I'm just a girl trying to have a cup of coffee all around the world. This is a blog about travel, expat life and our adventures living an international lifestyle, with two kids and two dogs!

Andrea Fellman of Wanderlust Living Travel Blog

Let’s Connect!



Facebook

Pinterest

Findery

Twitter


Posts by Category: Barcelona

Barcelona April 25, 2018 posted by

Celebrating Sant Jordi in Barcelona

Celebrating Sant Jordi Day in Barcelona

Yesterday was Sant Jordi Day – the most WONDERFUL day of the year in Barcelona! This special celebration happens every year on April 23rd. It’s the day Catalunya celebrates Saint George or Sant Jordi, the patron saint of Catalunya. The tradition is that men give the women roses and women give the men books.

Celebrating Sant Jordi Day is not an official public holiday so all the stores, schools and businesses are open. However, everyone in the city is out and the energy on the streets is palpable. There are main areas of the city that have a huge concentration of booksellers, and table after table of vendors selling roses. There are also smaller book vendors, local shops and students selling roses on the side streets and literally almost every corner of the city. In fact, right outside my door was a group of girls selling roses, with proceeds going to a charitable cause helping a small village in Peru.

So who is Sant Jordi and why is this a holiday?

The story goes, that there was a dragon terrorizing a small village in Catalunya and Sant Jordi (or Saint George) killed him with his sword. When the dragon bled, he sprouted roses! Sant Jordi saved the village and the princess was up next to be eaten by the dragon. To read the more in-depth story you can go here.

So what’s with the books?

Well apparently, in 1926 Spain declared April 23rd Book Day, because that is the anniversary of the death of Miguel de Cervantes, the most famous Spanish writer. England also respects April 23rd as the death of Shakespeare, so World Book day was formed. Only much later did the day of love also became a day of literature in the mind of the Catalunya people.” source

I heard about this holiday for the first time last year and I totally fell IN LOVE with it. I mean how can you not – roses and books – what’s not to like, right?! Some may compare this to Valentine’s Day in the United States, but to me it feels different. The focus is just on roses and books (red roses and also yellow ones to represent Catalunya). They do not get carried away with other gifts or chocolate and sweets. The streets just come alive. You see families and friends just strolling, grabbing drinks, and celebrating life with their loved ones.

When you walk around the city and see everyone (and I mean everyone) carrying roses, it warms your heart. This city is amazing. If you ever get the chance to come to Barcelona in April, make sure you plan your dates around Sant Jordi.

All around the city hotels and businesses decorate for Sant Jordi and one of the most beautiful sites in the city is the iconic Casa Battló by Antoni Gaudí. We walked over to it last night and it was slammed, and not just with tourists. There were locals and lovers taking selfies and kissing in front of it. It’s truly a wonderful sight to see.

These are flowers from my favorite florist shop, Floristeria Navarro. I went there on Sunday night to get a sneak peek 🙂


SaveSave

SaveSave

Celebrating Sant Jordi in Barcelona
Andrea March 9, 2018 posted by

Recipe for the Best Weekend in Barcelona

So last weekend was wonderful. SO wonderful that I wanted to share it. Have you ever had one of those weekends that made you think – wow, life is good. Really good. I’m going to recap it here for any of you that care. If you’re visiting Barcelona, you may want to take some notes to make your own recipe for your best weekend in Barcelona itinerary.

Friday 11:00 AM

A friend was going to be in town for Mobile World Congress (the biggest tech conference in the world). This conference happens every year in Barcelona. Another conference that happens at the same time is 4YFN, which Harris found very interesting so he went again this year. Anyways, my friend Rebecca was staying at my FAVORITE hotel in Barcelona, which just so happens to be practically across the street. She’s a runner and while she lived here we never ran together. But we follow each other on the Strava app so it’s fun to still keep up with her on there. So, I swung by the Cotton House Hotel to pick her up for my usual Friday morning beach run. I don’t usually like running with people but this was a special occasion. I liked sharing my run with my friend, and not just on my app. 🙂

After our run I dropped her off back at the hotel and we snagged this photo. It’s black and white  – because no one looks good in a photo after running 5 miles. One of the workers from the Cotton House came out and gave us water and I laughed and said “I bet he thinks I’m your personal trainer in Barcelona.” HA!

Running with friends is fun.

Friday Night

While Rebecca was here we had dinner plans with our other friend Lisa and my husband Harris (he’s like one of the girls). The four of us went to Els Pescadors, in Poble Nou, a bit further away than we usually go. But I had heard about this restaurant, and whatever Lisa books is always excellent! We met up at the CH for a pre-dinner drink and then off we went. BUT FIRST – the Cotton House Hotel is to die for. It’s my favorite hotel (maybe ever) but in Barcelona for sure. While I haven’t been to all of them (yet), but I’m pretty sure this one will be hard to beat. I’ll do a full feature of it another time, but for now here are a few pictures. I think you’ll see what I mean.


Okay off to dinner at El Pescadors…

Els Pescadors

I wasn’t really sure what to expect when we got to Els Pescadors, but we arrived a little after 8:30 and we were the only ones there (they open at 8:00 pm). It was a very traditional looking restaurant, dark wood and white tablecloths. From the name of the restaurant, it was obviously all about the fish here. If you live in Barcelona you quickly get used to the fish being served with the head “la cabeza,” but that is nothing compared to the fish cart that was wheeled out for our menu presentation! Oh, this is going to be GOOD.

The waiter proceeded to tell us about all five of the fresh catches of the day, how the chef would prepare each one, and what vegetables and sides would accompany the fish. I didn’t understand some of what he was saying, but it didn’t matter. I knew whatever we picked was sure to be amazing!  Meanwhile, while we were engrossed in our dinner and conversation the entire restaurant filled up. We started with a glass of Cava, as you do in Barcelona, we had a few appetizers and the chef came out and suggested a bottle of white wine to go with our fish selection, and the fish was delish! 

Saturday in Barcelona

It was a glorious day outside! Glorious. My kids were doing the usual lazy Saturday morning thing. Late that afternoon they were each going to have a friend over for a sleepover. Harris was totally consumed with a new project for work, so it looked like I was going to be solo for the day. Woohooo! I have more energy then my entire family, and usually I give them some grief about being lazy or working. But today I let it go, but I certainly was not staying home.

