Day 15: Soaking up the Sitges sun

And just like that it’s Sunday again. We enjoyed our last day of the weekend in Sitges, a beach town less than an hour away from Barcelona. Sitges is well-known for its Carnaval celebration during the spring. Both locals and tourists take to the streets of Sitges in costumes to dance and sing in parades. This time of year, however, Sitges attracts a beach crowd. Beyond soaking up the sun, students found delicious beach-side restaurants and checked out Sitges’ local shops.

Now that we are back in Barcelona, many students have tuned in to the World Cup final between France and Croatia. Tomorrow is week 3 already! We can hardly believe it.

Day 14: Diving into Dalí’s World

Salvador Dalí was a brilliant artist and a somewhat peculiar man. Today we took the students to his museum in Figueres, Cataluña. Unlike many artists, Dalí was alive and well when his museum was being built and he was very much a part of the design process. We like to say that the actual museum is one of his works of art too! Just ask your son/daughter what they thought of the tour. Maybe they’ll mention an optical illusion painting of Abe Lincoln, the dome that was fashioned after a fly’s eye, or Mae West’s face (which doubles as a bedroom). If all of these things sound confusing or bizarre, they should! You need to see the Dalí museum to believe us — it’s magical.

After Dalí, we got back onto the bus for a few hours of beach time. The bus dropped us off in L’Escala where we spent the rest of the day relaxing. What a wonderful Saturday it was.

Day 13: TGI Friday!!

It’s Friday and we’re super excited for the weekend! Since students don’t attend their normal classes on Friday, ESADE organized for the business students to participate in a special coding workshop at CodeWorks while the Spanish students went with their teachers to the Monastery of Pedralbes.

After lunch, a bus picked us up to bring us to the highest point of the city: Tibidabo. Tibidabo is a theme park situated at the top of the mountain overlooking the city. Most students decided to enter the theme park, however Tibidabo has much more to offer than rides. At Tibidabo, there is also a beautiful church that we encourage students to see every year. If you climb (or take the elevator) all the way to the top, there are 360 degree views of the area and they are quite breathtaking. A handful of students opted for the beach instead of Tibidabo. Each year we have at least a small group who LOVES their beach time so we’re glad that RAs Rob and Cristina were able to take them back to Barceloneta beach.

The group is now at the residence getting ready for dinner. Tonight we will be having dinner in the neighborhood of Gracia. The staff members have recommended restaurants and everyone seems excited about an opportunity to get dressed up and have dinner in the city center. Tomorrow we will be heading to the Dalí museum and a beach town called L’Escala. In years past, this Saturday has always been many of the students’ favorite excursion. Let’s see if it lives up to the hype!!

Day 12: La Boquería and Rebajas

This morning students got a little break from class to attend an ESADE admissions presentation followed by snacks and time to chat with their classmates. The photography class also welcomed a new teacher today, a local photographer named Samantha who focuses on portraits. This photographer will be guest teaching the class for the next two sessions and will teach more advanced photo-taking techniques. Today, Samantha took the students to the market and to a theater called the Palau de la Música Catalana.

In the afternoon, we all hopped onto the metro to go down to two neighborhoods: Raval and Eixample. The group in Raval had free time in the Boquería market off of Las Ramblas and also time to explore the surrounding area. The group in Eixample was all about the shopping! Since there are city-wide sales in Barcelona this month (called rebajas), the students have been quite excited about snagging some good deals. Hopefully nobody has to bring home an extra suitcase!

Now we’re gearing up for the night that everybody has been waiting for: Chito’s karaoke night! The students have had a few days to think about what songs they want to sing and so has the staff. One of our beat-boxing staff members will definitely surprise the students with his incredible talent tonight. Hope your day has been as fun as ours has. See you back here tomorrow.

Day 11: Half way through!

Time in Barcelona is flying by. How is it Wednesday of week 2 already? Today after classes, students met with their RA groups in the Gothic Quarter for lunch and/or ice cream. Both girl groups went to trendy brunch restaurants and the boys ate on their own before meeting their RAs for ice cream. At RA Lisa’s lunch, the girls also celebrated the birthday of one of the girls!

After lunch, it was time to split up into activity groups. RAs Chito and Alyssa took a group to Parc Ciutadella where students were able to rent row boats, walk to the nearby Arc de Triomf, sun bathe, play lawn games, and more.

