Finally, I took a break from travel this weekend to focus on exploring my own city. From visiting the renowned Sagrada Familia to trying out numerous touristy Barcelona treats to experiencing my first time in a foreign doctor’s office, I really got to know my city a little bit better this past week.
La Sagrada Familia
Beginning with the Sagrada Familia, it was absolutely beautiful. Fortunately, I was able to avoid the 30 EUR ticket fee and go for free with my Masterworks of Catalan Art class. Although I am not the world’s biggest art history fan, there’s something to be said about learning about Gaudí in the classroom, and then personally experiencing his work a day later. The Sagrada Familia is truly as impressive as people say it is, partly due to its grandeur and partly just because of the sheer number of people that are there on any given day. The church is still ten to fifteen years away from being completed, yet there are still three million visitors each year. To see so many people appreciating what may be the ultimate masterwork of Catalan art is quite remarkable.
Sweet Treats and Yummy Dishes
On a less cultured note, I also used this week as an excuse to visit some tasty sweet shops and delicious restaurants. Two of the dessert places I went to include Happy Pills and Chök. Happy Pills is a sweet shop where tourists can select a “pill bottle” to fill with different types of colorful gummies, and then they can choose a sticker that names the “prescription” of the bottle. I fittingly chose “Para Después de Una Noche Loca” (for after a crazy night), as my friends and I finally lived up to true Barcelona culture and stayed out until the early hours of the morning the night before (it was slightly fun, but slightly dreadful when we realized we were honestly just so tired and ready for bed). Other (less fun) prescriptions include “Universal Remedy for Everything”, “Happiness Overdose”, and many more. Later in the week we went to Chök, a chocolate shop that is famous for its chök doughnuts: doughnuts made with less fat, less sugar, and less frying time. I chose a raspberry dark chocolate doughnut, which was absolutely amazing, but they also have a selection of krönuts (doughnuts with filling), truffles, and other chocolate treats.
As for restaurants, I went to El Nacional and Bar Lobo this week. El Nacional is definitely a restaurant that you must go to if you visit Barcelona. It’s a big warehouse filled with nice, trendy bars and restaurants that serve typical Catalan food and tapas. We went to La Taperia where guests can order food from the menu, or they can choose dishes from trays as the waiters bring them around. We ordered some from the menu, but we quickly realized it was much more exciting (and faster) to pick dishes as the waiter animatedly presented them to the guests. Bar Lobo was a more classic restaurant, but the food was quite amazing. I would definitely still recommend this one for a quieter, more typical dinner.
As I’ve mentioned before, my study abroad program is great at organizing exciting day trips and activities. Last week, my friends and I participated in a “Cook & Taste” where we had the opportunity to cook a classic Catalan meal with a fabulous Barcelona chef. I was expecting us to be cooking in the kitchen of the program building, so it was a nice surprise when we showed up at the elaborate Cook and Taste Barcelona kitchen. Together, we made tomato bread (a Catalan staple), vegetables with romesco sauce, paella, and crème de Catalán (a more lemony crème brûlée). The class took roughly four hours, but it was definitely worth it. If you come to Barcelona and are looking for a fun, cultural activity, this is definitely something you should consider.
About that Doctor’s Office Comment…
It turned out to be quite perfect that I wasn’t traveling last week because unfortunately, I caught a virus. It was not serious at all, but my study abroad program recommended that I visit a doctor. My doctor’s office visit ended up being another cultural experience as it was quite different from the typical modern, antiseptic feel of the doctor’s offices at home. Situated on the third floor of a historic building in a beautiful area of town, the doctor’s office I went to used to be the home of the doctor working there. His father worked there when he was a child because doctors didn’t have their own offices back then. It was interesting to be getting my blood pressure taken and my lungs checked with a wall of books behind me, but I liked the library-doctor’s office arrangement. Looking back, it’s great to see that something as mundane as going to the doctor can be turned into a cultural experience when in a new place.
On Sunday, my Spanish flatmate invited my roommates and I to her home in Costa Brava. Carla is from Figueres, the same city that Dalí was born in and the one that houses the famous Dalí museum. Although we did not have enough time to explore the museum, we did get to see its splendor from the outside. Later in the day, we ventured to her stepdad’s city of L’Escala where we enjoyed a delicious Catalan lunch with her mother and her stepdad. L’Escala is a beautiful beach town in the Costa Brava region with stunning cliffs, exquisite water views, and beautiful beaches. Seeing where Carla is from and learning more about the region of Catalonia was a great way to end the weekend. As much as I love the bustling city life of Barcelona, spending a day relaxing in a beach city was a perfect end to a fabulous week in Barcelona.
As for my upcoming plans, I have midterms next week! It’s honestly insane how quickly this semester is flying by. Despite the fact that we have midterms next week, I am traveling once again this weekend (before you scoff at this, remember I’ve got to take advantage of my one semester in Europe). This trip isn’t as exciting as my others since I’ve been to this city three times before, but I am definitely ready to go somewhere that feels a little bit more like autumn (it’s still in the 70s almost every day in Barcelona). Hopefully, it’s not too cold! Check back in next week to hear about my fourth visit to the land of clogs, canals, bikes and dykes!