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Study Abroad

    Barcelona Travel Diary – My Experience with Student Tours!

    May 11, 2018

    So you all know I’m not a travel blogger, but I do love travel content. When I spent a weekend in Barcelona, I found myself itching to write a post about it, as it was an experience removed from any other trip I’d been on!

    I went as part of a trip organized by Weekend Student Adventures, or WSA. If any of you are familiar with travel guru Rick Steves, WSA was created by his son Andy in order to make weekend trips for study abroad students an easier experience. How cool is that? You can find out more about the organization & the trip I went on here.

    This post is not sponsored, but I wanted to share my experience with this tour group because 1. I loved the trip and 2. Study abroad is largely “do-it-yourself”-centric, and I wanted to showcase other options.

    Day 1 – An Overview of Barcelona

    Our day started at 10am in the hostel kitchen, where our tour guide Carsen met us to go over the itinerary for the day. The tour group was small – only eight of us! After introductions, we were off into the Gothic Quarter to explore the winding streets and the beautiful old buildings.

    We were given an overview of the entire history of Barcelona as we walked through the city, starting with the Roman invasions/origin of the city’s name right up to the present day. Some of the best sights from this day were the Barcelona Cathedral and Barceloneta Beach, but all of the Gothic was absolutely beautiful.

    After our tour of “Old” Barcelona, we were given some free time, which I used to visit La Boqueria, a huge market just off of La Rambla. The market offered tons of amazing fresh food for cheap prices, and it was bustling with tourists & locals alike. I sampled some Spanish longaniza, freshly squeezed pineapple juice, and calamari for less than 15 euro total!

    For dinner we had tapas at an old “hole-in-the-wall” restaurant (with AMAZING patatas bravas!) before heading over to a Flamenco show to end off the night. The Flamenco show was probably my favorite part of the day. They were amazing, and the crowd was on their feet at the end of the show!

    Day 2 – “New” Barcelona, Gaudi, and Picasso

    The second day we trekked out into the Eixample district despite the pouring rain to dive deeper into Gaudi’s architectural style and the more modern history of Barcelona. We visited the Block of Discord on la Passieg de Gracia to see the three extravagantly designed houses. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to go into Casa Batllo (designed by Gaudi), but we did go into Casa Amatller. The original owner of the house was known for his chocolate empire, and they still sell chocolates in there to this day!

    From there Carsen took us on the metro to the Sagrada Familia. It truly is the most extravagantly, beautifully crafted tribute to the Holy Family, and the background behind the architecture is rich and fascinating. If you go anywhere in Barcelona, go here!

    Don’t forget to visit the museum underneath the church itself – it offers insight into the infamously long timeline for the church’s completion, as well as analyses of the architectural style.

    After the Sagrada, we had some time to ourselves so I decided to venture off to the Picasso Museum. Even though I waited on line for 30 minutes, it was definitely worth it! I’m a huge art fan, and getting a peek into the different periods of Picasso’s life was really interesting. I highly recommend getting the audio guide, because it helped me better understand pieces I would have normally glanced over!

    For dinner we went to get pinchos (or pinxhos) at La Tiza. It’s basically one big hors d’oeurves buffet, which was delicious. To end off the night, we visited the Moritz headquarters for local Barcelona beer.

    Day 3 – Parc Guell & Parc de la Ciutadella 

    On my last in Barcelona, one of my friends from the WSA tour group and I visited Parc Guell, another one of Gaudi’s creations. It was initially designed to be a housing development for the elite, and it offers some of the most beautiful views of Barcelona! I also got to live out my Cheetah Girl dreams by sitting on the benches featured in the “Strut” scene from Cheetah Girls 2.

    After Guell, my friend and I met up with Carsen for coffee and a tour around the Born District & Parc de la Ciutadella. It was absolutely beautiful, and definitely a hidden gem. The fountain in the park is insanely ornate, and the city’s zoo also has its home there!

    The WSA trip ended after we finished our tour of the park, and we all [tearfully] parted ways. I made my way back to Barceloneta to sit and look at the ocean for a while – I’ve missed the water since being in landlocked Sheffield – before meeting my high school friend, David, for coffee! It was nice to catch up with him (in Barcelona of all places!), and it made me realize just how lucky I was to be traveling around the world.

    Final Thoughts & Student Tours

    I learned so much about Barcelona’s history on the WSA trip, and I feel like I really got to experience the city like a local! Even though I love exploring alone (like I did in Amsterdam), sometimes it’s good to have someone show you around, and that’s exactly what WSA was for me.

    If you want to get a more dynamic feel for my trip, you should check out my vlog 😉

    I had a great time in Barcelona, and I highly recommend visiting if you ever have the chance. When it’s sunny, of course!

    Have you ever been to Barcelona? Or have you ever gone on an organized trip before?

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