The day before I left for Spain, I had done everything I needed to do, except pack my bags! I absolutely hate packing and doing laundry. I only had a toothbrush, a jacket, and six pairs of shoes sitting in my suitcase just four hours before my flight. It is suggested that you arrive at the airport three to four hours before an international flight, and my mother was worried that I was going to miss my flight. After saying goodbye, I hurriedly packed some last minute things. In less than an hour I was off to the airport starting the next three months of my European travels!
I arrived at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport just in time for my flight to New York. When I arrived at JFK Airport, I was told that my connecting flight to Spain would be delayed for a couple of hours. After waiting for what seemed like forever, I was finally able to board the plane for Barcelona. A long eight hours later, I had arrived in Barcelona. Can you trace the route of my flight with your finger? Take your finger and find New York on a map, then go straight across the big blue ocean, heading east to Europe. When you cross the ocean and reach the country of Portugal, keep going to its next door neighbor, Spain! Now, look for the city of Barcelona. What is the name of the ocean you crossed over to get to Spain?
While I have only been in Spain for two days, I have noticed that there are several different ways to get around Barcelona. There are always lots of people outside walking to their various destinations. For the past two days, I have enjoyed walking to school, small cafes, my friends’ apartments, the market, the park and many other places. It usually only takes me fifteen or twenty minutes to get to many of these places.
Many students, adults and tourists also use the Metro to get around the city. The Metro is an underground subway system that travels all around the city. Today, I was excited because I rode the train for the first time. I live just a short two-minute walk from the Metro stop called Arc de Triumf. I purchased a T-10 transport ticket, and it cost 9.80 euros, which is equal to $12.59 U.S. dollars, for a total of ten train rides. One Metro ride costs about $1.25. Are these similar to the prices for a train ticket in New York? While I haven’t been able to ride a bus yet, my host mother told me that several people use public buses to get from place to place as well.
Besides public transportation, people in Barcelona also use taxis, drive their cars and ride scooters. While I used to seeing several taxis and cars all around Chicago, I have never seen very many scooters. Scooters are a very popular mode of transportation here. While scooters and motorcycles are much smaller than cars, they also pollute the air with fumes and carbon dioxide. To reduce pollution and protect the environment, Barcelona introduced a bicycle sharing system called “Bicing.” This system is very similar to the bike sharing system in France. Residents who live in Barcelona can purchase a membership card for 24 euros or $31.00 per year. They can take a bicycle from any station, use it around the urban area and leave it at another station in the city. There are over 100 different stations around Barcelona. The Bicing system is much cheaper than paying for gas and it is a great form of exercise. This form of transportation is also great for the environment. It helps to reduce roadway noise, decrease traffic and it reduces emission of toxic chemicals in the air. Which modes of transportation are better for the environment in New York? Can you find any similarities between transportation in Barcelona and New York?