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 a dog.

Andrea Fellman of Wanderlust Living Travel Blog

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Posts by Category: Travel

Adventure September 20, 2017 posted by

3D Art Gallery Budapest: Where you become a part of the art

While we were recently in Budapest, one of the best things we did was visit the 3D Art Gallery Budapest. My kids actually found out about this attraction while they were researching things to do in Budapest. Now, you may be wondering what exactly is a 3D art gallery? Well, I was too! Essentially, the 3D Art Gallery Budapest was unlike any other art museum that we’ve been to, because here you become a part of the art!

Someone in our family was really good at this…

3D Art Gallery Budapest

I was not sure what to expect when we arrived at the museum. It’s not that big, and when we entered we came to the desk and paid a small entrance fee. A guide explained that we had to find creative ways to insert ourselves into the paintings. It took us a little while to warm up and get the hang of it.  It wasn’t always obvious how to position ourselves in the paintings. My husband is trained in improv and my kids are definitely not camera-shy, so they all seemed to have an easier time then me. So I was pretty much the photographer, as usual. As we we moved to each painting we quickly realized that this was not just about standing in front of the painting. You had to react and make facial expressions as if the paintings were real. By the time we got to the third room, we really started having fun with it. The kids were fighting over who got to jump in the painting first. They even competed with their dad on who could manage the best pose!

Striking the Pose

Once we walked through all the rooms of the museum, one of the staff then took us back through to get some family photos of us! I so appreciated this service, and am glad that they did this. He was able to direct us on where to stand, how to react and he knew where to stand to make the photo look the most realistic. I liked that they waited until after you went through independently the first time,  because that gave us a chance to loosen up and allowed our kids to use their own creativity. Then it was nice to go through again with a more professional eye, and with someone helping us get the best possible shots. This also allowed me to get in some of the photos too.

Scroll through our photos and tell me your favorite!

 

 


 

Sometimes it pays to have your kids do some of the travel planning and research!

Visit their website and be sure to check them out if you find yourself in Budapest.

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3D Art Gallery Budapest: Where you become a part of the art
Andrea August 9, 2017 posted by

20 BEST moments of two weeks in England!

Spending two weeks in England this summer was definitely not the typical beach holiday, but it was refreshing to escape the Barcelona heat. We went to England for two weeks because our kids were going to sleepover camp for the first time. We thought it might be wise to stay in the same country as them, just in case anything should go awry, but we also thought –  why not take advantage of this time and explore the English countryside.

We had a great time and looking back I easily came up with my favorite moments, all 20 of them!

20 BEST moments of two weeks in England

1. Staying in Notting Hill

We rented and AirBnB one block from the famous Portebello Road and it was a great location for our few days in London. We only had two days in London with the kids and we were not doing any major sight seeing, we just wanted to keep it chill. We just wanted to walk to all the cute cafes, cruise the Portobello market, and wander the adorable and very colorful Notting Hill neighborhood. And of course we had to step inside the Notting Hill Bookstore from the movie Notting Hill.

2. London Escape Room

We love doing escape rooms in all the cities we visit! We promised the kids we would do one in London before they headed off to camp. Harris found one of the top rated and best escape rooms in London and it certainly did not disappoint! This might have been our families favorite of all the escape rooms we’ve done! Time Run Escape Room

3. Seeing School Of Rock with the kids

We did not get theatre tickets in advance and seeing a show was not on the agenda at all. Which I regretted once we were in London and I remembered, oh right – we should see a show! While walking around Covent Garden it started to rain heavily, we jumped down in the subway station to head back to Notting Hill and there was a discounted theatre ticket booth. Clearly it was meant to be. I darted across the packed station and said “What cha’ got for tonight!?” School of Rock was a really high energy show and the kids loved it!

4. Drinking from a BBQ grill

Yes, you read that correctly. My (now very good) friend Katja literally just moved to London from Mexico City. As in like five days before we got there. She is originally from England, but has been living abroad with her family for over 10+ years. We had an interesting meal at a the Eclectic Diner in Notting Hill, then we went for a cocktail at Trailer Happiness, a funky little tiki bar. We figured we might as well keep up the hipster theme. We somehow ended up ordering a BBQ grill filled with booze to share. This is why Katja is now a very good friend, you do not share large BBQ grill cocktails with just anyone.

5. Dropping the kids off  for summer camp

Dropping the kids off at the St Pancras train station was a top highlight, not because I was getting rid of my kids for two weeks but because this train station is such a beautiful historical landmark!  I had never been to St Pancras Station and had no idea it was such a gem. But back to sending my kids away to camp for two weeks, for the FIRST TIME. We spotted the XUK Camp sweatshirts on the counselors with swarms of kids around them right away. We checked them in, hung out for a bit but then hugged and said our goodbyes. It was so bizarre walking away from them. My gut felt like it had been slightly punched. 

