Traveling with Kids: Barcelona

Barcelona, Spain: one of our very favorite family travel destinations in Europe! Great travel tips for visiting Barcelona with kids, including the perfect accommodations for families and the sweetest museum you can’t miss!

In June of 2014 my family spent a month traveling through Spain and London. I’m highlighting our individual destinations, giving you tips on traveling with kids and sharing some of the best things we discovered. You can find previously published travel posts on my Travel Page. You can find all the photos from our trip on my flickr page. 

Somehow,somewhere, I got off track with posts recounting our trip to Spain. I’m realizing that if I don’t finish writing those posts soon, we’ll hit the one-year mark of our trip! Part of what was holding me back was editing the nearly 900 photos I took while traveling. I’m happy to say that I finally buckled down and finished editing AND printing every single one. So now that I have that under wraps, how about we move on with a visit to Barcelona?

We flew to Barcelona following our side trip to London. I’m happy to report that our second experience on RyanAir went much better than our first. Our bags were still over the weight limit, but we were able to shift things around suitcases without fear of missing our flight. As much as we loved London, it was such a lovely feeling to walk out into warmth and sunshine after three days of cold and rain.

Barcelona with Kids | Family Travel

Barcelona is absolutely beautiful, like no other city I’ve ever visited, and so completely different from the rest of Spain. The architecture is just incredible, and I spent much of the trip with my eyes upturned and my mouth open in wonder.

Barcelona with Kids: Las Ramblas | Family Travel

We arrived on a Tuesday afternoon, so after getting situated in our room, we decided to stroll along Las Ramblas. At the Plaça de Catalunya, the kids discovered their second favorite thing in Spain after churros: pigeons. We bought two bags of food and let them go to town.

Barcelona with Kids: Placa de Catalunya | Family Travel

Barcelona with Kids: Placa de Catalunya | Family Travel

Legend has it that a drink from the Fountain of Canaletes ensures your return to Barcelona. We all wanted that to be true, so we drank up. Eli practically drenched himself (the water comes out really fast), so I see multiple return trips to Barcelona in his future!

Barcelona with Kids: Las Ramblas | Family Travel

Farther along Las Ramblas I found my own version of heaven: La Boqueria. So much amazing food, so little stomach space available!

Barcelona with Kids: La Boqueria | Family Travel

Barcelona with Kids: La Boqueria | Family Travel

Barcelona with Kids: La Boqueria | Family Travel

On our way back to the guesthouse, we found ourselves in the middle of an epic thunderstorm. While Mike and I huddled under the eaves, the kids had other plans, which resulted in one of my favorite memories from the trip:

The rain in Spain … falls heavy in Barcelona tonight! #sixesinspain

A video posted by Angie Six (@angiesix) on

Wednesday would be our only full day in Barcelona, so we wanted to make the most of it without completely wrecking the kids. We started off early with a visit to Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia. We bought tickets that included an audio guide as well as a visit to the tower on the Nativity facade. The audio guide was very helpful, allowed us to move at our own pace, and kept the kids’ interest as well. The additional entry to the tower was very cool – it allows you to go up one of the towers and cross the bridge in between the towers.

Barcelona with Kids: Sagrada Familia | Family Travel

The views are breathtaking … but the space is very tiny and cramped. So if you’re afraid of heights, claustrophobic, or larger rather than small, you might consider skipping this additional tour.

Barcelona with Kids: Sagrada Familia | Family Travel

Barcelona with Kids: Sagrada Familia | Family Travel

Barcelona with Kids: Sagrada Familia | Family Travel

Barcelona with Kids: Sagrada Familia | Family Travel

Barcelona with Kids: Sagrada Familia | Family Travel

Barcelona with Kids: Sagrada Familia | Family Travel

Words cannot do this cathedral-in-progress justice. It’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before. I’m not being overly dramatic when I tell you it moved me to tears. It’s something we’ll never, ever forget.

Speaking of buying tickets ahead of time, if you want to walk through Park Güell, Gaudí’s iconic park, you’ll want to buy tickets in advance to this as well. We headed there after lunch, but found that in order to see monumental area (where the most famous areas of the Park are) we’d have to wait nearly 2 hours for entry. You can visit other areas of the Park without a timed ticket, so we took about an hour and wandered around.

Barcelona with Kids: Park Guell | Family Travel

The kids were dying to see the ocean, and Mike and I were happy to indulge if it meant we could lounge around on the beach and give our feet a rest. We spent the rest of the afternoon at Barceloneta. We probably should’ve warned the kids about the nudity, especially Elena. I’m not sure she’ll ever recover from so much full-on male nudity in the presence of her parents! We had a great dinner at Makamaka, with some excellent people watching as well, followed by a relaxing evening on the guesthouse rooftop hammocks.

Barcelona with Kids: Barri Gotic | Family Travel

We had an early evening flight to Seville on Thursday, so we took advantage of our last few hours in Barcelona to do a walking tour of the Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter) neighborhood at our own leisurely pace. We started off at a museum no kid in their rightful mind will turn down: Museo de Xocolata (Museum of Chocolate). Forget a golden ticket – our ticket was a chocolate bar! It’s a small but fun museum, with information about the history of chocolate, as well as some incredible works of chocolate art.

