My Favorite Place in the World

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As I look back at my experience abroad, I realized that I spent a lot of time scrambling trying to do everything that I had forgotten to do. From museums, to Park Güell to trying all of the live markets. As I was focusing on all of that, I realize I had completely overlooked my favorite place. This place is the Bunkers del Carmel, the place I will miss the most. The uniqueness of the area, the beautiful views and the relaxing environment is something everyone should experience, but it hasn’t always been that way.

History of Bunkers del Carmel:

Bunkers del Carmel came from the Spanish Civil War in 1937. They were formally used barcelona-during-spanish-civil-waras underground military bunkers. Dating back to ’37 the bunkers were used as part of an anti-craft battery against attacks from fascists. They also stored a great deal of guns and weapons used in combat.

imgresWhen dictator Franco came into power as the Civil War ended, the guns were taken away and locals began using the bunkers as shelter. In the late 50’s-60’s the bunkers provided shelter to nearly 7% of Barcelona’s population adding up to nearly 3,000 people living in that area.

It wasn’t until the 1992 Olympic games when Barcelona’s biggest 1052px-1992_Summer_Olympics_logo.svgtransition began that the city began to relocate the residents in the bunkers to flats and apartments around the city in attempt to clean up the city. The village was abandoned completely.

In the 2000’s locals began visiting the area to enjoy one of the prettiest 360 views of Barcelona. It was said to be one of Barcelona’s best kept secret until recently it has become very popular. It is a famous place for people to have a picnic, drink some wine, enjoy and watch the sunset.

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When I first arrived in Barcelona, my friends and I stumbled upon this area by taking the wrong bus and it ended up being the best thing that could have happened. When we got back down, we realized that we had no idea how we even got there in the first place. But after research, we learned that it is pretty easy, but also confusing. Here is how to get to the Bunkers:

BUS:

  1. You will need to take the 24 or the V17.
  2. You will get off at Gran Vista- Turó de la Rovira
  3. From there, you will walk uphill for about 10 minutes where you will stumble upon the slabs of concrete with paths and plants to explore.

METRO:

  1. You can take the L4 or L5.
  2. Get off at either Guidardó I Hospital de Sant Pau or La Teixonera.
  3. The closest stop is Turó de la Rovira.
  4. From there you will walk on foot for about 15 minutes or hop on a bus to the top.

 

Here is a 360 view of the bunkers:

 

Sitges- A Hidden Gem

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Sitges, Spain is a small beach town located just 26 miles southwest of Barcelona and is most commonly known for sandy beaches, clean water and windy cobblestone streets. The small alleys consist of cafes, bars, local shops and delicious gelato. When exiting the alleys you will be led to a beautiful beach where the sun is shining almost 100% of the time. It is small enough to be explored in a short time period, so be sure to plan a day trip when visiting Barcelona! Here is some history and tips on how to do Sitges right.

“Sitja” in Catalan, silos which are deep pits in the ground used to store grains is where the 2552405name “Sitges” came from. It is suggested that approximately 53,000 years ago, many silos were located in Sitges. In the 1700’s Sitges was bombed during the War of Succession. They fought off soldiers demanding food and shelter, as well as pirates and bandits coming up the coast. The people of Sitges stayed strong overcoming these hardships and building a warship as well as a rock formation called “La Fragata” where they rebuilt the church. The church stands strong today and still has a canon out front in remembrance of the 6 canons used to protect the town.

antiguas2186 la puntaThe church that still stands in between the beaches of Playa de la Fragata and Playa de San Sebastion is called “Iglesia de Sant Bartomeu I Santa Tecla.” It is considered to be the towns most famous monument and is often used in postcards. As wars continued during the nineteenth century, Sitges continued to make remarkable improvements and as ties with Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Americas became closer, business started booming. They were able to invest in banking, vineyards and railways to nearby cities. This continued through the nineteenth century as they progressed and economic growth boosted.