6. Diana: Her Fashion Story at Kensington Palace

In honor of the 20 year anniversary of Princess Diana’s passing there is a special exhibit at Kensington Palace, Diana: Her Fashion Story and it is beyond GORGEOUS. Seeing this was an unexpected surprise. I did not know about this exhibit before we got to London and I still can’t even remember how I saw or heard that this was happening, but it was a MUST for me. I did this solo while Harris got some work done. This is on display until February 2018 so if you are in London I suggest you go! 

7.  Re-connecting with a friend from South Africa

We met Lole and her husband (who are from South Africa) in Barcelona while on a food tour with friends. We have remained in contact and randomly she was in London! She messaged me and we got together for dinner with her and her lovely daughter. It was so great catching up and talking about life’s twists and turns, but a highlight for me was hearing her and her daughter tell the story of them biking the famous Camino de Santiago through Spain. So funny.

8.  Harris being told he’s a “Wanker”

While driving from London to Peak District we had been on the highway for about 20 minutes and we were in the far right lane, then Harris moved over into the middle lane and a car zoomed passed us…

Harris: That guy just called me a Wanker!

Me: What, how do you know!?

Harris: Well he passed me and did this – Harris makes a hand jerking-off motion.

Me: Oh, is that the international sign for a Wanker!? LOL

Harris: I think so!

9. The Monsal Trail and biking through railroad tunnels 

The Monsal Trail was awesome! I am not a biker, I prefer running, but when in Peak District there are a variety of trails and Harris likes biking, so we biked. The Monsal Trail is a trail that used to be an old railroad that has been converted into a gorgeous trail that includes six railroad tunnels that you ride through. I absolutely loved biking through the tunnels, it was very cool. I had so much fun on this bike ride that I may have even agreed to bike with Harris back in Spain… maybe.

10. Pub Dogs & Pints

I had some favorite pubs while in Peak District and some not so favorite;) Two of my favorites were The Bulls Head (near Eyam) and The Anchor. The Bulls head was adorable inside and it came with the cutest pub dog named Jack! Not only was the pub cozy and the waitress friendly, but the fish-n-chips was SO good and it was literally the whole fish! The Anchor was my other favorite because they serve food all day and the staff was really nice and welcoming. This place felt like the being inside the belly of a pirate ship with even a rum room included.

The thing with the pubs in the peak District is, they are strict about their food serving hours – you better get there between 12-2 if you want lunch and 6-8 if you want dinner.  There isn’t much wiggle room and it was a little annoying. However, when we were late or behind the food serving schedule we went to The Anchor and they happily served us. Another pub that took us even though it was 2:30 was The Ashford Arms in Ashford on the Water, this was another stand out pub that had a lovely garden.

11. Tissington Trail 

Tissington trail was beautiful but just not as unique as riding through the railroad tunnels on the Monsal trail. However, the real gem of this trail was at the end when you reached the village of Tissington. We parked our bikes and walked around the town wandering into the most adorable vintage candy shop, browsed a beautiful home store and then stopped for some coffee and homemade fudge next to Tissington Hall, which is a gorgeous historical estate. This estate is popular for weddings and since it was a Saturday we saw a large group of dapper groomsmen getting photos taken. 

12. Peak District, pretty much ALL of it.

Never heard of Peak Distric?  Yeah most people haven’t. I actually read about Peak District in an inflight magazine, if you can believe that! Peak District is a national park in northern England and apparently the step sister to the bigger and more popular Lake District. Peak District is closer to London so it’s a bit more convenient and it is also a very easy drive from Manchester and Cambridge. It is well known for their hiking and biking trails but just driving around and exploring the the countryside stopping at all the small villages was fun too! I loved it here.

13.  The Sir Williams Hotel and Barry the local bar man

We were driving around looking for a place to grab a bite to eat and we suddenly came to The Sir William Grindleford and from the outside it looked adorable! When we drive to the back to park, the views were fantastic and they had a little garden area with picnic tables. I went in to make sure they were serving food and as luck would have it they were! We were met by the nicest staff behind the bar, which included a young college kid from North Dakota of all places, and Barry, who seemed to be the the permanent bar fixture. He was hilarious and kept us entertained while we ate. I also asked to see a room upstairs, because I am totally staying here the next time we are in Peak District. There will be a next time.

14. Our cottage in the Cotswolds

Adorable. I felt like frickin’ goldilocks (with one bear) ha ha ha! This cottage was the cutest and even came with one of those iconic country doors that you can open just the top half, a small detail but one I loved! This stylish little cottage was in the town of Cirencester – one of the largest towns in the Cotswolds, but not in a horrible way. It was nestled behind one of the main streets in town so we could walk out our door and walk to everything.  The funny thing was, it was sort of behind a Thai restaurant so when we would leave we would get an intense smell of Thai food. Ahhh, nothing like stepping out your door in the English countryside to smell Thai food!;) 

15. Getting my running back in the Cotswolds

I have not been running. My excuses – the end of the school year was crazy per usual, lots of friends have been visiting, traveling and the heat in Barcelona. Lame, I know. So the one good thing about the weather in England was it made for some great running weather. I also found a cute store that sold the coolest workout clothing so I bought myself a few fun pairs of leggings, which may have also inspired me to get my ass up and go running.

