A Tale of Two B’s


Gaudi’s Casa Batllo illuminating the streets of Passeig de Gracia

After living and spending time in both Central and Eastern Europe, I decided to switch it up and head to Western Europe last weekend into Barcelona’s warm embrace. With me living in Budapest right now, it was only fitting for me to jet set off to another major city with the same beginning consonant. Not to mention, my favorite musician, George Ezra, has two songs called “Budapest” and “Barcelona,” respectively. Now having visited these two metropolises, here are the differences I observed.

The origins of Barcelona is still unclear. Legend says that the Mediterranean metropolis was founded by the mythical hero, Hercules, while another legend claims that the city was erected by military commander and father of Hannibal. Budapest, on the other hand,has a much more distinguished history in which it was established by the Romans over 2,000 years ago.

The Buda Castle during the chocolate and sweets festival. Yum!)

The Buda Castle during the chocolate and sweets festival. Yum!)

Geography & Climate
Both Budapest and Barcelona are divided by rivers. The Danube river splits Budapest into the respective hilly Buda and the flat Pest. Barcelona is right in the middle of the rivers Llobregat and Besòs. During the fall, the weather in Budapest is mostly gloomy with a temperature of around more or less 45 degrees. The weekend that I left Budapest, it was raining and cold so imagine my excitement when I arrived in Barcelona to sunny skies and warm sunshine of 73 degrees! It made me feel like I was back home in Southern California.

Southern California is known for its amazing beaches, but I have to say that the La Barceloneta beach is a great contender. At the beach, my friends and I embraced the Spanish culture and “siesta-ed”, which is when most locals close shop after the lunch to relax and nap for a few hours mid-afternoon. I can definitely get used to that!

A siesta fiesta at the Port de Barcelona

A siesta fiesta at the Port de Barcelona

While Barcelona does have one of the best urban beaches in the world, Budapest is known as being the ‘City of Baths’. These thermal baths were left behind by the Turks and the spring water is said to possess healing qualities. Some of the best Budapest baths include Szechényi, Gellért and Király.

Turkish thermal baths are great for rainy days

Turkish thermal baths are great for rainy days

Popular Hungarian dishes include goulash soup and chicken paprikash. Paprika is HUGE here so make sure to try out this spice when you visit! My favorite Hungarian dish happens to be meat pancakes, hortobagyi palascinta. The favorite drink of choice here is palinka, a fruity type of liquor.

In Barcelona, I made it my life mission to consume as many tapas and as much paella as I possibly could! I wish I could eat patatas bravas (spicy potatoes) and Spanish potato omelettes for the rest of my life. An important message: try churros dipped in chocolate (it will blow your mind and tastebuds)! Also, sangria goes great with every meal.

Everyone knows that football is the biggest sport in Europe and FC Barcelona is arguably the best football team there is. I visited the FC Barcelona Camp Nou stadium and it was the highlight of my trip. I got to see all the memorabilia and trophies at the museum and we were allowed to even peruse through the players’ locker rooms (there is a jacuzzi in there). We also got to go onto the field and amass how huge the venue was. I wish I was able to attend a game here as I cannot even begin to imagine the deafening sounds and screams. Although I am not from Barcelona, I felt an overwhelming sense of admiration and pride for the team. Lionel Messi is a legend!

The legend and I at Camp Nou Stadium

The legend and I at Camp Nou Stadium

Although Hungary’s football team is not as notable as Spain’s, Hungary excels at water polo. The Hungarian men’s water polo team is the best in history. They have 15 Olympic medals! My friend flew back to Budapest from Munich and she sat next to the team on the flight. According to her, they really like sandwiches and are a bunch of nice guys!

Architecture & Places of Interest
A difference between America and Europe is architecture. Europe’s architecture and buildings have been around for a long time and are so full of history and culture. The beautiful buildings in Budapest have Roman, Turkish, Baroque, and Gothic styles. Barcelona’s architecture is Gothic with a Modernist flair. The most famous architect in all Barcelona is Antoni Gaudi and his works include: Sagrada Familia, Parc Guell, and Casa Batllo, to name a few.

Make sure to visit and ogle the architecture of these buildings/landmarks:
Budapest: Hungarian Parliament Building, St. Stephen’s Basilica, Matthias Church, Museum of Applied Arts, Buda Castle

Barcelona: Sagrada Familia Basilica, Parc Guell, Barcelona Cathedral, Casa Batllo, Montjuic Castle

The Cathedral, a major tourist destination spot as you can see

The Cathedral, a major tourist destination spot as you can see

Whether you choose to visit Budapest, Barcelona, or even both, I assure you that it will be the best of times!

Quinn Kim is a student at California State University, Fullerton and an official API Blogger. Quinn is studying abroad with API in Budapest, Hungary.

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