24 hours in Barcelona with kids

An email today from British Airways about our flight delay compensation reminded me that I haven’t yet shared the story of our May half term adventure to Barcelona – so let me catch you up.  We’d been planning our trip to Spain for a while, arranging 3 days in the heart of Barcelona followed by 3 days down the coast near Sitges – but the British Airways system meltdown got in the way!

We spent 3 hours queueing for our flight – the children amusing themselves for ages clambering on airport furniture – before our plane left without us (and a large number of the other passengers) because they couldn’t process bag drop at all!

After a very stressful afternoon, we managed to rebook onto flights 36 hours later. Thankfully that journey left on time and we were finally on our way South!

By the time we’d struggled into the city centre, due to some badly timed industrial action on the Barcelona metro, it was close to 11pm when we arrived at our brilliant AirBnB apartment.  So we all crawled to bed to recharge our batteries before exploring the city.

We were up bright and early, and were soon out roaming the old town in search of breakfast. It wasn’t too long before we were tucking into pastries and coffee.  With two days of our three day city stay lost, we had a lot to pack in!

We’d pre-booked tickets to Sagrada Familia, so we started there.  Matt and I had visited the basilica some 15 years ago and we were so excited about seeing how much it had changed over the years.  It still cut an impressive shape on the skyline, with the huge spires reaching high and even bigger cranes swinging above them.

Inside the change over the last decade was spectacular.  What was previously covered in drapes and scaffolding was fully on display.  Our pictures don’t remotely do it justice.  The beautiful windows let in light of every colour:

And the ceilings were so dramatic, with tree-like columns and spiral staircases everywhere.

Sophie and Alex spotted Gaudi’s references to nature everywhere, searching for sculpted insects and flowers on the detailed doors and walls.

I absolutely loved visiting again – although Sophie wasn’t that inspired by the impressive sight, telling us afterwards that it was so boring that she never wanted to visit again!  Oh dear!  Maybe she’ll be more keen on architecture in a few more years!

She was much more interested in our second stop off the day.  After a delicious tapas lunch, we took the bus up to Parc Guell, one of Gaudi’s real masterpieces in Barcelona.  Sophie clearly was happier outside, loving the vivid colours and unusual shapes of the decoration.

It was pretty hot so we took plenty of opportunities to rest on the many, beautiful benches.

We enjoyed a fun couple of ours exploring the unusual paths and structures.

Alex and Sophie were in their element, playing around the columns and balustrades.

I love this one of me and my babies in this beautiful curvy passageway:

I loved how the styles changed as we walked around the winding paths – with rough textured walls leading to beautiful, sooth tiles in every colour and pattern.

The children, of course, enjoyed spotting the mosaic animals dotted around and occasionally stopped exploring long enough to pose for a photo!

They had so much fun playing around the columns, hiding from me and each other for ages with the sounds of their hysterical giggling giving their location away every time!

It took us some time to look up and spot the incredible ceiling – again showing so many different designs and colours.

On our way out we passed the beautiful gecko.  With wonderful timing, Alex returned to school the following week to find Gaudi was a term topic, so he loved taking in the photographs from the parc to show his teachers and friends and then recreating the gecko himself!

After Parc Guell, we jumped on a bus and headed to the city beaches to let the children have a proper run around.  The day had been a bit grey at times, but when we arrived at the shoreline the sun came out and we enjoyed a lazy hour playing and splashing together.

There were barely any people on the beach so the children could run for ages.

Meanwhile, I was getting properly into holiday mode on the sand 🙂

The final stop in our Barcelona day was a bit of a surprise.  We found a lovely little restaurant not too far from the beach for dinner, and then – with the weather so lovely – decided to walk back to our apartment through a park we’d spotted on the map. I’m so glad we did as it turned out to be the gorgeous Parc de la Ciutadella.  The monuments were glowing bright in the evening sun, and it was so fun to watch urban life unfold with running clubs, yoga groups and musicians making the most of the green, open spaces.

The children spent ages enjoying enormous bubbles!

As the sun was setting, we wandered slowly back to the old town, stopping for enormous ice creams (which were unbelievably good – I had lemon meringue pie ice cream which was truly heavenly!).  By the time we got back to our apartment late into the evening, I think we’d clocked 10km of walking over the day.  The children feel asleep instantly, and we weren’t too far behind them!

Our Barcelona city adventure wasn’t quite done though. The next morning we were up bright and early again to head back to the airport to collect our hire car – and after much begging, we decided to take Alex to the FC Barcelona football stadium for their tour. It was probably at the very bottom of my list of desirable things to do on a city break, but it was actually really good fun.  Once you’d managed to get through the museum section showcasing countless trophies and old kit, it was amazing see behind the scenes at the changing rooms (which are, frankly luxurious complete with massive hot tubs!), press conference space and media commentary boxes which literally hang over the pitch with glass floors!

Best of all was getting pitch side where the grass was impossibly green and smooth!

Here are my duo in the team dug out!

It was a real shame that we lost two of our Barcelona days, and there are still so many things I’d like to do in the city – so we’ll have to plan another visit.  But the time that we had was packed with so much fun that we enjoyed every second.

And, of course, the holiday wasn’t over – we still had three more nights further down the coast.  But that’s a story for another blog post…

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