I have been a rabid fan of the soccer team FC Barcelona for many years. I dreamt of seeing my “Mecca,” Camp Nou Stadium, in person. I finally had that fantastic chance the summer before my junior year. My family and I flew on Delta Airlines from Cincinnati to Atlanta and then overnight direct to Barcelona, Spain. When we landed in the morning, we took a cab to the Hotel Fira Palace. It was in a great location near the city center. For the next few days, I did more walking than I probably do in a year at home, although the subway system was great to get around on, too. Just two blocks away, we saw Font de Montjuic, a gigantic fountain at the bottom of a large stairway leading up to an impressive building, the National Art Museum of Catalonia. I learned that Catalonia is the northeast section of Spain and even has its own language, Catalan, in addition to Spanish, and Barcelona is the region’s capital. From the museum, we had a great view of the city, and, because it is on the coast, I also had my first view of the beautifully blue Mediterranean Sea.
I saw a lot of interesting sights in the city, but the most memorable were Park GÃ¼ell, Sagrada Familia, and, of course, Camp Nou. I recognized Park GÃ¼ell from the video game Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater III, but it was much more impressive to see it in person. The colorful mosaic work was amazing on the buildings, walls, and the long winding bench. Around the park, people were playing what I would consider typical Spanish music along with Jazz, Blues, and other styles. Sagrada Familia is a huge cathedral with a very interesting mix of traditional statues and abstract figures on the outside. The building was started in 1882, so it has been under construction for over 125 years and is not scheduled to be finished until after 2026. It is very different from any cathedral I have seen and really shows the changing influence of the times during which it has been built. Finally, I got to see where my dream team plays, the almost 99,000-seat Camp Nou Stadium, the largest in Europe. The stands were decorated in the vibrant team colors of a rusty red and blue with yellow lettering spelling out the motto “Mes Que Un Club,” meaning “More than a club.” When we went to tour the team museum, I nearly jumped when I saw some of my heroes in the distance. I was greatly disappointed when I got closer to see that they were just cardboard cutouts.
My trip to Barcelona was the most memorable I have taken so far and very different from home. The city was very busy with many mopeds, scooters, and small cars buzzing around, but the subways and busses were efficient and easy to use. It was also very diverse and artistic. You could hear many languages and types of music and see art and architecture from ancient to modern. The food was different, too. Many restaurants served Tapas, a variety of small portions that made up a meal and often used local seafood. I thought the people were very friendly and helpful, especially when I struggled with my high school Spanish.
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