Travel Log 4: “Studying Abroad…It’s More than Just a Walk in the Park” by Kristen Sullivan. Barcelona, Spain

It is hard to believe that I have officially been in Barcelona for three weeks. I already feel like Barcelona has become my home and I have explored so much. Coming from a small town in New Jersey and going to a private university in Connecticut, I haven’t really experienced life in a city. Learning how to get around by bus and metro was definitely difficult at first and wandering up and down the streets getting lost was both exciting and frustrating.

            Last week I decided to take a long walk on a Tuesday after class. My Tuesday and Thursday classes end at 10:40am so I always have those days to adventure in Barcelona. After my class ended I decided to walk toward Parc de Ciudiella which is a huge park I had only heard about. Most people think of Barcelona as solely a giant city, but it has so much more to offer. Because I have no phone plan, all I had to go off of was the metro, street signs, and the people I stopped to ask directions. As I walked, I saw the hustle and bustle of the city on a normal work day. Shop owners keep their doors open attracting customers to come in. I smelled fresh bread being made and seafood from the paella. Every few feet you see a sign for “café con leche” or “tapas” a little market selling fruit and vegetables.

In between the streets most restaurants and cafes have outdoor seating. The streets are lined with tables and umbrellas of people eating and drinking outside. Waiters and restaurant owners stand outside the restaurant trying to talk to every person walking by asking them to come in and telling them about the special of the day. As I walked, I notice that all of the streets are filled with people walking. People walk everywhere in Barcelona and if they have to go somewhere far they take the metro. The streets aren’t filled with cars, but are filled by people strolling along or vespas which are a mix between motorcycles and scooters.  I want to ride a vespa at some point while I’m here.

I ended up getting pretty lost and finding one of the most beautiful places, Arc de Triomf. It is a beautiful arc that was on the way to the park. It was lined with palm trees and was a beautiful entrance way to a part of Barcelona I had never seen before. Even on a Tuesday it was packed with people taking pictures and admiring how beautiful the scenery was. It was so different from the city atmosphere of most of Barcelona.

I continued walking away from the Arc and toward the park which was a little hard to find. The park was absolutely amazing. There were people lying on the grass having picnics and so many local people were playing music. It was a whole new world of Barcelona I hadn’t seen yet. It was a huge park and so much to see. There was small lakes in the middle of the park with people in small canoes eating gelato and paddling. Walking around there were magnificent waterfalls and structures inspired by Gaudi. Even further there was huge sculptures of different animals scattered throughout because there is a zoo past the park.

As I continued to walk out of the park I passed even more restaurants and debated which one I wanted to grab lunch from. I finally decided on a hole-in-the-wall places called Bo de B because there was a huge line wrapped around the building. The food was amazing. It was like the Chipotle of Spain. You could pick everything that went into your sandwich and it was so fresh. It was so nice to discover this place on my own. The people working at the counter were so friendly and smiled as I tried my best to speak Spanish.

From this walk I learned that it takes adventuring out of your comfort zone to discover new things. Traveling alone especially allowed me to take in all of the details such as sights, smells, noises and other people. As Slimbach says, “Our actual entrance into the community requires that we venture out to observe everyday life, interact with strangers, and slowly absorb an alternative reality” (Slimbach 182). Walking around on a Tuesday to observe a normal week day in Spain as well as see amazing sights was such a great thing to do to start my time in Barcelona.

The travelogue I read, Steps out of Time, by Katherine B. Soper was about a woman’s journey across Spain. It ties in perfectly with my walk this week because the book is how this woman physically walked through most of Spain and leaves behind her “busy professional life, her cell phone, and her family” to have this adventure (Soper 15). Although her journey on foot is much longer than my afternoon walk, it helped me relate to the book more and the value of traveling on your own to discover things you wouldn’t if you were with a group of people.

10987436_990243360997483_4016498742147619548_nThis picture is from my walk and is one of the fountains I came across in the park. It is inspired by Gaudi’s designs. I chose this picture because it symbolizes my adventure alone and the beginning of my journey in Spain. When I turned the corner and saw how beautiful it was I was amazed and was also thinking about how I found it on my own. Since this walk I hope to have many more discoveries like this one.

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