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Barcelona, Spain

Updated: Apr 21

Day 3: Western Mediterranean Cruise with Barcelona

Royal Caribbean | Wonder of the Seas

Our morning began with a walking tour and most of us slept right up until we needed to leave. My son can be difficult with crowds and group expectations so our tour was a private tour with a company that tailors to children. Our guide messaged us last night and again this morning, and we met Sharon at La Rambla 34. It was a short 5-minute walk from the hotel.

Sharon started the tour by giving my son a scavenger hunt sheet and a marker. He was asked to find six landmarks. We was excited about it!

We walk down La Rambla and turn down an alleyway. We see a fountain and are surrounded by buildings in a small square called Plaça Reial. It’s a quaint little nook and we learn that the area used to belong to a convent. The government took it over, but you can still see religious figures around as a reminder of what the land used to be. Two large lamps and several smaller ones are in the square. The big ones are early works of Guadí. The fountain in this square is one of m son’s images for the scavenger hunt and he happily checks it off.

Plaça Reial in Barcelona
Plaça Reial in Barcelona

We return to La Rambla and my son is excited about something ahead. Our tour guide thinks that my son has spotted the next item of the scavenger hunt, but what excites him are two glass elevators that go down to the subway. He presses the button and watches with curiosity as the elevator moves up. The next landmark was on the ground between the two elevators. It’s a mosaic designed by Joan Miro, and doesn’t hold a candle to see-through elevator shafts according to my five-year old.

La Rambla in Barcelona
La Rambla in Barcelona

Next, we walked to La Boqueria which is a food market similar to the West Side Market in Cleveland. Many stalls have fresh fruit and smoothies which is what my son wanted. Our guide recommended the ham cone and bonus it was included in the tour. It was absolutely delicious and unlike any other I’ve had before. My son loved his dragonfruit smoothie as well!

La Boqueria in Barcelona
La Boqueria in Barcelona

We walked to an old church and the outside of it was pretty touristy. Street vendors lined the alley with trinkets on large blankets. “No gracias,” we said, as we walked by them. I then see a street vendor lift one of the storm grates and hide his plastic bag of goods in the ditch and then carefully return the grate to normal. I wonder how many bags of goods are hidden around the city.

Our guide commented on the amount of tourists and then said we’ll go somewhere most don’t know about. We snaked down some narrow alleys to a small church where Guadí was a regular. The outside of the church was damaged from the civil war. It was never repaired as a reminder of the deadly attack that left 40 schoolchildren dead.

Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona, Spain

We saw one more church before taking a break. If we didn’t have our guide with us, I would have thought the first church and third church were the same and would have been studying the map wondering how I walked in a circle! This one was just as magnificent as the first.

My son overall did amazing on this tour and Sharon did a really nice job keeping him engaged. He was getting restless so it was time for a break. We stopped in a cozy chocolate shop where we got a large plate of churros to share with a cup of rich melted chocolate. These churros were nothing like the ones I’ve had back home or in Mexico. They were amazing! Sharon took my son aside as we ate and taught him some Spanish. She held a sheet of paper with pictures and words. They worked together to match them. My son would point to one and she’d say the word. For example, my son points to the bicycle and she says “Bicicleta. Now say it with me.” Sharon starts to repeat the Spanish word while my son yells bicycle in English. He continues in this manner for pretty much all the words. I remember being this stubborn as well when learning a new language. Later he tells me he doesn’t want to speak Spanish.

Churros in Barcelona, Spain
Churros in Barcelona, Spain

We walked to another neighborhood and our guide pointed out this large building. She told us that it used to be a large market similar to the one on La Rambla. The market didn’t last and the government took over the building to re-purpose it. In 2002, they discovered that the market was built on Roman ruins. Today, you can see the ruins and the building is a museum.

Roman Ruins in Spain
Roman Ruins in Spain

Our final stop was to a park called Parque de la Ciutadella. Visiting the park was a good reminder about why hiring a guide is so important. Yesterday, I looked at the map and saw this park on the way to the water-front. We came here and our impression was, “hmm this is a nice little park with a cool gate,” and that was about it. We barely saw it and definitely didn’t see the best parts! Today, we walked to a playground in the park where my young son made friends with a boy from Finland. We talked to his mother who is from Germany originally and married to a Spaniard. We talked about childcare and women’s health and she was astonished about how horrible our system is in the US. “Barbaric” is the word she used and I have to agree compared to the systems in place in Finland. Anyway, after my son’s play date we continued through the park to a giant sculpture of a giant baby mammoth. Apparently, they roamed the area. This sculpture was my son’s favorite thing about the day. He loved being able to sit on the Mammoth’s trunk! Our tour ended at one of the most magnificent water fountains I’ve ever seen. My son wanted to climb to the top so we hiked the stairs. At the top, was a group of adults salsa dancing and my son was all about it! We then climbed down the other side and my son sprinted off and through a yoga class. The class was laying in corpse pose as he jumped and skipped his way through the still bodies.