One of the things that has been on my list to see in Barcelona is the San Pau Hospital, so today was the day.

Since I wasn’t running today, I walked the 2.4 miles to the hospital. I could have taken the bus but it was SO nice outside I wanted to enjoy the day. I made a quick stop at Chica Limona for a cappuccino and croissant and read my book a little. Then I continued on my way passing La Sagrada Familia, buzzing with tourists as usual. I made my way up the Rambla de Gaudí which leads you directly to San Pau Hospital. I usually do not go north of the La Sagrada so I had never even seen this rambla before, but it’s great. You can sit at a cafe and admire La Sagrada from a distance. Then just five blocks up towards the end of this rambla you literally run right into San Pau Hospital.

San Pau Hospital

I CANNOT get over this place. I am kicking myself that it took me so long to come and see this magnificent architectural beauty!

Back in 1930 this was one of the biggest hospitals in Europe. It is essentially six hospitals in one and they call it a city within a city. This is the brilliant work of the famous architect Lluìs Doménech i Montaner (yes, there’s more in this city than just Gaudí). Montaner is also the creative genius behind the Palau de Musica and several private homes in Barcelona, including Casa Lleó Morera that sits on the same block as Guadí’s Casa Battló.

I really do not understand why more people do not talk about this!! It is ridiculously gorgeous, and no one was there. Everyone was swarming La Sagrada, which is totally understandable. But this is SO worth seeing and it’s so close to La Sagrada. Not every building was open, but there are even underground tunnels that you can walk through! I was fascinated by the room in which hospital beds had been set up as they were back in the day. Honestly, this looked like a hospital in heaven. When I die, I’m totally getting one of those beds.

Even the room that had all the in-depth information and history about San Pau was displayed on the coolest structures. And the aqua blue tiles – sigh.  I entered the main building last and l had a hard time taking it all in. The colors, the textures, the tiles, the stonework, the windows, the columns, the statues, and funky stone formations – my neck was so sore from twisting and turning to see everything from every angle. I was seriously OD’ing on visual stimulation.

Eventually, I forced myself to leave so I could get back outside and enjoy the sun and the rest of the day. On my way home I sat down at a little cafe on Gaudi Rambla and had a Clara (beer with lemonade). Many of the restaurants were very busy as it was 3:00 pm, lunchtime. I was almost home when I remembered that a new place had opened up on Gran Via, called Colette. So I stopped in there and had a few tapas.

Saturday Night

I went home to check in on my family. Hudson and his friend were playing video games. McKenna and her friend were out walking around and getting bubble tea at ZenZoo. Harris was still working. I finished some laundry, thought about jumping on the computer, but quickly opted for a little cat nap instead.

My neighbor over at Cotton House messaged me to come over because her plans had changed. She was just staying in, and Lisa was coming over for dinner. I had already eaten the gourmet meal of my kids’ leftover spaghetti and was finally feeling lazy myself. But I got up and went over for a drink because there have been so many times when I have been home wishing someone would just message me to come have a drink! So back to the CH I went, because A) Rebecca was leaving tomorrow B) I cannot resist the CH. I’ll take a Gin & Tonic (or two) please!

Sundays down at Barcelonetta

This is my absolute favorite. Sunday’s down at the beach. I went for a 8 mile run, I planned on 5 but the weather was AMAZING. (Are you getting the theme that Barcelona has amazing weather?)

I love it down at the beach especially on Sundays because there are so many people out enjoying it!! These are my people. Runners are getting their runs in, kids are rollerblading, moms and dads are pushing strollers, older couples are walking hand in hand, young kids are hanging out, the skate park is packed, paddleboarders are in the water (with wetsuits) families are on bikes… and my favorite, the old guys are playing cards and drinking beer by 10:00am!! #LifeGoals



Funny thing about this picture – Opium is a club in Barcelona and I laugh when I run down here on Sunday mornings because there is always some guy hosing down the place from last nights/ early morning shenanigans!! One night I’m going to go see what is happening inside;)


When I got home I made all the kids pancakes and took a shower. Harris and I went to grab a bite to eat at Citizen Cafe, a great little place down the street from us for brunch. Then I went home and binged on some stupid Netflix show trying not to think about Monday. Unfortunately, Mondays are still Mondays in Barcelona too.

Let’s review your weekend itinerary…

  1. Cotton House Hotel – a must! (message me, I’ll come over)
  2. Els Pescadors – fish cart!
  3. Chica Limona (or Granja Petitbo) – breakfast / brunch / coffee
  4. San Pau Hospital – a jewel of architecture
  5. Sagrada Familia (yes go inside!)
  6. Colorette (new & unique tapas joint)
  7. Go down to Barcelonetta and walk around – you don’t have to run 8 miles, you can sit and have a cappuccino or mojito instead
  8. Citizen Cafe – brunch spot
  9. Bubble Tea at ZenZoo (just of Las Ramblas)
  10. This is a bonus – Go to El National for some more design eye candy. I love to sit in on of the middle bars for a glass of Cava and a few tapas

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Recipe for the Best Weekend in Barcelona
Barcelona February 23, 2018 posted by

Stay in a Family Friendly Chateau in the South of France

Stay in a Family Friendly Chateau in the South of France

Yes, we found – and stayed! – in a family friendly château in the South of France! I know. I didn’t really believe it either. When you think of the south of France you think of a romantic getaway and wine tasting with your sweetheart. You typically don’t think of taking the kids.

Let me stop you right there, because first of all – you can take your kids anywhere. It may not be as romantic but you can take them anywhere. You just need to know where to go and lucky you, here I am scouting it out for you first. This is what I LOVE to do. I honestly do not get any more satisfaction then showing people that what they think may be impossible, is totally possible!

So, let me tell you about the amazingly chic, family-friendly château in southern France where kids are totally welcome.

Just a short drive from Barcelona

Château St Pierre de Sejac is just three hours from Barcelona. It’s the perfect French escape for anyone living in Barcelona or visiting Barcelona. The Château sits just over the border in the Languedoc region of France, so if you are visiting Barcelona I say extend your trip a few days so you can get a little taste of the South of France. I mean, you’ve come all this way already so why not!?