16.  The Hare Trail

I spotted a couple gorgeous sculptures of painted rabbits, so I googled. It turns out that there are 85 of them throughout the 28 villages in the Cotswolds and this is known as The Hare Trail. They are decorated by different artists and are on display from March – September, then in October they auction them off and the proceeds go to a variety of charities. I of course wanted to find all of them, but probably only spotted ten.

17. Meeting up with a high school friend in the Cotswolds

What are the chances that a friend from high school was visiting her brother that lives in the Cotswolds the same week I was there!? Slim to none, but it totally happened! We met up for a pint at a pub (naturally). I was also able to meet her brother, his beautiful dog and her sweet family. They had already been to Iceland, spending a few days in the Cotswolds, then heading into London and then onto Paris. Catching up with her was such a fun treat!

18. Reading an entire book in a day

This was a first for me. I have never read a book in ONE DAY. I am not the type to sit still for that long, my mind and body just does not do that. However, if you put me in a cozy cottage while it’s raining, apparently my body can be persuaded to lay around all day and my mind can get wrapped up in something other than being productive. Yay!

19. Arguing about eating pistachios while driving 

Have you ever eaten pistachios? Well if so, then you know that this is a two hand job. Have you ever driven a manual car with the steering wheel on the right side of the car? Then you know that this is also a two hand job. Therefore, it is not safe to crack open pistachios, navigate the roundabouts while driving on the opposite side of the road and changing gears. Period.

20. Visiting Oxford – Wycliffe hall

The icing on the cake! Oxford is about an hour drive from where we were in the Cotswolds and so on the last day we took a drive to Oxford, so I could relive my youth! 20 years ago I did a study abroad program called EuroSpring and we stayed at Wycliffe Hall on Banbury Street in Oxford. Our walk over to the hall brought back so many memories. We passed by all the pubs we would frequent and the park we would walk pass everyday. Whoa – this took me back, way back. That EuroSpring trip opened my eyes to the world – and I’m pretty sure it was then that I decided I needed to see ALL OF IT.

The place where my wanderlust life began…

20 BEST moments of two weeks in England!
Family May 4, 2017 posted by

Visiting Portugal: Lisbon with Kids

Visiting Portugal

Ever since we moved to Barcelona people have asked us, what are some of the top places in Europe we want to go? My first answer has always been Portugal. I mean, it’s right next door and Portugal was picked as Travel + Leisure’s Destination of the year in 2016, clearly we must go! We have actually ended up visiting our neighbor France quite a bit this first year. But finally for Spring Break, we created a week long itinerary for ourselves that would take us to Lisbon, Sintra and Porto. We figured why not hit them all in one trip? This will be the first of three posts. Here’s how we spent three days in Lisbon with kids!

Lisbon with Kids

Lisbon is a smorgasboard of action. In fact, I had a slight case of sensory overload. Lisbon is definitely having a moment, and it knows it. The weather is fantastic, prices are very reasonable, the city has a rich (and very traumatic) history, the people are kind (most speak English), and it has a creative vibe that just oozes into the streets. There are a lot of renovations happening. When you walk around town, you will see and hear a lot of construction. But it’s all for the sake of polishing up an already vibrant city. The real challenge is to not shine it up too much. Like any European city, we still want to see it for it’s authentic cultural self – with all its bumps and bruises.

The same day we landed, we hit the ground running with a walking tour of Lisbon from With Locals. This was the first time we did a city walking tour with our kids. I figured they are old enough now and they should learn a little bit more about where they are. More than our quick and random Google searches at the airport before boarding the plane. This also took some pressure off me to know where to go and what to see.

We met up with our guide Jorge at Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara in the Barrio Alto neighborhood. This is a fantastic promenade and park overlooking the city, and a great way to kick off our time in Lisbon. From up here he was able to explain in detail about the devastating 1755 earthquake, flood and tsunami that demolished the city. We spent the entire afternoon walking with Jorge as he explained the different areas, shared interesting and significant stories about Lisbon’s history and even engaged with the kids. When we all got hungry, he didn’t even mind stopping to let us grab a quick bite to eat. 

When our official time was up Jorge kept going because he really wanted us to see a few more hidden gems and end the tour at a lookout point. He took us to see some very cool street art that decorates a parking garage. Each level was done by a different artist and was a competition put on by the city. This parking garage actually brought us to the lookout point just as the sun was setting. On the way down we took a small street that lead us to Chapito. Chapito used to be just a very small circus school, but has now turned into a full performing arts school and venue for performances. Around back is a restaurant where you can dine under the big top. (We were not able to eat here – so make reservations).


Every European city has their sweet treats, but in Lisbon they are known as “convent sweets,” as they got their name because the nuns would make them with all the left over egg yolks. The yolks remained as the nuns used egg whites to starch their whites and to clarify the convent wine. This was another interesting fact we learned on our walking tour with Jorge.

