Spain Day 6: Girona & Barcelona

Our morning began at 8:00a (2:00a back home) with continental breakfast at our hotel. It was the best layout so far on the trip with plenty to choose from along with a local recipe on the wall for Catalan Tomato Bread.

Twelve of us the boarded our bus along with our tour guide Gemma and drove 1 hour 20 minutes to the city of Girona. We napped the entire way but were refreshed and ready for our Game of Thrones tour.

We walked through the main cathedral with yet again another beautiful gothic and baroque structure towering over the city. We also got to see how the church layout had changed over the past thousand years, going from a basic square for worship, to the incredible building it is today. She also pointed out some beautiful reliefs in the cloister (center garden) of the church showing the creation story.

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Our tour featured 3 locations from Game of Thrones – Braavos, Kings Landing and The Free City of Essos. We saw the bridge where Arya Stark jumped off of, where she was begging on the streets when blind, a few doorways and streets in which she ran down, and the road in which Jamie Lannister rode up on his white horse, along with the scene of Cersei Lannister’s ‘SHAME!’ Definitely worth the drive to come see.

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I think this was my most favorite place we visited on the trip so far. Although we were only here for 1 hour, it was a charming city that felt large but also small with a relaxed atmosphere and would be a great place to come back and enjoy lunch and a leisurely stroll through its cobblestone streets.

Now back in Barcelona, our bus driver drops us off 3 blocks away from our first destination – La Sagrada Família. La Sagrada Família is a large unfinished Roman Catholic church in Barcelona, designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. 6 of us used our pre-booked tickets (€13 for students) to enter the cathedral at 2:15p. This. Was. Beyond. AMAZING. Gaudí carried the Art Nouveau style far beyond its usual application as a surface decoration. The Church will have three grand façades: the Nativity façade to the East, the Passion façade to the West, and the Glory façade to the South (yet to be completed). The inside of the church is is completely stunning as well. The columns of the interior are a unique Gaudí design. Besides branching to support their load, their ever-changing surfaces are the result of the intersection of various geometric forms. Essentially none of the interior surfaces are flat; the ornamentation is comprehensive and rich, consisting in large part of abstract shapes which combine smooth curves and jagged points. Even detail-level work such as the iron railings for balconies and stairways are full of curvaceous elaboration.

We take our pictures before exiting the cathedral and take a taxi 10minutes north to Park Güell. The Park Güell is a public park system composed of gardens and architectonic elements located on Carmel Hill, in Barcelona. Although under construction a little bit, we still were able to enter the park for €7.50 at 4:00p and be whisked away in the magic design of Gaudí once again. Park Güell is the reflection of Gaudí’s artistic plenitude, which belongs to his naturalist phase (first decade of the 20th century). During this period, the architect perfected his personal style through inspiration from organic shapes. The park is filled with mosaic benches, fountains, gardens and once apartment building. We snapped some photos before the group leaving for the hotel.

Yesenia and I instead walked 30minutes down south to see the exterior of Casa Batlló. It was another building designed by Antoni Gaudí, and is considered one of his masterpieces. We unfortunately didn’t have enough time to go inside for a tour, so we instead grabbed a taxi back to the hotel to freshen up for dinner.

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At 6:30p we loaded up the tour bus and made our way to Casa Lola. We enjoyed a dinner of tapas, cod, and peanut butter ice cream for dessert. The meal was just what we needed and we then preceded into the theater behind the restaurant area inside Casa Lola for a flamenco show.

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Two singers, two dancers and a guitar player blew us out of the with their incredible show. It includes cante (singing), toque(guitar playing), baile (dance), jaleo(vocalizations and chorus clapping), palmas(handclapping) and pitos (finger snapping).

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After the show and dinner, the group walked over to the Magic Fountain. The Magic Fountain of Montjuïc is a fountain located at the head of Avinguda Maria Cristina in the Montjuïc neighborhood of Barcelona. Its a 1hour show timed to music and different lighting. It was so beautiful to see the colorful water dancing in front of us.

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The group the walked over to Xin Bar for drinks after dinner. It was a gin and cocktail bar that accommodate the large group at short notice very well and we were all enjoying delicious drinks before heading to the next bar or going back to the hotel to pack up.

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This trip has been a whirlwind but I’ve enjoyed every minute. A big thank you to AESU travel for offering the trip and to our phenomenal tour guide Doris for keeping us safe and leading us on this amazing journey. I look forward to future travels and for the opportunity to go on this amazing trip throughout Spain!

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