Nicholas Machlitt is a student at Hofstra University and an ISA Featured Blogger. He is currently studying abroad with ISA in Barcelona, Spain.
Two weeks ago Barcelona was a place I had only seen through Instagram tags and the Cheetah Girls movie. Now two weeks in, I am starting to feel at home.
The best way to get to know a big city is by walking around it. My ISA resident staff planned many walking tours of the city, but I decided to walk around with a few friends and get to know the city on my own in addition.
The first place we walked to was Plaça Reial in El Gotic. This is one of the many beautiful small plaças around Barcelona. You can find many small cafes in the plaças where you can get a bite to eat with your friends and meet the locals. El Gotic is a section of Barcelona full of history from The Cathedral of Barcelona to the traditional architecture of the buildings. It’s also a great place to walk around because of the many winding streets full of small business which make you feel like you’re part of the history of Barcelona.
The next place we walked to was La Barceloneta which is a neighborhood in Barcelona that’s right on the beach. From there you can walk all along the boardwalk and get great views of the ocean. You can go relax on the beach or go get a smoothie from one of the stands. Along the walk you can see many beautiful buildings like the bright yellow one above in the traditional Spanish architectural style.
If walking around isn’t your thing, you can sit and take a break in the park and admire your new home. For all of you art fans, take in the great view of Barcelona’s Head sculpture (also known as Barcelona’s Face) designed by Roy Lichtenstein for the 1992 Olympic Games. This is a great view of the city, as you can see the traditional architecture of the city and its history mixed with the modernity of city life.
If you turn around you can look onto the port and see all the beautiful boats. This is also one of my favorite places to see the sun set in Barcelona.
The next few days I walked to the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya which is a beautiful huge building that was really brought to fame during the 1992 Olympic Games. From there you obviously need to check out the many centuries of art this beautiful museum houses. But once you leave the museum please admire the magic fountain, which dances along with the lighting and music. As this museum is on a mountain you can get great views of the whole city of Barcelona and you can really see how the city has changed over time.
If you come during the fall semester you are in for a real treat with La Mercé. La Mercè is a huge holiday for the patron saint of Barcelona. During this time you can see many parades, firework shows, and free concerts. La Mercé was one of my favorite ways to get to know the locals in the city because you truly feel like you’re part of their tradition. I really liked the free concerts in the plaças; the mix of traditional Spanish culture with the modern energy that the stage and crowd brought truly made the celebration special.
It has only been two weeks, but I am already starting to find the city navigable and have already made close friends. Studying abroad can be scary, but in a great city like Barcelona it’s easy to feel at home.
Want to read more about life in Catalonia? Check out “7 Things to Learn from the Catalans in Barcelona”