Please bear in mind that we visited Château St Pierre de Serjac in the off season just after Christmas. So while the vines may have been empty and it was a bit chilly that did not take away from how fantastic this place was. I could easily see how this place must be a real slice of heaven in the warmer months, when the sun is hot and the grapes are bursting from the vines. However, there was still beauty in the off season as well, you’ll see.

 

Chateau St Pierre de Sejac

This 200-acre estate dates back to 1870 and has a rich history in the wine-making business. The property was completely renovated and opened in the spring of 2016. In the original chateau building that overlooks the infinity pool, there are eight luxury hotel rooms, for those couples lucky enough to be taking a romantic holiday without the kids. I was able to peek inside one of these rooms and they are stunning. The original chateau is also where you’ll find the main dining room that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as another cozy sitting room with the bar.

Scattered around the rest of the estate are the 36 self-catering properties built specifically with families in mind. That’s right, the owners are parents as well, and they too want to go on a holiday where it’s comfortable and chic.

There is a full spa on the property that offers a wide range of treatments. The spa also includes an indoor pool, jacuzzi, sauna and steam room. They even give you warm fuzzy blankets for cuddling up on lounge chairs both inside and outdoors. There is a beautiful event space for hosting large parties and events that also serves as a wine tasting room and wine shop. Inside this building and tucked just behind two large barn doors is where they have started to make wine again.

The Winery

The estate stopped making its own wine back in 2013. But a new state of the art winery was installed at the heart of the estate and a range of wine activities will also be available. September 2018 will be the first harvest to be made/blended at St Pierre de Serjac since the renovation. Château St Pierre de Serjac will call this wine “La Renaissance”.

They created two wine walks for visitors and guests. The walks pass through vineyards where the different varieties of grapes are grown on the estate. A guide is able to explain the history of the Château and the terroirs. The experience includes a visit to the winery followed by a tasting of 6 wines accompanied by a selection of tapas. They also have natural truffles on the estate, as well as a plantation with a walk that explains all about the different grape varieties found in the Languedoc region.

Chic Family Accommodations

The 36 units range from one to four bedrooms and are generous in size. They are stylishly decorated and fully equipped with beautiful kitchens, large dining tables for family dinners, and cozy living rooms with fireplaces. Property amenities vary, but all have an outdoor seating area and a BBQ grill, and 17 of these units have their own private pools. Corner units may have larger grassy areas, and a few even have infinity pools, while some second floor units have only a terrace, perfectly placed for incredible views of the sun setting over the vineyards.

We visited in the winter so even though there wasn’t a single juicy grape to be seen, the setting was still spectacular. I could see how this would be an ideal place to bring the family in the warm summer months.  The Château has a large outdoor dining space that it uses for family style BBQ’s and to host separate kid dinners as well. There’s a kids club during the summer that keeps the young ones busy with activities so parents can relax and be off kid duty for a while too.

Bike riding among the vines

The chateau has plenty of bikes for families to use and we took full advantage of these! Our son Hudson did not know how to ride a bike. Yes, I know this is a bit embarrassing and a parent failure on our part. But he is a skateboarding kid so bike riding sort of took a back seat. We had just talked about New Year’s goals a few days before we arrived at the Château. Learning to ride a bike was one of Hudson’s goals for the new year. We were going to get this done!

For two days we went out and rode bikes. We kept at it, though the wind and cooler temperatures weren’t much fun. On the second day it all came together for Hudson, and we had a blast watching him go! We will cherish this amazing travel memory; Hudson learning to ride a bike among the viness in the South of France. Honestly, this was the ideal setting because no one was around watching him. We had the bike paths and the long estate driveway all to ourselves.

Watch Hudson learn to ride a bike

 

It can be a hard thing for a resort to successfully mix adult-friendly and kid-friendly. But Château St Pierre de Serjac has really achieved it. I get wildly excited about places like this because it’s a place that lets families settle in and engage with their surroundings. Just because I travel with my kids doesn’t mean I’m always looking for the waterpark and 75 kids activities.

This Château stay is a slower paced vacation, and that’s okay in today’s world. Bring the cards and board games, read a book, go for long walks, ride bikes and don’t set schedules. Seeing my son learn to ride a bike was monumental. But really, I loved just watching my kids try to catch our new puppy Rex in the grass. Another treasured memory from our stay at Château Serjac. I truly cannot wait to go back and check it out in the spring or summer to enjoy one of their new wine walks and jump in the pool!

Château Serjac

 

 

Disclosure: Chateau St Pierre de Serjac hosted our stay. It worked out for us to visit on our drive back from skiing in Morzine, France over Christmas break during the off season. My opinions here are honest and my own. I WILL go back in the regular season because I loved it so much.

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Stay in a Family Friendly Chateau in the South of France
Barcelona April 24, 2017 posted by

What to do in Barcelona with Kids!


What to do in Barcelona with Kids

So you’re coming to Barcelona with kids this summer, how wonderful! You and everyone else. Ha, ha, ha…

Barcelona is a fantastic city. There is so much to do and see, but it’s hard to know what to do in Barcelona with kids that will keep them engaged and having fun too.

Now, I do not know your travel style, budget or the age of your children, but most of this list is for kids around the ages of 6-14. At the bottom, I will list a few other spots that are great for any toddlers in tow. My kids are currently 10 and 12, but I have been to Barcelona with them when they were also 1 and 3 (for a month). We returned again the year before we moved here, when they were 8 and 10. So, I have actually repeated a few of these things with them at different ages. I will also tell you a few of my favorite areas and my honest opinions about a few popular attractions as well.

So let’s get started on the real deal of Barcelona with kids.


What to do in Barcelona with Kids Ages 6-14

1. Gaudí Escape Room

This is super fun! Not sure if you’ve ever done an escape room with your kids, but my kids absolutely love these attractions. We always try to do them in different cities when we travel. The Escape Hunt in Barcelona has a Antoni Gaudí themed room that will teach the kids a little bit about the history of Barcelona and the famous architect, Antoni Gaudí. We did this last Summer when some friends were visiting, and we were broken up into two rooms. This made it a fun and friendly competition, we all had a blast!


