May 8th, 2018
“This is Professor Dodge. Anyone in Barcelona yet?”
When this text message was sent to our Hospitality at Sea group chat it finally felt real. It is official!! We are in beautiful Barcelona, Spain.
Let me take one step back before I go into detail about Barcelona…. To be honest, before arriving in Barcelona I had no expectations at all. I did not know what the city offers for college students. I was nervous about the language barrier some students may encounter and I was scared to travel alone (which I think a lot of the other students can relate to). Students are flying in Barcelona at different days/times prior to May 8th. My roommate and I were lucky enough to fly into Barcelona three days prior to the cruise to explore the city. From trying new restaurants, touring, hiking, and shopping we immediately made unforgettable memories and friends in three short days. We had a strong understanding of the city by the time the rest of the students arrived, so we were able to show some students the main attractions.
The evening of May 8th is when all FIU students and professors met their roommates and checked into the NH Collection Constanza Hotel in Barcelona for a night stay. A lot of us have been communicating with each other weeks before the trip, so it was interesting to finally meet in person. Everyone shared their stories of how and when they arrived in Barcelona. Some students came a couple of days early and stayed at the Constanza hotel, a hostel, an AirBNB, or another hotel. My roommate and I stayed at Hotel Praktik Rambla, which was located in the heart of the city center and the famous La Rambla. I would recommend this hotel to fellow students and professors because of the perfect location, free breakfast, and spacious rooms.
There is a tremendous amount of activity to do and sights to see in Barcelona. We all tried to stick together but everyone was on his or her own schedule this evening. But, maybe it was suppose to work out this way because we all got to see different sights in such a short amount of time. Then, everyone was able to share his or her own experiences and pictures with each other.
Now, lets brag about Barcelona!!
La Rambla and La Boqueria Market:
La Rambla is the most famous street in Barcelona while La Boqueria is the biggest market in Bracelona. La Rambla is a very wide street, which offers souvenir shops, restaurants, clothing stores, and people watching! The market is connected to La Rambla and offers a great lunch with a variety of seafood, nuts, sangria, gelato, cheese, and meat. It is a must see!! A bit of advice while visiting La Rambla is to watch for the pickpockets and to use common sense.
The Gothic Quarter is the center of old Barcelona and one of the best-preserved medieval areas in Europe. The architecture in this quarter is breathtaking. There are delicious cafes tucked away in the narrow streets where some of the best pastries can be found! While roaming around this quarter, I stumbled upon Formatgeria La Seu, which offers three local cheeses along with a mini glass of wine for just 3 euros. One of the centerpieces of Gothic Quarter is the Barcelona Cathedral. Make sure when going into the cathedral, you cover up as they will not let you in.
La Sagrada Familia:
The striking appearance of La Sagrada Familia takes your breath away. This church has been under construction for over 100 years, and supposedly will not be finished until 2026! The backside of the church is filled with carvings of religious figures and ornate decoration. Upon going inside, it is safe to say that this is the most unreal site of Barcelona. The pillars look like tree trunks and then the stain glass windows with the sun make it multicolored inside. One of the main attractions of the church is the towers. Upon entering the tower, one must go up an elevator to then get to a very narrow stairwell. Once there, you walk up the tower and go onto the little balconies to get up close with the wonders of Gaudi. The detail and the colors along with the magnitude of the edifice are extraordinary. Once done, one must take a very narrow and circular stairwell that has railings only on one side. The best description of the stairwell is like a nautilus shell. Once going down the steps, you are greeted by the main floor and tons of tourists. This is something one must absolutely book in advance as queues can last as long as 2 hours!
Park Guell is one of the most popular photographed sights in all of Barcelona. This park is a masterpiece of Antoni Gaudi and is a series of buildings, gardens, and handmade tiles. For more adventure, I would recommend hopping on the city bus and walking uphill to the park. If one is limited with time, I would recommend taking a taxi directly to the park entrance. When I arrived on a Monday afternoon, the park was already flooded with tourists. I tried to purchase tickets to enter the most popular section of Park Guell with the beautiful views and tiles, but I was too late! Make sure to buy your tickets online ahead of time to guarantee entry. Although if one cannot purchase tickets, the rest of the park is beautiful and still worth seeing.
“FUTBALL”!! Barcelona vs. Madrid. The biggest rivalry in soccer!! But, I have to admit that soccer is not my forte, so I turned to my fellow FIU classmate to share his experience at the El Classico. Jake Desilets states, “ The atmosphere was electric and the passion was very intense.” Jake was fortunate enough to see Lionel Messi score a goal! It is safe to say that attending this soccer game was a once in a lifetime experience for Jake.