’t complete until we had our first taste of sangria. And after just one sip we were hooked, we enjoyed our sangria and paella in the Plaza Mayor. And I think we’d both agree that our first day in Spain was a success.
p.s. separate food posts & flickr albums are to follow 🙂
So I know what you are thinking… Where are all my travel posts? …Well my intentions were to blog about my travels while I was abroad. I even brought my computer with me and managed to get my London post up while there. But, I underestimated the amount of time that I would actually be spending exploring different cities each day.
Now that I am state side I will be starting to post about my travels within the next few days. I’ll also be posting some other travel tips and tricks plus I have some hopefully exciting news to share with you all.
So stay tuned because the travel posts I promised are coming!
Here’s a little sneak peak…
A complete list of all the places I was able to visit during my study abroad:
Mondsee, Salzburg & Vienna
Bath, Harrogate, Ilkley, Leeds, London (4x), Liverpool, Scarborough, Sheffield, Stonehenge, Stratford-upon-Avon & York (2x)
Aegina, Athens, Hydra & Poros
Cinque Terre (Vernazza & Monterosso) Florence, Milan, Pisa, Rome & Venice
Dublin & Galway (Cliffs of Moher)
Auschwitz, Birkenau & Krakow
I wasn’t able to make it to Spain or Portugal so I’m looking forward to making that my next trip across the Atlantic. And later this week I’m going to be doing a reflection post on the whole ‘study abroad’ experience so it should get pretty deep, lol.