This trip has been in the books for a while. Ever since I received my internship at the Vatican and was accepted at the Arcadia in Rome study abroad program, Eric and I have been planning our trip to Barcelona. Eric lived in Barcelona for several years when he was young and still has family living in the city, so I was so excited to finally be able to see and experience a part of his life that I never had the chance to before. Plus, I was pretty pumped to have my own personal tour guide who speaks Spanish and is already familiar with the city (I’m a lucky gal, what can I say? 😉 )

We stayed in an Airbnb near the apartment Eric grew up in. We had to climb what felt like a thousand stairs to reach the top floor apartment, but I couldn’t complain…it was just all the more reason to indulge in sangria and tapas during the weekend (am I right?!) During our week in Rome, I played tour guide, showing Eric around my Roman neighborhood and taking him to my favorite gelaterias and piazzas. In Barcelona, Eric took the lead as we explored his old neighborhood, visited tourist attractions (like the Arc de Triompf, La Sagrada Familia, the Magic Fountain light show, and Park Guell), had lunch with his cousins and family members, and walked around the marina and the beach.

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Visiting La Sagrada Familia was a highlight of the weekend for both of us. I have been in many churches and basilicas in Rome, but never have I seen anything like La Sagrada Familia. Antoni Gaudí designed the church to feel like a forest, with the columns acting as trees and the stain glass windows bringing energy and life to the inside of the cathedral. I’m not sure that I know enough about architecture to have a favorite architect, but if I were to have one, Gaudí would be it. Every detail of the church and the atmosphere it created was absolutely breathtaking. Both Eric and I agreed it was an incredible experience and was well worth the price of the ticket of entry.

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Another highlight of the trip was food (shocking, I know). I think I had some of the best food I’ve had all semester during this weekend trip. My favorite meal is definitely a toss up between our dinner the first night at Arcano and our lunch on the marina at Merdendero de la Mari. At Arcano, the service was amazing, I had the best octopus and salmon of my life, and enjoyed my first glass glasses of sangria in Barcelona. Another fantastic meal was at Merendero de la Mari, a gorgeous restaurant located right by the water. Here, we enjoyed the best calamari I have ever eaten and steaming hot plates of seafood paella that we wished would last forever. Oh, and of course, a pitcher of sangria was the perfect pairing to this meal.

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My weekend in Barcelona was one of the best weekends of my life. I absolutely fell in love with the city and now consider it my favorite city I visited during this semester. It has a little bit of everything…adorable residential areas, streets with impressive shopping and dining, a beautiful beach and marina, incredible nightlife, and some of the most unique and beautiful architecture I have ever seen. Plus, the ease of using the smooth metro system and affordable taxis made coming back to Rome’s insane traffic and extremely crowded metro a bit of a nightmare. In addition to my newfound love for Barcelona, I was lucky enough to experience it with Eric. This was our first experience traveling together, and I don’t think we could have made a better team. I look back on this weekend with only the fondest of memories and look forward to the future with so much excitement: excitement for my next trip back to Barcelona (there is no way I can stay away now) and for so many more trips to come with the best travel partner I could ever ask for.

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Baci, baci (kisses, kisses),