2. La Sagrada Família / Casa Batlló

You are in the city of Antoni Gaudí after all. Both of these are the two ‘must sees’ (in my opinion), and at least see them from the outside. I do highly recommend going inside, and you will need to buy your tickets for both of these in advance. For the Sagrada Família, you can purchase an additional ticket to climb up one of the towers. My friends did this with their kids and they really liked it. Casa Batlló is stunning from the outside and pretty funky inside too. You can go up on the roof, and they give you interactive iPad-like devices that guide you through. The devices are are sort of 3D-ish. The kids like these, obviously.


3. Park Güell

I love Park Güell. It’s absolutely gorgeous and has great views of the city too! This may not blow your kids away, but this is where the iconic Gaudí dragon is located. There are 86 columns that hold up the park above with the mosaic benches, and of course buildings that look like gingerbread houses. They only allow so many people in at a time, so you do need to buy tickets. They will give you a specific time to enter the park. Sometimes you can show up and get right in, or in the next time slot that same day. However, in the summer I would buy your tickets and plan the time you want to go in advance. There is a small kids park/playground tucked away to the right of where you buy tickets, if you have to wait a bit you can let smaller kids play here. The grounds surrounding the park are actually free, and really beautiful so be sure to wander a bit.

4. Rent Bikes

Head down to Barcelonetta and rent bikes. The beach is fantastic for cruising, stopping for lunch, having drinks etc. It gets less crowded if you ride further away from Barcelonetta towards Mar Bella Beach. The bottom of the W Hotel has some nice restaurants for sitting out and having lunch, sangria and watching the view. Warning: Barcelona’s beaches are nude beaches. Not everyone is walking around naked, but there will be a few topless ladies here and there and I have seen a man in his birthday suit (but that was early in the morning). Your kids may see some things, you’ve been warned!

5. Go on a Segway Tour

My kids love Segway Tours! We did these in Granada and Seville and it was our kids’ favorite thing. Barcelona has a age limit of 11 or 12, so only my daughter could do it here when Grandma was in town (yes even Grandma did it!). If you cannot do the Segway Tour, then maybe consider a bike tour, or the hop on hop off bus. Both are great options to see a lot of the city.

6. Make Paella / Cooking Class / Food Tours

If your kids are little foodies and enjoy getting in the kitchen, and you want to learn a bit more about Catalan cuisine and the food culture, then I recommend learning to make Paella. While I have not done this yet, it’s on my list when friends visit this summer. I have had so many friends tell me what a great experience this is. My friend Lisa highly recommends this company, Cook & Taste.  My friend Kat highly recommends the family Runner Bean Free Walking Tours.

We have done one of the Devour Barcelona tours which was great. Perhaps one of the daytime food tours might interest your family.

7. Tibidabo

Tibidabo is a park high up on a mountain top with a beautiful church that looks a bit more like a castle.  You can see it from the city center of Barcelona. While the temple/church will probably not excite your kids, the amusement park might. The rides are tame and may not blow your older kids away compared to the theme parks in the States, but it’s a fun place to go. There is also an awesome ferris wheel that is fun to ride, with incredible views of the city.


8. Arc de Triomf / Park de la Ciutadella

It is a beautiful arch and so much better than the Arch of Triumph in Paris. This one is built with beautiful red bricks and has a gorgeous pedestrian area for bikes, scooters, skateboards, and dogs. This is a great spot to rest and relax a bit. Pick up a baguette, some drinks and snacks and just chill. Your kids will enjoy the bubble man. Heck, I love the bubble man! There are some cool street performers on occasion, and for the little ones the balloon ladies are usually there too. If you continue on from the arch you will run right into Park de la Ciutadella. This a nice park and you can even rent row boats.  From there you will find the entrance to the Barcelona Zoo.

9. Picasso Museum or Street Art Bike Tour

If your kids are into art and can handle a museum, the Picasso Museum is a great and it’s in a very cool area. I chaperoned my son’s 5th grade class here, and everyone survived. And hello – it’s Picasso! Older kids might enjoy a street art bike tour. I am a big fan of street art and my kids think it’s pretty cool too.


10.  Palau de la Musica and Cosmo Caixa Science Museum

I have not been inside Palau de la Musica yet, but I am dying to get in there. I hear it’s fantastic. Again, not sure it’s exciting for younger kids, but you are on vacation – try something new!  Sometimes they pair a tour with a short concert, which could be worth doing if the show or music sounds interesting to you. There is also Barcelona’s science center Cosmo Caixa, if you want to escape the heat and head indoors for some hands on learning. The building itself is impressive. My kids liked all the exhibits here, and if you like science museums be sure to check it out. (Side Note: I should have just sent my husband here with the kids, I am not a science museum mom, I’d rather be at the beach. Science – I support it and believe in it but it’s wasted on me. – ha!)


11. Magic Fountain and Poble D’espanol

The Magic Fountain is fun for any age, because who doesn’t like a colorful water music show? It is technically called the Montjuic Magic Fountain but is not actually up on Monjuic – it’s down across from Plaza De España. If traveling by cab, just say “Fountain Magica” or “Plaza de España.” (If you say Montjuic he’ll think you want go there up to Monjuic park and castle.) Shows happen nightly on the hour every hour. Poble Espanyol (I have not been here in 10 years) is the cultural center meant to be like a Spanish village or old town filled with historic architecture, history, shopping, art, and handcrafted items from local artisans. This is where they host special events all year long, so check if something interesting is happening while you are visiting.

What to do in Barcelona with Toddlers

The Barcelona Zoo –  I love this zoo because the size is manageable and perfect for young kids. It has one of the best dolphin shows I’ve seen, mostly because it is a small intimate space so you are very close to all the action.

Turo Park –  (AKA: Expat Central) Beautiful small park and great for young kids. There is a nice cafe in the park, Pinhan Cafe where you can get some great food and a glass of wine too.

L’Aquarium Barcelona – We went here years ago when the kids were tiny and we really enjoyed it. I am sure some things may have changed since then, but it’s down by the water in a beautiful location. It’s a great place to escape the summer heat for the little ones.

