A Day Trip to Barcelona

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Simon Wallace
December 15, 2023

A common theme when visiting Spain—and really all of Europe—is just enjoying the stroll, and that’s exactly how my family and I started our day trip to Barcelona. We started at the Gothic Quarter, which is known for buildings with traditional, decorative architecture. We meandered around this area for some time, just appreciating the novel feeling of walking down the classic compact European cobblestone streets, many of which were barely wide enough for a car.

My family and I continued to stroll through downtown Barcelona until we arrived at Casa Batlló, one of the houses built by the famous Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi. As you can imagine from the pictures below, this house was unlike any building I’ve seen, let alone entered. Gaudi’s architecture disobeys the standard uniformity of straight lines and rectangular shapes. On the front exterior of the house, borders are ill-defined, and the entire face of the building consists of wavy stone pillars and balconies protruding from the surface like the troughs and crests of the uneven sea. Because of this there is a great sense of movement that is very hard to find in most architecture.

The interior of the Gaudi house was just as impressive and conveyed that same sense of wavy movement. That, as well as the vibrant colors and overall quirkiness of the rooms, reminded me a great deal of the rooms in the Willy Wonka movies, where the contestants watched rooms and hallways stretch and shrink before their very eyes. In fact, we were able to see the rooms change before our very eyes, as the tour of the house included an app to scan the rooms as you walked through them and see how they would look fully furnished.

Our next Gaudi stop was La Sagrada Familia, a massive and ornately decorated cathedral and one of the 12 Treasures of Spain. This was easily one of the most impressive structures I’ve ever seen for two main reasons. The first being the pure size and height of the cathedral, as there are a multitude of spires and pinnacles stretching and shrinking towards the sky. Secondly, I had never seen a church ornately decorated with such detail. There were so many figures and icons sculpted into the front of the building, that from afar (and also if you squint at the below picture) made it feel like you are looking at the finely textured bark of a massive tree trunk. My one regret of Barcelona was not having the chance to see the inside of La Sagrada. I’ve heard it’s even more majestic than the exterior, so I highly recommend getting tickets to tour the inside if you make a trip to here.

To conclude our Barcelona day trip my family and I visited another one of Gaudi’s creations, Parc Güell, a unique park located at the northern top of Barcelona overlooking the city. Gaudi built various eye-catching structures that merged into the hillside of this park, as he wanted to emphasize the importance of human existence within nature as opposed to separate from nature—and that “natural” and “man-made” can coexist as one thing. Also for this reason, he used natural, un-shaped stone materials to build some features of the park, and overall, the structures feel quite cave-like and organic as opposed to human-made. 

Going in, I was quite skeptical of the feasibility of a day trip to Barcelona from Madrid (the train ride is about three hours each way), but if you are considering it, I would recommend. We were able to hit all the big spots in only a few hours. You can probably even do more than we did (like see the inside of La Sagrada :/ ) if you get an early start and plan well. 

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Simon Wallace

I'm from Williamsport, Pennsylvania and I am a senior at Penn State University studying computer science. I enjoy being physically active, whether that's organized sports, going to the gym, or just spending time outdoors.

2023 Fall
Home University:
Penn State University
Computer Science
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