by Rosie Lopez
London, Paris, Barcelona
It is easy to assume that London, Paris, and Barcelona being on the same continent and merely hours apart, that they would share a similar culture. This is far from true of these three diverse cities of which all all speak different languages and share different customs.
The first stop was London, a metropolitan English, speaking city with a population of almost eight million as of 2007 according to Google. At first glance, it is fairly similar to American culture, the food is similar and the way of life fairly the same. In depth, London is a cornucopia of different cultures meshed together by a common language. Some of the finest Oriental food is found in this large city along with various gorgeous landmarks that represent the vision that one has of British royalty.
Every afternoon there is a chance for British natives and tourists to witness the very famous Changing of the Guards. The event starts at twelve and is accompanied by soldiers on their horses, guards in the typical British red coats, and a giant marching band; the event feels like a Disneyland parade. At night one can experience and intake the city lights by jumping aboard the London Eye, which gives a panoramic view of the beautiful city and Thames River. The day has to be completed by the typical outing to a British pub where authentic cider and fish and chips are a must. The experience cannot be complete without the usage of the “tube” or the metro system used by the majority of Londoners to get around the city.
The city of London is truly a cosmopolitan one in which one can witness anything from a protest to live musicians on the metro on a daily basis. Every day is eventful in this city giving little chance for boredom.
Paris was the second stop on the map with high expectations to fulfill. The famous “city of lights” was truly dazzling as it is portrayed in movies at night when one watches the Eiffel tower sparkle for five minutes every hour. The city is older but has an air of elegance and sophistication that has a lot to do with the average Parisian sense of style and level of culture.
Everything from the food to the clothes is unique in this beautiful city. The language barrier should not intimidate anyone if one learns the basic French phrases of Bonjour meaning hello and merci meaning thank you. The Parisians will be thankful and show gratitude by being extra amiable if one makes an effort to greet and thank them in their language.
The landmarks leave the average person breathless as they are timeless yet have hundreds of years worth of history behind them. The city is so full of events and places to visit that time seems to be never enough. France is full gorgeous Cathedrals, impressive museums, and castles that one is forced to immerse oneself in French culture.
The typical French baguette and crepe is a must along with making use of the public transportation, which like London, offers talented musicians in almost every stop. Every morning, little markets are set up along the streets offering fresh fruit, cheese, and flowers. Everything is fresh and far from artificial.
Barcelona was the very last stop on the map. The colorful city that was home to the 1992 Olympics is now an attraction visited by many for its many beaches and its sunny weather.
Every year on the 23rd of June, San Joan festival takes place along the various beaches of the city. The celebration marks the shortest night of the summer solstice. It starts at around ten at night every year and runs until sunrise. The celebration draws in many youth and tourists to the beach where fireworks go off all night and bonfires are lit. There is music and dancing everywhere turning the night into the biggest party of the year.
Even though this festival takes place, it is not uncommon to see people in Barcelona beaches out all night eating tapas and indulging in the all too famous sangria. The city itself during the summer never really sleeps.
Contrary to Paris and London, this city is rich in color from the streets to the actual clothing. This is a big change from the classy black worn in the other cities and the properness exuded in them as well.
The language barrier is not a big deal in this city if a few Spanish phrases are known. It is the most different of all cities in that the primary language is Catalan instead of Spanish. Most of the people speak Spanish fluently but prefer to speak their native Catalan language amongst themselves. The Catalonians take great pride in their roots and therefore guard their culture closely.
Museums can be found everywhere along with Cathedrals. Famous Roman ruins can be found in the Gothic town along with some of Picasso’s finest works. The most impressive sight is Gaudi’s famous “Sagrada Familia”, which is a huge, modern, Catholic basilica full of modernist architecture. Like the rest of Barcelona, the Basilica is very colorful and innovative.
If one could describe these three cities in one word they would be classy for London, sophisticated for Paris, and colorful for Barcelona. These three cities together mesh what makes Europe a continent of rich culture and variety that fulfills our expectations when one thinks Europe.