This last weekend (April 16-18) was our final trip for the Interest Groups we’ve been participating in all semester. Mine was Spain and Its Regions. Throughout the semester we’ve had a cooking class, a Catalan class, a trip to Cáceres & Trujillo, and a few lectures on the different areas of Spain. Barcelona was our final jaunt.

Friday – It all started bright and early on another morning…4:45am to be exact. I met Anna and Sarah at the corner and we shared a cab to the airport to meet the rest of our interest group. The flight went off without a hitch. We were all exhausted and I managed to sleep a little. We took a train into the city, checked into the hostel, and headed out for Las Ramblas and The Market. Las Ramblas was absolutely nuts…so many people, so much going on, a bit overwhelming. It definitely had the best display of street performers I have ever seen. And they were selling everything from birds to gerbils to seeds…so random. We had some free time at the Market so we walked around and searched for food. The market was nuts as well, they were selling every possible kind of meat and body parts of animals. We saw sheep’s head, cow tongue, possibly a brain or heart of some kind…not really sure, live crabs, weird sea creatures, and of course tons and tons of ham. We found some pizza and bought some chocolates.

Las Ramblas Street Performers

Market on Las Ramblas

After some food and rest, we metroed it to the Arc de Triomf. We walked through the park and to the Parlament de Catalunya. It was a pretty building that reminded me of Paris & Madrid…basically that’s how the whole city of Barcelona feels, a mix between 2 cultures. We took a tour, saw the important chambers, snapped some photos and were on our way. We walked out to the water and had the rest of the afternoon/night free. Sarah and I got some ice cream and did some people watching before deciding we needed real food. We found a tapas place that had €1.20 tapas…the cheapest I have ever seen. I had tortilla española and a seafood salad type thing and we’re pretty sure Sarah had caviar. They were tasty. We did a bit of souvenir shopping, walked up Las Ramblas again, stopped to get some snacks and then headed back to the hostel. I’m pretty sure we all fell asleep about 9:30 (I’d only slept 2 hours the night before).

Arc de Triomf

Parlament de Catalunya

Saturday – We started out with a walk through the old city, through 2 cathedrals, and the windy streets. The cathedrals were cool but I’m unfortunately getting to that point where I feel like I can’t tour another cathedral. I tried to make the most of it. We broke for lunch and Sarah & I found tortilla española in the grocery store! Probably the best day ever! We did our usual lunch: sitting in a plaza with bread and whatever else we could buy for less than €5 and watching the people go by.

I won’t bore you with more pictures of Spanish Cathedrals 🙂

Tortilla Española…Prepackaged

After lunch we wandered through the city in search of Gaudí buildings. Some people call him insane…I definitely classify him as a genius. His work was incredible to see. We ended the day at Parc Güel, the park about a 20 minute bus ride from downtown that was entirely designed by Antoni Gaudí. It was whimsical and fairy tale like, just like all his other masterpieces. We walked and took lots of pictures before heading back towards our hostel.

Gaudí Architecture

Parc Güel, Gaudí

Sarah and I decided to walk around a bit more and we happen to walk by the Cathedral and catch some people dancing Sardanas, the typical dance of Catalunya. The entire plaza in front of the Cathedral was full of people, mostly in their 70’s & 80’s dancing in circles. There was a band playing and everyone stopped to take pictures and watch. It was amazing, I caught it on video. We walked a bit and found possibly the most American place to eat dinner. It was basically a buffet with soup, salad, and meat…just what we were in the mood for. They even had an ice cream machine! We took the metro to the Sagrada Família to see it lit up at night. It is an amazing thing to see. We got back to the hostel with barely enough time for me to shower and get ready to meet my friend from Mizzou who is studying in Barcelona. I found our metro meeting point on the map and headed out. We went to a little bar and later to a club. We called it a night around 4 am and I headed back to the hostel via metro/sketchy streets…probably not the best option. It was great to see her though, all the way in Barcelona!

Sardana outside the Cathedral

Sagrada Familia

Sunday – After another night of 2 hours of sleep, I got up at 7:15, showered, ate breakfast, and headed out with the rest of the group for the Sagrada Família. It was even better to see during the day because you could see all the details. It’s so incredibly detailed and appears to be melting to the ground. We took the elevator up into one of the towers, had great views of the city, and then climbed all the way back down the stairs before touring the inside. The inside is pretty but full of construction materials. I read somewhere that the earliest estimates say that it will be complete in 2026 or somewhere around there. From the looks of it, it seems like they will never finish it. Its an unbelievable project that I’m glad I’m not investing my whole life in. Props to the people who are. After our tour of Gaudí’s crazy cathedral, we headed back to the hostel to be told by our leader that our flight to Sevilla had been cancelled for that afternoon.

Inside a Tower, Sagrada Familia

Inside the Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia

Thanks to volcanic ash from Iceland covering Europe, the whole air transportation system on the continent had basically been halted. We headed to the bus station and hoped for the best. After waiting to hear the verdict, we all had tickets for a 10pm bus to Sevilla. At this point it was about 12pm which meant 10 HOURS IN THE BUS STATION! I know we weren’t in the worst situation of all the people affected by the cancellations but nonetheless, 10 hours is a long time to wait. All 25 of us staked out a corner on the top floor and camped out for the day. We left here and there to walk around, get food, and pass the time. A few of us bought Spanish newspapers to see if we could figure out what the rest of the world was saying about the mess. One girl had a blackberry that kept us informed of what was going on. A lot of people in our group were traveling from Barcelona to other place because we don’t have class this week so they had to make quick arrangements after all the flights were cancelled. What a mess/bummer. After hours of trying to sleep on the cold floor, endless people watching, stocking up on food for the trek, and basically going nuts, we all boarded a bus for our 15 HOUR ride back to Sevilla. Luckily most of us were completely exhausted so we were able to sleep as best as possible on a charter bus. I was lucky enough to get the very back corner which I’m now convinced is the best possible seat to be in. I woke up randomly for the first 9 hour leg of our trip before we stopped in Ubeda (a.k.a. middle of nowhere Spain) to switch buses. I was able to sleep for most of the rest of the 7 hours before we finally arrived in Sevilla at about 1:30pm Monday. It was an incredibly long journey but we all made it. I sympathize with the people who were in much worse predicaments than we were. I successfully survived my first flight cancellation.

Stranded in Barcelona