There’s nothing more sad than having a momentous birthday miles away from your family, friends and loved ones… so I found my remedy: Celebrate in Barcelona, Spain!

This weekend, fifteen people from my study abroad group and I made the four hour voyage South to visit the Gaudí’s masterpiece of a city. From the warm beaches to the bustling Las Ramblas, there is perhaps no city so vibrant as Barcelona. The sun illuminates the winding streets, and palm trees add a rustic, small-town vibe to this sprawling city. Life moves slower here: people won’t walk quickly, dinner is served no earlier than 10pm, and sharing a meal at a sidewalk cafe is a respected way to pass your free time. I will never forget being able to spend my birthday weekend in balmy 80 degree weather amongst people who know how to savor their daytime.

The Arc de Triomf to start my day, beautiful when the sun hits it directly like that.

Gaudí’s entrance to Park Güell.

Explored Park Güell in the middle of the day, therefore very hot. Fans necessary.

Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia, a masterpiece that began over a hundred years ago and still won’t be completed until 2026! I can’t believe I saw it in person.

After exploring the landmarks of the city, I settled in for some meals with friends. For lunch, I had paella in the Plaça Reial that could cure depression one bite at a time. It’s that good! For dinner, a group of 8 girls took me out for tapas at Ocaña downtown. I don’t even want to think about how much calamari I ate in that one sitting! Finally, the entire group met up for an evening on the town. Needless to say, I think I did my 21st justice.