Thursday, October 17, 2013

Time Warp

About three years ago, I had the opportunity to travel with my high school to Spain and Italy.  As a high school senior, having my favorite teacher take me and some of my best friends on a 10-day European adventure was the greatest gift I could have asked for.  We saw most of the main tourist attractions, and explored several large cities in a very short period of time.  After that short, 5-day taste of Spain, I knew I had to go back.  This past weekend I had the pleasure of traveling to Barcelona with some of the girls from my program, and I was able to revisit some of the same sights from my first trip.

One of the major differences that I noticed between this trip and the last was that the city felt a lot bigger.  Now of course that will happen when you have to take the metro and walk everywhere instead of getting on a tour bus like we did three years ago.  Having to navigate the city on my own forced me to take in my surroundings a lot more thoroughly than I did the first time.  I feel like I was able to appreciate Barcelona more as a whole rather than focusing on the major monuments separately.

The first place we visited in Barcelona was Las Ramblas.  It's basically just one long pedestrian street filled with craft vendors and shops, and also an open-air market.  I was able to get around very easily thanks to my vivid memory; I even recall the weather being similar on both trips.

Top: My friends Vicky and Joey and I sitting on a bench at
Las Ramblas in 2011.  Bottom: Me at that same bench in 2013.

The one thing I was really looking forward to seeing in Barcelona was La Sagrada Familia.  The construction of this Basilica began in 1882 and is still ongoing.  The projected date of completion is somewhere between 2020 and 2040.  I was interested to see if there were any noticeable changes in the building from the last time I had seen it.  Its construction is so elaborate that it was difficult to note minor details, but I was able to see one of the facades that had been completely blocked off last time.  I still have never been inside, but I suppose that gives me a good excuse to go back again.

La Sagrada Familia 2013
Model of what La Sagrada Familia will
someday look like

One of the most exciting changes that I was able to see was one that I actually stumbled upon by accident.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, bullfighting is now against the law in the region of Spain that includes Barcelona.  When we came in high school, our tour guide told us that the city had made plans to convert the bullfighting ring into a shopping mall.  Of course, upon hearing this most of us wrote it off as a joke.  Why would they turn a cultural masterpiece into a mall?  Well, on one of our nights out in Barcelona, I found out that he was not joking.  What used to be the Plaza de Toros is now a 4-story shopping mall complete with movie theater and outdoor balcony.  We went up to the top floor and spent some time outside enjoying the view.    

Being in Barcelona, even if only for a couple of days, made me appreciate Sevilla even more.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed my visit very much, but it made me realize that I made the right choice in deciding to study in Sevilla.  Both cities have their merits, but personally I like the smaller, homey atmosphere in Sevilla as opposed to the big-city bustle of Barcelona.  As I continue to travel around Spain and throughout Europe, I seem to feel at home coming back to Sevilla.  

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