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We saw so many unique and beautiful things on our walk, but the coolest thing of all was the various displays of the Dancing Egg. We just happened to time our visit with the Feast of Corpus Christi. Many cloisters and courtyards in Barcelona feature beautiful fountains. During Corpus Christi, the fountains are decorated with flowers, and an egg is place in the water jet. The egg rises and falls with the water, and appears to be dancing. No one is really sure of the significance of the egg, but it has been a tradition since the 1600s!

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Our time in Barcelona went entirely too quickly. We could’ve easily spent another few days there. As short as our visit was, I’m very glad that we made it a part of our trip. It was our favorite part of Spain, and a fabulous city to visit with kids. So, to wrap up Barcelona:

How much time should you allocate?

As I said, we needed more time. While we didn’t feel rushed, we left out a lot of things we would’ve liked to see. In order to see the city without killing your kids, I’d plan 3 full days.

Must-see: 

Do not go to Barcelona and not see Sagrada Familia. I don’t care how touristy you think it is, or how cathedral-ed out you think you (or the kids) are. It’s that awesome.

Best tips: 

I highly, highly recommend buying your tickets ahead of time for Sagrada Familia. With our timed tickets, we were able to walk right in, while the line to buy tickets (even early in the morning) snaked around the cathedral.

The Metro system is organized, clean, and fairly easy to use. We used it several times in the little time we were there, including as transport from the airport to the city. Buy a T10 card. It can be used by multiple people and provides 10 single trips per card.

Best Things We Ate:

We discovered our love for a new kind of pastry, a specialty of this area of Spain: ensaimadas. Imagine a snail-shaped, brioche-like pastry dusted in powdered sugar … delicious.

Barcelona with Kids: La Colmena Bolados | Family Travel

We were also stopped in our tracks by a display of pastel and neon blocks of … well, we weren’t sure exactly. We bought a couple, which had the texture of a very sugary meringue. We later found out they were bolados, which are meant to be dissolved in water for a refreshing drink. Welp, we ate them. And they were tasty. We found them at La Colmena, Spain’s oldest handmade candy shop. You could eat a hundred things here and not be sad.

Where We Stayed:

Barcelona with Kids: ZooRooms Guesthouse | Family Travel

We stayed in the absolute cutest guesthouse, ZooRooms, in the Eixample neighborhood. After our closet-sized room in London, the luxury of spreading out through two large rooms was almost more than we could handle. In addition to our large quarters, we had use of a kitchen, as well as a large rooftop patio. The owner was ridiculously kind and helpful. After giving us a full tour, he sat down with us and went over a map of Barcelona. He asked us what we hoped to see, and then gave us recommendations on how best to get there. He showed us where the nearest market was so we could buy a few things for breakfast, and he recommended several restaurants nearby that we might like. I’d read in the property description that there was a washing machine available. When I asked about it, he waved his hand. “Leave it outside your door and we’ll wash it for you,” he said. We hadn’t done laundry in 5 days, so this was no small feat! The price was very reasonable for both the accommodations as well as the prime location. I’d stay here again in a heartbeat.

Barcelona with Kids: ZooRooms Guesthouse | Family Travel

Next up: We take a different turn on our trip, heading south to Seville … and renting a car for a for a little road trip through Andalusia!

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What We’re Watching in January {Netflix StreamTeam}

Disclosure: This post is part of a yearly series in partnership with Netflix. As a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam, I’ll be sharing ideas throughout the year on some of the best Netflix titles to stream with your family. The content, as always, is whatever streams through my own mind! Hope you enjoy!

It's hard to work when you have the strange feeling you're being watched. #gusgus #creeperdog

Whatcha watching right now?

Between the craziness of last week and the incessant grey skies and chilly temps, about the only thing I feel like doing in the afternoons and evenings is getting lost in a book or hunkering down with the family and getting lost in a good show or a movie.

Netflix StreamTeamBadge

And while I promise my list of the best books I read last year, along with a fun reading challenge I’m taking on this year, are coming, I thought I’d head into the weekend by sharing some of our favorite things we’re watching these days. I’ve partnered with Netflix for a year as a member of their #StreamTeam. It’s been such a treat for us to have access to the vast Netflix library, especially this winter. Here’s what we’ve been watching and loving lately:

Creeper Dog, a.k.a. Gus, has had an impact on what we watch. While we’ve always loved animal programs, we have a deeper appreciation for them (and much softer hearts!) now that we’re pet owners ourselves. While it’s entertaining, we always seem to glean some helpful information from pet whisperer Cesar Millan.  “Cesar 911” and “Leader of the Pack” are both available on Netflix, and give us great insight into the minds of dogs. Maybe one day we’ll get the answer to why Gus can sniff out a Smartwool sock from the deepest corners of our laundry baskets and destroy it within seconds.

The Adventures of Milo and Otis” was one of my favorite movies as a kid. I’m still a sucker for talking animals, and the kids seem to love it just as much as I did.

