After six years of high school and college language classes, I expected a vacation to Barcelona to be all fun and Spanish games. Well, at least I was half right! The dialect was so different from anything I had learned, that I finally shrugged my shoulders, apologized, and spoke English. Little did I know that dragging my 50-pound suitcase through the crowded subways and streets to our hotel would be well worth the effort.
During my semester of study abroad in Italy, eight friends and I chose Barcelona as a Spring Break destination. Although it was March, it was a pleasant 60-70°F, much warmer than Italy at that time. On the day we arrived, we immediately went exploring. Starving, we chose to eat at the inaptly named “Happy Burger.” (Do not go here!) After a “burger” of mystery meat, we came across the Arc de Triomf, which is basically a brown copy of the Parisian masterpiece. A few blocks away (and four strangers warnings to “WATCH YOUR PURSES!”) we found the Chocolate Museum-- Museo de la Xocolata. It is very small, but fun to see Barcelona’s sights in incredibly detailed deliciousness.
Near the chocolate museum is the Picasso Museum. It has multiple floors and what seems like an endless tour of rooms, but lacks his famous Guernica or the Old Man with the Guitar. The metro system can take you everywhere—to see such famous buildings as the Casa Batlo by Gaudi, a colorful, almost cartoon-like building with egg-shaped windows. Similarly built, there is the Casa Mila, La Pedrera, also by Gaudi.
The city features a hop-on, hop-off bus tour with three different colored lines which tours the entire city (and could take all day if you have the time). An exciting part of Barcelona is Port Vell, where hundreds of sailboats and yachts line the harbor. Be sure to eat in one of the seaside restaurants, order the famous Paiella (a rice mixture with seafood or chicken), and drink the local Sangria.
Near the water is the famous L'aquarium de Barcelona, which has everything from seahorses to penguins and sharks. It features a viewing tunnel with a moving sidewalk, and a playground at the end for the kids.
Pubs, bars, and restaurants line “Las Ramblas,” one of the most famous streets. Citizens warn it’s dangerous at night, citing drug dealings and prostitutes as nuisances, but we didn’t have any problems. Barcelona also offers some of the best shopping in Europe, and even some United States cuisine (Subway, Dunkin Donuts, and Starbucks) for homesick Americans.
The nightlife in Barcelona is also something to be admired – clubs open at midnight and start getting crowded around 2:00 am, and have patrons stumbling into taxis at 7:00 am. Overall, with quaint restaurants next to Tapas Bars, Discothèques, clothing shops, and the Mediterranean Sea, Barcelona has something for everyone.