SPAIN -MADRID, BARCELONA, SEVILLE
Land of siesta, Spanish perspective is to move slowly enjoy, eat well and relax. The essence of Spain can be experienced in many ways… as in soulful music of flamenco guitar, taste it in tapas, passion for football or in their vibrant fiestas. Spain is a beautiful country with much regional variety.Unlike other European countries, Spain goes easy on the wallet. Spain is a family-friendly destination with good accommodation as visiting as a family does require proper planning. Children are usually welcome everywhere in Spain.It’s a culinary feast for any food lover… there’s PAELLA…TAPAS….JAMON and olive oil in abundance.
We stayed for 4 nights in Madrid,6 nights in Barcelona,1 night in Seville.
Travelling in Spain is quite easy, it has an extensive and extremely modern network with the high-speed AVE trains connecting the cities in Spain.[renfe.com].It is always better to get the train tickets booked while planning the itinerary to avoid season rush.Metro and buses within the city are very comfortable…but when travelling with kids be careful as some metro stations do not have elevators. Accommodation in Spain is available in all types.I was travelling with a two year and a 7-year-old..so for my younger one I need to feed her properly at least one hearty meal so we decided for air BnB stay this time and it was a good decision.
Eating in Spain -the breadth of gastronomic experience is great and one gets at ease in the noisy cheer of most Spanish restaurant . Plenty of local places go by the name of a bar or restaurant, but a little variation gets confusing at times. 1. Asador-restaurant where roasted meats are served.2. Tasca-a tapas bar. 3. Cerveceria-mainly beer (cerveza) is served 4. Marisqueria-specialist in sea food.Potato bravas was my kids go to dish.
MADRID -We landed in Madrid at Barajas airport at night. So we started our first day and decided to explore OLD MADRID.We stayed in Madrid very close to Palacio and Centro, so everything was close by. The districts of SOL and CENTRO form Madrid’s old quarters.Most of it should be covered by foot.Start with PLAZA MAYOR which is the most beautiful and oldest square in Madrid with the outdoor tables of Terrazas, to the crowd walking on cobblestones.Try some calamari sandwiches with beer or coffee. Further down is PLAZA DE ORIENTE where there are royal palace and Madrid’s opera house. PLAZA DE SOL is the centre point of Madrid , always hustling with people going somewhere…lined by shops and eateries. Try the GAZPACHO cold soup on a sunny day with the laid back Spanish lunch.
With kids it is advisable to take a break in between,my younger one was 2 years old, and our place was on GRAN VIA,so we came back and rested.In the evening we went to the park EL RETIRO by bus,a perfect place for the kids. Laze around in the park or walk around the lake, see the beautiful roses,kids enjoy running around,skating, cycling and enjoying their favourite ice creams.End the day with dinner at a tapas bar.
Day3 we decided to take a day trip to TOLEDO by ALSA buses which take about 50 mins. A UNESCO world heritage site..known for its 3 cultures, a medieval walled city that doesn’t seem to have changed much.When with kids better to take the escalator to climb uphill, also taxis from bus stop drop to the centre. Those fascinating streets and passages with cathedral, mosques and synagogues was a great walk and eating JAMON sandwiches along too.Toledo is also famous for MARZIPAN which is an almond-based confectionery.If staying at Toledo then a day trip to CONSEGURA is also a great option. Come back to Madrid in the evening by the same ALSA bus which leaves after every 15 minutes.
Rested in the evening after coming back and decided to go for late-night dinner. Madrid’s nightlife is crazy, the music and people spill into the streets and the party doesn’t stop until u hear birds singing.
Day 4 started little late and decided to explore more of Madrid have a good breakfast and the best thing we ate that day were the churros from CHOCOLATERIA SAN GINES the most famous and the best place to have churros in Madrid.This place is incredibly old and also serves the best hot chocolate.Madrid is a good place to shop.Walk around the JARDINES DE SABATINI fountains of CAMPADEL MORO laze around the lush green gardens,do some shopping,eat at SANTA ANA and imbibe their culture
BARCELONA was our next stop.Barcelona bursts with art and architecture, sunny beaches,happening night outs and some amazing culinary adventure.