Parque de la Ciutadella
Parque de la Ciutadella

After the tour ended we walked down the alleyways back to the gothic quarters. It was hot. We walked by shops and the air con for each one gently grabbed our ankles inviting us inside. As we neared our destination, it started to feel like the AC had tentacles that wrapped itself around us anytime we stepped right in front of a door. Food was supreme to feeling cool and we finally made it back to the market for lunch. This time around it was packed. We grabbed some fruit, smoothies, and more ham. It was all amazing.

We headed back to the hotel to rest. Brian and our older son needed to take their Covid-19 tests which is required to board the ship tomorrow. My younger son and I had Covid-19 89 days ago and a letter of recovery within 90 days of being sick waives the test for us. That turned out really nice because my younger son would have had to get a pcr test here in Spain. (PCR tests are required for unvaccinated children at this time.) We brought virtual proctored Covid-19 tests with us that was pretty easy.

It’s beach time! We walked to Playa de la Barceloneta which is a local beach. The beach was absolutely packed but my son found a nice spot to build sandcastles. The beach is my son’s happy place! The water was transparent, but I wasn’t a fan of the rocky and rough sand. I’m a beach snob. Getting my son to leave was a bit trickier and at this point he is Hangry. We went into a small supermarket to load him up with snacks and milk.

Beach in Barcelona
Barcelona, Spain

We brought our stroller on this trip and it’s been imperative for an enjoyable vacation. My son doesn’t like to walk far. Give the kid snacks and some guidelines and he can walk a lot further than I thought possible. We didn’t have towels at the beach, but the hot sun made air-drying easy. My son was soaked from the sea and we told him he needed to dry off before sitting in the stroller. If he sat in it wet, it would get his dry clothes wet later, we told him. My son thought about it and agreed. It’s over a mile walk to the beach and my son would have made it all the way back if we let him. (Later in the walk it became congested with cars, motorcycles, bicycles, scooters, and pedestrians so we decided it was safer for him in the stroller. He often does things unexpectedly which is a bad combination for the setting.) Soon enough we were back “home.”

We cleaned up for dinner and went out with the expectation of dinner and a show. Dinner was the first restaurant which looked decent and for us that was El Tres Tombs. It was packed outside with some inside tables open. A good sign! We all ordered burgers which agreeably isn’t very authentic to the area, but they were delicious and the best burger I’ve ever had in Europe. Mine was topped with goat cheese and caramelized onions. It was a hefty slab of cheese and it made the burger so tall that I ate it with a knife and fork. Our waiter seemed unusually intrigued that we were from the US. We paid our bill and as we were getting up to go, he insisted on bringing us shots to help with digestion. I had never heard of the liquor but it’s a staple in the north of Spain according to the waiter. All three of us had finished these gigantic burgers so it was really thoughtful for him to be concerned about digesting them. We downed our shots which actually tasted pretty decent. Here I am several hours later without heartburn so I’d have to say this little remedy definitely worked for me. Normally a burger that big is pretty much immediate acid reflux.

Food in Barcelona
Barcelona, Spain

My son was unwinding quickly and our leisurely dinner meant that we didn’t make it to the show. We were going to go to Parc Montjuic for their nightly fountain show.

Two days in Barcelona has been a nice sampling of the city, but definitely not enough time! There are so many things we didn’t see and do. My son wants to live here so I’m guessing we’ll be back.

Tomorrow we’ll board Wonder of the Seas, but we’re not done with Spain yet. We’ll be off to Palma de Mallorca soon!

About the Author

Amaris is the owner of the Ohio-based travel agency, Adventures by Amaris. Her love for travel began at a young age when she traveled to her parents' home countries of England and Mexico. She continued traveling in High School by participating in a People to People program to Italy, France and Monaco. In college, she spent six weeks in Europe studying abroad and traveling. She visited Spain, Portugal, England, Wales, Ireland, Vatican City, and Italy in a whirlwind summer. Through her adult life she continues to make traveling a priority with her family. Her young son is autistic so navigating the world of traveling with an autistic child brings on new adventures. Her travel resume includes Mexico, Turks & Caicos, Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Panama, Costa Rica, Haiti, Jamaica, Colombia, and Cayman Islands. She is an expert in planning family vacations across the world from Disney World to Europe to worldwide cruises.

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