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The Simple Joys of a Semester Abroad in Barcelona

March 29, 2023
by Ingrid Sund

From beautiful beaches and charming cafes to shareable tapas and Gaudi architecture, Barcelona hasn't missed a beat. Living in Barcelona has shown me the importance of appreciating all of the little things in life. It's not a challenge finding something to do in the city, and for us students, many of these activities are low cost or free! So, slow down and enjoy these 4 simple joys of Barcelona with me!

A woman drinking coffee under the sun
Drinking coffee in the sun.
  1. Parks and Public Spaces

Barcelona does not miss the mark with public outdoor spaces. From Parc de la Ciutadella to Bunkers del Carmel, there is so much to see for free!

A tradition when beginning and ending your time in Spain is to hike to Bunkers del Carmel. This site is comprised of old Spanish Civil War bunkers where anti-aircraft guns were installed. Today, it is the perfect place to enjoy the stunning views of the city with friends and strangers. I recommend packing a snack, blanket, and layers to enjoy the sunset comfortably!

Parc de la Ciutadella is a public park near Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF) and the Barcelona Zoo. Since I am a hybrid CEA CAPA student, I take classes at both the CEA CAPA Center and UPF. Lucky for me, I get to pass through the beautiful Parc each day! This park has ping pong tables, an extraordinary fountain, and long tree-framed paths to wander through. It is a wonderful escape from the bustling city life that is so prevalent in Barcelona.

People viewing the sunset atop Bunkers del Carmel in Barcelona, Spain
People viewing the sunset atop Bunkers del Carmel in Barcelona, Spain
Five friends sitting atop Bunkers del Carmel and facing the cityscape of Barcelona, Spain
Five friends sitting atop Bunkers del Carmel and facing the cityscape of Barcelona, Spain

My friends and I enjoyed a lovely Barcelona sunset in late January atop Bunkers del Carmel.

  1. Cafes

Before coming to Barcelona, drinking coffee felt like a chore that needed to be done each morning. It felt like I was always rushing to brew my coffee and drink it on the go. My mindset did a complete 180 upon arriving in Barcelona. Just about every street has a cafe more inviting than the last! With sunlit outdoor seating, two-euro coffees, and delicious fresh-baked pastries, it's nearly impossible to pass one up. I've found myself spending a few hours each week sipping cafe con leche, reading or journaling, and soaking up the sun at a quaint Spanish cafe. My personal favorite pastry to pair with a coffee is a tarta de manzana or apple tart! Disfrutas! ("Enjoy!")

Two friends smiling with two coffees on the table at a cafe
Coffee and apple tart
Cafe con leche and an apple tart from El Fornet.
  1. Tapas

Another Barcelona specialty is tapas. Tapas are small dishes of food that are served to be shared, ranging from a bowl of olives to a plate of prawns. Though the word "tapas" describes food sized similarly to that of American shareables or appetizers, tapas are more of an experience than a meal. Tapas bring everyone together to share delicious food and talk with one another at any time of the day. On one of my first days in Spain, before I had met many people, we gathered with 12 of us CEA CAPA students to enjoy tapas together. We went from strangers to good friends over the course of this meal!

A table filled with six various tapas
My favorite tapas have been calamari and croquetas de jamon - though there really isn't a "bad" tapa choice!
  1. The Beach

Last, but certainly not least of the simple joys found in Barcelona is the beach! I come from the landlocked Midwest of the United States. So, being just a few minutes' walk to the Mediterranean Sea has been surreal. My friends and I love to spend our evenings sitting on the beach as the sun sets behind us. Though it's a bit too cold to swim now... cannot wait to jump in once the weather warms up in spring.

Sailboats on the water
Three friends sitting on a beach during sunset in Barcelona, Spain
Walking along the Port of Barcelona to find a spot for the sunset on the beach is my favorite! There are so many beautiful sailboats and fun restaurants.

Ingrid Sund is the Content Creator - Blogger.
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