Just-Teens Travel


A Quick Snapshot of Barcelona

By Justine Seligson

Justine Seligson


What comes to mind when you think “sprint?” Usain Bolt? Intense heart rate? Milliseconds? Certainly not a family trip to Barcelona…I’m guessing.

Let me explain. This summer while on a National Geographic Student Expedition in Peru, I was extensively exposed to the Spanish language and overall Hispanic culture. I became interested in finding out more about the birthplace of such an influence. This was, needless to say, Spain. Thanks a lot, Pizarro.

Justine Seligson photo
Within a few days of breathing Peruvian air, I just knew I had to get to its European counterpart. I remember texting my mom while my bus was meandering through the Andes, “We’re going to Spain over Thanksgiving break.” She wrote back, “Okay?”

In July, this idea was just a small, crazy seed in my brain. But by November, it had grown and blossomed into reality. My family was boarding a plane to Barcelona two days before Thanksgiving and I would be back in time for school Monday morning. Turns out my mom had been looking for an excuse to go there for a while. My determination was the match to the pilot light.

Normally, when we travel abroad, the trip lasts at least 8 or 10 days. We like to get acclimated, slowly deal with jet lag and take our time exploring the city and countryside of each destination.

Barcelona was an exception. We were not going to gently get over jet lag. We were not going to Justine Seligson photocasually explore the city and environs. Heck, we weren’t even going to go outside the city limits.

When our Delta flight tapped down on the Barcelona Airport runway, we got into the taxi, dropped our bags in the room and set out. We were going to see and do as much as we could in the capital of Catalonia—not giving into jet lag for a second.

It helped that we spent our first hours walking along the waterfront. It’s hard not to be energized when the sun’s shining brightly making the sea sparkle, artists are sculpting sandcastles, and tourists from around the world are posing for selfies.

Invigorated, we set off for the next five days. We stuffed ourselves on the city’s abundance of art and architecture, its history and its food. I couldn’t get enough of Justine Seligson photoGaudi and took over 800 pictures of his work alone.

We walked and walked and every time I felt a bout of fatigue, I fought it, reminding myself that the trip was going to be over before I knew it. I was not going to miss a minute of this city. I wanted to walk down every narrow Medieval street of the Gothic Quarter. I wanted to know the story behind every stained glass panel of La Sagrada Familia. I wanted to sample every kind of tapas imaginable and find the city’s best paella.

Just like a sprint race, I wanted to make every second count. When we boarded our flight back to New York on Sunday, was I tired? You bet.

But it was a good tired.

Photo credits: All but top photo by Justine Seligson. Top to bottom: Gaudi's Roof Garden at La Predrera, one of many sand sculptors, inside of La Sagrada Familia.

About Justine Seligson: Just-Teens Travel columnist

Justine Seligson

Justine Seligson is the founder and chief writer of our teen column, Just-Teens Travel. She started the column providing teen insights, ideas and advice for students (and their parents) when she was in 7th grade. She is currently a sophomore at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota.

At 14 years old, Justine won the Cynthia Mullins Award in Youth Photography at the Annual Juried Student Exhibition at Silvermine School of Art in New Canaan, CT. She has also been published on National Geographic's Intelligent Travel blog. See her piece here.

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