Last weekend, I made the 7.5 hour (overnight) bus journey to Barcelona! My first surprise was the fact that the bus company we took had personal screens on our seats just like on a plane. I unfortunately did not sleep too much, but as soon as we were in Barcelona at 7:20 AM, I was ready to begin the adventure.
Our first stop was the Parque Güell, which is one of Antoni Gaudí biggest masterpieces in Barcelona. It was up a huge hill in Barcelona, which allowed for some of the best views of the city. Of course, we felt like typical backpackers and decided to walk up the hill instead of taking the metro or a bus (I also stopped for a croissant on the way). The park was truly magical and the views were spectacular! I loved all the mosaic tiles and all the colors inside of the park. It was interesting to find out that Gaudi meant for this park to be a sort of neighborhood or community modeled after the constructed neighborhoods in England.
After that scenic walk, we began our descent towards the Sagrada Familia. On Saturday, the tickets sold out fast, so we settled for taking pictures and dining outside of the church. We also made our way to the Arco de Triunfo. Past the Arco de Triunfo, we went to a Pablo Picasso museum that held many of his original works and some interesting pieces of art. The museum went through the phases of his life and you really got to see the evolution of his unique style of art. I hope to visit an art museum in Madrid this weekend to see some more art. Saturday night we got to see the Fuente Mágica de Montjuic, an illuminated fountain to music. It has the background of the Art Museum of Barcelona. After the fountain, we went to dinner along the port. Barcelona is full of cruise ships and tourists—and we got to take part in all of the fun!
On Sunday, we had tickets to enter the Sagrada Familia. The outside is still under construction and it famous for always being under construction (like my life). It was weird to see so many tourists (including me) marvel over a huge church with construction cranes all around it. Gaudi designed the outside of the church to make the Bible accessible everyone and show important scenes. With a posted guide, you were able to follow the story of Jesus very easily. The inside of the church was full of amazing stained glass windows. I think what impressed me most was the amount of color in Gaudi´s designs. There was an overwhelming presence in the church–whether you are religious or not. I think that entering this famous church was my favorite part of Barcelona.
Angie and I had the opportunity to see in a plaza close to our Air Bnb a children´s presentation in a plaza all in Catalán (the official languages in Barcelona are Catalán and Spanish). Angie asked why the keep the language with a lot of the words sound so similar to Spanish. I thought that the reason most people in Barcelona keep the language alive is because it is a part of their culture. It´s the same reason my mom spoke to me in Spanish from the moment I was born. It is a part of my culture that I can´t ignore. In fact, you see more Cataluña flags flying throughout the city than Spanish flags. The separatist movement within that state in Spain is strong with a 2016 poll showing that 47.7% of the population in favor of separating from Spain altogether.
If I think about it more, how do you create unity during times where it seems we have more differences with foreigners or people in our own countries than commonalities? During our orientation, we talked about how to “bridge” and make connections during our time abroad. I think that forging a connection with others is an important one for the workplace and not just for our time abroad. You cannot get meaningful work done with a team without connecting to them first. With common connections (that are usually personal), you can get through the tough deadline filled times at work and the fun times. My time abroad so far has helped me build bridges faster and in my second language.
This weekend, I plan to go see some more art in a museum in Madrid and go for a day trip to Toledo on Sunday. It is super hot here, so that cool tinto de verano will come in handy.