In this blog from Nina, she shares the places in Barcelona that hold a special place in her heart—from lesser-known museums to world-famous landmarks. If you're ever in Barcelona, you can visit all of Nina's favorite spots in one day, like she did on her memorable yet bittersweet final day there.
On Friday, March 13, 2020, my European adventure came to a screeching halt. For me as well as all the people of Spain, our lives were going to drastically change. March 13th was the day the Spanish government declared that the country would be going into a state of emergency on the following day. We knew this day was coming soon based on the outcomes of other study abroad programs and the news circulating about COVID-19. On Wednesday, March 11, President Trump announced that he was banning travel to the US (US citizens were exempt from that ban). We awoke Thursday morning to an email declaring our in-country program had been suspended and that we should find a flight home as soon as possible. As saddened as we were, as part of our goodbye, my 5 roommates and I spent that Thursday together doing all of our “lasts” in Barcelona before leaving Friday. We were determined to pack as many highlights of Barcelona that we could on our last full day to make the best memories we could. I want to share our day with you. If you ever find yourself in Barcelona for a short period of time, here’s how you can make awesome memories in just one day:
First Stop: La Monumental.
Our first stop was at La Monumental, an old bullfighting ring that was on the block we lived on. The arena has giant egg-like features surrounding the top that always guided us back home. It was a must to check out the Bullfighting Museum before leaving. There are many smaller, not so well known museums like this scattered throughout Barcelona. Others that you could visit just like this one are the Barcelona Aquarium, Maritime Museum, or Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya.
Next - our last walk past the Barcelona Arc de Triomf.
Next, we next walked through our favorite neighborhoods of Raval and Born taking in the atmosphere of the area one more time. Both of these neighborhoods are full of activities. You can eat just about anything, shop your heart out on Las Ramblas, and view landmarks such as the Cathedral of Barcelona.
We made sure to visit the Cathedral of Barcelona and tour the famous La Sagrada Familia.
We had bought tickets to tour the very beautiful La Sagrada Familia church later in the afternoon (which ended up being the last day it was open) but we made sure to stop by the CAPA study center on the way over. We waved goodbye to our school and I made sure to get a sandwich from both my favorite coffee shops that fueled me daily.
Our Final Tapas.
After our tour of the iconic church, we ended our day with a tapas dinner and sunset on the beach, finished with a fantastic night of dancing and saying goodbye to our friends enjoying the last Barcelona nightlife which went on early to the next morning. You can substitute the beach sunset with any of the many peaks in Barcelona like Los Bunkers or Tibidabo.
Me and the roomies on our last night in Barcelona.
As much as I would have loved to finish my semester in Spain, I completely understand how that was not an option. I could not be more grateful for my time in Barcelona and because my time was cut short, I now have an excuse to go back! I also want to say that in hindsight, I truly wish we had understood how important social distancing was. We were not practicing this at the time - the severity of the situation hadn’t really sunk in as all the landmarks, restaurants, and museums were still open. That being said, my heart goes out to Spain and the millions of people worldwide affected by this pandemic. Stay safe and stay inside!
Nina Vrtjak is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2020, sharing her story in frequent posts on CAPA World. An Accounting and Human Resources major at University of Minnesota Twin Cities, she is studying abroad in Barcelona this semester.
Nina's journey continues all semester so stay tuned.