Barcelona, Spain: Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys

Once the Telefèric de Montjuïc (or Montjuïc Cable Car) took us down the hill, my sister and I decided to walk around and explore the surrounding area. Fortunately for us, we came across Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys, also known as Barcelona’s Olympic Stadium.

The stadium was first built in 1927 in preparation for the International Exposition (also known as the World’s Fair) which took place in Barcelona in 1929. In 1989, the stadium was renovated for the 1992 Summer Olympics, since this was the city’s primary stadium for the Olympic’s events. The stadium has been known to seat anywhere between 50,000 to over 60,000 people and is currently used for sporting events and concerts.

The stadium was renamed in 2001 after the formal president of the Catalan government during the Spanish Civil War, Lluís Companys. If you remember reading about the Montjuïc Castle in the previous post, Lluís Companys was executed there in 1940 by the Franco regime, but his name lives on through this magnificent stadium.

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Day 2 In Bogotá, Colombia

After eating breakfast in the morning, we hopped onto the tour bus and drove to La Candelaria, a historic neighborhood in downtown Bogotá. It is said that Colombia is one of the most bio-diverse countries in the world, with 1,887 species of birds alone in the country. Besides for its bio-diversity, our tour guide explained that Colombia is also known for four major features— coffee, emeralds, flowers, beautiful women, and cocaine. The size of Bogotá, specifically, can be compared to that of New York or London, and is the one of the three largest cities in South America.

It rains in Bogotá 250 days of the year, so rainy season is practically year-long. During the 19th century in the 1800s, the British arrived in Bogotá to build railroads and neighborhoods, so the fact that so much architecture in the city is based around red brick is due to the English influence. Something interesting about the city is that it is divided by numbers, with each number representing the class of individuals who live there—1 being the lowest socioeconomic level of status and 6 being the highest. The city’s minimum wage comes out to $280 per month, and for apartments in the level 3 district for middle class citizens, apartments cost $290 per month.

The first site that we came across was Santuario Nacional de Nuestra Señora del Carmen, a beautiful church in the city that has become a staple, followed by a church from the 1600’s that survived the Civil War nearly 60 years ago. From there, we walked to Palacio de Nariño, or Nariño’s Palace—the official home and workplace of the President of Colombia. Antonio Nariño was the first person to translate human rights from French to Spanish. He had these rights printed on pamphlets and began passing them out, but was soon imprisoned for doing so. The palace sits on the same location where Nariño was born, and the President lives on third floor, while the rest of the palace contains important artifacts from the country’s history.

Outside the palace stood various military guards, and upon inquiring more information, we learned that one year of military training is mandatory for everyone upon graduating high school unless you have money to get yourself out of the requirement or unless you go directly to college.

As we continued walking, we came across balconies from hundreds of years ago that were influenced by the Arabians. The balconies were designed for the women of the house with the purpose being that the women could look outside, but no one could see inside.

We then saw the first observatory in all of South America that was built in the 1800s. It was meant to be taller than the Catholic Church but the architect was told if he followed through with his plan, he would have his head cut off.

The next sight was a cloister where firstborn girls were sent to spend the rest of the their lives. Their bodies would be painted when they died to preserve them. The second girl in the family would be married off to a wealthy lord, and the third daughter, or the youngest in the family would have to stay with their parents until they died, which some say is a different type of imprisonment as opposed to being sent to the cloister.

Following the cloister, we came across Plaza de Bolívar, named after President Simón Bolívar. The Plaza is home to the National Capital, the Palace of Justice, and the Cathedral of Bogotá.

As we continued walking, we spotted a building where President Simón Bolívar lived. He had a close female friend who often hosted parties and purposely invited various guests—some of whom were known to like the President, and others who openly voiced their dislike towards him. After getting the guests drunk, she approached them and asked what they thought of him. It was in this way that she found out about an attempt to kill him. She told Bolívar about this plan to kill him right before it happened, and he jumped out the window (pictured below) to escape and run while the people who planned to kill him were entering his house.

Across from this building is a theater built in 1793 but completed in 1800 which is very similar to the one in France, with the only difference being that this one is a little smaller. Shortly after seeing the theater, we came across a house where the Colombian version of Dr. Seuss was born, as well as the Red Cross building in Bogotá. From here, we took a tour of Fernando Botero’s museum, but that will be discussed separately in an upcoming post.

Day 1 In Bogota, Colombia

Last month, my mother took my brother, sister, and me to Colombia where we spent two days in Bogota and two days in Cartagena. Throughout the next few days, I’ll be writing about our travels and experiences.

We flew out of Miami on the afternoon of Friday, August 7th, and arrived in Bogota later that evening. August 7th happens to be a national holiday in Colombia, as it celebrates the Battle of Boyacá. The Battle of Boyacá resulted in Colombia’s independence from the Spanish monarchy and is celebrated as a national holiday every year on the seventh of August. Every four years on this particular day, the elected President of Colombia is announced in the Casa de Nariño—the official home and workplace of the President of Colombia.

There are roughly nine million people living in Bogota, but there is no subway to transport everyone who lives there. Instead, the official means of transportation is public busses. There are designated lanes on the highways solely for the busses called TransMilenio. However, since the busses are always crowded, the name is commonly called TransMilleno as a joke by the locals. (Lleno in Spanish translates to full).

Upon arriving to our hotel, we were given a few minutes to drop our bags off in our rooms before being served dinner in the hotel’s restaurant. As we sat down in the restaurant, we were each given a delicious hot drink consisting of Aguardiente—a Colombian alcohol also known as “fire water”, in addition to cinnamon, sugar, and panela—unrefined whole cane sugar, common in both Central and  Latin America. We were then brought a creamy chicken soup with carrots to begin, followed by chicken, potatoes, and vegetables.

Since it was already dark outside by the time we arrived, there wasn’t much we could take pictures of besides for the food (hence the pictures of food below). Shortly after dinner, we went to sleep for the night before officially commencing our trip in the morning with a tour of the city.