Alfama Neighborhood

The next morning Harris and I let the kids sleep in and we got up to check out the Alfama neighborhood. This is the oldest neighborhood that was literally built to protect the castle, São Jorge Castle. The streets are very narrow and maze-like, which was intentional to make it difficult for enemies to attack the castle. Local people still live here. We passed one woman and her husband carrying their laundry down a small alleyway. We also saw all sorts of unique and random things, such as a mannequin leg hanging from a window and a little pink cut out of a house hanging over head.

While Harris made friends with a little dog I wandered happened upon a little ceramic shop. We walked what seemed to be the opposite way as we saw many people coming down, as we were making our way up, to what we had no idea. Eventually we came to a gorgeous, and very popular lookout known as Miradouro Porta das Sol.

We started our walk up to the Alfama neighborhood from the waterfront, and I spotted Brunch Cafe and Reina Dona Amelia Confeitaria (Queen Amelia – in reference to Amalia Rodrigues the famous fado singer from Lisbon). These are both two great places for brunch or coffee.


Next we grabbed the kids and went for lunch. We tried to go to the popular Time Out Market, which has a variety of food stalls with some of Lisbon’s top chefs. But we were not the only ones with this idea, and it was packed. So just behind the market, we passed a nice open courtyard that had some restaurants. We actually ended up eating at Mez Cais. This is a Mexican restaurant (LOL), but we were glad to have a seat in the sun sipping on our margaritas and virgin mojitos!  I obviously wanted Portuguese food, but when traveling with kids you have to choose your battles and well, tacos and guacamole won.

There was also a nice Portuguese tapas restaurant in the same courtyard that was fully booked and looked pretty good, Taberna Tosca. But whatever you choose to eat, there is always room for gelato at Gelato Davvero that is conveniently right on the corner.

Time for a Tuk Tuk Tour

Since the kids walked all over the city the day before and they kept seeing all the colorful tuk tuks whiz by us, we of course promised them a ride in oneThis was another great way to see the city, even though this tour repeated some of the things we saw on the walking tour. It was nice to just sit and cruise through the streets, taking in the city’s charming rhythm and vibe.

As luck would have it, our tour took us up to a different lookout spot. This spot was called Lady of the Mountain, and apparently it’s the highest in the city. Lisbon is known as the city of seven hills (even though there are more than seven hills), and I think we may have stood atop four of the seven lookout spots in our short three day visit. Which was fine with me because I’d much rather look out across a city then be taken inside another old church. 😉

Travel Tip: Be sure to hire an electric tuk tuk – the old ones are really loud and bumpy and the ride is not as enjoyable, trust me.

We enjoyed a nice authentic Portuguese dinner at the tiniest restaurant I’ve ever been in. We happened upon Lisboa Chica de Graça and just took a chance. I felt like I was in someone’s house, which I’m pretty sure we were. All of the restaurants in the Barrio Alto neighborhood were similar in style, small and quaint. Both of our meals were good, but not out of this world. In fact I can’t really remember what mine was. However, the apple dessert thing we had was fantastic. We almost ordered another one, but feared we did not have enough money. This place is cash only.  Another option a few blocks away that I wanted to try was Rosa Da Rua, but they were already full of reservations for the night.

After dinner, we dropped the kids off back at the hotel and Harris and I went to wander some more and check out The Pharmacy. This cool little wine bar that used to be an old pharmacy, and has kept most of the original shelving and architecture. We also stopped for one more glass at By The Wine. It’s only a few doors down from our hotel, and had the most beautiful arch of colored wine bottles. It was like being in a beautifully lit glass tunnel.

The next day we promised the kids they could go to Kidzania, which they had done in London and loved. Kidzania is a solid 20-minute cab ride outside the city center. We dropped them off and then went back to explore a little off the beaten path. It’s in a very cute neighborhood called Estrela E Campo de Ourique. We found beautiful streets with some boutiques, and then ran right into Jardin da Estrela. This is a beautiful oasis, and a nice change of scenery from bustling city streets. This is an excellent park for kids. It has a nice playground and plenty of green space to run. There was even a man renting out some pretty cool-looking modern tricycles. Too bad we didn’t have our kids with us, but it was nice to walk and enjoy the park just the two of us.


Then we had our evening family photo shoot with Flytographer!  We met up with our photographer at Elevador da Bica. This is where you can get one of the iconic trolley car shots in Lisbon since it goes up a hill and you can get the river in the background. Our photo shoot gave us another opportunity to wander the streets and take some fun family photos. This was something I have been wanting to do forever and thought Lisbon would back such a fun backdrop!

