Friday, July 12, 2013

Adventures in Barcelona...and announcement of our move!

This post is long overdue!  We took a 10 day trip to Barcelona back in May and upon our return Ksenia got sick, then we started preparing for our move with a major decluttering/organizing the house project....along with a house hunting trip to San Diego.  Yes, we are moving to San Diego very soon :-)

Barcelona was a really great place to take the kids, even though they complained a lot about walking everywhere and being tired from the time zone change.   There was lots for them to see and do and we found the city to be "kid friendly" with lots of parks and play areas scattered throughout the city.
In our pre-kid days we would have had some train trips out of the city and probably a very heavy sightseeing agenda.  With kids, pretty much you need to stay in the city and see all that can be seen (it will be less than half of what you think you want to see!)  on a light schedule.  There were days where we didn't see much and spent time in the room resting, and that was okay.  Vacation is also about relaxing, right?

If you are going with kids, I highly recommend NOT staying in a hotel, but instead renting a flat.  You can find hundreds of options on a website called "AirBnB".  We rented a one bedroom flat with a futon in the front room and a full kitchen and bathroom.  It also had a nice little terrace.  No view, except for water on one side, but a very short walk to the beach, to restaurants, to a large grocery chain and fresh market.  The bus stop was also close by, the metro was probably a good 10 minute walk.

Be careful where you eat!  Stay clear of the heavily trafficked tourist areas, you will over pay for pretty average tasting food.   This Paella was 45 Euros and the reason why is they charged extra because it was meant for "2 plates", so there was an extra 20 Euro charged for two extra plates. On top of that there is NO differentation between eating Paella with meat vs. vegetarian.  So we paid the same price as the Paella loaded with seafood and sausage.  Really you should never pay more than 15 Euro for vegetarian Paella.  It's rice and veggies!

The trip up to our room was 6 flights of stairs, there was no elevator!  The kids thought it was fun, but man it was a workout for me and my husband.

Here's the view from our room to the right side....

The beach was a 2 minute walk from our flat.  It rained a lot while we were there, but the sun finally came out on the day before we left!

The narrow streets of Las Ramblas.  It's safe to walk them during the day, but it's still creepy.  We were told by the owner of our flat to not walk them at night as it is frequented by pick pockets and criminals.

Not exactly a healthy breakfast, but part of enjoying our vacation was experiencing the bakeries and coffee shops of Barcelona.  It was sugar overload, but fun.

In Spain, you will find tapas on every menu.  It's a large "appetizer" type dish to be shared.  Pretty much the only vegetarian options are fried foods.  So here we have "Spicy Potatoes" and "Fried Artichoke".  We ate a lot of this sort of fare along with a big salad.  And of course, a lot of vegetarian Paella! 

Vineet and Anika enjoyed the Salmon with veggies.

More vegetarian Paella....Ksenia says "that was yummy".

We drank mostly Cafe Americano coffees at the cafes.  We like bold coffee so this was the best tasting and less pricey option compared to other coffee drinks.  Also remember to read your menu carefully since outdoor seating commonly has an extra "tax" as well as "bread service".  That's the bread they bring out to you and assume is free of charge here in the United States.  You will be charged for it so always refuse it unless you want to pay an extra 3 to 5 Euros. 

So so tired girls....and this was day 5 or 6 of our trip!

Wonderful salad we had at a Japanese fusion noodle house called "Noodles and Fun" in the heart of Barcelona.

Vegan Thai curry that Vineet ordered at Noodles and Fun.  This was an entree!  So little food for 12 Euros. 

 Veggie Pakoras at Salcafe on the Barcelona Beach.

Not so exciting hummus and pita chips and salad at SalCafe
"Chocolate Lava" from a cafe in Badalona.  I think it was just chocolate and heavy cream melted together.  There wasn't any left, so I assume it was good.

We stumbled upon this graffiti on the wall as we walked toward downtown Badalona.  Apparently there are a number of vegans and vegetarians in the area...

Lunch with our extended family in Badalona.  They were awesome tour guides and hosts.  We really enjoyed our time with them and can't wait to see them again :-)
And last but not least, this was the thing my kids enjoyed the most.  They requested to play on it every day.  There is one on the Barcelona Beach and Badalona Beach.