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Lizzie’s Abroad Blog: Barcelona Nostalgia

Traveling abroad is the most amazing experience a collegiette™ could ask for, but I discovered one problem when I left for Barcelona...I couldn't be the Her Campus UCSB Campus Correspondent any longer! Now that I have been a Her Campus enthusiast back in Santa Barbara for the entirety of Fall Quarter, I thought I would share some of my experiences in lieu of many study abroad deadlines quickly approaching at this time of year.

While I lived overseas, I kept a personal blog of my European travels, and called Barcelona, Spain my home away from home for 5 months.While jetsetting through the continent, I was culturally enlightened by my visits to the UK, France, Italy, Czech Republic, Netherlands, and Greece. Some of my favorite foreign adventures included wine tasting in Tuscany, sailing the bumpy waters of the Aegean sea to reach Santorini, indulging in a picnic of cheeses and baguettes underneath the Eiffel Tower, and being serenaded in a gondola throughout the Venice canals.

I could ramble on and on about the various weekend trips I took, but the city that will forever have a place in my heart is the electic, lively, and refreshing Catalonian city of Barcelona. Here are some of my blog posts:

The Beginning: Barcelona
I have only been in Barcelona for a mere 2 weeks, and I can already tell that returning to the States will be bittersweet. Since I have just arrived, I had to partake in many tourist exhibitions, and I have constantly been amazed at the Spanish architecture, culture, and landscape.

Biking Through Barcelona
When I learned that I would be partaking in a 4-hour bike tour throughout the city of Barca, I felt like I was back in Isla Vista. However, I was not so thrilled knowing that I would biking after a long night out at the "discotecas" (the clubs don't open until 1:00 a.m. and close around 6:00 a.m)! Anyway, once I woke up and sat on my bicycle—not a beach cruiser I knew that this would be an incredible experience. The sunny 70 degree weather was muy perfecto (excuse my Spanglish), and the scenery was breathtaking. Our tour guide began in the Gothic Quarter, which consists of many alley ways and historic landmarks such as the Barcelona Cathedral, Catalonian Government structure, and the Arc de Triomphe. After learning about the former palace of Ferdinand and Isabella, our group proceeded to bike down the alleys, which are covered in grafitti art. Unlike dangerous areas in the United States, grafitti is considered a major art form in Spain, and the unique and effortless masterpieces of street artists are part of the Spanish culture.

Once our bicyles passed under the Arc de Triomphe, we traveled through a beautiful park, past a scenic pond, and ended up at Parc de la Ciutadella. The fountain, La Cascada, is breathtaking and although I'm not one to appreciate nature, the fresh breeze and water splashing makes this area extremely special. Just to the side of this landmark is a huge zoo, which doesn't cage its animals! I haven't made it there yet, but I will have to delve into the wildlife at some point during my stay.

After a quick popcorn snack, our trip took a quick change in pace as we left the calm of the park to bike alongside speeding cars on the highways. On the streets, we passed the Plaza de Toros, where bull fighting occurs in the Spring (however, this is the last year of historic bull fighting due to Catalonian law), and we soon made our next stop on the boardwalks at Barceloneta.
This area is amazing! Can you imagine a seaside town with beautiful ports and raging clubs? This is where to find it. Barceloneta is relaxing as you stare out at the glistening water and Port Vell, but as you turn around, you will find yourself at the nightclubs, "discotecas," which inclue Opium, Shoko, Catwalk, and the W Hotel. The clubs are unlike anything I have seen in America. Although they are insane, the culture is enhanced by these late-night underground dancing halls.

Barceloneta was our last stop on the tour, but we did not make it home without eating at the best sandwich shop in the city, Bo de B. The sandwiches at this hole-in-the-wall are legendary, and cost only 3 euros for a huge portion consisting of fresh baked bread, any type of protein you'd like, delicious veggies, and a choice of creative sauces that give these meal their zing. My sandwich was muy delicioso and was made of grilled chicken, lettuce, olives, tomatoes, onions, lots of feta cheese, and spicy sauce.

La Boqueria, Las Ramblas
Speaking of food, one of my most favorite attractions in the city so far has been the outdoor market, La Boqueria, on the busy tourist street of Las Ramblas. The market is ginormous and each section has it's own flare. Endless amounts of fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, and candy line the pathways of this "grocery store," and you would not believe some of the items for sale.

Besides the incredible fresh squeezed fruit juices, handmade chocolates, honey coated nuts, and miles upon miles of sour belts, there are some more interesting options in the meat department such as stomach, tongue, fish with their eyes still intact, chicken with their heads, and even a full pig. I guess it's a cultural experience, but let's just say, I will not be trying these "delicacies" while I am living in Barcelona.

La Sagrada Familia
If you ever travel to Spain,
you have to see La Sagrada Familia! This church is Barcelona's number 1 tourist attraction, and the textbooks in the UCSB Art History department do not do it justice! Antoni Gaudi, the architect, must has been a crazy genious because the detail of every inch of the architecture is absolutely breathtaking. The structure was never completed, but has a potential due date of 2026. It's almost impossible to imagine what more could be added to the huge building, but as of now, there are 4 towers, and when Sagrada Familia is completed there will be 18 towers. Also, there are currently 2 facades, but a third facade will be added upon completion. All of these future ideas are part of Gaudi's original plans, but since he passed away, these plans will be delegated by an architect living in Spain who is 84 years old. My favorite facade was the nativity facade, which depicts Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. It's hard to believe that the intricate sculptures were created in the late 1880's because the details are absolutely unbelievable! However, one of my favorite parts Sagrada Familia was the interior, which is covered in gorgeous stained glass that shines colors along the sculpted walls and high, artsy ceilings. I was truly in awe walking through and around this historic and unique piece of arcitecture.

Hopefully, these blog excerpts will positively assist HC-ers in the midst of the abroad applications. Although I fell in love with Barcelona, every student is happy in the place they chose to call home for 4 months whether it is in Europe, South Africa, Latin America, or even Australia. Isla Vista is truly a paradise, but travling overseas is well worth leaving our glorifed beach slum anyday.

Elizabeth ('12) is studying Communication and Professional Multimedia Writing at UC Santa Barbara. Born and raised in Calabasas, California, she is a valley girl at heart, but loves spending her time in big cities or at the beach. Elizabeth is currently interning at Santa Barbara Magazine, and is also a writer and reporter for the food, arts, and entertainment sections of her university's newspaper. After a semester studying abroad in Europe, she spent the past summer in New York City as an editorial intern at TV Guide Magazine through the highly competitive ASME Summer Internship Program. Aside from previous internships including a local radio station, Elizabeth worked in Los Angeles at FOX 11 KTTV as a production intern for the top-rated morning show, Good Day L.A and FOX 11 News, and was also recently published in Seventeen magazine. An entertainment fanatic, Elizabeth has interviewed E!'s Giuliana Rancic, the cast of Glee, Entourage, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and more. She is also a dedicated member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, and served her chapter as Vice President and executive board member. When she's not editing Her Campus articles, you can expect to find her at the gym, shopping, eating chocolate, or watching any show on Bravo. Elizabeth is preparing for a career in print or broadcast journalism, and loves working for Her Campus!
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