The Adventist Colleges Abroad (ACA) School in Spain includes three trips within the country for its students. Last October we traveled to Andalucia, the south providence, and this trip we traveled to Cataluña in the north. Since this was a school trip, and Barcelona had never called to me, I was just along for the ride.
On Tuesday morning, the bus for Barcelona, Spain, left at 8:00 a.m. and after a few hours arrived at a monastery on the top of a mountain to hear a children’s choir. They were amazing! While they sang, I leaned over to Sean Hendrix, a senior biomedical science major at Union, and said, “Remember our days in Union’s ‘The Twelve’ with Dr. Lynn? It took us weeks of practice to sound as good as these little boys!”
Following the children’s choir were plenty of other cool events only Barcelona could offer. During our first night there, we walked to the Picasso Museum and were treated to a tour. I enjoyed the first half of Picasso’s work because it consisted of realistic portraits. Kaylin Thurber, a senior English and linguistics major at Union, enjoyed the second half of the art because “he was purposefully breaking rules and destroying structure” by using cubism.
After the tour, our teachers set us free. We wandered down the streets, not a care in the world if we were to get lost. On this particular adventure we discovered one street framed a church tower and decided to follow. When we entered the church, my brother Greg Ratter, a sophomore history education major at Union, practically burst with excitement. “This is gothic architecture, Melissa!” he exclaimed.
After pushing him out of the building, we dined at a Mexican restaurant. Although Spain is not known for its fried beans and quesadillas, this place was good. Here, surrounded by Mexican music and food, we whispered our homesickness—afraid speaking it out loud would make it worse.
The next morning, the teachers took us to the Sagrada Familia Temple. This Basilica is a World Heritage Site for The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Looking at the outside, I expected the interior to be an old, rock-pillared building much like the other cathedrals in Europe, but instead the stain glass windows spilled the colors of the rainbow onto the pillars and floor!
After our sandwich lunch, the teachers led the students to Park Guell. I never heard of the park, but most of the girls on the trip knew the place because of the 90’s movies, “The Cheetah Girls.” “It’s from a scene in their second movie,” one girl loudly explained. Then, she spent 5 minutes and 50 seconds showing me Disney’s Youtube video featuring the rainbow-tiled benches overlooking Barcelona’s skyline.
The next day, we drove three hours to Andorra, the sixth-smallest nation in Europe, sandwiched between France and Spain. The bus passed through many mountain tunnels and when we finally arrived at our hotel, it was as if we were in a bowl, surrounded by mountains with snow-covered tops.
After settling in we put on our bathing suits and entered the famous Caldea Thermal Spa. The spa had a pool, five separate jacuzzis, an outdoor heated lazy-river, a Roman bath replica, a vapor room, and two saunas. For three hours we ran around jumping from pool to jacuzzi, lazy-river and even an ice bath, literally soaking in the sights
The fun eventually came to an end on Friday, students loaded the bus and we drove six hours back to Sagunto.
Barcelona is filled with a culture that is different than in Andalucia. The Cataluñans are proud of their architecture and artists, and for me, Barcelona will always be the city of colored tiles and stained-glass windows.
Melissa Ratter is a senior english language arts education major studying abroad in Spain.