I started this post with the intent of following the normal layout: what we did day-to-day, and then add some pics for fun. Then, I realized it would be the world’s longest post as there was just SO MUCH that we loved and it would be hard to trim down the content. Because of that, you’re getting our Top 10 reasons to visit Barcelona; maybe I can keep commentary below 1000 words.
So, in no particular order:
1. & 2. Art and Architecture. I’ll let the pictures do the talking. This place is paradise for someone that loves art and architecture. Most of the art/architecture in our pictures was designed & built by Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926). (Look him up…he’s a creative genius!)
3. Open spaces to run around. So, this is more a Sarah favorite. We learned our lesson from our Munich trip and to keep from having some major meltdowns, we specifically made time each day for Sarah to run and play. There were quite a few parks that we had to choose from, as well as open squares that were pretty safe for a running toddler. We noticed that parents here were a little more at ease with their kids straying from them. There were a couple of times that we found ourselves looking for parents of little kids that wandered near us. I think as Americans, we were not used to this, but I’m sure it’s very liberating for a little one to have that freedom. (That’s not to say we’ll do it though! This momma is a little too protective.)
4. The food was A-Ma-Zing! We tried everything we could, from paella to roast chicken, tapas to pizza. Fortunately, Barcelona is smoke-free inside restaurants. Unfortunately, outdoor seating is not, and people do not care if you have a small child with you or not. We tried sitting outside at a couple of places, and had people chain-smoking beside us. It was a lot off-putting, but we learned our lesson and chose to eat at odd times, or inside. We found our favorite meals were at places off the beaten path.
5. They LOVE children! Sarah was constantly being touched or patted by strangers (though, not in a scary, creepy way.) They would launch into a full on discussion with her and she would reply with ‘Hola’ and ‘Barcelona’. She was a hit with the locals–especially the elderly.
6. Our apartment. Since we were going to be there for 5 days, we chose to rent an apartment. It was cheaper than a hotel and with Sarah in tow, we felt it would be nice for her to have the run of the place and not have to be quiet at all times, for fear of bothering people through paper-thin walls. Also, to have a fully stocked kitchen at our disposal guaranteed at least one meal a day made at home…and cold milk at Sarah’s disposal. We were fortunate in our apartment choice in that it had a 24 hour grocery right next door and was a 1-3 minute walk to a subway entrance, a pier, La Ramble (a historically popular tourist destination), an open square that was great for running off some energy, and multiple shops and eateries. Other than a little bit of an off-putting smell coming from the bathroom sink, this place was perfect!
7. Going in November was perfect for us. Apparently it isn’t as crowded with tourists. The longest we waited for anything was about 20 minutes to get tickets for Sagrada Familia (which was worth the wait on so many levels!!) Everything else was pretty much walk in and go…including food.
8. Another plus for November is the weather. In the 5 days we were there, we had rain only once. It was sunny and in the low 60’s during the day and cool during the evenings. So, unless you’re wanting to go to Barcelona for the beaches, this is a great time of year to go. The one downside is that we had to pack for layers, but it wasn’t too bad since we’re used to that now. HA!
9. No sense of urgency. We never felt rushed to do anything. And because of that we were able to do and really enjoy almost everything on our list. We all slept in, took our time with everything we did, ate meals off schedule, and even went to bed off-schedule (Gasp!! I don’t think she was in bed before 9:00 any night we were there!) The locals have multiple meals throughout the day, with a really late tapas and wine meal anytime after 9:00, so we tried to go with the flow. Granted, eating that late for us was not going to happen, but still being out and about after 8:00pm was a huge deal!
10. Complete strangers were so nice to us…and very worried about our security. I had different people come up to me and tell me to ‘watch’ my camera around my neck and the backpack on our back. Fortunately we never had an issue, so I felt we looked ‘intimidating’ enough. Seriously though, apparently pick-pocketing is an issue in Barcelona, but with the little one in tow, we weren’t really in the types of environments that promote that. We felt safe the whole time we were there, but we were also a little more aware of our surroundings than normal too.
And finally, one to grow on,
11. Basically, if given the chance, you should just go.
PS- on a totally different note, this was the first time that Sarah had to have her own seat on one of the budget airlines. She’s 2! What 2-year-old is going to sit calmly in an airplane seat? Well, not ours! We really didn’t want to take her bulky car seat since we wouldn’t need it, so we researched our options. We eventually found a travel seat/backpack by Trunki and it was a life saver. She used it on the plane and in cabs (and it could also be used in restaurants as a booster seat.) So, for you parents out there that will be traveling with little ones, look this thing up!