Stumbling Upon a Secret: La Pedrera, Barcelona

I was told before I went abroad that I would have certain “moments”: moments that felt surreal and unbelievable and mind-blowing all at once. This post describes my favorite moment of my entire abroad experience.

I was in Barcelona with two of my study abroad friends from London. As I had done for all my other trips, we planned out our itinerary to the T. We scoured websites and books for the best places to visit, asked friends for recommendations, and made a checklist of what we wanted to experience. We started out our Saturday morning making the trek from our hostel to the city to find El Battló, one of the houses designed by Gaudí. On our way we came across an amazing apartment complex with undulating waves on the outside. It was called La Pedrera and had also been designed by Gaudi, but we had not heard of it before.

Intrigued, we decided to take a pit stop in the gift shop just to look around. As we browsed, I started seeing photographs of what looked like the roof of the building. I didn’t really understand what I was seeing in the pictures, but something inside of me compelled me to go. I asked my friends if they would like to go up to the roof with me, but they were deterred by the entrance fee. Determined to go I told my friends I would meet up with them in exactly an hour.

When I went up to the roof, I was stunned. As the elevator doors opened, I felt like I had just stumbled upon a well-kept secret. Gigantic mosaic sculptures towered over the few visitors on the roof. The most amazing view of Barcelona was open for me to see. And here I was, alone.

I couldn’t believe this was not in any of our guides or recommendations, and that somehow I had just stumbled upon it. All the other tourist attractions I had visited in Europe were crammed with visitors. On the roof of La Pedrera there were maybe 25 people just strolling with loved ones, taking in the sights. Without a doubt, this exact moment is my favorite memory from my abroad experience. I unexpectedly found a work of art that spoke uniquely to me. As I tried to explain the wonder of what I had seen to my friends later that day, I knew they would never be able to grasp the same emotion. Nevertheless, it is amazing to have this experience as something I can call my own.

Editor’s note: This post first appeared on the Undergraduate Program’s Student Voices blog on June 16, 2012.

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