HOW TO REACH -flights arrive at AEROPORT DEL PRAT.The main station is ESTACIO SANTS. It takes 2 hrs 30 min to 3hrs to reach Barcelona from Madrid.To get around in the city, metro is the best way to travel.But with kids, one has to be sure of the elevators as some of the metro stations are very old and do not have elevators ,though well maintained. But would suggest that families with stroller should use the bus for commuting. Mostly go in for bulk tickets like Barcelona card that can be used for buses,metros and trams.
THINGS TO DO IN BARCELONA- Barcelona has good topography, it has an old town ,the new-age vibe..ocean..mountains, the trek.1.LA SAGRADA FAMILIA is the most iconic in Barcelona.This church, Gaudi’s masterpiece is still not finished even after 100 years of construction.To make it an unforgettable experience book the tickets ONLINE as thousands of people visit this place.The tickets are open two months in advance .You can climb one or the 4 of the towers by a mix of lifts and staircases which is a head-spinning experience. Sagrada stays with you for long even after u walk away.The inside of Sagrada totally amazes you and it is said to be headed towards completion
2. After the magic of Sagrada walk towards north or take the metro to one of the oldest and most important hospitals of Barcelona HOSPITAL DE LA SANTA CREU which is also a world heritage site.
3.PARK GUELL-After witnessing 1 masterpiece of Gaudi we went to see another one where Gaudi tried his hand in landscape gardening where artificial seems natural. We took the bus to Park Guell which was good because of its location on Carmel Hill.The steps up the entrance is guarded by a mosaic dragon lizard.The entry to park is free but it is chargeable in the monumental area.It is better to get tickets in advance . The Serpentine Bench is a well-known mosaic tile bench that winds its way along the terrace around Park Güell. The spired house is that of Gaudi’s where he lived for most of his last 20 yrs.A visit to Gaudi’s wondrous park is a must and also the view of the city from the hill is great.
3.LA RAMBLA- La Rambla is Barcelona’s main thoroughfare, approximately 1.3 km long road — in the middle, a pedestrian zone — is ranging from Placa Catalunya,which cuts through the heart of the city centre and is a vibrant and lively promenade filled with Barcelona action at its best.As the walk progresses on the street, peculiar characters start to appear, such as the human statues and street performers, a must-see spectacle in La Rambla. But the best way to start the day at la Rambla is to have breakfast at MERCAT DE LA BOQUERIA which is 1 of the largest markets in Barcelona.Do not miss to stop for desayuno de cuchara which is breakfast eaten with spoon or a fork from one of the food stalls,you finally end up spending a minimum of 2 hours at the Mercat. Its a heaven for foodies..different types of Jamon ..fruits..seafood.The end of la Rambla leads to the old port of PORT VELL which has several attractions for kids like L’AQUARIUM with its 80m long shark tunnel.The stretch along PORT VELL gives you an amazing romantic feel of yachts
4. CIUTAT VELLA which means the old city is an amazing zig-zag of narrow cobbled lanes which cut through the promenade of La Rambla. You can spend time by sightseeing of BARRI GOTIC[Gothic quater],CATHEDRAL, SINAGOGA MAJOR and also catch up at the museum square if an art enthusiast.Barcelona is a top shopping destination. Placa Catalunya,la Rambla, around Barri Gotic are good places.
5.LA BARCELONETA/BARCELONETA-La Barceloneta is a coastal neighbourhood at the end of la Ramblas seaward side boasts of beautiful beaches.It used to be a fisherman village and has numerous seafood cafes and bars.The best beach is the Barceloneta which is best to experience the Mediterranean sea .The best place for kids to play.We spent almost a full day there just lying on the beach…better to carry a rug or a sheet to spread on the sand or else people selling there will charge you a good amount.Drink cervecia/beer there and enjoy.Dinner or lunch at Barrio de Pescadores[Barrio of Fisherman] is great. Choose a place where there are more locals.There is a vintage cable car ride which starts at Barceloneta and ends at 6. MONTJUIC- It is a hilltop area giving a bird’s eye view o the city and sea.It has beautiful gardens,a theme park ,a castle and an Olympic stadium.There are cable cars , escalators, chairlifts to get to the hilly area.