Where We Stayed

We enjoyed a stay at the Martinhal Chiado Family Suites. This is a brand new hotel in the center of Lisbon that is excellent for traveling families with young kids. They have modern, apartment-style suites that come with full kitchens, washer and dryer, high chairs, booster seats, cribs and even bathroom necessities like toddler potties and step stools. We had a one bedroom deluxe, that had a enormous living room and a bunkbed room for the kids. Breakfast was included in our stay, and there were a variety of food options to choose from. I loved their kid-friendly dining room. It’s got large tables, booths, pillows and even a car for the little ones to play in while they waited for their food.

The best part about Marthinal Chiado Family Suites is their childcare facility right on the property. It let’s you go out an enjoy the city for a kid-free day or allows you to have a dinner out with your spouse. The kids center has activities for kids up to about age nine, but they will of course watch older kids as well. The hotel has movie nights, the kids can play Xbox, or you could drop them off with their own electronic devices.

Our kids were a bit old for the kids center. We are very comfortable leaving our kids in a hotel room together on their own for two or three hours. My daughter has a phone and can message us using WhatsApp. We have a very mature 12 year old. The location of Marthinal is in the Chiado neighborhood and is very centrally located, it was very easy to walk and access so much of the city. The entire staff at Marthinal was very helpful throughout our entire stay and I highly recommend this property for those traveling with young children.

For more information read my full review here: Parental Paradise at the Martinhal Chiado Family Suites

Final Thoughts on Lisbon

We had a great three days in Lisbon. I think three days is a perfect amount of time to see the city with kids. It felt like a mix of San Francisco and Cuba, probably because of the hills, trolley cars, and construction. My husband and I agreed that this is probably what Cuba would have looked like if it hadn’t got stuck in the 50’s. Lisbon is a funky little city, and I was happy to see that even though it’s growing, it’s preserving its history, tradition and charm. Thank God the only Starbucks we saw was at the airport. I was also really glad we did a walking tour on the first day. I felt that I had a better understanding of Lisbon before we set off to explore on our own.

We did not get to some of the kid-friendly museums that were recommended to us because we opted to send the kids to Kidzania for the day instead. I am not a huge museum traveler anyways. I prefer being outside and parks so that was okay with me. We did not plan our dinners as I think we should have. We sort of just left that to chance. This was a mistake since it was Easter week and many restaurants were booked.  One restaurant that our tour guide Jorge tried to get us into was Maria Catita. He’s a local so I’d trust his recommendation.

Another thing I’d recommend for your visit is to please wear quality, comfortable shoes. The streets and sidewalks are hilly and made of small stones, which are actually pretty smooth and can even be a bit slippery. With the cable car tracks, uneven sidewalks, and construction, you need to watch your step and have flat shoes on!

Travel Tip: We had fantastic gelato at Gelatiamo – twice!

Travel Tip: Yes, Pink Street is pink. But don’t expect it to be as bright and shiny as all of those over-photoshopped photos on Pinterest. There are a few bars but sadly it’s not as exciting as one might hope.


Enjoy Lisbon!

Disclosure: The Marthinal Family Suites was a fully comped media stay for the purpose of my review. Read my honest opinions over on Walking On Travels. I share this with you because I think it is a fantastic property for anyone traveling with young children.

Visiting Portugal: Lisbon with Kids
Family April 25, 2017 posted by

You MUST book a Flytographer for your next family vacation!

Family Vacation Photos

We travel a lot and I take an obnoxious amount of photos. Sometimes I think we travel too much, and my kids definitely think I take too many photos, but those are two entirely separate issues, because today I want to talk about the issue of getting ME in the photos!  I heard about Flytographer from a few friends about a year ago. I thought this idea was brilliant! I oogled at my friends Flytographer photos and thought – OMG we need to do this! So on our latest trip to Lisbon, Portugal I booked us a Flytographer.

Sure, I’m in the family selfies, where everyone but me is making a crazy face (mocking me for wanting to take a family selfie). I love our family and all their multiple personalities, but we have not had a real professional family photo in at least four, maybe five years. My mom has been begging me for something she can actually put up on the wall and I wouldn’t mind having a family photo of us not all squished into a tiny thumbnail size photo. Flytographer was also started by a mom, she obviously understands the pain point of traveling and never being in any of the photos!

Flytographer

So here’s the scoop, Flytographer has a network of photographers in over 200 cities, you book your shoot wherever you are traveling and the photographer meets up with you on your vacation and makes sure that YOU get in the photos. Obviously you book a day and time in advance, to ensure you are looking cute and didn’t just get off a river boat cruise and your hair is a wild mess. In fact, Flytographer gives you a photo shoot concierge that helps you pick from a list of possible photo shoot locations, time of day when the lighting in that city may be best and matches you with the best photographer for your photo shoot personality. Mine even helped me to find a local salon in Lisbon to get a blow out!

 The other reason I have not had family photos taken for awhile is because I always wanted a backdrop that was unique and a little more special or fun, something that suited our family’s personality. Well what could be more fun and special then professional photos in a destination where our family is traveling!? Not only is the destination filled with endless backdrops, but it’s also a perfect memento from our trip. What’s a better keepsake, professional family photos or a fridge magnet? (Nothing against fridge magnets, but you could turn one of your photos into a fridge magnet – for all your relatives!!)

