Having had a slow start to our family visit to Barcelona, it was time to up the ante and get some serious sightseeing done. The aquarium and zoo had been ticked off our to-do list, so now it was time to do some more traditional touristy things. Here is our family visit to Barcelona Part 2.
A Family Visit to Barcelona Part 2 – Day Three
We took our time getting up this morning as BattleDad had gotten in after 2am. I kept BattleKid quiet over breakfast and just before 10am, BattleDad woke. After getting ourselves organised, we headed back to Placa de Catalunya to catch the Bus Turistic de Barcelona, one of the hop on hop off buses that I had gotten us two-day tickets for. But not before I took a little person into the Disney shop for some new Disney Cars models. We then found the right part of the square to catch it at and boarded one ready to enjoy seeing some of the city from the top of the bus. We sat at the back of the bus up top and it proved a good choice as it was quite a hot day.
The bus left Placa de Catalunya and headed off on the Red Route. There are three routes with this company taking in the majority of the city and sights. Our plan was to do the Red Route one day and most of the Blue Route another day. There was nothing along the Green Route we really wanted to see.
The Red Route took us past places like the Estacio de Sants, Placa d’Espanya, the Olympic Stadium where BattleDad had been the night before, and our destination for the day, the Teleferic de Montjuic. The Montjuic area of Barcelona overlooks the city and the Montjuic Castle is located here. To get to the castle, you can either walk up the hill or get the cable car as we did.
We got off our hop on hop off bus at the Montjuic stop, bought our return trip tickets for the cable car and bagged ourselves a car all to ourselves. The ride in the cable car takes you non-stop up to the top where you can alight for the Montjuic Castle. We had forgotten to bring a dragon for a dragon hunt, so just wandered the castle, looking in some of the rooms which had exhibitions about Spain’s history under Franco.
Both BattleDad and I would have loved to have spent more time in these rooms, but they weren’t really suitable for a 4-year-old. On the walls were hung photographs of places around Spain where people had been tortured or executed during the rule of Franco. Each picture was accompanied by a plaque of text explaining the significance of the pictures. While there was nothing bad for BattleKid to see in them, he was asking questions about them and I chose to read a certain amount out to him, but not everything. There were some which told of horrific atrocities which occurred around the country.
In the centre of some rooms were displays with books and diaries from during the Franco Rule, which was from 1939 until his death in 1975. They were interesting exhibitions but not ones to be enjoyed with a pre-schooler in tow.
Travel doesn’t become an adventure until you leave yourself behind ~ Marty Rubin This was taken in Montjuic Castle in Barcelona during our recent visit there. While it’s a great city it didn’t capture my heart like other cities have. However, this little dude is still taking about our visit to the Spanish city. Our adventures continue next month when we visit the northern half of Portugal. And I’ve finally started looking into things we can do! Hopefully it’ll be a good trip!
So, with someone becoming bored, we made our way onto the battlement area of the castle, from which are some stunning views across both the city of Barcelona and its marina and port. Having worked in the petrochemical industry prior to our relocation to Portugal, I’ve heard many stories about ports and cargo ships but the scale of the port in Barcelona was incredible. It almost made me wish I was still working as a scientist!
As it was a rather hot day, we didn’t spend too long on top of the castle. After some panoramic photos, we departed the castle for our return trip on the cable car, which stops halfway down to allow more passengers to get on or off. But, we had the car to ourselves and enjoyed the views of the city, still visible even on a hot, hazy day.
We didn’t have long to wait at the bus stop before our Red Route bus arrived for us to continue our trip. The bus took us into the marina where we passed by both the World Trade Centre building and the aquarium which we had visited two days before. It continues along the seafront towards Port Olimpic, the buildings which houses the athletes and teams from the 1992 Olympic Games. One building is now a hotel, while the other has been converted into an apartment building which is highly sought after.
From the Port Olimpic, we passed by Parc Ciutadella and though the Gothic Quarter before arriving at the starting point again on Placa de Catalunya, where we alighted. It was a brilliant way to see some of the centre of Barcelona and a great way to get to enjoy both the Montjuic cable car and castle at the same time.
We decided to head back to the apartment but stopped into a small bakery/deli and got some cakes to bring home with us. The boy was admiring them from the outside while BattleDad chose for us. We walked back and along the way, with the help of BattleDad, I managed to capture a great photo, combining new street art with the older generation. What do you think?
