Day 1 – Our apartment was just a block away from L’illa Diagonal shopping centre, so once we got in and got settled, we walked there to check it out and visit the grocery store. In my opinion, one of the best things about home exchanging is that you have a kitchen and are able to do as many (or as few) meals at home as you wish! We stocked up on things for breakfast and lunch, drinks, fruit, and snacks.
Then we all took a siesta to help us get on “Barcelona time.”
In the evening, we hopped on a bus to Las Ramblas to visit La Boqueria. We got some juice and strolled Las Ramblas for a bit. Las Ramblas was cool and is definitely a must-see kinda thing, but it was so jam-packed with tourists that we didn’t venture very far. Instead, we returned to La Boqueria to a bar/restaurant where we had seen another family hanging out with a little one in a stroller. We found three open stools at Bar Boqueria and had dinner – pan con tamate, patatas bravas, Argentine red shrimp, and sangria.
Day 2 – We took it easy in the morning and just went for a walk around our neighborhood. We found a few playgrounds and let Jacob play for a bit. We spent some time trying to get our plans together for the rest of the week.
In the afternoon, we went to CosmoCaixa, the science museum. There seemed to be quite a bit of construction going on. There were lots of interactive displays in the space/geological section, but what Jacob really loved was the big exhibit on mirrors. All of the mirrors, lights, and optical illusions would make for some very Instagrammable pictures – it felt like we were in the middle of a futuristic music video.
Jacob also liked the flooded forest. You can see the underside of the water and some of the creatures living inside before walking out and around through the trees.
We took a taxi to the museum, which was fine, but for some reason, we could not get a taxi to take us home. No one on the taxi app would pick us up. It was a trek back to the apartment, but thankfully we had the stroller, so it was no big deal. For dinner, we stopped off at L’illa and grabbed the fastest thing we could find for Jacob, who had blown through all of his snacks and was still hungry – some pizza!
Day 3 – In the morning, we went to Ciutadella Park and walked around. We found an awesome children’s area that the kid absolutely loved. Park employees (volunteers?) supervised the children and hauled out toys and gymnastics mats for the kids to climb on. Someone turned on a faucet and kids filled buckets and were encouraged to splash and play in the mud. One corner of the children’s area held a little garden and a fort.
Inside, a man played a guitar and sang songs. A woman sat in a corner and read to a little one. Once we were finally able to pull Jacob away, we found a park bench and had a picnic lunch. We grabbed a popsicle from an ice cream vendor and then we made our way to the Arc de Triomf. Jacob loved the guy there blowing gigantic bubbles and we loved watching him run around trying to chase them.
After our siesta, we took the tram to Camp Nou and visited the FC Barcelona store. We got the kid his own FC Barcelona jersey to wear on his birthday!
For dinner that evening we went to the mall and had tapas at a place called Andreu. We walked up to the bar and there were plenty of empty seats. We had bread and jamon, a nice cheese plate, and some cava. We were only there for a little while when the evening rush hit. People ended up queuing up and taking numbers to wait for seats and to order food!
Day 4– We went to Barceloneta beach. While the water wasn’t the warmest, Jacob didn’t seem to mind. I think the beach may have been his favorite part of the trip. We had so much fun playing in the sand and collecting rocks and sea glass and it’s always nice to recharge with some sunshine and vitamin sea!
I read a lot of blogs that suggested skipping Barceloneta and taking a day trip to other beaches, but for us, Barceloneta was close and super-easy to get to by bus or taxi. You have to ignore the folks trying to sell you drinks, beach blankets, and massages, but for the most part, it was a very relaxing way to spend the morning. There were some people there in the morning, but it wasn’t very crowded. There are plenty of showers and bathrooms nearby so you can clean up. After we had our fill of the sun and sea we went to a little beach bar and grabbed lunch.
In Spain, they tend to do everything later in the day, but we mostly stuck to our own schedule, and the same went for eating, too. I’ll talk about more in an upcoming food/restaurant post, but we had no trouble finding places to eat that worked for an earlier/American family timetable.
We did make one exception to our regularly scheduled programming – in the evening, we kept Jacob up late to catch the Magic Fountain of Montjuic!
We had dinner out on the balcony at “home” (thanks to the grocery store’s pre-made pastas!) and then walked our way to the fountain. We took the stroller, which was fine, until we got to the fountain. Jacob and I ended up taking the escalator to cross the road and Tommy had to take the stroller and carry it up all the steps. We met up easily enough, but even though we still had to wait for the fountains to start, it was already very crowded. We found a spot off to the side and a little way back so that we could still see. There are concession stands around so we bought some sangria and waited for the show to start. It was not a disappointment! Depending on where you stand (and which way the wind blows) you could get wet, so be prepared to move or get drenched!
When it was time to go, we walked a little way and quickly found taxis lined up down the street to take us back to our place. Once the little guy was tucked into bed, we enjoyed some more wine on the patio! A great way to unwind at the end of the day!
Stay tuned for a description of days 5-8, coming soon!