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Travel Blog J-term 2014 Spain

Final Post: Last day in Barcelona

Jan 30, 2014

Matt Soppelsa


On our last day in Barcelona we got up a little earlier just to make sure we had time to do everything on the gigantic to-do list I had come up with. The first was to go see another one of Mr. Gaudi's work, Park Guell. This was a mix of architecture and nature like nothing I had seen before. A few houses and a beautiful balcony over looking the city with the mosaic tiles popping out like gems. After we got our fill of the amazing architecture, we decided to head up the mountain that was located in the park. After an extremely uphill walk, we came to the peak where we had a 360 view of the city we had just spent the last week in. All the little red tile roof buildings, the Mediterranean Sea, the rest of the mountain range, and Sagrada Familia sticking up out of the skyline. It was the perfect image to remember our trip by.

After words we made the trek back down the mountain stopping to listen to some of the street music along the way. Our next stop was the "4 Cats Cafe" which was the favorite hangout spot of Pablo Picasso when he would visit Barcelona. After taking the metro and getting horribly lost in the small back alley ways of the city, we asked for directions and took the embarrassing one block walk over to the cafe. We were not really prepared for how classy of a place this was going to be so our under dressed group ate our lunch quickly while soaking in the atmosphere.We ended the day by going to one of our favorite restaurants we had discovered on our adventures and raised our glasses to the great times we had in Spain.

Day Nine

Jan 20, 2014

Matt Soppelsa
January 20, 2014
Photos by Kristen Davis

"The last few days in Spain have flown by. Two days ago we went and visited Casa Batllo and La Sagrada Familia, both architectural master pieces by Barcelona's own Antoni Gaudi. I wish I could describe the feeling when I walked into Sagrada Familia, which is a towering church that is like nothing I have ever seen before. The pictures we took will not do it justice. The whole trip could have been to see this one building and been totally worth it. I could go on and on but add it to your bucket lists people.

We took an elevator to one of the towers and saw the entire city from one of it's highest points. Then, after a head spinning, panic inducing walk down 400 of the smallest stairs I've ever seen. The church was started in the early 1900's and because of Gaudi's unfortunate death the building process has taken longer than expected. The estimated time for everything to be completed is 2040. 

That night we had a very fancy Mediterranean Sea side dinner. And the following day consisted of the National Museum of Barcelona, which is up on the side of one of the mountains surrounding the city. We saw works dating back to the early 1200's that had been removed from churches up to Ramon Casas iconic work with the tandem bicycle. We were then set loose to explore. In the process of trying to find the castle on the mountain we got incredibly lost, but found a beautiful view from the Sea from up high. That night we went to find the "Montana Spray Paint" store, which is a brand of spray paint made specifically for graffiti artists. Barcelona is one of the top cities for street art and there are some true master pieces around the city. 

Yesterday we split into small groups and went to different cities near Barcelona. Me and my group got sent to Figueres, the home town of Dali. His museum is there and we saw close to 600 of his works as well as his crypt. He was one of the most diverse and prolific artists I have ever seen. 

Today is our last day and I'm sure I'll have a few more stories to tell by the end of it, so stay tuned!

Day Four

Jan 16, 2014

Matt Soppelsa
January 15, 2014

Yesterday we woke up bright and early to take the high speed train to Barcelona. On the train, we got a glimpse of the country side of Spain. Lots of mountains, valleys, and canyons. A very diverse landscape.

Once in Barcelona, after a quick lunch, our group split up to take two different tours. I went on the "Barcelona Street Style Tour" which is a guided tour that takes you through some of Barcelona's amazing street art and graffiti. We learned a lot about the urban life of the city.

Today our group saw the Gothic Cathedral. It blew my mind that we were standing inside a building that was older than our country. This thing was built in the 1200's and it was huge. A great deal of craftsmanship and labor went into this thing. We then split up again and my half went to the Palau. It is Barcelona's most famous music hall and with good reason. The architecture inside is absolutely breathtaking, especially the stained glass ceiling that looks the sun, but is in the shape of a water drop coming down into the room.

We then took a tour or MACBA, Barcelona's contemporary art museum. Also, a very popular place for skateboarders as there were almost 20 of them out front doing tricks of the buildings walkways. Inside we saw works that's stressed the peoples concern for how the city and it's image is changing. If you're reading this and are interested, you should definitely read about the current tension between Catalonia, the region of the country Barcelona is in, and the rest of Spain. It's really very interesting.

I'm looking forward to the rest of my time here in this beautiful city and I hope you all keep checking in!

Day Three

Jan 14, 2014

Matt Soppelsa
Photos by Kristen Davis
January 14

"Our third day in Madrid consisted of touring the Prado Museum which houses some of Europe's most famous works of art from Goya, Velazquez, and Rueben. These classic works of art were enough to bring an art student (nerd) like me to a stupor. Somewhat of a sensory overload. 
We toured the Royal Palace as well. While the palace itself has over 2,800 rooms the tour only consisted of 20 some. Each one more extravagant than the next. It was like walking through a Disney castle, but classier. 
Our last day in Madrid was our free day. Our group got some well needed rest and went out to get some food. The original plan was to eat at the café that Ernest Hemingway frequented when he was there. Unfortunately, we only saw the outside as it was closed. After a long day of shopping we bought tickets to a Atletica Madrid soccer match and experienced how much Spain really loves their fútbol. 
Tomorrow is our train ride to Barcelona for more Spanish adventures!" 

Day One

Jan 05, 2014

Matt Soppelsa
January 12, 2014


After flying into Madrid and getting settled in our hotel in the heart of the city, out group set out to on our walking tour. Madrid is comparable to NYC in many ways. There is a large park, park retiro, that acts as their Central Park and puerto del sol that is like a Times Square with stores and places for food. 

After struggling (but succeeding) at ordering on Spanish we spent the night looking at the royal palace gardens. We then walked the city looking different late night hang outs.

Today the group spent the day at Museo reina Sofia looking at more art work than I thought possible in a day. Afterwords we jumped on the metro train, visited Retiro Park where Kristen and I got roped into dancing with some street performers. The next stop was Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza which had an incredible exhibit on surrealism and a little touch of America with a Roy Lichtenstein piece. 

From all the Otterbein students here in Spain, we hope you keep updated with our travels and hola from Madrid!