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The Necessary trip to Barcelona

The Necessary trip to Barcelona


When I first decided to study abroad, many of my friends who had travelled before told me I absolutely had to go to Barcelona. They described the extraordinary atmosphere of the city and how they wished they had to opportunity to go there again. When I finally made the decision to go there this past weekend, multiple people in Switzerland from the exchange student residence hall that I live in echoed similar sentiments.

All of this was completely new to me, as most people have never been to Switzerland before or had even heard of Malta, which was the first big travel I did two weeks ago. For the first time I wouldn’t be nearly blindly discovering a city and then figuring out if it is a nice place. However, these preconceived notions of Barcelona also created extremely high expectations for the 3-day trip. Thankfully, Barcelona lived up to and even surpassed anything that people told me about it.

Although my friend and I already knew a lot about Barcelona, we made absolutely zero plans for the entire weekend in order to maintain some level of spontaneity. After arriving early Thursday morning, we checked into our hotel and immediately started just walking around without looking at any map or anything. We started the day by our hotel on La Rambla, one of the most famous streets in Barcelona, and by the end of the day we had walked around the entire city for what felt like and probably was multiple times.

               La Rambla

Even though we didn’t even really intend to see anything, we ended up seeing La Sagrada Familia, Casa Mila, Plaza Espanya, Plaza de Catalunya, the Columbus Monument, and most of the beach all in one day. Along with all the famous places, we ventured along countless small streets that all had their own unique flair. Following the entire day of exploring Barcelona, I looked at my phone and saw that we had walked a total of 37,000 steps, or 14 miles. Normally, it would take a hiking trip or something similar to get even close to that many steps, but Barcelona had so much to offer that I never even noticed how much walking we were actually doing.

La Sagrada Familia, a Church that has been in construction since 1882
       The Columbus Monument
                             Plaza Espanya


Despite not feeling the effects of all the walking during the day on Thursday, Friday morning my friend and I both woke up pretty tired and even sore. Luckily, Friday was the sunniest and warmest day of the weekend, so we decided to have a relaxing day on the beach. It also didn’t hurt that we had already seen a majority of the landmarks, which meant we wouldn’t be losing anything by spending a day not visiting anything. Laying out by the beach wasn’t only much needed after an entire day of walking, but also because it has been cold and cloudy in Switzerland almost every day. It was refreshing to have a day to bask in some sun and not worry about anything at all.

Barceloneta Beach, only a little different from the Swiss mountains

Saturday was the third and final day in Barcelona, and we couldn’t think of anything better to do than to see the whole city, literally. We took a cable car that took us up to the top of Montjuic, a hill that features a view of all of Barcelona and a castle with an interesting history. The rest of our last day was spent shopping and simply taking in the final sights and sounds of Barcelona.

    The view from Montjuic

The notable sights, beaches, and panoramic views were all more than enough to make the trip better than I could’ve expected, but without a doubt my favorite part of Barcelona was the food. To start, our hotel was also located right by La Boqueria, a well-known food market. Instantly when we walked into it for the first time I knew that I was in food paradise. I was surrounded by fresh fruits, every cut of meat, seafood, bakeries, and everything in between. It may not sound that groundbreaking, but it’s a stark contrast from the Swiss diet of bread and cheese. We went there at least once each day, each time trying out new foods and never leaving unsatisfied.

A little snack from the market
Only one of the many fresh fruit stands

The extent of my love for the food in Barcelona doesn’t end in the market, as everything that I had felt worthy of a 5-star review. The first dish we had at a restaurant was Paella, a Spanish staple and something that everyone that has been to Spain talks about. The combination of rice and seafood was worth all the hype and I wished that the plate for two was only for me. On Friday night we decided to switch things up a bit and go to a Latin American restaurant called FOC, and it was the best decision we made the whole weekend. I had a Brazilian steak called Picanha, which came out on a steaming plate and looked like enough meat to feed all of Barcelona. I truly believe that it was one of the best restaurant meals of my entire life, and we had to go back the next night for dinner again. Somewhat reluctantly I switched my order from the Brazilian steak to Argentinian steak, and fortunately it came close to being as good. The final part of the food journey in Barcelona was mainly deciding what flavor of ice cream I wanted or whether I desired beef or chicken inside my empanada.

          The Picanha
Approximately two seconds later the whole Argentinian steak was gone
        Paella for “two”



Barcelona was one of the best cities I’ve ever been too because it had a great combination of everything. There were intriguing historical landmarks, fun beaches, impressive views, and delicious food all inside one vibrant and dynamic city. Whereas Zurich feels similar pretty much anywhere in the city, Barcelona reminded me more of Chicago because every part of the city had its own particular and compelling characteristics.

Now, it’s my turn to be the person telling others that they need to go to Barcelona.





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