Set the {Bar}celona High

Barceloneta Beach

THE CITY OF TAPAS AND FITNESS.

AND NUDE BEACHES. I had a blast in Barcelona! It easily became a runner up as my top three favorite places in Europe. There was so much to love in the city. I first felt the joy in the city’s air when I sat in a metro from the airport, and I heard happy chattering all around me. This has not been the case in any other city I have been to except London. It was quite riveting for me to experience such a scene. As an American, I love chattering with strangers, and Barcelona was the perfect place to do so. Not only did I meet a ton of new people, but I also randomly crossed paths with some of our longhorn friends from UT.

Three categories can define my entire experience: the food, the architecture, and the people.

Food

Juices and fruit cups from Boqueria!

Tapas. Paella. Empanadas. Patatas bravas. Fresh seafood. Fruits. Juice blends.

In terms of food, Barcelona was heaven. If you ask me about the food, I can go on and on about the Boqueria market. It became my favorite place in the city. One of the days, we grabbed food from the market (like empanadas, rolls, 100% juice blend drinks, and fruits) and went to the beach to have a picnic. It was lovely hearing the crash of the waves, eating, and lying down with a great book in the sunshine. As a health conscious person, there was nothing more perfect than eating healthy, fresh foods.

Duck in orange sauce

On my first day in Barcelona, I had duck in orange sauce. It was pretty pricey for the portion, but the food was absolutely delicious. The duck was delicately cooked with orange sauce, which was a blend of cream and orange tart sauce made from fresh oranges. The initial bar was set really high.

Picnic on beach

However, I continued to have delicious food in the city and the “bar” suddenly disappeared. One of the days, I had a meal of a variety of delicious tapas with some friends we met on our walking tour of the city. I had Andalusian squid, patatas bravas, octopus, and cuttlefish with ratatouille. My meal was AMAZING. The one food that topped everything I had in Barcelona was one of the empanadas I got from the Boqueria one of the days. That by far holds its position as being my favorite food I have eaten. It was a delicate blend of cheese, chicken, unique spices, veggies and eggs. The ingredients sound basic, but the taste was certainly a party for my taste buds. Not only was it tasty, but it was also healthy. You can thank me later, body.

Architecture/places

Sagrada Familia

As an art fanatic, I was so excited to come to Barcelona. There is so much artistic beauty in the city, laid down by famous architects and lived in by now-deceased artists (such as Picasso who grew up in Barcelona). The entire city is influenced by modernism, which can be seen in all of Gaudi’s works all over the city. One of the most famous structures — the Sagrada Familia — was quite a sight to see, especially at night. Each detail on the building had unique value, which added to its structural brilliance. The beautiful mosaics tiles were my favorite feature.

At the bottom of Castell Montjuic before we climbed up!

Besides that, Barcelona also had some of the nicest parks and nature trails to walk along. If I was in Barcelona longer, I really would have liked to hike up a mountain. One of the days, however, I was able to take a funicular up the mountain to Castell Montjuic, which was a formidable fort/castle built long ago. The top of Montjuic had the most gorgeous view of the city. I was enthralled to have such a wonderful sight of both the city and the beautiful, blue waters of the coast. There are no words to describe how surreal and bright blue the surrounding area looked.

People

One day, we decided to go to the beaches in the far east of Barcelona (as a Barcelona resident recommended to us), and we ended up landing in a gay, nudist beach called Mar Bella. The funniest part was that we didn’t realize it until we sat there for two hours and we noticed that the bars were called “B-gay”, and that the people laying down on the sand were together as either male/male or female/female. Upon this realization 2.5 hours later, we got up and decided it was time to find another beach. Good lord. Next time observe the oddities in your surroundings, children. It made me happy, though, how liberal the city is. Not only is it legal to display your genitalia in public, but it is also perfectly okay to be homosexual.

Sweetest girls!

Besides that, I met more new people here than I have met in any other city. Some of the people I met included a random UT alumni (who actually knew some of the people from the business fraternity I am in), an Australian PhD student studying in Edinburgh, an Italian girl who I hit off things with really well, an American girl who has been backpacking for six months already, and countless others. It was so fun meeting new people and finding similarities with them.

I also had an entertaining conversation with my “Taylor Swift” look-alike tour guide. She is actually French, but she moved to Spain a few years ago for studies, and fell in love with the city. She declared that she would never live in France again, since the French are “too cold” and “arrogant”. Her accusations were not completely ill-founded as I have come across some arrogant French people, but I think the stereotype is false overall because I have met so many kind, friendly French people while living here over the months.

Grand Finale to my semester!

On top of Castell Montjuic! So breathtaking

After leaving Barcelona, I deemed it likely that I would like to live here one day. It is my type of city. There was healthy food everywhere, and runners on every street. Furthermore, the city had gigantic gyms in the shopping centers along the beaches, which really impressed me.

All in all, Barcelona was a perfect city. Barcelona is a city full of wonderful vibes, happy people, and fitness everywhere. It was also the grand finale to my travels abroad. I was both torn and happy to leave the city: torn because I fell in love with the city and people, and happy because I was getting closer to going home. After some time, you start to really miss home. I decided that my travels and fun were to a conclusion and that I was ready to return to America. I miss my family, my friends, food, and my country. However, even with that, I plan to travel more in the future.

But for the time being, my adventures must cease.

AMERICA, I am coming for ya! See you soon! ❤

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