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Antoni Gaudí was an architect, and a Catalan native, whose works are largely concentrated in Barcelona. He has a really distinctive style and is considered the figurehead of Catalan modernism in design (primarily architectural style).

Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família
The first really big attraction that I visited in Barcelona is Sagrada Familia (Church of the Sacred Family). What makes this church really special is that the construction of it started in 1882 (Antoni Gaudi coming in to take direction in 1883), and it’s still a work in progress with an expected finish date of around 2030. The details on this building are insane–really, really intricate and extensively thought-out plans behind all of it. A lot of symbolism in the architecture as well. One of the more important aspects being the meaning of the towers–the highest one dedicated to Jesus, the 4 immediately surrounding it dedicated to the Evangelists and Virgin Mary, and the other 12 towers on the outside for the 12 apostles.

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As if the outside wasn’t crazy enough, we waited in a line that wrapped around the whole church to get a peek at what’s inside. It was definitely worth the wait. Outside, the building seems really old and traditional–but the inside is a complete 180°. Really modern, open space. There were a lot of windows that allowed for a lot of natural lighting, which made the space look softer and more welcoming relative to that of the exterior. I think my favorite part about the inside of the basilica was that when the light came in through the stained glass windows, all the colors from the staining were reflected off the stone pillars and ceilings inside the church. Small detail that contributed largely to the allure of the place.

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I am currently on a train as I am typing this, heading from Barcelona to Nice, France. Another place that I hadn’t originally planned on visiting–but hey, a stop to the Cote d’Azur on my way to Switzerland doesn’t sound too shabby. Warum nicht?

Because it was such a last minute decision, all of the more practical, high-speed train routes were pretty much booked so we got stuck with a pretty tricky route with a ton of transfers on regional trains. I’ll be traveling for 13 hours by train today before arriving there around 11:30 at night. While part of me feels like it’s a waste of a day, I don’t necessarily mind too much–the route I’m taking hugs the southern coastline of France, and I’m spending every minute of it soaking in the breathtaking views of the deep blue Mediterranean waters, acres of open land, and lush greenery.

I’ve been so busy that I haven’t gotten really gotten the chance to sit down and update this thing. Sorry! Here are some highlights from my stay in Barcelona:

Enrich Bakery
There’s a bakery, Enrich, at the Barcelona Arena right across from our flat that I’ve been frequenting ever since we’ve arrived here. Why? Because it has one of the most delicious chocolate croissants I’ve ever had (the only one better being from La Panier in Pike Place of Seattle, WA). The trick is to go wait outside in the morning right before opening, because you’ll get the freshest batch. Buttery, flaky pull-apart layers of croissant with warm, semisweet dark chocolate ganache in the middle. Coffee here is really great too, which is a sweet bonus.

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The internet at our flat is horrifyingly atrocious (first world needs), so I really like coming by here in the mornings to bum WiFi and plan out the day’s itinerary.

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La Rambla
La Rambla is a really busy street, filled with a lot of shopping, food, and open markets. Filled with an incredible energy of colors, noises and smells, and a vitality that really defines Barcelona today. It’s definitely somewhere you can wander around for a couple of hours without getting bored. My favorite street here in Barcelona.

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Sometimes when you’ve been traveling for so long, you forget to stop and really take it all in. Flying into Barcelona, looking over the beautiful coastline of city, the deep blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea, and the sweeping mountain ranges that border Spain, it felt like the moment I first flew into Europe about two months ago. It feels so surreal, being able to travel this much and see so many countries and experience so many new cultures. Definitely good to stop and count your blessings in between the hectic schedule every now and then.

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The Barcelona El Prat airport is pretty nice. Just from the airport itself, you know you’ve just arrived in a really modernized, urban city. Right when you get out of the gate, you’re greeted by shops of the local brands Mango and Zara. (I feel like I come across a Mango or Zara every 2 blocks here in Barcelona, haha).

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Walking to our place was really pleasant. The metro and bus system were really intuitive and efficient, and the big, spacious sidewalks were really refreshing after having to navigate through those narrow, cobblestone roads of Italy for the past week (charming, but inefficient). First impression of Barcelona: clean, developed, and friendly. Oh, that and I’ve never seen a city as proud of their local team as Barcelona. Their fan spirit here is unrivaled; I feel like more than half the men (or boys) that walk by me are wearing some sort of FC Barcelona attire (usually a jersey).

Our flat is located in Plaça d’Espanya (Spanish Plaza), which is one of Barcelona’s most important squares. It’s where the Castle of Montjuïc, Venetian Towers, and Arenas de Barcelona are located.

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First thing we did was drop our stuff off and explore the Spanish Plaza. We went to the Barcelona Arena first–it’s essentially a shopping mall with 5 floors. The bottom floor is food, second and third shopping, fourth a movie theater, and the fifth (roof top) is filled with restaurants and bars.

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From the rooftop, you can get a pretty good 360° view of the Spanish Plaza area. The rooftop is definitely the coolest floor, hopefully I can come back and try out one of these restaurants–I’ve got my eye on this one called Lalola. It’s so adorable, reminds me of a restaurant/jazz lounge you’d see in New York City out of some 90′s flick like You’ve Got Mail.

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