Picture this: It’s the end of your final exam this semester. You take your things, step out of that freezing SR, and breathe in the sweet smell of freedom. (Yeah, just pause and take a deep breath.)
Unfortunately, I’ve an internship this summer so the only thing I’ll be smelling is the recycled air of my office but this isn’t about me, it’s about YOU (and your hopefully-better-than-mine summer plans).
So what do we think of when we think of summer? If you’re like me and you imagine sand, surf, and good food, then keep reading and you’ll be all set!
If you’ve been keeping track of the state of foreign economies, especially in Europe, then maybe you’ve heard how some countries like Spain and Greece are really good to travel to now because of how costs have gone down there. Besides that, Barcelona is one of the most popular cities for tourists in Europe given its seaside location and the number of cultural attractions there.
What to check out?
There is literally so many things you could do in Barcelona that you could spend a month there and still not be done, but here’s a few of the really standout things:
The Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família is famed throughout the world for its unique Gothic and Art Nouveau design. Conceptualised by designer Antoni Gaudi in 1882, it was finally completed in 2015 after a whopping 132 years. Although its impressive exterior is what’s usually photographed, take the time to explore its interior. Experiencing the quiet serenity over the low hum of prayers in Catalan when you enter the cathedral will literally give you the chills (in a good way).
Another of Gaudi’s works, this house (or ‘casa’ in Spanish) has quite an eccentric design. The exterior façade is embellished with what looks like skulls and bones. The colours and shapes are designed after marine corals and sea life. What a surprising mix of themes! Stepping inside the building will feel like entering one of those ‘experiential museums’ (think the Trick Museum in Resorts World Sentosa). It’ll be a treat for photography lovers out there!
Commissioned in 1900 by a Count named Eusebi Güell, this park is situated on a hillside facing the seaside. Numerous architects and designers (on of which was Gaudi) were hired by the Count to create a ‘mini-city’ for the rich and aristocratic. However, the project was considered a commercial flop 14 years later and was abandoned. Luckily, the architects and designers had already finished building 3km of road and a few townhouses which now make up the park. Originally a private garden, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is now visited by millions yearly. Get your picnic mats ready for this one!
A Few Tips
Barcelona’s hot season starts in June and ends in September, so if you’re looking for that mild Mediterranean climate, come before June! (But hey, summer is all about that glorious sun anyway!)
Because it’s so near the sea, the seafood is TO DIE FOR (and quite affordable but don’t let your cholesterol level know that)!
While Barcelona is a Spanish city, most locals speak Catalan. Don’t mistake it for a dialect though, it’s another language in itself! Speaking Spanish with locals is fine but they’ll really be warmer to you if they see you make an effort to throw in a few words in Catalan while trying to converse with them.
If this getaway guide has tempted you to visit the idyllic shores of Barcelona, please let me know so I can live vicariously through you! Also, remember that Barcelona (and practically every Spanish city) moves at a slower pace than Singapore. Nights run late and people love their siestas. So when in Barcelona, do as the Barcelonans do and just chill! Happy Summer everybody :)