Un finde en Barcelona

¡Hola, hola! Throughout my entire childhood, I was greeted every morning by a framed photo collage outside my door of my older sister angelically smiling by a beach. For many years, I never thought much of it, until I started to question where I was in these pictures. They were taken in Barcelona, on a family trip just a few years before I was born. I’ve continued to be jokingly bitter about the audacity of my family taking this special trip “without” me, so when I booked my tickets to Barcelona earlier this semester, I vowed to make it just as memorable as my family’s trip there years ago.
I was lucky enough to travel with a great group of friends, some from my program and some from Skidmore who made the trek from other study abroad programs in Europe. We took advantage of the Puente, leaving early Thursday morning and arriving in perfectly sunny Barcelona. We spent the first day getting a hang of the city, which felt very different from Madrid, and exploring the famous Parque Güell. I had learned in a few of my classes that like Madrid, we were bound to see many flags around the city, however the flags in Barcelona all represented alliance with Cataluña, with a blue triangle and white star that distinguishes the region from the rest of the country. I felt very grateful to be able to understand the meaning and political context of these flags, seeing them all over, such as the one in the photo below. We also saw a lot of political messages on homes and streets, such as the roof of this house seen from the top of El Parque Güell. It was very powerful to see representations of the political turmoil and language differences we have learned about in class that had felt pretty distant from my daily Madrid reality until seeing Barcelona.
The city is covered in Gaudi, from El Parque Güell to various museums to La Sagrada Familia. Although we were met by an impossibly long and sold out line of tourists hoping to see the inside of La Sagrada Familia, we spent a long time outside of it, walking around all angles of the exterior to note the amazingly complex and modern looking architecture that was unlike anything I’d ever seen before. Pictures certainly don’t do its massive size and intricate work justice, but below is a photo that shows the two very different sides of the building. Another highlight of the trip was the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art, which was refreshingly not tourist-filled and full of interesting exhibits about parallels in Spanish and global history, from Franco era propaganda to Guerrilla Girls artwork.
Last but not least, we ate very well. El Mercado de la Boqueria was a bustling and vibrant food market with everything under the sun and a huge quantity of fresh fruit juices. We also enjoyed easy to go pan fried teriyaki noodles from a spot nearby, but of course splurged for a night of good quality tapas to introduce our visiting friends to Spanish food. It was special to watch their eyes light up as they bit into chorizo soaked in cider, one of my most favorite dishes that I can’t resist when I see it on the menu. So, all in all, while I didn’t leave Barcelona with a framed photo-shoot at the beach like the one of my sister, I have plenty of happy memories and photos that I will look back on for years to come.

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