Barcelona in 21k
My trip to Barcelona was not only my first amazing race venture on my own, but also a quick turn around of two nights which really only left me with a day and a half to explore the city from top to bottom. I had a list of recommendations and was determined to knock as much off of it as possible in my 48 hour time frame.
The first night I was there I had tickets for the Sagrada Familia – a continuous work of art that will take your breath away regardless of your religious beliefs. I luckily had bought my tickets online (a serious must for skipping queues and making good use of your time!) and was able to get into the building quickly. As the audio guide explained the masterpiece I was viewing I could not help but walk slow and feel absolutely speechless by the vision, the divine art and purity of the space. At first the building was, in a sense, overwhelming with so much to see and take in. But as the pieces were broken down and explained, the overwhelming sensation of the building’s size quickly dissipated. I easily spent two hours taking it in and absorbing my surroundings; each time I thought I was done I took a “final” look only to befall upon a new component that enticed me to search for more. Included in my ticket was going to the top of one of the towers, which gave me the best view of the city that literally went on for miles. I ended up spending a good 3-4 hours there in total. As I walked back towards my hostel I couldn’t help but turn around for one last look. It was an unbelievable experience getting to go from Easter at the Vatican to exploring one of the most famous cathedrals in the world the following day. I truly felt blessed and thankful for all of the crazy experiences I had been able to have in the first half of my mini amazing race.
In truth, what would an amazing race be without a little running, right? The following day I booked myself a running tour of Barcelona. Normally I am one to take advantage of the free (tips only), more college-budget friendly walking tours, but I decided to treat myself to a half marathon length tour through the streets of Barcelona. I met my guide at my hostel and we began to hit the pavement. At first we would run for about 10 minutes or so and then stop so that he could give me some information about the history and sites we were passing, return to running of a little bit and then stop again. Initially there were many monuments close together which meant lots of stopping and breaks, but as we headed towards the beaches and explored that area the temperature surged higher and the breaks became fewer. Admitingly, I was dying a little bit at that point-thank god for water breaks and stopping to take pictures, ha! The tour was incredible and allowed me to see all of Barcelona in my short time while there. I even got a great recommendation for an authentic hot chocolate and churro shop (a Barcelona/Spain must!). Plus, now I can say I have run a half marathon in Spain- country number two in the books!
After the run and taking it easy for a little bit, I went to roam Las Ramblas- another Barcelona must. The many shops were fun to look at, as was the architecture that surrounded the street. The biggest thing with this tourist hot spot was guarding my purse and belongings since the street is also infamous for pick-pocketing. Later that night I met up with one of my friends from the states for tapas, another must for Spain! It was so nice to be able to see a familiar face and to catch up after a semester away. In truth, I planned my route through Spain so that I could meet up with friends who were studying in various cities throughout the country.
Overall, Barcelona was breathtakingly beautiful and just the right kind of busy for me. Without a doubt I will be back to explore the streets once more-who knows maybe for a marathon the next time!