From March 21st to 24th, 16 of us in the London semester program took a trip to Barcelona for the weekend. We were graced with the presence of one of our student advisors, Catherine. (it had actually been a goal of hers to make a student trip to Barcelona happen!).
Going from Dilke House to the airport, we arrived in Barcelona within hours. After checking into the hostel, we had our evening free time; my friends and I decided to try a tapas restaurant nearby called Casa Lola. We had roasted green peppers, salmon pasta salad, patatas bravas, ham croquettes, and Iberian ham!
The next day, we had a guided tour with Donnie on a coach around Barcelona. We got to see a few of Gaudi’s works, a view of the city, the beach and complete the tour with an entrance into La Sagrada Familia.
Once we finished at the basilica, there was a little bit of free time in the afternoon (siesta, anyone?) where my friends and I went to enjoy some chocolate with churros.
For the last activity of the touristy day, we were scheduled for a cooking class in the evening, as well as for dinner, which was one of my favorite parts of the trip. We got split in half, and I had Assumpta as the cook who taught us how to cook Barcelonian food.
We prepared tapas/appetizers of: roasted vegetables with a romesco sauce, patatas bravas, and toasted bread with tomato spread and salt.
For the main course, we cooked paella with chicken and peppers; then to end dinner, we made crema Catalana which had lemon zest and cinnamon flavors.
After dinner, a bunch of us tagged along with Catherine to catch a magic fountain show which was pretty… magical.
Then on the way home, a couple of my friends joined me on an impulsive decision to watch a flamenco show! It was a fun cultural experience to see how passionate the Spanish are within dancing.
The next day on Saturday was all to ourselves. My group of friends chose to head to Park Guell and go around since it was so big. After the hike up to the park and around, we made our way towards to the beach to relax and get some sun since London has deprived us a bit of that Vitamin D.
Before we went back to the hostel, we grabbed late lunch at a shop that served Mediterranean food in a popular area called the Gothic Quarter. There was a line out the door, so of course it had to be good, right?! I got the chicken bowl that came with bread and loads of vegetables and sauce- delicious. We had a long active day so we all headed back to freshen up and rest (siesta, round two?)
For dinner, everyone walked over to “Taller de Tapas” for our final meal all together. There was already a set menu, but to be honest, I can’t remember what we had because the (literally) countless plates of tapas kept on coming!
On the last day, we were again given free time which was extremely relaxing. After having a late morning, we decided to rent bikes for the whole afternoon and go around the town and beach again. It was such a simple activity, but this was my absolutely favorite part of the entire weekend. Cycling got me active for sometime, gave me an opportunity to see the beautiful city one last time with everyone out and about, and lastly, it gave me time to reflect and be grateful for everything since we often biked in empty lanes without much talking. Just me riding a bike in Europe… nothing can compare.
At about 5 PM we all met up at the rendezvous and headed to the airport, where we got on a plane back to London. There was definitely a lot of free time but it gave us the chance to see the city on our terms and at our own pace. I would recommend taking part in AIFS’ optional weekend trips, because you get to be part of an organized itinerary and with a group!
Teresa Nguyen is a Communications student from California Sate University, Long Beach studying abroad in London for Spring 2019. Teresa will be documenting her time abroad via video blog. While in London she is excited to learn more about the world and the global community. Keep checking back for more of Teresa’s blogs here.