European Christmas Vacation - well sort of - except in geographical reverse (Barcelona to Luxembourg to Paris) and with a little less Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo. The only driving on the left was done in Ireland as no good way to get to the airport the day after Christmas as it's a national holiday... fortunately we didn't get stuck in any endless roundabouts...
For 10 days of travel, this was the lightest we'd ever packed - just 2 medium backpacks and one large suitcase. I explained to Annisa how we could easily cut down to a single medium backpack each, but that will have to be tested on another adventure...
We started by flying to Barcelona and spent 2 full days exploring the city. During this trip we averaged about 15km of walking per day. One of the days we got almost 22km in (yes a 7yr old and a 10yr old can walk a long way if you time if it's planned out right). Travelling early in the morning to a destination is probably my favorite way to go - then you have the whole day to walk it out and normalize.
Just a few days previous to our arrival, on 21 December, Catalonia had voted for their independence from Spain, so this was a historic time to be in Barcelona and there were many Catalonian flags hanging from the buildings.
We walked down from our hotel and took in a couple parks along the way. This is really the secret to travel with kids in Europe - keep them having fun and every trip out is a new adventure. Spain had some pretty cool playgrounds with some imaginative play structures.
We walked down to the sea and took in the sights along the boardwalk including a crazy looking fish restaurant or casino - didn't go inside but appreciated the aesthetics from afar. On the walk back we saw more interesting architecture - the Estació de Servei Gas Natural Fenosa building was simply amazing. Loved the many outdoor sculptures along the way as well. Finished the day walking back to our hotel next to the Torres Glories which had the most amazing animated light show at night...
The next day we got an early start to go see La Sagrada Familia. Imagine our surprise to find out the tickets were completely sold out and it was maybe 9:30am... So we found a park across the street and decided to head up the hill to another nearby Gaudi destination: Park Güell.
Full disclosure - tickets for the Park were quite expensive and it was crazy crowded - the outer park (free) was actually a much better value unless you really need to see every last Gaudi creation up close and personal.
There was also several playground areas outside which our children enjoyed. I'd highly recommend just walking the path up and around the main pay area as the views were incredibly scenic and the gardens incredible.
After spending a couple hours in the Park, we made our way back down the hill and found a few more parks before taking a train clear across town to Sants-Montjuïc as Annisa just had to ride the cable car up to the castle...
We road on a special type of short train called a funicular - which the kids really enjoyed and climbed a ton of steps up through the Barcelona Olympic Parc up to the Castle at the top. A little grumbling within the ranks about our path of ascent, but there were the most awesome kids slides about halfway up. The kids suddenly had new found strength and probably ran up and down that very steep and long hill to slide down.
By the time we made our way back it was close to supper (not Spanish supper as that probably would have been 9 or 10pm at night)... Watched the Torre Glòries in all it's animated wonder for awhile after dinner and called it a night.
More to come: To Luxembourg by high-speed TGV at 320kph