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Hacktreks Travel

Hacktreks 2

First Chapters


Happiness for only 3 Euros a day
Katie McGuinness

Sweat beads glisten on your forehead as you peer up at an architectural masterpiece. The lunch of a bocadillo and coca-cola was less than satisfying. Your noisy stomach begs for something more. Lucky for you, you’ve just entered yet another Spanish plaza where heladerías (Spanish ice cream shops) line the narrow streets.
Especially as a young tourist, you can expect to long for the foods of American eateries immediately following your first attempt at foraging for a meal on your trip to Spain. Prepare yourself. Resolve yourself to the fact that, while there is no place like home, Spain or any other foreign land has its distinct culinary delights. For instance, in France, you can sample fresh bread at a corner bakery while you feast your eyes on the Eiffel Tower. In Italy, you might delight your taste buds with your choice of homemade pastas before you enter the dream world that is the Sistine Chapel.

But, in Spain, helado rules. Cheap, tasty, and above all, reliable, helado makes for the perfect chaser to a plate of paella adorned by seafood, or as the supplement to a meal so unidentifiable, it becomes inedible. The flavors: tiramisu, coco café, fresa, piña, straticella, and vainilla. The bright colors and fresh fruit garnishes will engage in conversation with your rumbling stomach. It takes an American student studying in Spain only about one week to appreciate this craze of heladerías. Helado quickly becomes a staple in American tourists’ diets, sometimes appearing more than once a day.

Bottom line: learn the Spanish words for each of your favorite ice cream ingredients, quit counting fat grams, quickly scout out the closest heladerías to each hotel you visit, budget at least three euros a day for ice cream, and, above all, don’t resist it. Helado, whether you call Spain "home" or "home-away-from-home," is a way of life. So select a couple varieties, settle in on a delectable type, grab a spoon (which come much smaller here than in the States), and indulge, and indulge, and indulge…

The Art Lover’s Playground

The taste of the freshly baked pastél I ate for breakfast lingered on my lips. My friends and I stepped off our massive orange tour bus and onto the grounds of Gaudí’s Park Guell in Barcelona, Spain. Gaudí, a Spanish architect of the early 20th century, created such masterpieces as La Sagrada Familia and La Pedrera in Barcelona. The park is a playground for art lovers with Gaudí’s famous mosaics adorning buildings, statues, walkways, and benches.

The pictures I had seen of Gaudí’s works in my textbooks did the park little justice. I quickly split off from the group; I was on a mission to find the most memorable spot in the park. Soon, this place hung just above my head.

A lengthy staircase leads up to a platform where visitors can catch a glimpse of the entire city of Barcelona, from the mountains to the sea. But, just beneath this platform the ceiling is adorned with circular mosaic works crafted from brilliantly colored tiny tiles pieced together by a master. One particular mosaic pictures a marvellously yellow sun surrounded by deep blue and green tiles.

Even those who, like myself, don’t normally appreciate the art featured in countless museums are enchanted by this place. Because, unlike an art museum, the Park gives visitors the feeling of being a child again, trying to absorb every minute detail of a new surrounding. What’s more, while glimpsing up at these meticulously crafted works, sounds of a single flautist playing "Ave Maria" waft through the air, in my ears, and to my heart, permanently imprinting this memory in my mind.

Picture it: your feet firmly planted in the soft, green grass while works of art float above your head. Around you, visitors from countless foreign lands join you in absorbing this place. You drink it up, enamored by the beauty of this park: a haven decorated by nature and art alike, situated high above the hustle and bustle of the second largest city in all of Spain.

The park is located in downtown Barcelona on Calle Olot. Take buses 24, 25, or 28. It is open daily 10-9, May-Aug.; 10-8, Apr. and Sep.; 10-7, Mar. and Oct.; 10-6 the rest of the year. Phone: 93 424 3809

© Katherine E. McGuinness

Tampa, Florida
United States of America

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