Hands down one of the best perks of living in Europe is the ease with which I can travel to other places in Europe. And last Saturday, in the time it would take me to fly from Buffalo to Atlanta, I was in Barcelona, Spain. Hmmm… Atlanta or Barcelona? Where would you rather spend a few days?
Spain, particularly Barcelona, has been on my travel to-do list for a long time and it did not disappoint. I can safely say that Barcelona is unlike any other European city I have visited and it now ranks right up there with cities like Berlin, Edinburgh and Budapest, whose magic completely captivated me and drew me in. I could see myself returning to this city again and again.
I was in Barcelona for four full days, which was the perfect amount of time for a solid introduction. I was able to see most of the major sights, but there are some I’ll have to catch on my next visit. I don’t like to pack too much into the days when I travel. I visit with the attitude that I am going to return, so I don’t need to rush round cramming absolutely everything in. I give myself the freedom to just wander or linger or follow wherever my mood leads me.
Barcelona is in the part of Spain known as Catalonia and the people here consider themselves Catalan rather than Spanish. They speak their own Catalan language and fly their own Catalan flag. This is a city very proud of its heritage and very proud of not being Spanish. I got a glimpse into this collective pride on Sunday at noon when I went to the steps outside the cathedral. A small orchestra was playing and gradually locals, young and old, men and women, changed into white canvas shoes, formed circles and started dancing the Sardana – the national dance of Catalonia, symbolizing Catalan unity and pride. This spectacle filled me with a joy that is hard to describe. And they do this every Sunday. Amazing
Just about anyone visiting Barcelona will make the pilgrimage up the hill to Park Guell to revel in the beauty of Gaudi’s completely unique architectural designs, as well as take in the amazing views of the city below. Yes, it’s popular and touristy but I absolutely loved it. With views like this, how could you not:
On my last full day in Barcelona I took a cooking class. Now, any of you who know me know that I am a horrible cook with zero skills but I really love taking cooking or baking classes when I am traveling. It’s a great way to meet fellow travelers and under the watchful eye of a professional chef there is a decent chance that what I make will be edible and that I won’t burn the kitchen down. The highlight of this class was, not surprisingly, paella:
If you’ve never done it, I highly suggest giving a cooking class a try when you are traveling. They always prove to be a highlight for me.
Barcelona definitely charmed me. I could have stayed for a month and still wanted more. Needless to say, I shall return.