by Mario Stojanac
We often find ourselves in a position where we are trying to balance a vacation we, as adults, would like with one that our child would enjoy. The easiest default would be the beach vacation, though we found (in retrospect) that Barcelona offered a great mix of culture and laid back relaxation.One of Barcelona’s (many) crown jewels is the Park Guell, situated atop the city on Carmel Hill. This public park was designed a century ago by Antoni Gaudi, arguably Barcelona’s favourite son and the mind behind the fantastic La Sagrada Familia cathedral. Featuring architecture characteristic of Gaudi’s love of natural and organic shapes, this is a veritable playground of fantastical shapes that will inspire awe in adults and children alike. It is also a very large park with many open spaces, given the smaller ones a good opportunity to stretch their legs and work off some energy. Encompassing gardens, a church and a wonderful amount of hidden enclaves and fantastical benches, the Park Guell is also one of the stops on the hop-on, hop-off double decker bus, a mode of transportation that we found to be great value and really useful too.
We’re big fans of doing as the locals do, and one of those things is the strolling of the Rambla, Barcelona’s main artery and pedestrian walkway. As with many things in Spain (meal times included) activities tend to start later. It wasn’t at all unusual to see multi-generational families heading out for the late evening walk, children in tow, at around midnight. It’s a wonderfully civilized way of allowing your dinner or late night tapas settle before heading off to sleep. The entire strip is vibrant with boutique stores, flower vendors, magazine kiosks, coffee shops and tapas bars – an absolute must-do when in Barcelona.
I had mentioned earlier that beach vacations are often taken at the compromise of cultural itineraries. Barcelona is, however, one of those cities that boasts fantastic beaches too. Be prepared for flashes of nudity, though if this is a concern for you, you can always frequent the more populous areas of the beach where sunbathers tend to be a little bit more modest.
This is also a fantastic walking city, and we long to return in order spend some time in one of the world’s most famous markets (La Boqueria), stroll through the Barri Gotic towards Caelum and its (quite literally) heavenly monastic desserts or simply indulge in an overload of tapas. Imagine a place where one can have a few small bites, then walk around before having a whole new set of small bites somewhere else – I do believe I’ve described the eating habits of most kids. What could be more perfect for the family?