Barcelona, Spain: Font màgica de Montjuïc

After an incredible day of sightseeing, there was still one more task on our to-do list— Font màgica de Montjuïc, also known as the Montjuïc Magic Fountain. The fountain first premiered in 1929 for the International Exhibition (also known as the World’s Fair), and has since blown tourists and locals away with its beautiful display of colors, lights, and of course, its synced and coordinated water movements.

The fountain’s water moves in accordance with the music that is playing, and the lights that are constantly changing, and it is truly a wonderful sight. Behind the fascinating water show is the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, which is Barcelona’s National Art Museum. Although we didn’t have time to see the exhibits, we were able to see the museum lit up at night, which was also spectacular.

Once the show ended, my sister and I crossed the street and came across Las Arenas, which is a shopping mall. We didn’t know this at the time, as we assumed it was a bullfighting ring since that’s what it looked like. It turns out, Las Arenas was actually a bullring, but was transformed into a mall in 2011 since bullfighting in Barcelona was banned in 2010. Although the shops in the mall were closed at the time, we went to the rooftop to see what was up there, and ended up sitting down at a restaurant for dinner. We ordered sangria (which if you couldn’t tell by now, is a must in Spain), as well as patatas bravas (once again), and seafood paella (because we couldn’t get enough of it. The food and views from the rooftop were great, and we couldn’t wait to get started on our next day in Barcelona!

Barcelona, Spain: Night 1

After a long, but exciting day in Lisbon, Portugal, my sister and I hopped on another plane, and made our way to Barcelona, Spain. Although I studied abroad in Alcalá de Henares (near Madrid) for a summer semester during college, I didn’t have as much time to explore Barcelona as I would have liked. Ever since, I have always wanted to return to this beautiful city, and finally had the opportunity to do so.

Upon checking in to the hotel and dropping our things off in the room, my sister and I walked through the city to find a restaurant recommended to us by a local. On our way, we passed the immaculate Casa Battló, which will most definitely be discussed in an upcoming post.

When we finally found the restaurant, we didn’t waste any time! We ordered Spain’s famous patatas bravas (potatoes drizzled with a delicious aioli sauce), as well as fried calamari, sangria, and of course, seafood paella. The food was just what we needed after a long day of traveling, and it was the perfect way to start our adventures in Barcelona.

Day Two In Spain

Last night, my friend and I decided to walk around the city, and decided to eat dinner at a local pescaderia, a fish and seafood restaurant. Of course I made sure to order Paella, a dish traditional to Spain (Valencia in particular) consisting of rice and various meats and/or seafoods.After dinner, we continued to walk around and came across a bar with free flamenco singing and dancing. We stayed for the show, which was awesome, and after a long day of traveling, went back to the hotel.

Having spent all of today traveling around Sevilla, I realized that there’s a lot more that the city has to offer than one may think. First off, we walked around to check out all of the local shops and restaurants. We then entered the Catedral de Sevilla which is the largest Gothic Church in the world and the third largest church in Europe (after St. Peter’s in Rome and St. Paul in London). The cathedral claims to contain the remains of Columbus, and the golden centerpiece is the world’s largest, containing 2,000 statues, illustrating 45 scenes from the Bible. Next to the cathedral is La Giralda bell tower, the city’s most recognizable monument. The lower two thirds of La Giralda are from the late twelfth center, and are the “minaret of the city’s old mosque.” The top part, or the upper third was added later on to house the bells, and at the very top stands the Giraldillo, not only a weather vane, but the largest bronze sculpture of Renaissance Europe. Upon leaving the Cathedral and Giralda Tower, we exited through a patio of orange trees, seeing as Sevilla is home to over 20,000 bitter orange trees, whose fruits are often exported to England to make marmalade.

The next stop on our list was the Plaza de Torros de la Real Maestranza, the bullfighting stadium here in Sevilla. Bullfighting takes place from the months of April to October and with only 12,000 seats in the stadium, Sevilla is known as the birthplace of modern bullfighting. We walked around outside, saw the four main entrances and exits for the main bullfighter and for the bulls. One entrance is for el torero, the main bullfighter, should he win the fight. Only one or two toreros actually win a bullfight each year, sometimes none, but there is a special exit for them in which they get carried out by the crowd in celebration. A second entrance is for the bull to enter, another for the bulls to exit if they’re dead, and the last one is an exit for the main bullfighter to be taken to the hospital, should he need immediate transportation. After seeing the plaza de torros (bull-ring), we  were then shown a museum with interesting artifacts dating back to the seventeenth century, a room serving as a cathedral for the toreros to pray before the fight, as well as where the horses and mules are held (Picadores, or lancers, ride horses alongside the toreros and acts as aids, should it be necessary. Mules on the other hand are brought in at the end of fights to help carry dead bulls out of the ring). After learning the history of bullfighting and seeing how interesting it looks, you can bet that I’m going to try to go to one before my trip ends!

After spending the remainder of the day walking around and taking in the sights, dinner was definitely something I was looking forward to. I made sure to order Gaspacho, a traditional tomato based soup with cucumber ice cream, and tapas de solomillo y patates, steak and potatoes. The dishes were incredible, and the idea of tapas, finger foods, originating in Spain, is pretty cool, considering you get small bites of delicious foods, which still fill you up.