Barcelona Family Travel Tips

My favorite street is Passeig San Joan – this is not too touristy and isn’t packed with retail stores or souvenier shops. This is a beautiful wide street with green spaces, park benches and little playgrounds for kids that leads you right down to the Arc de Trimof, Park Citudella and the Barcelona Zoo. This street is very near La Sagrada Familia and Escape Hunt. So if you do those then you can walk along this street and find somewhere to eat or grab a coffee. This is also in the E’ixample neighborhood (where we live) very centrally located and close to everything, and where you’ll see some of the most spectacular modernista architecture!

El Born – The area that sits adjacent to the Arc de Trimof and Park Ciutadella. This is my favorite area for wandering! Of course the word is out on El Born, so it can get a bit touristy now. But it’s not as crowded as the Gothic area. Both are excellent for getting lost in the small narrow streets that Barcelona is known for.

Pro Tip: When you walk through the Gothic and El Born areas, all the souvenir shops sell Penny Skateboards – buy them. Let the kids skate in the open areas, alleys, at the arc, parks and wide pedestrian streets. This saved us! They will fit in a large suitcase to take home, and if you have more cities to go to they might come in handy. (Note: I am not responsible for any injuries or accidents.)

Gracía Neighborhood – A cool bohemian neighborhood with small narrow streets that you can wander and find lots of boutiques and restaurants. One of the hottest areas to live in Barcelona as it’s away from all the tourists. If you are here in August you MUST see the Gracía Festival (August 15th – 21st 2017). This is the biggest and best neighborhood street festival in Barcelona, where each street has a theme and creates the most elaborate decorations. Its a week long party in the streets!

The famous Boqueria Market is a bit overrated, in my opinion. It’s very crowded and touristy. Sure, there are some Instagram-worthy fruit and candy stands, but kids will be bored and hate the fish smell. Unless you plan on cooking some amazing meals, I’d skip it. Also, getting a seat at the few good restaurants inside will be very difficult, and if your kids are picky eaters, good luck!

Las Ramblas makes me want to stab my eyeballs out. If you must go to the Boqueria then you will probably encounter this hot mess. *Not to be confused with Rambla Catalunya – that is a very nice Rambla and I shop there a lot, but I will probably avoid it this summer.

Montjuic is not that exciting (for kids) I have to say. Sure you can ride the funicular and get a view of the city and the castle grounds are a good place to let the toddler run free but again, not too exciting. If you happen to be a runner and want to get up early and head up here, it’s a great workout with beautiful views. (Note: Montjuic Magic Fountain is not up here – it is the one I mentioned above and is actually down below at Plaza de España.)

BEWARE OF PICKPOCKETS!

Wear a cross body bag and do not take it off while you are eating outside. But also be careful in restaurants too. If you place a bag on the booth or floor next to you, keep the strap around your leg. Do not put your phone in your back pocket or out on the table while you are eating. They will swipe your phone from your pocket and the table. They are like magicians here. It is no joke. Be wary of people that stop you on the street to talk and ask directions, they could be distracting you while their friend grabs your wallet or phone from your open bag. Keep your bags zipped. Sorry to end on such a sour note – but the pickpocketing in Barcelona is crazy, especially in the summer.

I hope this article helped in planning a fun and fabulous time in Barcelona with kids. If you have any questions, drop me a comment below!

What to do in Barcelona with Kids!
Barcelona March 30, 2017 posted by

H & M + Flax and Kale: A hipster match made in heaven!

Barcelona H & M partners with Flax and Kale

I’ve found an new place to live! I am now going to take up residency at the brand new H & M store on Passeig de Gracía. This brand new store is 5,000 square feet, has four levels and is the first H & M in the world with a trendy cafe, which sits perfectly over looking Barcelona’s most fashionable street, Passeig de Gràcia.

The beautiful cafe on the fourth floor is from the hip eatery and local Barcelona company, Flax and Kale. The original Flax and Kale restaurant is only a few blocks away and one of the hottest healthy spots to be seen in Barcelona.  If you come to Barcelona and are looking for all natural, vegetarian and vegan options you are sure to find Flax and Kale on every list of the best healthy restaurants in Barcelona. No fried croquettes here. The owners are chef Teresa Carles, also known for Teresa’s Juicery (which my husband and I really love) and her son Jodi Barri. 

When entering the cafe you’ll pass by the signature refrigerators that house all of Teresa’s Juicery cold press juices, then there are a variety of grab & go style salads, sandwiches, parfaits and chai bowls. Once you hit the counter there is a bakery case filled with beautiful cakes and pastries and where you’ll order your coffee, cappuccino or fresh smoothie. The cafe has plenty of seating with large windows that look over the large intersection with a fountain that is Gran Via and Passeig de Grcàia. There are cozy benches with pillows, hightop tables with barstools and even a garden section that is a bit quieter. The space they created is beautiful and I loved all the natural light and the hanging plants. I don’t think they meant for it to be a co-working space, but I can already see this as a great place to meet up for a healthy lunch and get some work done!

To get to the Flax and Kale cafe means you have to wander your way through most of the store and try your hardest not to get distracted! Riding the escalator up it definitely feels a bit more like a department store. There is a fantastic children’s department on the entire lower level and then on the third level there is even a H & M HOME. Kill me now. I am such a sucker for home goods. Gah. Seriously, I have no self control over new pillows, towels, candles and glassware. They even have a small kid section of cute room decor.  And as you can imagine, everything is extremely chic, on trend and reasonably priced!

The entire concept of this retail + eatery is gorgeous and the partnership with Flax and Kale is perfection. I realize that I am swooning over a retail store, which may seem silly to some, but it’s not the store itself but the overall design and style, which gives you a nice shopping experience.  And being a mom, I can appreciate a place where I can do some shopping for my kids, pick up a little something for me, grab a few essentials for my husband and get a healthy lunch and cappuccino all in one place. Heck, I could even get some work done here too! 

Now do you see why I might move in!?

Although, I can see how the “I’m just running to H & M to pick up some more juices!” could turn into a very expensive juice run.