7. MAGIC FOUNTAIN AT MONTJUIC-The majestic magic fountains is music and light show of dancing fountains that will leave you speechless.Music selection is varied.The show lasts for 20–30 minutes and its absolutely free. You should always check the timings before going as they are different each month.To get the best view make sure you arrive early, grab a beer or snacks and wait.We saw it on a pedestrian bridge..we thought it was a good view.We went to see this while coming back from Barceloneta. We came back by bus and got down at Placa d’Espanya.
8.CAMP NOU/FC BARCELONA-It is the home stadium of FC Barcelona club.It is the largest soccer stadium in Europe.If in Barcelona it is a must visit for football lovers.My son wanted to take a tour inside which varies from 26 to 58 euros.U can visit the stands, players area,staff area,the museum with all he history and the trophies won by the club.But do buy something from the store of the club.My husband and my son took the tour while I and my 2 yr old daughter sat in the cafe and ate burgers and fries.
9. SITGES-If you wanna visit a beach town near Barcelona or otherwise take a day excursion, Sitges is the best option.It is more happening and an even a quieter place than Barcelona beach.It is a small beautiful town with few areas with white and blue walls …good for pictures.They are lined by cafes and bars serving some amazing food and sangria.You can reach by train which takes about 45 minutes from Barcelona station.
10. MONTSERRAT-If you had enough of city life you can take a detour to Montserrat which means mountain.From Plaça Espanya in Barcelona, take the R5 line to Aeri de Montserrat. The journey by train takes approximately one hour and costs €5.25 one way.Then can explore the way up the mountain by cable car or trek. For some people, a visit to Montserrat is a religious pilgrimage.
SEVILLE-We had only a day and a half in Seville and we were tried to explore the most of it,although with kids its quiet constraint.It takes about 5 hours by their fast speed train to reach Seville.We stayed at hotel Ayre Seville a change from Airbnb as it was only 1 night and also it was very close to Santa Justa the main railway station there.
Seville is famous for soul ripping sound of flamenco , the romantic Alcazar palace and the glory of bullfighting.It is a very easy city to explore with its tram system and also car free city center.
CATHEDRAL-Its the world’s greatest Gothic cathedral.It mostly dominates the city centre.To avoid getting lost,note the main highlights to see like the mausoleum of Christopher Columbus,La Giralda, Capilla Real and Capilla Mayor.East of the cathedral is barrio de Santa Cruz and eat at Plaza de Alfaalfa.
ALCAZAR-It was the residence of many kings and rulers ..it is a masterpiece which shows how Spanish rulers lived.The palace has exquisite arches,tilework,ceramics,plasterworks and the most beautiful gardens.The gardens have also appeared in Game of Thrones as Water Gardens of Dorne and also the interior of Casterly Rock ,being a GOT fan I loved it or otherwise also.
FLAMENCO- is a professionalized dance art-form based on the various folk music of Andalucia. Flamenco’s heartland is around Seville.We had not booked tickets for any show but we wanted to see a proper one.So we did a bit of research and decided to go to Museo Del Baile Flamenco.We waited for an hour for the show when we got the tickets after literally pleading them .But it was worth it.The beats, the finesse ,the poise, the singing leaves you speechless.There has to be absolute silence in the hall to witness it.There are a lot of artists that perform flamenco on the plazas also.
PLAZA DE ESPANA- In the evening we headed to this beautiful place.Its a semi-circle, the plaza edges onto a canal and is overlooked by a pretty vast curved palace.The architecture of this place is a mix of lot of cultures.You can also take a cart driven by horse to see the place.Combine it with Maria Luisa Park ,one of the oldest and largest gardens of Seville.LA MONDA is highly recommended for seafood.
Spain is a traveller’s delight…nightlife of Madrid to Sagrada and beach in Barcelona to flamenco in Seville makes your heart happy…with kids the options to explore are less…but there is different kind of fun that u have with kids…travelling makes kids confident ,try different types of cuisine to explore….have a good time in SPAIN with family….