On the Road

Okay you guys. You will think I’m ridiculous, but here’s the deal. Ben Blair and I arrived home from Florence on Saturday night. And the kids happen to have a 2-week break from school starting today. So. We loaded up the van and we’re driving to Barcelona!!

We’re making a couple of stops on the drive south to break up the trip, but we should arrive in Spain tomorrow. I’m so excited! I’ve never been to Barcelona but we’ve heard over and over again that it’s an amazing city for families to visit.

Something interesting about this trip: we stayed at a small hotel last night, we’re staying at a youth hostel tonight, and we’re trying out Airbnb in Barcelona (it’s this apartment — looks good, right?). Should be fun to compare and contrast. : )

How do you travel? Hotels? RVs? House Rentals? There are so many options!

55 thoughts on “On the Road”

  1. Looks like a lovely apartment! Love those windows with the pretty blue and yellow panes. Enjoy the road trip and the time in Barcelona – beautiful city!

  2. It is a great city for families; you’ll have a fantastic time! When my family lived overseas and my Dad’s staff would set up our itineraries as we traveled throughout the countries in Europe, my mom always insisted on quaint European hotels as opposed to American Intl. ones, which was so much nicer – much better experiences for all. When I travel abroad with kids now, I always look into an apt. Even when my son was only six months old, and we had our daughter AND a friend, both in grade school, who were making up school work while we visited Paris and needed a work space – PLUS we had friends over there and would be entertaining, we were so happy with the little perfect apt. that we got in Montmartre – view of the Eiffel Tower…. great neighborhood – and… the woman we rented from had a baby our son’s age so we got a bouncy seat, a high chair, etc. Apts are easy to find. Yours in Spain looks really nice!

  3. This is exactly why I miss Europe…you can just pack up the car and a few hours later….voila!
    We always try to rent an apartment or studio to stay in, I find it much more convenient, especially with kids ( ok, I only have one, but still…). we’ve had really good experiences with vrbo, but I am adding this site to my list!
    Have a blast!
    I can not wait to hear more about Florence as well!


    I have been to Barcelona once in my 20’s…I would love to return with the kids in tow (I’m 38 weeks pregnant, eldest is 2.5 years, so we are grounded here for a little while!)

  5. We just got back from Spain! We went to Barcelona and then Madrid. It really is very family friendly. I love how people take their kids everywhere and keep them up until all hours of the night. It is much more convenient when you have a lot to see. You HAVE to go to Sagrada Familia. It is the most amazing, beautiful thing. It was my favorite part, for sure.

  6. What a great city to visit during this time. The kids will love Parc Guell( the view of the city is breathtaking) and my favorite neighborhood was La Sagrada Familia, where the Gothic Church is. When you visit La Rambla make sure you go to La Boqueria San Jose, is an awesome market right in the middle of the pedestrian boulevard. Another magical place to visit is Montjuic Mountain. Have fun!

  7. Barcelona is a fun city and a lot of crazy places that I am sure you kids will love. Gaudi did some amazing things! My parents are mission presidents in the Malaga mission which is the south of Spain right now which also has a lot of fun unique places to see. You may not make it down there on this trip but I am sure you will really enjoy Spain. If you decide to head north to Bilbao the big puppy at the Guggenheim is a bit hit!

    1. Hillary,
      My family and I live in the south of Spain and I have met your parents, though I am sure they wouldn’t remember. They came to our little branch once and then I heard them speak at Stake Conference last week. I always love it when your mom speaks Spanish. She speaks really clearly and slow enough so I can understand. =) Small World!

  8. Oh you’re going to have such fun! I have a cousin who did something similar to you & your family; they picked up and moved to Barcelona from Seattle and they love it. Their children are learning Spanish AND Catalan! Don’t miss all the Gaudi architecture…specifically the Temple of the Segrada Familia. Enjoy!

  9. I am excited to here how you like the hostels. So far over here we have used booking.com and vrbo.com but I prefer to rent apartments. With kids you save so much money, by making your own food, and having a washing machine. Have a great trip.

  10. Wow! Barcelona!! Was there last May, had an amazing time with hubs and 8yr old daughter. I see you are travelling by car, but let me tell you Barcelona was the only city where we thought you’d get your money’s worth with the Bus Turistic, it was a fantastic way to see the whole city.

