Universidad de Santander, Spain
Majors: Global and International Studies, Spanish
My adventure carried me along to this grand city and I experienced a whole new version of Spain. This country never ceases to stun me with its twinkling ocean-lined horizons and cathedrals that stretch towards the sun every single morning. It blows my mind that the residents get to casually stroll past architectural masterpieces on their way to the office.
We arrived on a Thursday night and were swept into a pretty restaurant on the beach. For the first time ever, I dipped my toes into the ancient magnificence of the Mediterranean sea. We hailed a taxi after a night of dancing and disappeared in the loud and sleepless city, only to emerge again a few hours later. We booked a bed and breakfast basically right on the steps of La Sagrada Familia, a cathedral designed by the brilliant Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí, which is still being constructed a century later according to his plans. He took over the project in 1883 and dedicated the rest of his life to it. Some of his original plans have been burned due to times of unrest in Catalunya, but archaeologists from all over the world are working hard to finish it exactly according to plans. One day, there will be fantastical colors and shapes incorporated into 18 finished towers.
The first time I caught a glimpse of it was at night on the way to dinner, and even in the dim lighting, it truly took my breath away. I have no idea how I managed to sort of get used to walking past it each day that weekend.
Speaking of Gaudí, we were also able to visit his Casa Milà and take a detailed tour of la Casa Batlló. It’s hard to experience these without a permanently gaping mouth.
Now, I really have no better way to describe the tour of this gothic-ice-cream-cone of a house than an unexpected submarine expedition. This house was designed personally for a wealthy family that called upon the designer of Park Güell for a crib that could be truly unique. Gaudí, who was already centuries ahead of modern architecture, created this without financial limits of any sort, and I was unable to find even one straight line in the entire place. Each room flowed into the next with many aspects of nature and brilliant little tricks for everyday functions like air conditioners. I could have spent days in this home wondering what was going through the palace inside of this guy’s mind.
I still have yet to visit a few things in this city, but we also made it to the famous markets on Las Ramblas, went on a boat tour near the statue of our fellow Christopher Columbus, visited Barcelona’s own Arc de Triomf, saw a stunning fountain show that puts fireworks to shame, and started our long days in Catalunya with the sweet Spanish breakfasts that I long for every morning in the States. It is not uncommon for a group of young Spaniards to stay out until 8am and share a large plate of churros and hot chocolate.