Barcelona - April 2009

One of the biggest challenges when traveling with a child is that they are always changing. In our fifth year of Traveling with Elliot, we can say that every trip has been so different from the perspective of his development. When he was just three months old, traveling was easy. He stayed in his carrier and we just took him everywhere we went but we had to worry about baby formula and diapers. The 12-24 month period was the most difficult because of his new found mobility, but we could still do everything we wanted while he was content in his stroller (and took those long naps while we explored new cities and surroundings). At that age he didn't act any differently based on where we were. Now as five and a half years old, Elliot definitely has ideas of what he likes and dislikes and that can sometimes pose a new challenge in visiting places that may not sound appealing to a pre-schooler. Its all in the marketing :)

When we told Elliot we were off to Barcelona on our next adventure, he asked if we were going there to buy chairs (more on that later)....

There are many reasons to visit Barcelona but our mission was to embrace the culture, food, art, and architecture. The fact that the airfare was relatively low and the weather forecasts were perfect for this time of year was a bonus.

We chose a hotel on Las Ramblas, a pedestrian mall, which leads from Placa Catalunya to the water. Street performers, pet stores, cafes and flower shops line the walkwaysThis pirate got Elliot's attention by rolling a black marble to him as he was walking by. Upon returning the marble to the Pirate, he let Elliot hold his gun and machete for a photo op, but Elliot wanted nothing to do with him. After this day he wouldn't go anywhere near the pirate who was across from our hotel all dayLa Boqueria, a public market was our first stop. It was a coincidence that it was one block from our hotel which made it convenient for breakfast and a few lunches. La Boqueria dates back to 1217, and is filled with vendors and bar/restaurants for a yummy treat or a satisfying meal. Everything in La Boqueria is extremely fresh and artfully arranged. The stall above is selling a variety of cured meats with Jamón ibérico hanging from the ceiling. Jamon Iberico is a cured ham that is found only in Spain and is made from a special breed of pigs. What Kobe Beef is to cattle, Jamon Iberico is to pigs.The entry level jamon sells for about $50 per pound but the finest jamón ibérico comes from free-range pigs that freely roam oak forests and only eat acorns during the latter part of their lives. The hams are then cured for three years and sells for over $100 per pound.Roaming around the market Elliot saw the three little pigs, but in this version of the story he is big bad wolf and there are no brick houses.A little candy on vacation is a very big treat! If only Elliot could decide on which ones to pick!As fans of Mark Bittman, New York Times' columnist and cookbook author, we had to stop at Viena based on his recommendation for the flauta d’ibéric d.o. jabugo, which he called the best sandwich he had ever eaten — a simple, salty masterpiece of crispy bread and lightly cured ham. Mark - you are so right!Our Sunday afternoon outing at Barceloneta, which is a neighborhood bordered by the Mediterranean Sea. There is a sandy beach and boardwalk with many restaurants. After a quick visit to the Aquarium, we selected the most crowded restaurant and had a big feastWe tend to associate paella with Spain. It may not be the dish that Barcelona is known for, but you don't need to taste it to know its going to be good.A shot of apple liqueur is a great finish to any meal (non alcoholic of course).A sign outside Beligious Gelateria listed some of their unusual flavors like parmesan, spinach and black olive. We spent some time talking to the owner and he allowed us to try many of the special flavors that offer. Corinne enjoyed the black olive but I eventually settled on Dulce de Leche. Elliot liked the spinach and bacon flavor but chose the mango because of it's bright color. Plaza Catalunya was a great opportunity for Elliot to feed (and chase) the pigeons. Christopher Columbus pointing toward the "new world."Elliot also exploring and seeking out a new adventure.Güell Park is one of Gaudí's, and Barcelona's,most pleasant and visually stimulating places; it's light and alternately shady, green, floral, and sunny. Named for and commissioned by Gaudí's main patron, Count Eusebio Güell, the park was intended as a hillside garden suburb. We are sure that Gaudi's intent was not to create a rock climbing wall.All the kids wanted to see and touch the lizard. L'Arc de TriompfOur obligatory visit to the zoo which was excellent and located in the center of the city. Elliot got to run around the playground there and do his best Diego impression on the zip line.Bocadillos ready to eat at one of the many bar-restaurants in the marketElliot recently saw Monsters vs. Aliens, and it became a theme for the trip, especially when visiting art museums.For our visit to the Fundació Joan Miró we told Elliot that there would be a lot of monsters and aliens and that we would need his help to identify who was an alien and who was monster. This made him excited to explore the different rooms. Monster or Alien? Art critics won't even touch that discussion but Elliot will definitively tell you that the ball head is an alien because it has only one eye and the other figure is clearly a monster. Wherever we went, we saw preschool and kindergarten aged children on field trips. If we just had an extra blue and red track suit we could have slipped Elliot in undetected, although his Spanish is fairly limited.OK, so we needed to see the original Barcelona chair so we headed to the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion. It is billed as "less is more" study in interlocking planes of white marble, green onyx, and glass and that's all it is. 7 EUR later, we were left wondering what we had paid to see, since we can see them for free at DWR. It definately takes "less is more" to a new level. Elliot was happy that we found them, but was anxious to go get a snack.
Barcelona's most unforgettable landmark, Antoni Gaudí's Sagrada Família. This landmark is one of the most important architectural creations of the 19th to 21st centuries, though it's still under construction. Totally amazing and the pictures don't capture its magnificence.After seeing dozens of cathedrals in Europe and South America it is interesting to see one under construction. They said it will take at least another 20 years before it is complete.We took the elevator to the top of the tower, but took the spiraling stair case leading to the ground level. Elliot did surprisingly well with the descent, which is a good thing because there was no possibility of carrying him down. He noticed that the form of the staircase looked like a snail's shell, and then proclaimed that he wanted snails for dinner, and of course, we indulged him in that request.On our last day we visited Gaudí's Casa Milà, usually referred to as La Pedrera (The Stone Quarry), has a curving stone facade built in 1905. The rooftop chimney park, was so cool and we went on a tour of The Pis de la Pedrera, a restored apartment, which gives a glimpse into the life of its resident family in the early 20th century. We had an audio guide and Elliot listened to the kids version which was a story about a young boy going to visit his friend. The best part was actually the roof top which had sweeping views and beautiful mosaic turrets which encased the vents and stair cases.

We had a great time and really enjoyed our 5 days in Barcelona. The world is a big place, and we have many more places to explore as a family, but I am sure we will be back.

Hasta luego!
Corinne, Keith & Elliot


Anonymous said...

another great trip. I'm jealous.
Where's the photos of the flauta d’ibéric d.o. jabugo ? MPZ

Anonymous said...

Hi, wow that is great, it is the firs time i visit this page, and i like it very much, u are a very luky boy Eliot, y wish i can travel the world like u, i will be in finland this sumer, it is a cool place, go ther u are going to love it.