$300 later….

 

 

H & M + Flax and Kale:  A hipster match made in heaven!
Andrea March 24, 2017 posted by

Life in Barcelona: Canela in the City!

Life in Barcelona with a dog

Life in Barcelona (with a dog)

I have been meaning to write a little update about Canela’s transition to life in Barcelona… and of course I will eventually write more about the exciting journey of getting our dog from Costa Rica to Spain (that’s a long story) but for now just take comfort in the fact that she is living it up and doing just fine! 

We started by taking Canela just up and down our street, Gran Via – which is a pretty major street but has a nice wide pedestrian section that runs down the center and there are bushes that run the length of this pedestrian path too. These bushes are now her personal bathroom and let’s just say, she’s helping beautify the city by fertilizing the bushes! In the beginning she would only walk about three blocks and then stop and turn around and want to go back, but eventually we got her to walk all the way to the kids bus stop (8 blocks away). 

On our morning walk to the bus stop we go past Placa de Tetuan, which is a small park in the center of a large round-about and then we head down Passeig San Joan, one of my favorite streets in the city. She got used to this walk pretty quickly and liked stopping at the park on our way back.

Saturday in Barcelona

Then on one particular Saturday morning Harris and I took Canela for a walk and a cappuccino. We wanted to see what she thought about sitting outside at a cafe and how she would behave!?

So we headed down the usual bus stop route and sat and grabbed coffee at one of my favorite cafes on Passeig San Joan, La Foga. It took Canela awhile to actually sit and relax, but eventually she sat and seemed pretty happy chillin’ with us in the sun. Once we left La Foga we wandered down the street in search of a pet store, we needed dog bowls and I wanted to buy Canela a better leash and collar that actually fit her.  

Life in Barcelona bakery Rimini Rimini
Stop at the Bakery

The one pet store that was showing up on my map was no longer there, so we continued on in the direction of home making a stop at the bakery Rimini Rimini to pick up some baked goods to take home for the kids. This is a cute little cafe for pastries, coffee, small sandwiches and even pizza.

Rimini Rimini – Carrer d’Ausiàs Marc, 31  (cross street is Carrer de Girona)

La Casa Antonia Burés

Stroll past famous architecture

With the donuts and strudels in hand we continued and passed one of my favorite buildings, (I have about 52 of them) the architecture in Barcelona is ridiculous. Seriously, I see a new building I like every day or I see the same ones and my mouth still continues to drop when I happen upon them again and again. I was curious to know more about this building so I did a little google search…

La Casa Antonia Burés is a residential modernist building located at Ausiàs Marc, 42-46 Barcelona. It was built between 1903 and 1906 by the architect Juli Batllevell and the contractor of works Enric Pi i Cabañas.  The house was made on behalf of Antonia Burés i Borràs and her husband, the textile industrialist, Llogarri Torrens i Serra. It is the most elaborate and successful work of Batllevell performed in Barcelona. (thank you wikipedia)

*And apparently Mr. Torrens says that the design of the facade of this building was actually a gift from Antoni Gaudi who collaborated with Juli Batllevell. 

Life in Barcelona Pet Store

Found a pets store!

After passing an architectural work of art, we turned up a street and then walked right into a pet store, it’s as if Perruqueria Canina just magically appeared! This little pet store is also a pet groomer, perruqueria is the word for hairdresser. We bought Canela two dog bowls, poop bags, a new leash, a pretty new polk-a-dot collar and a cozy little dog bed. We almost bought her a sweater, but I think I was getting carried away.

Perrugueria Caninia, Carrer de Casp (cross street Carrer del Bruc)

 
Barcelona is a very pet-friendly city and we see a lot of dogs here, and they are all so well behaved! Canela is sweet but a bit anti-social and not the friendliest. When dogs come up to sniff her the hair on her neck stands up and she growls, so we try to just keep our distance. She’s had a hard life before us, so it’s understandable. Not to mention, she just went from the back roads of Costa Rica to the bustling city of Barcelona. She’s adjusting well and um, just had the best Saturday ever!

Life in Barcelona: Canela in the City!
Andrea March 21, 2017 posted by

Devour Barcelona Food Tours: Wine & Tapas!


When you live abroad it’s always fun when friends visit because you get to play tour guide, showing them your favorite local spots, but it’s also a great opportunity to play tourist too!

When our good friends Paul & Krista came to Barcelona I made us a reservation for a wine and tapas tour with Devour Barcelona Food Tours. One of the best ways to get a feel for a city and quite literally a taste, is with a walking tour. I had actually stumbled upon the http://devourbarcelonafoodtours.com/Devour Food Tours in Madrid, when I was looking up things to do when we were in Madrid last summer, we never did take a tour, but I made a mental note that they also had food tours in Barcelona, Seville and now even Malaga. I’ve enjoyed watching the company’s success so I was excited to finally book a tour with them!

Devour Barcelona Food Tours

I booked us on a Saturday night tour that began at 6:30pm. We navigated our way through the narrow streets of the gothic area, passing the crowds outside the Picasso Museum and arrived at a little bodega where we would start the night! We immediately saw the Devour Food Tour sign on top of a wine barrel table and were greeted by a huge smile and hello by our tour guide Fintan. He was a ball of energy right from the start, so I knew we were in for a fun night!  We were joined by six other people, making our tour a total of 10, which was the perfect size. Our night began with a tasting of Vermouth and having the two traditional Catalan dishes; Croquettes with Jamon Iberico inside and Patatas Bravas. (If you are vegetarian, they will have other options available to you)

As we sipped our Vermouth we went around the table introducing ourselves to the other people in the group, we’d be spending the evening together so it was a nice icebreaker. There was a couple from South Africa, two girlfriends from Chicago and another couple from Maryland, but they lived for many years in Minneapolis, Minnesota (I always seem to meet people with a connection to Minnesota). Later in the night as we all started to get a bit more friendly, the husband told me the story about how the Mayo Clinic saved his wife’s life, and that he has so much love and gratitude not only the Mayo Clinic but for Minnesota in general. The other couple from South Africa were a riot and I am actually still in touch with her via social media and even email. That is the added bonus of going on these types of group tours, the interesting people you meet! 

