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 as 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.
When 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 transition 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.
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:
- You will need to take the 24 or the V17.
- You will get off at Gran Vista- Turó de la Rovira
- 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.
- You can take the L4 or L5.
- Get off at either Guidardó I Hospital de Sant Pau or La Teixonera.
- The closest stop is Turó de la Rovira.
- 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:
I am known to be one of the most impatient people anyone knows. I have troubles sitting still and get aggravated when having to wait for simple things. However, being abroad I have learned that patience is one of the most important attributes. Because Europeans perceive time differently than Americans, you have to learn to be patient. From waiting for a train, to walking behind slow walkers to listening to people complain when we are in some of the greatest cities in the world.
In the states, I rarely use public transportation but in Spain it is my only form of transportation. At the beginning, I would just take taxis around because I was so confused by the metro/bus system. But after getting yelled at by my parents about the amount of money I was spending, taking taxis was the first thing to go. The metro system was easy to figure out and if you ever had questions almost anyone was kind enough to help you but it was the busses that I struggled with the most. Sometimes 3 of the same bus would come in a row, sometimes I had to wait 30 minutes. The best part about this, was if a bus didn’t come I would have the chance to walk. The best times I had in Barcelona were walking around aimless, lost in the city.
- My biggest pet peeve: slow walkers
One of the first things I noticed when arriving in Spain was how slow people tend to walk. It was almost as if they were doing it on purpose. It takes me an extra 10 minutes to get to school because I am constantly dodging slow walkers. It took me awhile, but I eventually learned that because time is not of the essence here, I would have to deal with it. Now I have noticed that I am the slow walker and I truly believe that it has made me stop and enjoy the little things abroad.
In America, restaurants almost pride themselves on efficiently getting people in and out of a restaurant in a timely manner. In Spain, it is known that when people go out to eat for drinks or tapas, it is a social event. Dinners typically last 2-3 hours and this quickly tested my patience. People like to sit, relax and enjoy the food and each other’s company. At the beginning I would get very frustrated when it took 20 minutes to get the check but now, I think if it as quality time with my friends. It’s a perfect time to stay updated about each other’s lives. Although this was extremely frustrating for me at the beginning, dinner has become my favorite event of the day.
In my short time here in Barcelona, Spain I have learned to be more patient that ever. It has really made me appreciate the little things in life and I hope I can take this important skill to my everyday life at home.
From what you have seen on my social media everything is perfect, right? I am going on trips, eating delicious tapas and making so many friends! There have been no bumps in the road, everything has worked out perfectly and I have an endless load of money left. I am across the world and living the perfect life! If you were to stalk my multiple social media accounts you would probably think that all of the above statements are true and I am living the ultimate study abroad life. In no way am I saying that you’re wrong; my life here has in fact been absolutely amazing, but what you see online is so much different than what my everyday life entails.
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(Expectation vs. Reality)
I remember creeping on my friends Facebook album of her studying abroad in Barcelona. It looked absolutely perfect. From traveling to lavish cities on the weekend to taking long walks on the beach in between classes and eating delicious food with extravagant drinks on the side. I pictured myself strolling down the street with a coffee in hand and not a worry in the world.
Well people, I am two months in and I have somehow (not sure how) scavenged up enough money to buy a small latte from a local coffee shop so I would have a quiet place to study (because why would they have an easily accessible library). The music is blasting, someone is changing their babies diaper on the table next to me and the wifi is going in and out. When connecting to the wifi, you are required to check in on Facebook so people think I am drinking a cute latte in a little shop and just relaxing when in reality I am plugging my nose so I don’t smell a dirty diaper and trying not to make eye contact with the creepy man staring at me in the corner. What a life. This is just a sliver of the real side of the so-called perfect life I am living over here.
I truly think that only people who have studied abroad will understand that every single day is a struggle. From trying to figure out the metro to explaining to the pharmacist that I would like cough drops and not cough syrup in Spanish. By the way, after all the years I have taken Spanish you would think that I would know how to say the word “cough” or at least how to say that I am sick. Anyways, who would have thought that figuring out how to take a bus from the airport to a hostel in London located next to Big Ben would have been such a pain. “London is Americanized”- yeah right. People think that we just landed in a new country and immediately had everything figured out with a glass of wine in our hands but they have no idea of the hassle we go through to get there.
(Struggling on the metro)
Everyone here would agree with me that the littlest tasks here are made into a big struggle. When will they wake up and get a Target here and when will they realize that splitting the checks into separate bills would make things so much easier for everyone involved?! However, the small everyday struggles are what makes this experience so amazing. I love that everything is an adventure and it is a journey to get anywhere. I love that I don’t have a car so I am forced to figure out public transportation. I love when I accidentally walk past my apartment (7 blocks past, to be exact) and end up finding my new favorite croissant place. The best memories I have had here are the most unplanned and unexpected events and I wouldn’t change a thing about everything that has happened so far (besides putting off studying until the complete last minute- HA).