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Visit Barcelona

How to Spend Your Downtime in Barcelona

Barcelona is currently one of the hippest places in the world, let alone Europe. Beautiful, sunny, warm and welcoming, there is virtually nothing wrong with this versatile city. Deeply steeped in a rich cosmopolitan tradition, ideally located amidst staggering natural scenery, from the amazing Mediterranean to the imposing mountain range before it, and highly developed as a trading post where mercantile transactions, from shopping to dining, are a pleasure and a privilege, you will hardly find a free moment to catch up with yourself.

Which is precisely the main danger prospective students wishing to study Spanish in Barcelona will encounter upon arriving in the city. Because the hectic lifestyle of the place represents a double-edged sword that, sure, is certain to keep anyone far distanced from apathy and boredom, but which, at the same time, can play a negative role when it comes to devoting the necessary time to studying.

Plan and Play

In general terms, however, the vast diversity of activities and potions available in Barcelona are not only a good thing: they are a great opportunity to blend work and play and have a jolly good time doing both. Instead of burning the candle on both ends, as it were, just a bit of planning and a healthy study/explore balance will allow you to kill two birds with a single stone instead, keeping you fresher, happier and altogether more satisfied.

For instance, one of its greatest assets is the outstanding quality and seemingly endless amounts of Barcelona architecture, from Gothic referents of the XIII century all the way down to the most modern constructions, such as the W Hotel, directly on the waterfront. Consequently, a good way to visit and better understand the significance of many of these buildings would be to find the right academy to learn Spanish in Barcelona through a combined course that would also look at the theme of History of Spanish Art.

Parc Güell

Speaking of, it would be a crime to spend some time in the city and not visit the landmarks of Barcelona architecture, such as the palaces designed by Gaudi, not take a stroll through the Parc Güell, or simply drive past the Sagrada Familia without bothering to stop. However, the truly remarkable thing about Barcelona is that much pleasure can be derived from the activity of walking through any of its major roads, from the Passeig of St Joan to that of Gràcia, and noting the changes in its architecture, the careful Moderniste decorations, the foreign influences and the ornate finishings of the great majority of the structures, themselves examples of Spanish Art.

However, if you were instructed on the various meanings and reasons behind many of these features, simultaneously enhancing your vocabulary and your understanding of the architectural features, then you would be left with the ability to analyse whole neighbourhoods as you complete your tourist itinerary, or, even, be able to accurately describe the technique and characteristics of a modern painting at the MACBA, Barcelona's outstanding Museum of Modern Art, or at the MNAC, the national gallery of the city, which boasts a great collection of Spanish Art.

Other Entertainment

Beyond Barcelona architecture, another of the great opportunities offered by the city for anyone enrolled in a Spanish school is the variety of places where the language will have to be spoken as the only means of communication. Such will be the case, for instance, if you take a spin round Els Encants Vells, the famous flea market that takes place in the Plaça de les Glories every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

If you are not that much into old things, and to you everything that is not wrapped up brand new has the distinct appearance of junk, then perhaps you will be more tempted by the delicious Mercat de la Boquería, right at the heart of the city, on the busy Ramblas, where you will find anything from the freshest vegetables to the most exquisite fish and finest tasting fruit juices.

Regardless of your academic or other engagements, if you are in Catalonia and you spend substantial amount of time there, you must head out into the countryside and experience some of the gorgeous scenery of the county. For instance, there is the uncanny Montserrat, one of the most intriguing rock formations this side of the Pyrenees, which towers upwards from the flatlands of the Catalan province and cuts its awe-inspiring figure over the small town of Manresa, only 70 kilometres away from Barcelona.

Another unforgettable day-trip lies along the coastline, north from Barcelona into what is known as the Costa Brava. Try escaping beyond the reach of the average tourist, past Lloret de Mar, some 70 kilometres north of Barcelona, and you will be within a stone's throw of some of the most appealing coastal scenery in the country: from the medieval settings of Tossa de Mar to the charming restaurants of Palafrugell or the estuary of L'Estartit, the coastline keeps a hidden secret for anyone adventurous enough to unearth it.