 

Tasty Tosadas 

The second stop on our tour we walked a short distance through El Born and went to a beautiful restaurant called Eldiset. Here is where the food got interesting, Eldiset is famous for their mouth watering tostadas. Paired with each tostada was a variety of light wines, we tasted two different Cavas, a white wine and a Rosé. Cava is a sparkling wine from Spain and most of which is produced in the Catalunya region and many happen to be produced just outside of Barcelona. I have learned to love Cava since moving to Barcelona, it’s so refreshing and light. The tapas (or tostadas) we had were amazing! The first one was a tostada with grilled eggplant, mozzarella cheese, caramelized onions and basil pesto. The second tostada had raspberry jam, blue cheese, shredded apple and crushed almonds. 


Gran Bodega Maestrazgo

Our third stop of the night was at Gran Bodega Maestrazgo. To anyone just passing by, they might think this place was a wine wholesale shop, but once inside and passed the large wine barrels and endless shelves of wine, there is a cozy little wine bar buzzing with wine enthusiasts. Now this is the place to go to start a night out with friends or buy some wine! I’m pretty sure there is not a bad wine on the shelf. In the front of the store Fintan had us sample wines straight from the barrel and explained bulk wine, blends and pricing. If I’m being honest, it was a this point in the night some of my retention of all the extensive wine info Fintan was giving us was also starting to blend together;)  


Our fourth stop was right next door (smart) to a tasting room. There was a long high top table filled with baskets of bread and a variety of jamón, cheese and olives. There were also four empty wine glasses at each place setting, which meant more wine. This is where we ended the night and Fintan had to eventually kick us out! I suppose this is the hardest part of his job, gently breaking it to people that the tour is over and that you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.

I was so impressed by Fintan and his passion for wine, he was a fountain of knowledge and was a fantastic tour guide! The entire night was lovely, the only thing I might say is that I could have used one more tostada, because by the time we hit the fourth stop I was devouring the bread basket! I’d highly recommend this wine and tapas tour to anyone visiting Barcelona, it’s a fun night with excellent wine, good food and great company!

Disclosure: Totally not paid or comped. I was a regular human enjoying a night out with friends.

Devour Barcelona Food Tours: Wine & Tapas!
Andrea February 7, 2017 posted by

Barcelona marathon training update


Barcelona Marathon Training Update

I am over the half way point to running the Barcelona Marathon, I have about five weeks left before the big day, Sunday, March 12th. This past weekend I was not exactly feeling confident. In fact, I was sure I was hitting a wall, both mentally and physically. Physically I know I can run eight miles no problem, but I don’t feel like it is “easy”, so heading out to run a 15 mile run on Sunday morning –  I was a little nervous. I honestly wasn’t sure I was going to be able to do it. I have ran only two 10 mile runs and one 13 mile run,  and I have missed some long runs die to my traveling.

So I set out earlier than usual, because I didn’t want this to take over my entire day and the earlier you get out in the morning the less awake you are to a) realize what it is you are about to do and b) you leave before you talk yourself out of it.

I made my way up to the top of Passeig San Joan to start, which is up hill and then ran back down toward the Arc de Triomf knowing that that would be a great warm up on my way down to the beach. I tried to not mess with my music or look at my Strava app at all, I just tried to run as relaxed as I could, taking in the beautiful Barcelona morning, It had rained a little overnight, the sky was clearing up and it was already 58 degrees!  There was hardly anyone on the streets, because the only people up at 8:30am on a Sunday morning are runners and a few photographers taking advantage of the incredible lighting. Barcelona is not an early morning city, 12:00 is very much still considered morning here.

Running earlier meant less traffic and the lights were not turning as much, or I could just run on red because there was no traffic coming. Once I got down to the beach I realized I was not the only one with a long run on the schedule. There were SO many runners out at this time,(clearly they wanted to get it over with too). It was nice to be surrounded by my people, which was also encouraging. 

Here are some photos from the first half of my 15 mile morning run… (because I couldn’t bear to stop to take any photos the last 5 miles) I love the way the sky and the clouds changed throughout the first part of my run. I can’t complain, my marathon training backdrop is pretty amazing!


I DID IT. And my time wasn’t horrible either.

15 miles  / 2 hours 48 minutes / 11:12 average pace per mile via the Strava app.

When I got home I collapsed onto the floor and told Hudson to get me some frozen vegetables for my knees and I said to Harris “I’m not sure I ever want to do that again!”

Of course I am really happy that I survived 15 miles, however the thought of doing 11 more is frickin’ crazy!! I mean, I like running, but if I keep a 11 minute pace – I will be running for almost 5 hours, and when you put it like that it sounds horrible!! That is a LONG time to be running. (My goal is to do it 4.5 hours)

Later that night I was prepared to feel like I had been hit by a truck, but after a burger and a hour nap, I actually felt fine. Monday morning I was bracing for a ton of soreness – but to my surprise I wasn’t too bad. So today I went out and ran a short 5 miler and hit my best time and it felt like such a baby run! I guess that is the point – to keep doing the consistent 6-8 mile runs, and then push hard for the longer runs, which then gives you the confidence to keep going!

That’s the thing with “thinking” I hit an eight mile wall, it was all in my head. Now I’ve proved to myself that 15 miles is possible, both mentally and physically. Believing I can do this is more than half the battle, as a friend said to me “Your mind will give up way before your body will” and it is SO true. This is such a mental game.

26 miles I’m coming for you.

Barcelona marathon training update
Barcelona December 1, 2016 posted by

Getting a Christmas tree in Barcelona

mckenna-christmas-tree-barcelona-2016
Getting a Christmas Tree in Barcelona

Last weekend we got a Christmas Tree and I was giddy with excitement. I’m pretty sure my excitement was hovering right around that extremely annoying level, but deep down I knew that at least McKenna was just as excited as I was. She just has more self control with her enthusiasm than I do.

