Barcelona, Summer 2016

by Xenia Makridou

Back in December/January 2015/2016, when I travelled from London to Paphos to go home for Christmas, I visited my high school to collect my A-Level certificates and see some of my teachers. I distinctly remember one of my Greek teachers urging me to travel with friends as often as I could during my university years. And this is exactly what I did from May 25th to May 30th this summer. This short introduction was mainly to urge you, also, to listen to people older than you, because as much as we think that we know it all and that we know better, in some cases, they know much more, and they know much better. So, take their advice, because more often than not, it’ll prove useful and even, priceless.

I travelled to Barcelona with a friend of mine whom I had met back in high school as part of an extra-curricular activity – we’re from different cities in Cyprus, so it’s even cooler that we were able to keep in touch and actually go on holiday together once we finished our first year of university. Again, I think that the more you do, the more likely you are to find the right people to hang out with. This is partly because you do more things and you are therefore meeting more people, increasing your chances of finding the right ones, and partly because when you do things you love, the people who do those same things, they are very likely to have similar interests to you, and you are thus more likely to stick together. But I’m digressing (haha)… The trip was something I was looking forward to for a while. On the 25th, we were both very excited to be leaving the UK after our exams (only a day after I had finished) and going to such a promising and, indeed, wonderful place such as Barcelona.

Now, let’s finally get started on the holiday itself. The taxi from the airport to the hostel was, perhaps, the only bad experience in that whole trip, but if you don’t have bad experiences, what will your stories be all about, right? The ride was very scary, considering our taxi driver was sleeping and driving. It wasn’t even dark yet! His eyes were closed for a greater amount of time than were open, and the car was going astray. It was dangerous, and it was frightening, and the worst part was that we couldn’t really get out of the taxi considering we were on a highway! Our lives were basically in his hands. He also almost hit a motorcycle and then went on to engage in argument with the motorcycle driver whilst driving, which was again very dangerous. I felt very helpless and trapped, but this was over soon, and we arrived at the hostel we had booked to make a better start to our holiday.

The hostel was one of the better hostels, so it wasn’t too bad. After all, we spent our days outside, so the hostel was only there for showering and sleeping. On some days, we met up with another 2 girls who were friends of my friend (I hope this is not too confusing, haha). It was really fun, and I got to meet 2 new people whom I instantly liked and, thankfully, was very happy to hang out with. The trip lasted for only 4 days essentially, excluding the day we went and the day we left. Nevertheless, we were able to exploit every sightseeing and ‘touristy’ opportunity that came our way, making the whole holiday exhausting, but immensely rewarding. I will make sure to include some pictures taken in Barcelona at the end of this post, so do have a look!

The holiday overall consisted of sightseeing, more sightseeing, food, exploration, more sightseeing, a day at the beach, and an evening at ‘Pacha’. The latter is basically a well-known club, which if you’ve been following my blog for a while you’d know there was a period in my life when I only listened to house music and I was really into all things ‘EDM’ (Electronic Dance Music), so you could infer from that my excitement when I saw Pacha, Barcelona. I remember when I lusted over Pacha, Ibiza.

In terms of sightseeing, I won’t list every single place we went to because that would be really boring, but I will definitely try to post below a picture from each of the places we visited. What I will do is just talk about a few things we did that were particularly memorable. Initially, Sagrada Familia, the number one place to visit, in my opinion, in Barcelona, is a church by Antony Gaudí, which truly took my breath away. From the outside, the truth is that it didn’t seem any different from all other churches one visits when sightseeing in any part of the world, but from the inside… Oh, from the inside it was a whole different thing. I think I would sin if I tried to describe it, just because I’d do such a bad job at trying to express its majesty in comparison to what the church actually looks and feels like. Let’s just say that it was different to any kind of church I’ve ever been to, that it had the distinct style of Gaudí, and that it almost deserves a ‘wonder of the world’ title. Elements of modernisme were definitely present, along with Gaudí’s own distinct style. The big, open spaces and multiple colours were truly beautiful. Sagrada Familia was beautiful. Here’s an interesting fact: Gaudí was asked how he felt about dying before seeing Sagrada Familia completed – he replied with something truly ingenious. He said that it didn’t matter, because his employer wouldn’t be mad at him – his employer had all the time and patience in the world; his employer was God. One has to admit that all Gaudí’s works are excellent, including Casa Batlló, Casa Milà (La Pedrera) and Park Güell.

Continuing, taking the hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus was also a good idea, which helped us get oriented and really get to know the place. The truth is that we had pretty much walked everywhere in Barcelona by the first day without the bus, but it was still nice to see places we didn’t get to see on foot previously. I really do suggest taking such buses when going places – they’re very educational and helpful! The National Gallery (Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya) was also worthwhile, especially considering the view from there and the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc close by. This fountain was everything. If you ever choose to travel to Barcelona, an evening must definitely be dedicated there, especially if one has a significant other – it’s way too romantic and ‘magical’ not to visit! Going to Montjuïc Castle with the cable car was also a unique experience, with an unparalleled view.

This post is getting long. If I tried to write about my experience as a whole I’d most probably end up with a 5-page essay, and this is not my primary purpose for writing anyway. All I want from this post it to inspire you to travel if and when you can to places you’ve never been to before, and really push it while you’re there. I do admit, at times during the trip I felt like I wanted to collapse because we were really pushing it with the sightseeing and the walking and the overall doing. But, looking back, it was so utterly worth it! Travel, experience, learn, and live.

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