Sleepless in Barcelona

    “It is in all of us to defy expectations, to go into the world and be brave; and to want, to need, to hunger for adventures; to embrace change and chance and risk so that we may breathe and know what it is to be free.”

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When you only spend one weekend in a city, you have to make the best of even the rainy days. Early Friday morning, three friends and I took the train to Barcelona! Despite the cool temperatures and rain, we walked all around the city. Our first stop was La Sagrada Familia, a Roman Catholic Church designed by Antoni Gaudi. Construction began in 1883 and may not be finished for another 80 years. It was one of the most incredible buildings I’ve ever seen. The longer you look, more details seem to appear. Next, we saw a house also designed by Gaudi. From there, we walked across the city to the Olympic Village where the 1992 Summer Olympics were held. We didn’t see much from the Olympics, but it is a beautiful area with lots of fountains, gardens, and city views. After a long day of traveling and walking, we were exhausted and ready for a siesta! We then joined other students from Toledo for dinner. We stumbled upon a Chinese restaurant and decided to try it. I have been craving spicy food since everything in Spain is quite bland and was thrilled for some chicken curry! Yum. My other friends thought the whole eating Chinese in Spain thing was kind of weird, but I loved it!

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That night, our other friends from Toledo joined us and we went to a pub crawl with our hostel. We learned quickly that the nightlife in Barcelona is very different than other parts of Spain! Instead of paying just a couple of euros for a drink anywhere in Toledo, we paid almost 9 euros for one in Barcelona! It was a fun experience, but I’m glad we don’t have to spend that much every time! After spending more money than we should have, we made our way to a discoteca right on the Mediterranean! Since we were with a group from our hostel, we avoided any cover charge, which we later discovered varies from 20-60 euros! The highlight of the night was walking through the sand and dipping my feet in the water. It was definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity. We returned to the hostel with sore feet, tired bodies, and many funny stories!

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Thankfully, we were blessed with a beautiful Saturday! We returned to La Sagrada Familia and noticed even more beautiful details with the sun shining. From there, we went to Park Güell, a park designed by Gaudi. It was originally intended to be a housing development, but that idea failed and now it is a public park that highlights the mosaic work and architecture of Gaudi. It also has a lot of trails that lead to overlooks with amazing views of the city. Even though Barcelona is a part of Spain, most people speak Catalan, the language of the region. It’s similar to Spanish. Catalunya, the region including Barcelona, hopes to one day become a separate country from Spain. We found evidence of this in flags hanging from apartment windows. We also experienced a little bit of the stereotypical “th” in place of “c” in Spanish (Barcelona is a little more like Barthelona). It is very easy to navigate the city with Spanish or English, so we had no issues!

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Walking back from a Park Güell, we noticed a woman eating on a restaurant patio wearing a MN Twins shirt! This is one of the first times we’ve seen other Minnesotans in Spain. I did a double take, forgetting that a Twins shirt definitely isn’t something you see every day here! We talked to her and her family and discovered they were all from Minnesota, some from the Duluth area and others from the Twin Cities suburbs. They made us all a little homesick, telling us how beautiful the fall colors are back home. Overall, I was shocked by how strong their accents sounded to me. Maybe it was because they were from the northern part of the state or maybe it’s because I’ve been gone for a month and a half, but I found myself finally understanding why people make fun of us and praying I don’t sound like that!

We spent the rest of the day further exploring the city. We visited Las Ramblas, a busy shopping area in the city. We also went to the beach. It was too cool to go in the water, but we enjoyed sitting in the sand and doing some people watching. That night, we somehow found the energy to go out on the town again. This time, we had sangria beforehand and avoided the crazy bar prices! After another fun night dancing and laughing together, we went back to the hostel to sleep for a little over an hour before having to board our 7am train. I think I left the sleep obsessed, always exhausted Allison back in Minnesota! If you would have told me I survived and enjoyed such an exhausting weekend, I never would have believed you. Luckily I had plenty of time to rest on Sunday in Toledo!

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Next weekend, I am thrilled to be staying in Toledo! I plan to rest and catch up on studying. I also get to be a tour guide for my friend Jen who is visiting.
Thanks for reading! If you’re back in the US, eat a caramel apple and drink some apple cider for me.

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