Visiting Barcelona

Barcelona, a fountain of courtesy, shelter of strangers, hospice to the poor, land of the valiant, avenger of the offended, reciprocator of firm friendship, a city unique in its location and beauty.

— Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote, 1605

Half term took us to the wonderful Barcelona for a few days, both “unique in its location and beauty” as Don Quixote exclaimed.  Of course this was centuries before four great masters of modern art, Gaudí, Miró, Picasso and Dalí added their creativity to the city. Layers of history and beauty are woven through every corner of the Catalonian capital.  We had four days to glimpse some of these treasures and get a taste for this Spanish port.

In order for us to get the most out of our time I “prepped” us all by reading books to the children (aged 10,8,4) about the people and places, which I’ve posted below. I find it helps bring the trip alive. We particularly enjoyed reading aloud Lucy Fitch Perkins’ The Spanish Twins, set in Granada, but it got us in the Spanish mood nonetheless!

Day 1

Our first afternoon was spent strolling from our Airbnb flat up Las Ramblas starting with the Columbus Monument at one end, and then onto Gaudí’s Palau Guëll, Joan Miró’s Pla de l’Os mosaic on the pavement, Plaça Reial and ended up at La Boquería, the famous food market, where we bought some delicious macaroons and figs for supper.

Day 2

Our first stop was the Picasso Museum. And wow! I had bought the museum guide before our trip so we could all familiarise ourselves with the works we were going to see. The children then felt they were looking at old friends, which was wonderful.  The museum has beautifully displayed his work to show the progression from realism to Cubism.

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Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia, still under construction, was our afternoon. We were all amazed by the scale of the church, the architectural symbolism and the ever present biblical stories in the sculpture.

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Day 3

Today was another Gaudí day.  We headed straight to Parc Guëll, where the children were excited to meet the famous mosaic dragon guarding the gates.  The park was a wonderful place to explore some of his fantastical architecture and appreciate the importance of nature in his story.  In Gaudí’s own words, “The great book, always open and which we should make an effort to read, is that of Nature.”  We also spent time visiting Gaudí’s house and were impressed by his devout faith underlying his life and work.  Although the metro ride was probably a highlight for the kids!

That afternoon we had planned to walk by more of Gaudí’s work – Casa Batlló and Casa Milà but sadly one of the children came down with a stomach bug, so we’ll just have to save that treat for another time.

In the evenings we played games, read and watched films on good old Netflix!

Day 4

Barcelona was showing off on our last day!  The sun shone and the sky was blue.  We headed up the cable car to visit Montjuïc Castle, dating back to 1640, for the final morning of adventures.

The views were stunning in every direction over the whole city and coastline – this was definitely worth it!  The grand finale!

Top Tips for City Breaks with Kids

  • Enough snacks and water with you
  • Keep museums short and sweet
  • Have some puzzle books or a game in your bag for lunch breaks and pauses
  • Before the trip read to the children about the city/country and look at pictures of the city, buildings, artists, historical figures
  • Find an ice cream stop to visit regularly!

Recommended Books

Barcelona Guide Books

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Picture Books

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Chapter Books for Independent Reading or Read Alouds

(No, these were not all read for this trip!)

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Would love to hear of city breaks you’ve enjoyed or other titles set in Spain.

 

Previous Posts

Visiting Paris

Visiting Rome

Museums and Galleries with little ones

Artist of the Term: Van Gogh

Artist of the Term: J.M.W.Turner

Over 25 Christmas Chapter Books

An Abundance of Christmas Stories

The Nutcracker Extravaganza

Egyptian Historical Fiction 5+

Write what should never be forgotten.

— Isabel Allende

Understanding the past is fundamental to who we are in the present and the kind of society we seek to build into the future. Historical fiction is one way we can help our children to inhabit the past, Continue reading

Children’s Fiction for the Holidays 6+

“If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.”

— J.K.Rowling

I have fond memories of arriving at my grandparent’s in Spain each summer, and my grandmother had thoughtfully chosen books from their bookshelves and put them on my bedside table for me to enjoy during my stay. Continue reading

Children’s Audiobooks 7+

The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.”

— Jean-Jacques Rousseau

With the summer holidays fast approaching, there is plenty of time to develop the world of our imagination.  We find audiobooks a great way of immersing ourselves in stories, so here are some we’ve enjoyed this year that you might like for your travels: Continue reading

An Evening with Katherine Rundell

Last week I had the privilege of attending a conversation between Lucy Mangan and Katherine Rundell at Mostly Books, Abingdon. Both are authors, bookworms and passionate about children’s literature – so it was a stimulating and inspiring evening.

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Summer Picture Books

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

—Mary Oliver

Doesn’t Mary Oliver capture the spirit of summer so well?!  Summer is here. What better way to celebrate with your little one than grab a blanket and a pile of books and head outside?! Continue reading

Victorian Historical Fiction 6+

As promised in last week’s post on World War II Historical Fiction, I’ve put a list together of literature set during the Victorian times that my daughter has pulled off our bookshelves. Continue reading

An Afternoon with Michael Morpurgo

Just before Easter we got to hear Michael Morpurgo live in conversation with Nicolette Jones at the Sheldonian as part of the Oxford Literary Festival. Morpurgo is one of my son’s favourite authors and was speaking on his birthday, so it was an ideal birthday outing.  The conversation covered topics from the personal to the political and engaged all ages.  

However there were three things that he emphasised as being key for today’s children: Continue reading

Visiting Rome

“Rome, the city of visible history.”

— George Elliot

If you follow us on Instagram you’ll know that we’ve just got back from an amazing few days in Rome. George Elliot is spot on. Rome certainly is “the city of visible history”. Wherever  we looked – whether up at the domes, down the cobbled alleyways or strolling around the Colosseum – history was there.

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Continue reading