The Aftermath of an Attack: A Weekend in Barcelona

Sydney Braat
September 20, 2017

I spent the last month adjusting to my new life in Ireland, visiting tourist attractions, taking a bus trip to the West Coast, and studying at Trinity College Dublin, but it was finally time to take a quick trip off the Emerald Isle to do some exploring. I am particularly fond of Spain because of the beautiful weather they get well into the Fall season. I appreciate the strong culture, rich architecture, and bright mosaics around the cities. I visited Barcelona last Fall during my first semester abroad, but did not get to explore nearly as much as I would have liked. Do you remember the movie Cheetah Girls from Disney Channel? Well, I was obsessed with them and was so envious of their lives when they visited Barcelona for a singing competition. I made it a personal mission to comb the streets like they did all those years ago. This trip to Barcelona was my second chance to dig deeper into the city and get to know the streets inside and out.

Our first evening there was unfortunately rainy, but not like cold Irish rainstorms. It was actually pleasant to walk along the marina, enjoy a cozy dinner inside, and then head back out to the city to do more casual exploring. I was surprised by how many people were still walking around and how many street performers continued their acts despite the consistent rainfall. After leaving the marina and walking across the Columbus Monument, we stumbled upon Las Ramblas. For a quick moment, I was intrigued by the bright stands selling souvenirs, street performers, crowds of people, and upbeat music playing. Then it dawned upon me.

It seems like there is another natural disaster or violent attack occurring around the world daily. In today’s world, it’s normal to wake up and see another disaster posted about on Instagram or printed on the front page of a newspaper. My mind has been flooded with the recent three hurricanes that hit the Caribbean and United States and the public transport bombing in London. The list goes on and on. I suddenly remembered that walking down Las Ramblas wasn’t so peaceful and jovial on August 17, 2017. Just a few weeks before my trip, a 22-year-old drove his van into pedestrians, killing 13 people and injuring at least 130 others, one of whom died 10 days later. Innocent tourists and locals were walking through the exciting street, buying souvenirs, enjoying a meal, watching street performers, or just having stroll through the beautiful street. Those unfortunate people were caught in a horrific situation at the wrong time. One individual that stuck out to me while I read news reports online was a seven-year-old British-Australian boy that was separated from his mother during the attack and killed. At just seven years old, a boy visiting this vibrant city was unexpectedly killed for reasons unknown to him at the time.

While I walked the street that night, I imagined the absolute chaos that occurred there a few weeks prior and how devastated, confused, and angry people were. No one can really predict when these incidents will occur. Your holiday or afternoon peruse through the city could turn into a complete disaster, all without you being able to prepare.

During my trips, I spend most of my day on an “travel high” as I take in all the new sights around me, but especially on that first night I spent in Barcelona, I was much more aware of the reality of this world. Travel is not always pleasant, because our world just is not perfect. Though this has not and will not prevent me from discovering new places, Barcelona taught me to be much more grateful for each day I am able to get out of bed, experience a new city, and become enriched in the differences of that culture.

Barcelona is certainly on much higher alert than it was prior to August 17, but there is a renewed sense of pride in their culture as they look forward to restoring the city. As I continue my travels during this abroad experience and throughout my life, I hope to be much more grateful for the individual moments along the way.

Sydney Braat

<p>I am always on the go, whether I am traveling, exploring new cafes in New York, or covering events throughout Long Island for my internship with I find so much joy in new experiences and ultimately think my passion for travel has helped me become the person I am today.</p>

Home University:
Gettysburg College
Westhampton Beach, NY
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