Just a little ways down the coastline, another group of students soaked up the sun at Nova Icaria beach. Nova Icaria is a beach that is popular with locals. It is not nearly as crowded as Barceloneta! Nova Icaria is also situated right by the Olympic Port of Barcelona, one of the spots where the 1992 Olympic Games took place. The students enjoyed their relaxing afternoon and are now on their way back to the residence.

The cooking class students had a feast this afternoon with their instructor Beatriz. Today’s menu included pan con tomate and jamón, patatas bravas, fideau y all i oli, and profiteroles with nata and chocolate. Many students have shared with us that before starting the cooking class, they were only capable of making grilled cheeses and bowls of cereal (yes, you read that correctly… milk and cereal). If you have a son or daughter in cooking, challenge them to make a Spanish dish for the family when they get home! Hasta mañana (until tomorrow).

Day 10: From Barça to Battló

Today was a very special day for students taking photography class. A staff member coordinated a meet-up with local food blogger @oliviarosebcn who gave the students photo-taking tips. She also explained  how it works to be a food blogger and collaborate with local restaurants. The owner of Suís & Bowls, where the meet-up took place, prepared several dishes from the menu so Olivia and the students could take photos. They photographed four types of lattes, a yogurt bowl, a buddha bowl, hummus, and peanut butter toast. They also got to help Olivia eat all of the food after the interactive photo session was over. The peanut butter toast and buddha bowl were the group’s favorites. Olivia, if you are reading this, thank you so much!!

Of the many things to do and places to see in Barcelona, there are two important B’s: Battló and Barça. Today we sent students to both! After classes wrapped up at 5 pm, we sent a big group to Camp Nou where FC Barcelona plays and a more intimate-sized group to Passeig de Gracia to see Gaudí’s Casa Battló. The Barça group had tickets to enter the Camp Nou experience that begins in a museum which houses the team’s most important trophies. In the museum, you can also see highlight tapes from some of the most memorable games in Barça’s history. Later, the tour led the students into the actual stadium. Students were able to take pictures in front of the “més que un club” letters, see the away team’s locker room, the tunnel where the players walk out, the press room, and more. The tour of Camp Nou finished up in the team store where students had the chance to buy everything from team jersey’s to a sample of the stadium’s grass taken from the field during previous seasons.

Across town on Passeig de Gracia, the other group of students marveled at Gaudí’s mosaic designs and were able to use a smartphone app designed by Casa Battló to learn more about the house and who previously lived there. Before heading back to Sarria, the Battló group also enjoyed some free time on Barcelona’s upscale shopping street where there is no shortage of gelato and coffee shops.

Tonight we are offering Cena en Español, an opportunity to eat dinner with one of the RAs and practice Spanish! This will be a great opportunity for students who want to improve their language skills. P.S. We are sad to report that there were no winners at Rob’s trivia activity last night. This year’s group is tight knit and loves to hang out in the billiards room at night so they opted for a pool tournament over Rob’s trivia. Trivia night will be rescheduled soon. We’re just glad to see them having so much fun!

Day 9: Another day, another neighborhood

The Picasso Museum, shops, restaurants, a beautiful park, picturesque city streets… you can find all of these things in El Born.

Today after morning classes finished, we hopped on the metro to get to El Born, a neighborhood that our students were not yet familiar with. A handful of students chose to spend their activity time touring the Picasso museum while others preferred free time to explore! Right before meeting up to head back to the residence, RAs Lisa and Cristina brought a small group of students to a well-known cinnamon bun bakery in El Born. On any given day, this bakery makes and displays multiple flavors of cinnamon buns in their window, such as peanut butter, oreo, gluten free cinnamon buns, and more. After eating this special treat, the group returned to Sarria. Some students have signed up for activity time in El Born on Wednesday to play lawn games, sun bathe, and picnic in Parc Ciutadella. After getting only a small taste of El Born today, they are excited to go back soon and experience more!

Tonight, RA Rob will be hosting Trivia Night in the residence. Check back tomorrow to find out which individual (or which group) won swag prizes!

Day 8: Relaxing day in Tossa de Mar

Sundays during the summer are big beach days around Barcelona. So what did we do today? We went to a beautiful beach town called Tossa de Mar, located on the Costa Brava of Cataluña. Highlights of the trip included exploring the castle in Tossa, laying out on the beach, shopping, eating ice cream, and getting fish pedicures. A few students also bought cool floaties for the ultimate beach experience (check them out in the pictures below).

Today was a nice and relaxing beach day after a busy first week in Barcelona.

Now that we are back at the residence in Sarria (Barcelona), we are resting up for Monday. Tomorrow morning starts week #2 in Barcelona. Oh how time flies! Goodnight everyone.