Back at the apartment we relaxed before deciding to head out into the local area to find somewhere for dinner. We were going to head back to the pasta bar but managed to spot a tapas bar and restaurant near us called Croq & Roll. BattleDad checked the menu, and the waiter said he could do some plain tapas for BattleKid, so in we went. The boy wasn’t too hungry but BattleDad and I devoured our food, which was reasonably priced. An early night was ahead for us all before another day of sightseeing.
A Family Visit to Barcelona Part 2 – Day Four
This was the only day of our family visit to Barcelona that I had fully planned. We woke early and grabbed a taxi to bring us to the Sagrada Familia, which I had prebooked tickets for, advice I welcomed from some of my fellow family travellers. We arrived at 9.55am, just before our time slot of 10am. You have 15 minutes for your time slot to arrive and enter the Basilica.
Now, I hadn’t read the FAQ’s on the website before we went. Had I read them prior to our visit, I would have discovered that your shoulder and back must be covered and that spaghetti strap tops and dresses will require you to cover your shoulders with a cardigan, scarf or shawl. We were informed of this as we approached the entrance line and had to find a shop, conveniently located on the corner of the street opposite, for me to buy something. This shop is making a killing as the scarf I chose cost me €20. Yes, €20! So be warned ladies, wear t-shirt type tops or dresses to avoid being ripped off like I was.
Now more suitably dressed, we went through the queue to start our visit. Not only is the building stunning from the outside, even with the cranes in place, but the inside is just incredible. If you haven’t visited the Sagrada Familia yet, make sure you do and make sure you look up!
The amazing ceiling inside the Sagrada Família in Barcelona. I’m glad we took time to visit it as its simply stunning. I would like to return once it’s actually finished. I can’t believe it’s still being built. Barcelona is done and while we enjoyed our break it didn’t wow me. Too many people, it was very hot and its absolutely huge. Manhattan didn’t feel as big when we visited NYC. Next on the travel agenda is a road trip to the Northern half of Portugal which we’re looking forward to. What are your summer holiday plans?
The level of details in the stairs, ceiling, stained glass windows, everything, is just amazing. And I’m glad we can now cross it off our list. That said, I do want to return to the Basilica when it is finally complete, due sometime before 2030. It’s incredible to think its construction started in 1882. It is the masterpiece of Gaudi, an artist and architect who I know little.
We spent about half an hour inside the basilica before venturing outside to wow at the exterior. It really is an amazing building. We couldn’t go up the towers as BattleKid is too young, so we decided to head towards our next stop.
This is where our day dragged out a bit. I had booked tickets for Parc Guell for 1.30pm, thinking we’d spend a few hours at the Sagrada Familia, have lunch and then make our way into the park. But we were a lot quicker in the basilica than I thought. We got on the Blue Route of the hop on hop off Bus Turistic and got off two stops later. Alighting at 11.15am, we had to kill time. We found a café for some sandwiches and a drink and left just before 12pm, when BattleDad had a work call to do.
We walked up the hill towards Parc Guell and found a quiet shaded spot to sit under while BattleDad did his call. I let BattleKid watch some YouTube on my phone to pass the time. Once the call was done, we carried on further up the hill and found a café with some ice creams to eat. We really were just killing time until 1.30 arrived. Doing this also gave us a chance to pop into one of the souvenir shops and we picked up two fridge magnets. We always pick at least one up from every city or place we visit as our mementos.
With magnets in hand, we lined up with the other 1.30pm attendees and waited the few minutes until our time slot arrived. I was really surprised that they literally make you wait until your time arrives. You’re given 30 minutes from your booked time to enter and that’s it. Not a minute more, and you certainly can’t enter early.
But it was worth the wait. Parc Guell is quite a bit smaller than I anticipated but still beautiful. Another area of the city attributed to Gaudi, the park has some lovely structures to enjoy, and the gardens were lovely too. Be warned though, apart from the market area, there is very little shade in the park for you to shelter under on a hot July day. And it was busy, almost as busy as the Sagrada had been just a few hours ago.
