Study Abroad

Madrid y Barcelona

Yes, I am aware that it has been forever since my last post. But in my defense, I’ve been really busy traveling for the past two weekends. Isn’t it ironic that when I actually have interesting material to write about, I’m too busy to write about it? Anyway, in this post I am going to quickly fill you in on my recent travels to two awesome cities in Spain: Madrid and Barcelona.

The Madrid Trip

Ever since I randomly chose to do a speech about it for a speech class class year, Madrid has been on the top of my must-see list. I didn’t really know much about it before I went, except that it was Spain’s capital and there are three of the most famous museums there. So my list of things to do/see consisted of:

1) Museums

2) Anything and everything else

We took a train that left at 6:10 in the morning. Yep, you read that right. For any of you who know me well, you know that I am nowhere near being a morning person. As I was walking to meet my friends, I saw people walking home from going out the night before. That’s how early it was. On the upside, leaving early meant that we had the whole day to spend in the city on Friday.

Since the weather was nice and we knew it would rain Saturday, we decided to do all of the outdoor activities (aka the “anything and everything else” category), and save the museums for Saturday. We ended up doing our own little walking tour of the city. We walked through the huge park called El Parque Retiro. It has a beautiful river where lots of people were on boats, a bunch of gardens and fountains, and a building made completely of glass, called the Palacio de Cristal.

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El Parque Retiro
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El Palacio Cristal

Saturday it was raining and freezing, my favorite weather (*heavy sarcasm*). So like I said, we decided to do indoor activities. We first went to El Palacio Real, which is the royal palace where the king used to live. You get to walk through and look at all of the rooms, which are exquisite! Seriously so beautiful. Unfortunately they were very strict about no pictures inside the castle, so I was only able to take pictures of the outside, which sadly looks way less impressive in comparison (the gloomy weather certainly didn’t help).

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El Palacio Real
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Courtyard of El Palacio Real

Afterwards we went to El Museo Nacional del Prado, the museum I had been looking forward to. It holds works of art from all of the most famous Spanish painters. It was really interesting, but a little overwhelming. There were way too many different rooms and paintings to possibly see everything, but it was worth it to just see what I could.

On Sunday we just woke up and went to catch our train, which was at 9 AM. 9 seemed late compared to 6! Overall it was a great trip. Madrid is a much more crowded and bustling city than Seville, and I found I felt a lot more comfortable when I got back to Sevilla. I think Madrid can be compared to lots of big cities in the U.S.: they’re fun to visit, but not everybody would want to live there full-time. I definitely enjoyed visiting, and would go back again if I got the chance. But if I had to choose a city to live in, I would have to pick good ol’ Sevilla.

The Barcelona Trip

The weekend after Madrid, aka this past weekend, I headed to another city that had been on my top must-see cities in Spain: Barcelona! I had always heard that it was a really fun and exciting city, and also very beautiful. I was not disappointed.

Like Madrid, I was forced to wake up ridiculously early in order to catch the bus to the airport and make it to my 8:30 AM flight on time. This is apparently becoming a trend, because my flight to Venice this weekend (yep, finally time for ITALY) is at 8AM. But again, it is totally worth it. The flight to Barcelona was pretty short and painless (mostly because I slept the entire way there) and before I knew it I was in Barcelona! Luckily they have a bus that shuttles people to the city, and the bus stop happened to be only a few blocks away from my hostel, which was in a great location in the city center.

I decided to explore a bit before checking into my hostel. I walked down Las Ramblas, which is one of the main streets in the city for shopping and restaurants. There is also a market there called La Boqueria, which I walked through. It had all of the different types of food and drinks you could imagine. I tried a strawberry and coconut smoothie which was to die for.

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La Boqueria

Later that day I met up with Masha, who I know from high school, and her friend Kim. The three of us went to el Museo Picasso, which was really cool, and then just walked around the city for a while. They showed me Parc de la Ciutadella, and the beach which is beautiful. It made me a little jealous that Seville doesn’t have a beach to walk to!

On Saturday I had a jam-packed day of sight-seeing. I first went to La Sagrada Familia, a large Roman Catholic church designed by the architect Antoni Gaudí. It is still unfinished, though Gaudí has already passed away. I have to admit all of the construction on the outside took away from the beauty a bit, but it was still an amazing piece of architecture. And the inside was just as breathtaking, with extremely intricate ceilings and colorful stained glass windows.

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La Sagrada Familia
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Inside la Sagrada Familia

I wanted to get some pictures of me inside the church, and the woman that I asked turned out to have quite a creative streak, and decided to take one at an interesting angle. It was actually a good idea, because she was able to capture the beautiful ceilings. And the color of my sweater matched the stained glass, which was a nice added touch.

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Getting artsy in La Sagrada Familia

I then headed to the other place I was excited to see, Parque Güell, a huge garden complex which was also designed by Antoni Gaudí. One of the most famous parts is a large terrace overlooking a beautiful view of the Barcelona skyline, with a bunch of colorful mosaic benches. My sweater matched nicely with the tile there as well. My outfit choice was just on point that day! The park also includes Gaudí’s home which they have turned into a museum. It contains original works by Gaudí and several of his collaborators, and was declared a historical artistic monument of national interest in 1969.

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Mosaic Terrace at Parque Güell
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Gaudí House Museum

Overall it was another great weekend! Barcelona is definitely my second favorite city in Spain, after Sevilla. Not only does it have a really unique culture, but it has beautiful parks, museums, and a beach. I didn’t want to leave!

Saturday I will be leaving early in the morning (of course) to fly to Venice! One of my oldest friends, Rowan, and I will be spending a few days in Venice, then heading to Florence for a few days. It’s sure to be an extremely blog-worthy week, so stay tuned for my next post!

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Masha and I, throwing up our Westlake High School chaps sign!
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