Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Barcelona- each day better than the last

Thursday after our lesson, we arrived at the Port of Barcelona and were surprised to discover that we were going on a boat ride around the port!  For a few people, the motion was difficult to handle, but I for one found it to be a really fascinating experience!  After we spent the first part learning about the large amount of volume the port handles every year, we got to see where they were adding on, and where every part of their services were managed.

That afternoon, I took a little break from too much site-seeing and after a fun wander around the market, I spent the afternoon in a cafe down the street, just people watching and absorbing every part of my experience in Spain!  The fresh produce, fish, and every type of food imaginable is so amazing to see in the market.

La Fortaleza
City Hall
Friday, as our last classroom day, we had our lesson on the history of Spain.  Most years, this comes at the beginning, but our professor had been out of town for the first part of our trip.  Oh well- its still fun to learn about!  Then we went to a tour of city hall.  That building also had amazing history!  I loved how many similarities I saw between that city hall and La Fortaleza (the governor's house) in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (ok, mostly just on the inside or something- putting them next to each other takes away some of the similarities in my head!)

Friday evening, we were able to eat dinner as a large group at La Taula- a discovery by our professors that had some of the most amazing food I have had!  It was really fun to have as a going-away celebration at the end of a long few weeks.
At La Taula

Saturday we took a train to Monserrat, a mountain near Barcelona known for the historic Benedictine abbey that was also built there.  After touring the church and seeing the Black Madonna, we went up one part of the mountain on a fernicular which took us to an area with astounding views and the chance to see where the original hermitages were located.  Our professors even went all the way to the top and ventured along the edge with all of us students!  Finally, after most of the group went back to town, one other student and I climbed up the other side to a cross with even more incredible views.  This hike, while it was very steep, was one of the best parts simply for the experience.  The separation from the rest of the mountain gave us views of the monastery and the surrounding cities that were un-paralleled.
At the top of Monseratt- our second trip up
Climbing down the mountain the first time
Our awesome professors and a few students

On our final day, I began by attending church at the Barcelona Cathedral, or Basilica La Seu.  I can say that it was one of the most beautiful masses I have ever been to.  They had a very impressive choir, and about 13 priests holding the mass.  Combined with their use of incense and the overall environment in the cathedral, and I was overwhelmed by the whole experience.  Next, by the recommendation of our professors, we went to a little bakery for hot chocolate and churros which was much appreciated on such a rainy and cold day (the first of the trip).  Later on in the day, I went back to La Rambla and finally got the gelato I had been wanting the entire trip!
The chloister- there were geese and a rooster in the middle!

Monday was the last day, which started at 4:30 am (Barcelona time) and ended 18 hours later, at 5:30 (Central time)-- time difference makes it seem awkward.  The plane rides were long, and jet lag is going to be quite a challenge to work with, but every second was worth my incredible experience in Barcelona.


I have never been in a place where I am simply astounded everywhere I go at the history of a place, the view of a city, or simply the look of a building.  Beginning to learn about Spain in high school, and now having the opportunity to finally travel there was such a wonderful way to start 2013!

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