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History, Culture, and Outdoor Adventures: A Weekend in Catalonia

May 19, 2021 9:30:00 AM / by Andrew McKenzie

From visiting the Penedes Region to trekking around Montserrat, Andy tells us about his adventures and how that bonded him and his study abroad friends for life. As his semester winds down, Andy is taking in more of the culture and country at a different pace while reflecting on time with his roommates and coworkers.

Two weekends ago, the roomies and I took advantage of the nice weather and the relaxed travel restrictions and went into the Penedes Region in Catalonia for a vineyard tour. The Penedes Region is renowned for its fertile soil and temperate climate—ideal for making the grapes that make the region’s cava among the best in the world. Cava is a sparkling wine, similar to champagne, but with finer bubbles and a fresher taste. Each of the wineries we visited age their high-end cava for over eight years in a cave underground, hence the name cava.

Visiting Cava in the Penedes Region of CataloniaVisiting the Penedes Region of Catalonia.

The following day, my roommates and I awoke at dawn and took the train an hour north to visit Montserrat, a legendary mountain above the clouds famous for its centuries-old, monk-inhabited monastery and its otherworldly rock formations. Being the outdoor-adventure enthusiast I am, I couldn’t settle for just hiking around the mountain. So, I convinced all of my roommates to rock climb it. The rock climbing was awesome and the scenery was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Our friendly guide Gerard provided the equipment and expertise necessary for us to complete the climbs safely and smoothly. I enjoyed Montserrat so much that I think I’ll go back and visit soon. Sadly, I’ll be without the company of my roommates as the program has come to a close and they have all returned home.

Andy and his roommates spent the day hiking up MontserratMy roommates and I spent the day climbing at Montserrat.

Andy and his roommates at the base of MontserratAt the base of Montserrat.

Instead of going home immediately, I decided to stay in Barcelona for two more weeks to relax, travel within the region, and enjoy life without the pressures of work and school. I was lucky enough to find a place to stay with my friend Andres, who lives in the city.

While I’ve been loving my time here on my own, I miss my roommates dearly. Despite four out of five of us going to the University of Minnesota, we began the program as total strangers and ended it as friends for life. Looking back, it’s honestly pretty amazing how well things worked out between us all. Our study abroad experience put us through the highest highs and lowest lows together, and when that happens you create a bond that transcends any casual friendship.

I have missed them a ton, but being on my own has also provided me with a unique opportunity to live in Barcelona even more authentically. I’m helping Andres’ wife learn English, enjoying lunch with my Dutch coworkers, and have been spending a lot of time exploring. It’s safe to say life is good!

Thanks, Andy!

Andy McKenzie

Andy McKenzie is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2021, sharing his story in frequent posts on CAPA World. A Marketing major from University of Minnesota, he is studying abroad and interning in Barcelona this semester.

Andy's journey continues all semester so stay tuned.

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Topics: Barcelona, Spain, Local Culture