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  • Kai Bradner

The Art of Traveling: A Week in Barcelona

Photo Taken By Kai Bradner

Having access to the necessary resources to travel is a privilege that many around the world can only hope to dream of achieving. Traveling can be wildly expensive, from paying for an expensive flight, gas, and lodging. There is a direct correlation between socioeconomic status and the ability to travel. Traveling and visiting different countries and experiencing different cultures can enlighten one's worldview. Travel can be a powerful tool for dismantling discriminatory ideals it can be hard for individuals to have sympathy and understanding for others if they do not understand why one acts a certain way. Promoting cultural relativism is an important tool in dismantling many of the racist and xenophobic stereotypes that are so prevalent today. Traveling provides a front-row seat into the lives of those we deem different from us. As Mark Twain once stated, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts”. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime”. While tourism can promote cultural diversity/acceptance there are also many environmental and displacement concerns unethical tourism can bring. Look at the recent fires in Hawaii for a devastating example. Like most things in life tourism and travel requires balance.

Over Thanksgiving break, I had the privilege of traveling to Barcelona for a week to visit friends and explore the city and surrounding areas. This trip was my first time visiting a European city and I was unsure what to expect. Luckily, I traveled with two other friends so we were able to split costs such as transportation and accommodation. However, as a college student, I can still feel the financial hole left in my pockets. Before arriving in Barcelona, we completed our due diligence by researching what we wanted to do and creating a loose itinerary. As we attempted to gain the true Barcelona experience in just 6 days, I felt the city's soul just by walking the streets– not from the designed experiences which were all impressive but nothing can beat walking through the city in the afternoon on a sunny day. One of my favorite things about Barcelona is all of the coffee shops seen around every corner selling drinks for 2-5 euros. Compare that with a 10$ drink from Dunkin or Starbucks. The love of coffee can be seen by everyone as people are casually drinking their cups of coffee with a cigarette in the other hand seemingly enjoying life to the fullest. The day doesn’t begin until you’ve had your “café con leche”. 

The coffee culture in Spain compared to America might seem subtle but in Barcelona coffee is not exclusively seen as a morning drink but something to be enjoyed throughout the day as seen by the always busy coffee shops. This also highlights an important difference in the work balance in Europe. One of the many questions I had while walking the streets of Barcelona was “When do people work”? Work starts in the early mornings but many people take a “siesta” or a midday lunch break which can last much longer than our 30-minute American lunch breaks where oftentimes we are forced to clock out of work. This difference in work culture makes a major difference in the tone of the city people seemed less concerned about money and more about forming connections and celebrating hobbies. It is not a surprise that many Americans have started flocking to Europe for “happier” lives. In America, our lives seem to depend solely on having a job that provides important life-saving benefits like health care, dental care, and child care. However, in most European countries like Barcelona healthcare is universally providing more flexibility and freedom in their chosen professions.

 Photo Taken By Kai Bradner

No matter the time of day people were dressed so nicely in leather jackets, heels, designer bags, and unmoveable confidence. People-watching was one of my favorite cultural experiences.

All of the shops were filled with people constantly returning and buying new clothes. We spent a significant amount of time shopping and visiting different small boutiques with handmade jewelry and art. Graffiti and other forms of street art beautifully covered the streets and walls of 

the city    

Photo Taken By Kai Bradner

You can see and feel the city’s heartbeat. Not only that but there is no doubt that you will leave with a full stomach. The cuisines in Barcelona are wonderful I did not have a single bad meal. My favorite restaurant was the Boro Bar where we not only got amazing food but learned proper wine etiquette. On Thanksgiving day we knew we would have trouble finding a turkey so we instead had a seafood paella which was a great substitute. 

Photo Taken By Kai Bradner

It is almost impossible to write about Barcelona and not mention Antoni Gaudi the brilliant mind behind some of the greatest works of architecture. In a previous article, I write in more detail about his work. One night when visiting our friends as we took the escalator up leaving the metro station we were stunned by the magnitude of the Sagrada Familia. Seeing the Sagrada Familia was a spiritual experience I have never seen a structure with so much history and religious connotations in person. During our tour of the structure, we learned how the Sagrada Familia was designed to be a spiritual home for everyone, of different nationalities, and different languages. What a sight to behold! Traveling to Barcelona illustrates how we might be different but at the same time we humans are all so similar. We all want to find spaces where we can feel comfortable and confident. Positive change starts with within we must reflect on ourselves to positively contribute to the world we share and must preserve.

Photo Taken By Kai Bradner


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