We met our photographer at the yellow iconic cable car stop on Rua da Bica to start our one hour shoot, from there we wandered the streets and took photos wherever we felt comfortable or saw something interesting. She also guided us to a special park and lookout area that is very popular in Lisbon, we grabbed some ice cream for the kids and continued to stroll laughing and warming up to the camera a little bit more. By the end of the photo shoot my kids started to really goof around and wanted to keep going! They were actually bummed that it was over and asked if we could do it again in Porto. Clearly my kids are not camera shy.

Not only did we get to take awesome family photos in a unique setting but we were able to see a bit more of the city and the kids really enjoyed it.
Taking family pictures turned out to be a fun family activity. Have you ever heard that before!?

Then about five days later, while we were still on vacation and in Porto, my photos were delivered right to my inbox.  We all snuggled up in the hotel room bed and clicked through them together! While we all have our favorites, I’m just happy I can download ALL of them and decide on which ones to have printed with no rush or pressure.

We were given over 45 photos! Here are some of my top favorites, which photo do you like the best!? (Tell me in the comments)

 

WIN a Flytographer Photo Shoot for Mother’s Day!

Me and a few other flymoms are hosting a giveaway and three lucky people will win a 30 minute photo shoot!! Dads you can enter too! 🙂 Please enter through the Rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you can’t wait or don’t win –  book a Flytographer with this link and use “flytographermom” to receive $25 off your session! 

 

 

Disclosure: I did receive a comped 30 minute session from Flytographer. However, I paid for an extra half hour, because I wanted to make sure we got enough shots and I also wanted some individual shots of my kids. Since my photo shoot, I was asked to be a Flytographer Mom for a Mother’s Day campaign and am being compensated. All my opinions are true and I would be a Flytographer Mom whether they asked me or not. This is a seriously cool experience that I LOVE and highly recommend!!

You MUST book a Flytographer for your next family vacation!
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!
Family April 5, 2017 posted by

Our weekend in Nice! (28 photos)

Barcelona to Nice!

Our weekend in Nice was not planned much in advance, but Harris’s cousin was going to be there for the weekend as part of her daughter’s French class trip to France, so we thought – hey why not!? This is why we love living in Barcelona, we can hop on a flight and be in another country by noon!  {the flight from Barcelona to Nice only took 50 minutes!} We took the kids out of school on Friday and we each packed a carry on and away we went!

Our weekend in Nice!

When we arrived we picked up our rental car and immediately drove to the city center of Nice to meet Hara at her hotel. Parking is a bit if a pain in Nice, good luck finding street parking, but there are plenty of under ground parking structures. We rented a car because we knew we wanted to drive out to Monaco and possibly explore a few of the smaller towns around Nice and we were not actually staying in Nice. We were staying in a town 15 miles outside of Nice called Vence. Why? Well, this was also a last minute trip, so I was having a hard time finding something that I liked and in budget, so we found Hotel Cantemerle which looked lovely and had an indoor and outdoor pool that we thought the kids might like. We were dragging them on another adventure, so we thought it might be nice for them to have a pool to jump in (more on this later).

*However, sitting in traffic trying to get out of Nice on a Friday night at 5:30pm to get to our hotel was a bit annoying and made me start regretting our decision to stay just outside of Nice.

Once we met up with Hara we started to explore Nice and look for a place for lunch and after wandering for a bit we found a great Italian restaurant, La Favola. I didn’t mean to go with Italian, but it looked good and was pretty busy, which is usually a good thing. The pizzas were huge and excellent. I had the homemade lasagna that literally came out in the pan that they cooked it in. Oh and we had a celebrity sighting! We’re 95% sure Helen Mirren was dining at the restaurant.


Friday was an absolutely gorgeous day so we walked along the promenade and made our way up to the #ilovenice sign to get a photo and from there we made the climb up to Castle Hill (Nice’s #1 attraction, but not in a bad way).

This was just what we needed after having all that Italian food! Walking up the stairs to the top of Castle Hill you will be able to get great views of the coastline and once at the top there is a fantastic park for the kids to run around and play.  On the other side of the park you’ll be able to see another side of Nice, the marina where all the boats, yachts are parked and where the cruise ships dock. We continued wandering around a bit and found some of the ruins of the Nice Castle that was once there. There are a few different routes to take to get down, but we decided to follow the closest path down and head in the general direction of the beach, because now we were on a mission for ice cream.

*This meant we missed seeing the cemetery, which looked really cool so if you have time try to check that out!



*I should mention that I did NO research whatsoever for this trip. Not one single google search, Pinterest or Instagram hashtag search. We were totally winging it and that felt good. There was no pressure to see or accomplish anything.

