Taking the time to explore Barcelona

Christian Carmona

A semester abroad is something most students consider at some point in their college career. Each person approaches the situation from a unique perspective. Some people automatically vote out foreign speaking countries. Some people refuse to venture anywhere outside of Europe. A few people even follow a program that correlates with their major. Regardless of the approach, countless students eventually leave the country and embark on a journey into the unknown world of the overseas.

Barcelona is unique from every other Spanish city because of its contemporary feel. Many exterior buildings are both modern and surreal, yet the antiquity of Barcelona isn’t lost in this up to date standard that the city holds. Walking down Las Ramblas is a necessary component to experiencing Barcelona. Street performers, whose performance is to ironically stand still until being paid, engulf the sidewalks. They stand, decked out in costumes and bathed in paint, beside outdoor markets with food and plants and even animals; every type of vendor one could imagine. Three card monty is hustled by the Eastern Europeans in the middle of the street, and amongst all these hectic scenes are tourists from around the world snapping pictures and yelling in their native languages.

Other required buildings to view are the works of Antoni Gaudi. As a pioneer in Modernist architecture, Gaudi is hailed as both an artist and a technician, with designs that are found nearly impossible to classify. The Bellesguard Tower is a beautiful site. The exterior is built simply and plainly, surrounded by lawn and palm trees, but the interior is decorated with spacious and unique curves, making itself almost completely without corners. Even the town’s streetlights are designed by Gaudi, giving them his own distinctive touch. The pole winds towards the top and above the lights lie winged helmets, blending with the light pole. These diverse touches to the exterior of the city symbolize the artistic feel that Barcelona encompasses.

Caixa Forum is home of the Contemporary Art and Culture center. The building itself is reason enough to visit, but an appreciation for a different type of art that Barcelona specializes in is the museum’s primary appeal.

Throughout Europe, classic art is hung and studied and revered, but fine modern art museums in especially Spain are rare and cherished sites. There are an abundance of cathedrals in Spain, but Barcelona boasts the most contemporary, the Sagrada Familia. Still being built, the cathedral stays true to the running theme in Barcelona of modern and distinct forms. The spiral staircase leads up past walls etched by countless tourists, where one could immortalize his name if he has no qualms with defacing a holy temple. Up top, a breathtaking view of the city awaits, making the walk completely worthwhile.

After a strenuous day of site seeing, the Plaza Catalunya is a nice area for relaxing under the sun. Be wary, however, of the pigeons attempting to pick at your food. Barcelonan pigeons have no shame and evidently no fear of humans. Overall, the city of Barcelona is distinct from all other areas in Spain, because, while maintaining its historical significance, it embraces the modern artistic culture that exists within the city. As long as a sanitary hostel and a decent map are available, one can’t miss an excellent time in the home of America’s first Dream Team.