Oh My Gaudi... My Trip to Barcelona
After a brutal neuroanatomy final, I took off to Barcelona, the home of Catalonian pride, my La Liga rival team, and the brilliant architect Antoni Gaudi. The city greeted me after the hour and a half flight away from the constantly gray skies of France to the sunny beauty of Spain.
Immediately, I clicked with the city. I slipped away from my former responsibilities of learning cranial nerves to gazing at the Art Nouveau edifices and sipping away at mango ginger smoothies. A mere post could not do justice to the city that stole my heart, but I'll give it a go.
Buildings to See
Barcelona has a unique charm to its architecture. The Eixample, the gridded territory of the city inspired by Modernist architects, neatly organizes the city yet blends in smoothly with other parts of the city like the Gothic Quarter. The following are just some highlights and must-sees in the city.
Images courtesy of Greg Ross and Madison Navarro
La Sagrada Familia
This unfinished work by Gaudi has been called one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. Breaking away from many classical Gothic motifs, Sagrada Familia boasts intricate nave vaults and an elaborate, colorful clerestory. Gaudi, who passed away during the construction of this minor basilica, is buried in the crypt of his magnum opus. The construction was halted at his death as well as during the Spanish Civil War. It is estimated to be completed in 2026.
Plaza de Toros de las Arenas
A bullfighting ring turned shopping mall, Plaza de Toros de las Arenas retained much of its original facade from the late 19th century. Resembling the arches of the Mezquita at Cordoba, the building reflects upon the Muslim history of Catalonia. The rooftop of the building offers an unrivaled view of Plaza Espanyol and Montjuic.
Another one of Gaudi's jewels in Barcelona, Casa Mila is currently a cultural center for the city. The exterior epitomizes the organic "waves" of the Art Nouveau style. The religious background of the work keeps it in touch with the architect and the city's heritage.
Arc de Triomf
On the bright, sunny day I saw the Arc de Triomf, the reddish material boldly shone as an entryway into the modern parts of Barcelona. The playful shows of the performers in the area complemented the carefree aura of this part of the city. It's a perfect place to stop for a drink at a nearby cafe or to sit and enjoy the weather.
Spots to Visit
Platja de la Barceloneta
After taking a cable car across the city, I was greeted by Platja de la Barceloneta, where I not only attempted (and failed) to skip stones, but also saw some of the most impressive sandcastles. The creators of the sandcastles depict images of castles and dragons with incredible detail and even fire.
Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya
The view from the top of Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya is unbeatable. Overlooking the entire city, the museum contains over a thousand years worth of Catalonian art and culture. The steps leading up to the museum are scattered with musicians and local performers. The guitarist I saw there definitely completed the romantic atmosphere there.
Places to Eat
Travel & Cake
A smaller branch of Brunch & Cake, one of the most popular brunch spots of Barcelona, Travel & Cake offers a Spanish spin on the best meal of the day. With bagels centered around guac to hummus and chips, the plates taste as beautiful as they look.
Located about a block away from Arc de Triomf, the laid-back atmosphere of the outside seating area of La Foga gives visitors the opportunity to bask in the warmth of the Barcelonian sun while enjoying classic jamon Iberico and freshly homemade juices.
All other images via Yeju Hwang
Featured Image via Greg Ross