Friday, June 5, 2009

Top Ten Tips for Visiting Barcelona with Young Kids

10. Don’t drive in. We got a rental car in Spain, but we only saw one single empty parking spot in all of Barcelona. We found one single gas station at which we could stop and let our poor son use the toilet. All the streets are one-way. All the motorscooters whiz around your vehicle mockingly.

9. Don’t use public transportation. Especially if you’re from Kansas City and have not taken an advanced class in how to read those ridiculous “maps” that attempt to show you where the trains/buses are going to take you. You may end up sobbing in Spanish to strangers late at night as your train flies past the stop where your hotel is and your daughter asks you: “Mommy, do you need your mommy?”

8. Don’t look for souvenir t-shirts. You’d probably want to find something with words in Spanish on it, since you are visiting Spain, after all. But you’d be disappointed to find that all the t-shirts have English on them.

7. Buy a Barcelona map. And buy it from me. I’ve got one here to sell you and it’s barely used. It didn’t really help us very much at all, but I’m sure it would make a nice souvenir, at least.

6. Stop by an ice cream shop. But be sure to grab lots of napkins, because there are no tables to sit at in the shop. And those inviting tables just out on the sidewalk are not for you; they are for customers of the outside café there. And you’ll end up sitting on the sidewalk next to a tree, but you’ll need those napkins when you realize that you’re basically sitting in a city ashtray and your daughter has cigarette ash all over her hand. You’ll probably want to prevent that from getting on her ice cream cone.

5. Don’t expect your knowledge of Spanish to assist you in Barcelona. Don’t you realize that Barcelona is in the Catalonia region of Spain, and hence the main language there is Catalan? I’m exaggerating; the people really do all speak Spanish in addition to Catalan, but it’s true about the street signs.

4. Visit Guell Park. It’s a beautiful place with playgrounds and lots of awesome art for you and the kids to enjoy. But don’t expect to be able to follow the signs leading you to it and actually park in there. No – that parking is only for tourist buses. They will turn you away, disregarding the hours that you drove around trying to find the darn place. And if you do ever get there, please take pictures for me, because we never did make it in. And say hi to my sister Erin if she's still waiting for me there.

3. Consider visiting the Aquarium. But figure out how to say aquarium in Spanish if that’s what language you’ll be using. Because, even though the official name of the place is “L'Aquàrium de Barcelona” , the train ticket lady will be thoroughly confused if you throw in that phrase (which I guess is in Catalan) in the middle of your Spanish sentence.

2. Don’t expect to find a couchsurfing host there. I highly recommend couchsurfing in other areas, but apparently, Barcelona is a really busy place, so most of the couchsurfing hosts there are bombarded and don’t even respond to your messages. I recommend Hotel Sidorme in Mollet. It was nice cheap.

1. Go to Lleida instead. Yeah, if you’ve got young kids with you, it’s actually a really dumb idea to attempt Barcelona. During our hours and hours of wandering Barcelona (by car and later by foot), I realized that we were the only tourists idiotic enough to try it. All other children I saw were either infants in strollers, or teenagers. If you want a relaxing vacation, go to Lleida. More about that wonderful place in a future blog.

No comments:

Post a Comment