By Ely Schosek
A few weeks ago, a small group of Springville-Griffith Institute students and a couple of their parents went on a week-long excursion to London, Paris and Barcelona, seeing three countries in just eight days.
Last week’s edition included an articles regarding the first two countries: England and France. After almost a week of traveling, sightseeing and exploring, the group boarded a TGV train — the fastest train service in Europe with a top speed of nearly 200 mph. TGV stands for Train à Grande Vitesse which roughly translates to “high-speed train.”
The majority of this train ride featured the beautiful French countryside looking as if it hadn’t changed in a century or two. All still dirt roads and cottages with small farms. The ride also took the group along the Pyrenees Mountains, the mountain range that runs between France and Spain.
Once crossing the border between France and Spain, the landscape began to change. The Spanish part of the journey took them alongside the Mediterranean Sea, a vast expanse of blue which they would be able to dip their toes in later that day.
The weather in Barcelona was much different from the past two cities seeing as London and Paris were both affected by Storm Dennis, which had been causing much rain and high winds. Barcelona was sunny and in the 50s, temperature-wise, a pleasant and welcomed change.
The train ride was nearly seven hours with ten short stops throughout with most passengers staying aboard from Paris to Barcelona. Upon their arrival at Barcelona-Sants train station, a bus was waiting for them to take them to the hotel where they would drop their luggage before getting back on the bus to head to dinner.
They took a short walk near the Maremagnum Shopping Centre to get to Tapa Tapa, a Spanish chain restaurant where they would be having dinner. By this time, the sun was going down and the group was able to see the sunset as they ate.
A tapa is a small portion of any type of Spanish food. The group tried a variety of tapas, some getting better reactions than others. Following dinner was a dessert of crème brûlée.
After dinner, the group took a short walk to the nearest metro station which they rode to the station nearest to their hotel to check-in.
The next day the group met in the hotel lobby before boarding another bus for a tour directed by their Spanish guide for the morning. They made a few stops during the morning, most of these somehow connected to a Spanish artist named Antoni Gaudí.
During the course of his life, Gaudí started a number of projects and while a few are not completed they are still destinations for those visiting Barcelona. For instance, he started to build a residential area outside of the city on Carmel Hill but it was never completed and is now a public park named Park Güell. He had intended for the buildings to be natural and to fit into the landscape but today there are only a handful of buildings in the whole park.
Throughout the park, there are numerous spots where this style can be seen. Gaudí was even ahead of his time in the fact that he had recycled old bottles and pieces of other materials to create his masterpieces.
Another one of Gaudí’s unfinished works of art is the Sagrada Familia, a Roman Catholic minor basilica. After Gaudí’s death, other artists continued construction in what they assume to be Gaudí’s vision but no one can be sure what he intended for it.
After the morning’s guided tour, the group was given the rest of the afternoon up until dinner to go wherever they wanted. Most walked along La Rambla, the most famous street in Barcelona that leads up to the Columbus Monument.
Some of the biggest attractions in the area include L’Aquarium Barcelona, two apartment buildings designed by Gaudí and the Picasso Museum.
Before dinner the group got to spend some time at a beach that had been created for the Barcelona Olympics in 1992. Again they were able to watch the sunset before heading off to dinner at Tinglado. Dinner featured chicken paella with bread and salad followed by lemon sorbet.
The next day the group was up and out of the hotel early to get to the airport for their final day of traveling. They flew from Barcelona to Newark where they went through customs and then got their connecting flight from Newark to Buffalo and arrived home on time around 7 p.m. local time.