We spent about an hour in Parc Guell, before we headed back to the bus stop to catch the Blue Route back to Placa de Catalunya. The Blue Route took us passed the stop for Tibidado, another part of the city that had been recommended to us by other family travellers, but we learned that the amusement park and tram were closed. Just as well we hadn’t planned to visit it.
The bus also passed the Camp Nou, home of the Barcelona football team, which is a huge complex. I’ve visited the Bernabeu Stadium, home to Real Madrid, but Barcelona’s stadium looked even bigger. The bus then made its way back to the Placa de Catalunya where we alighted. We stopped in the café we bought the cakes from the day before and enjoyed some with a cuppa. It was a nice cool break from the heat of the afternoon.
Our stroll back to the apartment was uneventful and after an hour or so relaxing we went in search of food. BattleKid asked for pizza and we found a great little Italian restaurant just a few minutes from the apartment called Pummarola. The food was delicious and reasonably priced and is somewhere in Barcelona we’d eat at in a heartbeat. After we were full, we headed home for me to pack us up, ready to head home the next day.
A Family Visit to Barcelona Part 2 – Day Five
As we were going to be checking out at 11am, we didn’t rush to get up this morning. We took our time, ate as much of the food as we could, had slow showers and finished packing before our host arrived at 11am to check us out. Thankfully, we were able to leave our luggage in the apartment until our airport pickup at 4pm.
We left the apartment and took a slightly different route towards Placa de Catalunya. We had lunch booked in the Hard Rock Café and decided to browse some of the shops before food. BattleDad found some great, light shorts for our summer and we picked up two new pairs of shoes for BattleKid, whose feet have grown rapidly lately. I just missed out on an awesome looking pair of Berkenstocks. Unfortunately none of the shoe shops had my size. Not content to miss out on them I ordered them (at full price) from Amazon and am awaiting their arrival.
We dropped into the Disney Store again to treat BattleKid for being so good. I tried to steer him towards the more expensive Iron Man but to my surprise he decided on the cheaper one. We’re due to visit Cardiff in October so I might pick it up there for Christmas or for his birthday. By the time we had finished there it was nearly 1.30pm and time to head to the Hard Rock Café. But not before I got one or two pictures of the Placa de Catalunya fountains and a little boy chased some pigeons.
The air-conditioning in the restaurant was a welcome break and the food was great. BattleKid ate well and our waiter, who was from Galicia in northern Spain beside the Portuguese border, was brilliant with him. We took our time with lunch and then walked back to the apartment just in time to pick up our bags and our airport transfer arranged by our AirBnB host.
After a quick bag drop, we went through security and wandered the airport for a while before finding a seat to while away some of the time before our flight. I browsed one or two of the shops. We then went to get something to eat before starting to make our way towards the gates. Our flight was delayed by 40 minutes, not what we like on our trip home. The flight was uneventful, and after sorting out a problem with our parking ticket (Faro airport parking is a pain), we were soon on our way home, much later than anticipated, with a sleeping beauty in the back.
A Family Visit to Barcelona – Summary
We had a good few days in Barcelona and despite a bit of a rocky start with our AirBnB, which wasn’t in the best of neighbourhoods, we ended up enjoying Barcelona. As mentioned in my previous post, our AirBnB didn’t quite live up to the pictures and was tricky getting up to through the seven narrow flights of stairs. Were we to visit Barcelona again, I wouldn’t stay in Raval again. During our hop on hop off bus tours we found out that it is the oldest part of the city, which is evident.
We did visit some great things for kids like the Zoo, aquarium and Montjuic Castle, and us adults got to tick the Sagrada Familia off our to-do list. Barcelona is a great city, huge and there is lots to see and do. If you are considering visiting the city as a family I would avoid the busy summer months. It was very crowded with a lot of tourists. I’d probably visit Barcelona in the spring months when it’s also cooler.
Food-wise there is so much choice. We ate everything from pasta and pizza, to a Hard Rock burger, to tapas. Of all the meals we had, the tapas at Nuria was my favourite. And if you want to shop till you drop, you won’t go wrong with a visit to Barcelona. I’ve never seen so many shops stretched out for miles.
We enjoyed our family visit to Barcelona and only saw a fraction of what it has to offer. It’s a good family-friendly city but try avoiding the hot, bust summer months. We couldn’t due to the date of the concert, but we still made the most of our time in this Spanish city.
Have you been to Barcelona yet?