Photo credit to McKenna Fellman

We grabbed ice cream at Fenocchio (there are two locations) the one we went to had no line and then we walked to the square with the Cathedral of Sainte Réparate and the line was down the street!  We then wandered through the narrow streets and back passed the water fountains, known as Promenade du Paillon. If you are in Nice, this is very hard to miss and you shouldn’t! It is a beautiful promenade with synchronized fountains and if you continue past the fountains you will find a large grass area for lounging, some people were even having picnics. Keep going, because then you will arrive at a wonderful park with the most gorgeous wooden play structures for kids!  



This was the second time we passed the fountains and of course Hudson could not resist the second time, he wanted to run in! I said yes, but made him take off his socks and shoes. He ran through and got soaking wet. Ahhhh, the simple pleasures of being a kid. We made our way back to the hotel to drop Hara off, stopping in some shops along the way, then we grabbed our rental car and headed out to Vence to check into our hotel. We thought we would come back for dinner, but because of the traffic and it being a little further than we thought, we just stayed at our hotel to take advantage of the spa and have dinner there.


Hotel Cantemerle

We stayed at Hotel Cantemerle, a hotel that used to be an old farm house and was converted into a hotel that offers spa amenities and a award winning restaurant that has been recognized by the Michelin dining guide. As I said, this hotel is only 13 miles outside of Nice and about a 20 minute drive (without traffic) it’s also only about 15 minutes from the Nice airport. The hotel is situated on a hillside with nice views of the countryside. Our room was one of the loft style rooms so the king bed was upstairs open loft style, while there was a sitting area downstairs where they put an extra bed. The other bed was creatively put under the staircase, Hudson loved this! (He said “It’s like Harry Potter!”)

We had our own private patio that looked out to the pool and mountain views. The spa had a nice grass area with lounge chairs, a small indoor pool, sauna, shower and gym. The pool was actually not warm enough for me, so I was not able to enjoy going into the pool (I have a very high heat tolerance and I cannot stand being in even luke warm water). So I ended up going back to the room to take a scolding hot bath. Harris and the kids enjoyed the pool time though. The outdoor pool was not heated and it was not warm enough outside for the kids to go in. We were staying at this hotel pretty early in the season. The bath towels were the softest towels I’ve ever used, they were almost sponge like – they were amazing!!

We ate at the restaurant only the first night and dinner was good. It was a little hard to order for my daughter because she is vegetarian and doesn’t like any fish. We ended up ordering  her the vegetarian risotto dish (she’s never had risotto) and she liked it okay. My scallops were delicious and my son had a unique curry chicken dish that had candied cereal on top!  The restaurant was expensive, which we expected but what was shocking to even Harris were the $7 cokes!

The service at the hotel and restaurant was fantastic. I enjoyed having my morning coffee delivered and on our patio each morning (while I was still in my pajamas) looking out at the beautiful view. Which was a nice benefit of staying out at this little countryside hotel out of the busy city of Nice. However, I could have probably been just as happy at a french cafe with a cappuccino and croissant too. I liked this hotel and it’s a great option if you are visiting Nice, have a car and exploring the area for a few days. However, next time I might stay in Nice to see what that experience is like. 

Travel Tip: Vence is very close to the medieval town called Saint Paul de Vence – which you should totally check out! The French class group went and Hara said that this small village was VERY cool. Unfortunately, we did not make it here, because we explored some other villages in a different direction (more on this in another post!)  – and because of the rain we did not circle back to check it out 🙁 Next time. Saint Paul de Vence

A Great Day in Monaco

“Let’s go to Monaco and buy a $20 coke!” (said my husband after the $7 coke at our hotel)

I have always wanted to go to Monaco, it just seems like such a fairytale! It’s just one of those places that you see in the movies and wonder if it’s truly that special. Well, after seeing it at first sight and walking around for a bit, I can say –  that it really is THAT special. Everything was so pristine!!

Getting to Monaco took a bit longer than we expected – I think we may have missed a turn off so we ended up driving up a ways before we could turn around, then getting into Monaco was very windy, but as you can imagine the views as we started to see the gorgeous coastline and Monte Carlo! Once we were on the city streets things got very tight and a bit confusing as we were trying to get to the Palace of Monaco, we were confused on where to park. We saw people walking up a steep street along side what appeared to be the palace walls, but wasn’t sure if there was parking up at the top or if everyone had to walk up. We decided to drive up the steep hill, and luckily there was a entire parking structure for the Palace of Monaco, Saint Nicholas Cathedral and the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco. (So feel free to drive up and park!)

Prince’s Palace of Monaco

Once you park you will easily navigate your way up to the Palace of Monaco walking right past Saint Nicholas Cathedral, the church where Grace Kelly was married to Prince Rainier III in 1956 (it was the first royal wedding to be broadcast live on TV!) It’s a beautiful church indeed, and has been so well kept that it almost looked new. I thought this side angle was more dramatic then the front. The entire Palace of Monaco grounds and small village streets perched high up on this hill all looked a little like a movie set.

*I was taken by this staircase that was on the street next to the church and loved how the white washed tile of the church looks in the background of this old staircase.