Some might wonder why I was so excited about getting a Christmas Tree in Barcelona, so let me explain. We have not had a Christmas tree in three years. While living in Costa Rica we were denied a little (okay, a lot)  of the Christmas spirit, which was actually very refreshing. I liked not having all the holiday frenzy shoved in our faces 24/7 and I didn’t panic or feel like I had to run to the malls to start shopping and buying a bunch of junk we didn’t need. However, I like decorating, I like pretty things and I like some sparkle in my life.  I missed seeing Christmas lights that make this time of year seem so magical and getting a Christmas tree is such a classic holiday tradition!

la-sagrada-familia-cathedral-christmas-market-barcelona-wll

La Sagrada Familia Christmas Market

Where does one get a Christmas tree in Barcelona!?

Well, I knew that most European cities have some pretty incredible Christmas markets, so when I was searching for Christmas Markets in Barcelona, I read that the La Sagrada Familia Christmas Market always starts the last Saturday in November and I also read that they sell Christmas trees! We just so happen to live about 10 blocks from La Sagrada Familia.

So this past Saturday when driving home from our trip up the coast to Cadaques. I had the brilliant idea to go and pick up a tree while we still had our rental car. My family just loves my brilliant ideas! 😉 So, when we got back to Barcelona we dropped all our bags off at the apartment (to make room for the tree) and drove over to the La Sagrada Familia, parked in a nearby parking structure and hit the market.

This was the very first day of  the Christmas market and we arrived at about 1:00pm and it looked like it had literally just opened. People were still setting up their stalls and unpacking their products to sell! Barcelona is not a morning city. We cruised the market and went straight to the guys selling trees, we tried to not get too distracted by all the ornaments, villages and other shiny things because we were on a mission to just get a tree. Well.. and maybe a Caga Tio – the pooping Christmas log. (see next post)

We have very high ceilings in our apartment, so we all agreed that we needed a BIG tree! There were a few stalls around the park that were selling trees  of all shapes and sizes, so we did a loop and then decided on the best one. It was pretty much the biggest one we saw, we paid 60 Euros for it, the guy wrapped it up tight in some white netting and helped Harris carry it to the curb.

la-sagrada-familia-christmas-market-christmas-tree-2016-wll
Harris and Hudson went to go get the car while McKenna and I stood on the side of the road next to La Sagrada with our gigantic Christmas tree, two poinsettia plants, and our Caga Tio. While we waited I kept saying that this tree was NOT going to fit in the car and that we’d probably have to pay some guy with a truck to get it to our apartment. And just as it started to sprinkle, Harris pulled up in our shiny red rental car, he popped the trunk and we started to shove it in. We wiggled it through trying to be careful of the branches, and we eventually got it all the way to the dashboard. I handed each of the kids a poinsettia plant, grabbed our Caga Tio and off we went!

christmas-tree-sagrada-familia-market-barcelona-2016-wanderlust-living
christmas-tree-barcelona-2016-hudson-wll

christmas-tree-barcelona-2016-mckenna-wll

christmas-tree-la-sagrada-familia-barcelona-wll
christmas-tree-barcelona-la-sagrada-christmas-market-wanderlust-living

 

christmas-tree-barcleona-2016-wanderlust-living
christmas-tree-barcelona-andrea-wll

 

christmas-tree-barcelona-wanderlust-living-2016

christmas-tree-barcelona-apartment-2016
But we got it home!  Operation Christmas Tree was a SUCCESS.

christmas-tree-barcelona-2016-apartment

 

Getting a Christmas tree in Barcelona
Andrea November 29, 2016 posted by

I’m going to run the Barcelona Marathon!

img_7527

Barcelona Marathon

Well. I did it. I just registered for the Barcelona Marathon. HOLY. SHIT.

I have never ran a marathon.
I have only ran one half marathon, The Hollywood Half Marathon and that was about 6 years ago.

So, why am I doing this…?  Well, I have always wanted to run a marathon and for no real reason other than to say that “I’ve ran a marathon” I like running and all, but to run a FULL marathon!!?? I mean, 26 miles feels a bit excessive. BUT I’m going to do it and it’s not really the physical challenge that I’m after, it’s more a mental challenge for me.

barcelona-marathon-2017
The Barcelona Marathon is March 12th 2017 and so right now I have exactly 15 weeks to train.

This morning I printed out this First Marathon Training Schedule from Women’s Running and I went for a 5 mile run to think about it. I wanted to see how I felt afterwards, then make the decision. While running I came up with how I would decide.

A) If  I can run 5 miles under an hour then I have to sign up –  because clearly my running is pretty decent and with proper training I can totally do this.

B) If I cannot run 5 miles in 50 minutes then clearly I am not working hard enough and need to register to get my ass moving.

img_7538

My time this morning for 5 miles was 51.55 – via the Strava App – which is awesome!

So I got home and the decision was made – I had to sign up.
See what I did there… I was registering no matter what I did.

Next year I turn 40 (September 24th) but if you know me, then you know that I will probably be celebrating my Birthday all year! Brace yourself. It will be #MyYearOf40 (not the official hashtag yet).

2016 pretty much tried to kick my ass and accomplishing this will prove to me that I didn’t let it.

March is also significant because that is when I sold Savvy Sassy Moms and declared my year of being a #LadyOf Leisure. Well, I suck at being a lady of leisure and this will keep my mind busy for the last few months.

It will also be celebratory of our move to Barcelona! The beginning was a little bumpy, so now I’m going to run all over this town and show it who’s boss.

I’m someone who needs big goals, a purpose, a project, a frickin’ gold star at the end of the day. I like challenges and if I have learned anything about myself over the last few months it’s that, and THAT IS OK. Reaching for something and going after things is the only way I know how to live. I have been trying to relax and take it easy, I’ve been enjoying life, our new city, meeting new people, traveling and working on a few things here and there – but without something major to focus on, I really start to lose my mind. So this will be a major focus for the next 15 weeks.

As it turns out – Harris will be in San Diego that weekend 🙁 Which is a BIG bummer that he will not be here to cheer me on, but it’s okay, he will be cheering me on and keeping me on my training schedule over the next 15 weeks.

So…. I am looking for a volunteer to come and watch my kids for 24 hours – while I carb load, sleep, run 26 miles, have a blood mary, a beer, a burger and then pass out. (In that exact order)

Please apply below.

I’m going to run the Barcelona Marathon!