Last year I took the kids to Portland during harvest. This year, with Max a year older, we ventured a little further… Norwegian airlines started flying direct, quite reasonably priced hops from Oakland to Barcelona and I’ve always wanted to go to Spain. So last Friday I grabbed the kids from school on Friday and we headed to Oakland for an overnight flight to Barcelona. The kids were pretty zonked after the school week and even with the excitement of a plane trip slept exceptionally well on the way over.

In additional to regular hotels in Spain, I found that there are quite a few apartment-style hotels in Barcelona, which suited us perfectly. Our little spot in the Sants district had a couple of bedrooms and a lounge, was quite reasonably priced and is directly across the street from the main Barcelona Sants train station. We made pretty quick work of immigration and getting out of the airport, dropped our bags at our apartment and went for a stroll to Pla├ža d’Osca and its selection of tapas bars. Sants is quite off the main tourist track in Barcelona, so was quite cool to see all the locals out enjoying the Friday afternoon. Very laid back lifestyle in Spain, was refreshing to see hardly anyone gazing down at their smartphones, let alone walking into you because they’re looking down at their screen (a regular occurrence in San Francisco). I had a few beers and we selected a few tapas as the sun set, the kids quite happy to run around the plaza and kick a soccer ball with some of the local kids.

We took an early train to the Basque country after our night in Sants, an awesome week of food, sun, beaches and culture up there in northern Spain. Upon returning to Barcelona we moved base to another apartment hotel in the heart of the Gothic Quarter, quite a strikingly different feel to laid back Sants in central Barcelona. Endless traffic, a heavy tourism influence and throngs of people everywhere… We headed to the beach for a swim in the Mediterranean, I’d hate to see the city beaches in the peak of summer: even on a Thursday afternoon in late September the sand was absolutely packed. Kids had a ball paddling in the surf and catching a wave here and there, an ideal spot for people watching with everything from Africans hawking fabrics, to scantily clad locals, and even Middle Easterners peddling cocktails and bar snacks. Both kids were mesmerized by a group of three Russian bodybuilders on the beach near where we’d set up camp for the afternoon, Lilia eventually mustered the courage to ask one of them to flex next to her, he was quite happy to oblige. Classic.

We had a morning to kill before our afternoon flight back to the States, so took a stroll down the famous La Rambla followed by a short metro ride to take in Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia. The church was certainly awe inspiring, even the kids – who (unsurprisingly) aren’t usually too enamored with architecture – stood there for a few minutes taking in the massive size of the structure and the amount of intricate detail in its design.

Getting out of Barcelona was an ordeal: the only place in the world I’ve ever seen worse traffic is Jakarta. But we eventually made it with plenty of time to spare, the flight home was relatively smooth and there were plenty of hugs for Mum when we finally made it home late on Friday night. Really fun trip, will have to start thinking about next harvest now…


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  1. GPY says:

    A remarkable journey for all. Good job Ba Ba.

  2. Grandma says:

    Per usual I am in awe of your adventure and the interest of your traveling companions. Great narrative as well.

  3. Jenni says:

    What a fantastic trip and what a fantastic Papa!
    Lilia and Max, you are such well- behaved little travellers I’m sure there will be more adventures in the future.

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