We continued through the narrow streets and within two minutes we found ourselves staring at the Palace of Monaco. We did not go in, but tours are available and you can get a combined ticket to see the Palace and the Oceanographic Museum as well. We ended up hanging out outside, taking in the views, wandering through the city streets and checking out the Palace gardens which overlook the ocean and Monte Carlo. To be honest, the palace itself wasn’t that exciting – it was very clean and crisp looking but I enjoyed all the other things around it more!

We then wandered down to the neighborhood just below the Palace and next to the port, this neighborhood is known as La Condamine. This area has gorgeous buildings down every street and has many restaurants and shopping. We ate at Royal Thai and it was very good and didn’t cost a huge fortune (5 people, with four glasses of wine and three desserts was $140 Euros.)

After lunch we started to walk to the fancy Monte Carlo Casino (because since we were here, we had to see it!) This is about a 15 minute walk but it started to rain, so we flagged down a cab and he took us literally about 5 blocks and it was $15! That’s Monaco. The casino lobby was pretty but – meh. It costs 10 Euros to go into the actual casino, and Hara and I weren’t feeling it so we looked around the lobby and then went to go find Harris and the kids. Kids are not allowed to even set foot in the lobby, you must be 18 years or older.

Casino Café Paris – Everyone was sitting outside on the patio of Casino Café Paris which is on the square right next to the Casino Monte Carlo, this is the prime spot to sit back and admire the Casino Monte Carlo, all the expensive cars and the crowds of people coming and going. So try to get a table on the patio to have your coffee and ice cream. They serve huge ice cream sundaes in giant martini glasses – but it’ll cost you about 35 Euros! Or just get an ice cream cone from popular English ice cream maker, Morelli’s that has a small stand right next to the patio and you can just stand to admire the view;)

Travel Tip: What we did not see, which would have been more interesting then the Casino was the Exotic Gardens. I saw Hara’s pictures and was a little bummed we missed this. But the rain also shortened our day a bit.

Monaco was stunning and almost like being in a European version of Pleasantville, everything was so clean! Our day was cloudy and interrupted by rain, so I can only imagine that on a clear sunny day this place must literally SPARKLE!  Being in Monaco for only about six hours I got enough of a taste that I truly want to go back to see and explore more!

Once back in Nice we met up with Hara’s daughters for a coffee and wandered the streets a bit more.  Then we headed back over to old town in search of a restaurant that was highly recommended, but first we stopped at the promenade again, because Hudson wanted to play at the park (as he should).

We got to Les Garçons (the boys) but unfortunately they were booked, it was a Saturday night after all, Bummer because this place looked great! I asked the guy what was the second best restaurant near by and he pointed us to a place past the church so we headed that way, however – we didn’t remember the name, but we stumbled upon a little alley with a few restaurants and chose La Maquis and it was fantastic! They actually had a dinner menu of the day with about four different options of starters, main course and a dessert all for 29 Euros!  We all ordered a little something different and everyones food was excellent and the desserts were insane!!


I have never had a raspberry tiramisu! Have you?

Okay so to wrap it up, because this post has become a mini novel. Let’s just say I LOVED Nice and Monaco! I need to go back. I will go back. What also made this weekend special was reconnecting with Hara and meeting her adorable daughters, it was fun having other people in the mix!

Our weekend in Nice! (28 photos)
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 March 7, 2017 posted by

Twist Travel Magazine!

While I have been kicking back and “taking it easy” this last year…I found myself working on a few projects here and there, (I couldn’t help myself) I had to keep the creative juices flowing! Then something that has been in the back of my mind for a while resurfaced and I thought, well why the heck not – let’s see what happens!

As a mom who lives abroad, I eat, sleep and breathe travel, but I have been very hesitant to turn it into a job. I want to protect my travels, I am selfish with them. I do not want to ruin them by the added pressure of making money from them. It is why I have not turned Wanderlust Living into a content creating machine. However, travel is a part of me and I want to create another business that I love and am passionate about.

Twist Travel Magazine

So today I am launching a brand new digital magazine called Twist. This is a co-partnership with my very good friend Keryn Means from Walking On Travels. Twist is a collaborative family travel magazine that we curated with a team of family travel writers and lifestyle bloggers.

So here is the first pilot issue of Twist travel magazine.
I’m not going to even tell you what is in this beauty – you’ll have to click through and see for yourself!

Twist Tip: Click on the box in the lower right corner to go FULL screen – it’s better that way!

 


 

We will be publishing Twist quarterly. We are building out a website now and we have some pretty bad ass plans! Is it perfect right now? No. Is everything ready? No. But sometimes you have to JUST START. I hope you will follow along on this new creative endeavor.

And on that note –  I actually hope to write more about the in’s and out’s of building an online business from the ground up here on Wanderlust Living, because that is the one thing that always boggles people’s minds!! And if you’re gonna move about the world, you might want to know how to make money from anywhere, am I right!?

Follow Twist Travel Mag on Instagram

Twist Travel Magazine!