When you look at a map of Barcelona, it is easy to be overwhelmed by what appears to be a rather expansive city. Conveniently, there is a metro system that can drop you off practically anywhere that you desire. Initially, I found this to be a major advantage to living here, and as a college student of a University in New York City, it honestly offered a bit of comfort in an unfamiliar atmosphere. I was content in taking the metro everywhere I needed to go, but I wasn’t too fond of the stuffy hallways during the seemingly never-ending Barcelona summer (not that I’m complaining). After a certain point, I decided to take advantage of the nice weather and try travelling by foot.
Because my homestay is only about a 20 minute walk from CIEE, I have always walked there to avoid paying for only one stop on the metro. On this walk down Passeig de Gracia, I am able to see two of Gaudí’s masterpieces: Casa Battló and La Pedrera. Seeing these works of art every morning gives me an instant, daily reminder that I am experiencing a potentially once in a lifetime opportunity living in Barcelona.
Carrer de la Princesa, La Ribera/El Born
From CIEE I have to commute to classes at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra which is located by the beach, a decent (but reasonable) distance from “La Casa”, the CIEE study center. Because I have enough time in between classes, I decided to take a leisurely walk from La Casa to UPF. This walk takes me through the barrio La Ribera/El Born which is a maze of tiny streets with charming little café’s and stores that I try to stop in when I have the time.
After I pass through El Born, I walk by el parque de la Ciutadella and Barcelona’s Arc de Triomf, both of which are beautiful sights, and great places to sit, relax, and enjoy the scenery. By the time I am out of class, I can walk home just as the sun is going down.
After dinner, my friends and I sometimes meet up near my homestay, in el barrio Gracia, where a lot of young people in Barcelona hang out in the evenings. The neighborhood exudes a youthful energy that I can feel as I walk to Placa Del Sol, a common meeting place.
Placa Del Sol, Barrio Gracia
Something about Barcelona makes it enjoyable to simply be here. I find myself walking all over the city, which has gotten smaller and smaller as I’ve explored more and more. I am able to get enough exercise to allow me to indulge in all the Catalan cuisine my heart desires, while at the same time experiencing the city of Barcelona first hand. As for my use of the metro, it is continuing to decrease, because I just can’t imagine missing everything above ground.