Puss in Boots Netflix

Speaking of talking animals, my second favorite talking animal from “Shrek” has his own show exclusively on Netflix now. “The Adventures of Puss in Boots” premiered this month and Eli gives it a big thumbs up! (Sorry, Puss, Donkey will always be my favorite.)

Tower of London

I love that the kids are getting to the age where they not only appreciate, but enjoy a good documentary. There are two in particular that we think are pretty cool, and they both happen to be produced by PBS. One is “Secrets of the Tower of London.” The Tower was one of the highlights of our trip to London last summer. Whether you’ve been or not, it’s fascinating!

221B Baker Street London

The other is more up Elena’s alley. She loves to watch the BBC’s “Sherlock” series (yes, she’s a SuperWhoLock CumberKid). The PBS documentary “How Sherlock Changed the World” is a cool look at how a fictional character managed to have very real impact on modern-day forensics and criminal investigations.

What are some of your favorite movies and shows you’re watching lately? We’d love to add them to our list!

 

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Ringing in the New Year with Your Little Party Animals

Celebrating New Year’s Eve with kids? Then you’ll want to check out these 4 great New Year’s Eve party ideas for kids and families! New Year’s Eve with kids | Netflix Stream Team

Disclosure: This post is part of a yearly series in partnership with Netflix. As a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam, I’ll be sharing ideas throughout the year on some of the best Netflix titles to stream with your family. The content, as always, is whatever streams through my own mind! Hope you enjoy!

Since having kids, whenever I get asked, “What are your plans for New Year’s Eve?” I have to resist the urge to make a Princess Kate face:

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While we were never the get dressed up and go to a fancy party types, we had our share of epic New Year’s Eve celebrations in our day. And then we became parents. Until the kids hit the elementary school stage, it was a struggle to even make it up to midnight. If we did last until 12:05, we paid for it dearly the next day. Nothing says “This will be our best year as parents ever!” like nursing a hangover or barking at your kids because you only got 4 hours of sleep on January 1st.

Now we have kids who can a) make it to midnight and b) sleep in the next morning (or at least let us sleep in without burning the house down), and so we can let the little party animals celebrate New Year’s Eve the way it’s meant to be celebrated: with food, music, friends, and tomfoolery.

elenanye2011

Food

For me, New Year’s Eve isn’t the night for a fancy, sit-down dinner. It’s a night for food that you can grab whenever you get tired of dancing or in between games. Think plates of cheese, cured meats, a big batch of seasoned popcorn, chex mix, chocolate covered pretzels. I’d like to say I’d put out veggies and dip … but who am I kidding? No one wants carrots on New Year’s Eve. There will be fruit, but you have to wait for more details on that one. I’m also thinking this crispy, bar-style pizza will make an appearance. We’ve been hooked on it lately, and the kids swear it tastes just like Hot Box.

Music

These are the nights Spotify playlists were made for. We have one just for parties … and by parties we mean dance parties. We might look like fools, but we love to move it, move it. It helps make up for the lack of a veggie tray, too. If the thought of making up your own moves scares you, pop a game like Just Dance in and have a family dance-off. Just make sure if you’ve birthed any of the children at the party you make a quick trip to the bathroom first. I know you know what I’m talking about. And you’re welcome.

Friends

This is the perfect time to invite friends over for a family slumber party. No one wants to worry about driving home after the ball drops. It doesn’t have to be a bed and breakfast experience for your guests. We’ve had kids on the couches and adults on an air mattress, with cereal and grocery store doughnuts the next morning. As long as there’s coffee and no one laughs at your bedhead, it’s all good. If you can’t convince any of your grown-up friends to sleep over, let the kids each have a friend spend the night. Perhaps next year their parents will feel guilty and for the first time in 12 years YOU can have a New Year’s Eve without the littles.

Celebrating New Year’s Eve with kids? Then you’ll want to check out these 4 great New Year’s Eve party ideas for kids and families! New Year’s Eve with kids | Netflix Stream Team

Tomfoolery

We love having a game marathon on New Year’s Eve. Pull out all your favorite games, and ask any guests to bring their favorite game, too. Set up a few tables and let people move around and play around.

When it’s time for the ball to drop, pull some fun accessories out of your party hat. I like to stock up on glow sticks and sparklers in the summer. Noisemakers and silly hats or glasses are a big hit. Finally, when the clock strikes midnight, it’s time to pull out those grapes!

Yes, grapes at midnight have been a tradition in my house for as long as I can remember. It’s a Spanish tradition (and superstition) that in order to have a 12 months of luck in the coming year, you must eat 12 grapes – one at each stroke of the clock at midnight. Before the party, pre-fill small cups with 12 grapes each and then pass them out to your guests just before midnight. It’s perfect for those of us that dislike champagne and awkward kissing!

No matter how you celebrate, I hope you have a wonderful New Year’s Eve and a fabulous 2015. If you haven’t discovered it already, be sure to introduce your little party animals to one of the original party animals: King Julian from Madagascar. “All Hail King Julian,” a Netflix-original series, debuted December 19th. If your kids are anything like mine, they’ll love his crazy adventures and silly antics!

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