In the mid-twentieth century piped water, the telephone and electricity was introduced. They specialized in the shoemaking business and nearly 75% of their workforce was in the shoemaking industry. As Sitges became more IMG_4993popular it was soon known for a home to
sculptors, painters, poets and singers. During the Franco regime, tourism picked up and they began building museums, art galleries and hotels around the town. After Franco was seized, they were allowed to continue their culture, traditions and culture such as “Carnival” which was banned during the dictatorship. Sitges is now known for its gay vibrant night life and its relaxed, laid back vibe.

Now that you have a brief history of what Sitges once was, lets learn about how to make the most of your visit to this beautiful town.

How to get there:

One of the best parts about Sitges, is that it is located just outside of the beautiful city of Barcelona and it is SO easy to quickly get there. If you find yourself by Passeig de Gracia (one of the more popular streets located in central Barcelona), all you have to do is pop down the stairs in the metro stop and buy a ticket for the R2 Renfe train. The tickets are just 8 euros round trip and you will have a view of the beautiful beaches along the coast the entire time.

Once you hop off the train, grab a cup of coffee at a local coffee shop and keep walking straight. After just a few blocks, you will be greeted by the sight of sunny skies, blue water and sand soft enough to sleep on. It seems that everything in Sitges is within walking distance, so don’t rely on needing cab money!

While you’re there:

Although Sitges is far less touristy than Barcelona, there are still so many enjoyable and interactive things to do. From exploring museums, viewing historical landmarks, to relaxing on the beach and eating tapas or drinking cocktails along the coast.

Museums:


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Although most people know of the common beverage, Bacardi, most people don’t know that it has a strong connection to Sitges, Spain. Facundo Bacardí Massó was actually born in Sitges in 1814. After many struggles and hardships, him and his wife began distilling rum and created the first ever white-rum. There is a museum built after them where you will learn about the history of Bacardi, how it is distilled and you even have the chance to sit back and enjoy a free cocktail at the end of the exhibition with your ticket.

 


Cau Ferrat Museum

Cau-FerratIf drinking is not your thing, or you are with children this museum might be more your speed. With ancient art, modern sculptures and works by famous artists including Pablo Picasso and other local Spanish artists. With new exhibitions opening all the time, you are sure to get a glimpse into the history of Sitges along with the artwork connected.

 

Landmarks:


Passeig Maritim

This is a walk you cannot miss. This marble street is lined with restaurants, shops and sculptures on one side, with bars, sandy beaches and an ocean view on the other. Although this street can be slightly crowded (nothing in comparison to Las Ramblas), it is perfect for an evening stroll or a sunrise walk. Be sure to keep an eye out for locals selling their beautiful works of art and steer clear of the vendors attempting to sell you knock off purses.

Church of Sant Bartomeu y Santa Tecla

Getting up close to this old church is a must do. Known as the “post card picture”, it is the most famous landmark in all of Sitges. Be sure to go around sunset because the shining of the light on the church results in a magical view of the up close detail. If you want to get inside the church, try to avoid entering on the weekends as there are typically weddings.

 

Beaches:


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La Playa de Sitges

This is the largest and most prominent beach in the area. It is known for being clean, safe and full of entertainment. When you enter the beach you will quickly notice the lack of trash, resulting in laying on the most clean sand you will ever see. There are typically people playing fetch with their dogs, playing games or practicing musical instruments. The fun never ends!

Playa Balmins

If you prefer peace and quiet while laying at the beach, this is the one for you. It is more secluded and less crowded. It is a perfect place to hang out all day and enjoy the sunshine without being crowded by many people.

Food/ drinks:


When in Sitges, you just cant go wrong with food. Almost any restaurant with great tapas and better company will not disappoint. If looking for cheap tapas and delicious drinks, start roaming the narrow alleys through out Sitges. Not a far walk off the beach, you can find small bars and delicious gelato! Whenever in a small town, it is never a bad idea to check out a local fresh market to find some locally grown food. So, if you’re looking for a cheap DIY dinner, stop by a market, grab some snacks, bring a blanket and go eat and enjoy a sunset on the beach- you will not be disappointed!


Overall, Sitges is a must see if visiting Barcelona. Because of the easy transportation, quick walk and most importantly, lack of tourism- Sitges is a place that anyone will enjoy.