    Do not ever ever miss the following: Sagrada of course, La Boqueria market, Mujuic castle (kids will love the cable car and the castle itself, and the views!), Parc Guell,eating in one of the restaurants by the beach, and my favorite part is just walking and getting lost in Barri Gothic. Barri Gothic is LOVE! :) Enjoy!

  11. I have only been to Europe once and it was a quick business trip to Barcelona. I didn’t get a lot of time to see the city because I had to work too, but I did make it to La Sagrada Familia and it was amazing. I also went to the Olympic Park right on the Mediterranean and that was nice too. I’d love to go back to Barcelona and spend some time. I am sure your family will have a wonderful time. I would love to give my children the experiences you are giving yours. You are all very lucky. I admire you and Ben Blair for making these possibilities realities for your family.

  12. A fun thing to do with the kids is the Tibado Amusement Park. The park is situated on top of one of the mountains and the view is spectacular! The ride up in the funicular is alot of fun! There are a lot of cool things to do with the kids besides the rides like the marionette show! One of our nicest days in Barcelona were spent there!

  13. Awesome. You do lead a charmed life, don’t you? Barcelona is one of my favorite cities – my sister lives there, and I think it might be time for me to visit again! Have a fabulous time!

  14. WOW!, never before heard Barcelona was a family place to visit, always heard Barcelona is a good place to go out at night, and drink and dance. And i think with kids don’t go to Barcelona. Another place to visit in Spain is Almunecar, hope you can visit.

  15. How exciting!! Can’t wait to hear about your Barcelona adventures with the family. I head out to London on the 4th and then onto Barcelona on the 12th.

  16. I don’t think you are ridiculous! Living in Europe means you MUST take advantage of how easy it is to travel from one country to another.

    It’s a wonderful experience for the whole family. Enjoy!

  17. I love airbnb!! The apartment you’re renting looks so pretty!! We had great luck with apartments we found on there. Especially with kids, it’s nice to have space and not have to eat out for every meal :). Have so much fun and can’t wait to read all about Barcelona!!

  18. Maybe you’ve talked about this before, but I’m wondering: Do you have an 8-passenger minivan, or do you have to use a full-sized van? Did you buy your van there or have it shipped over?

    (I am trying to look ahead to if we were to have 6 kids instead of 5, and it looks like we’d have to get a Toyota Sienna. But if we had 7 kids (which is extremely unlikely) we’d have to go for a full-size van.)

  19. http://www.kidsinbarcelona.com/en/whats-on

    on top of all the good city sights to see, those are listings of children specific activities, the caixa fourm at the bottom of montjuic almost always has a great art room open with activities that tie in to whatever the (free) exhibit is.
    Very close to where your apartment is the kids could take a pasta making workshop at http://www.tallerdepasta.com.,my kids learned to make raviolis in the summer and loved it surprisingly my 13yr old son as much as his much younger sister. Just remember Spaniards eat late so going out for dinner before 8,30 can be tricky Enjoy it, I have lived here with my kids for 8 years and love it.

  20. This is such a beautiful place! Have a wonderful time. You’ve definitely inspired me to officially make it a goal of mine to take my little family to Europe someday – not just for a visit but for an entire year. It was always swimming around in the back of my mind, but now it’s a concrete goal. What a fabulous idea!

  21. I lived in Barcelona for almost 8 years and go back all the time. But I’m still jealous you’re getting to be there right now! The lovely mild Mediterranean weather is perfect at this time of year, the chestnut-roasting street vendors may even have set up their autumn-winter street corner posts already (oh that delicious smell!) and the bakeries will be full of “panallets” for All Saint’s Day (drool!).
    I think you’re going to love the “Sagrada Familia” basilica and I’d say the kids would have fun at the “CosmoCaixa” science museum (or the Chocolate Museum, of course!).
    Just strolling the streets of Barcelona will be a delight! Enjoy! And say hello to the Parc de la Ciutadella for me (it was like my back garden when I lived there…. sigh).
    Love from Dublin, Ireland,

    P.S. As a stop-off point on your way from Normandie to/from Barcelona, I would whole-heartedly recommend the Basque Country! I’m a little biased since my husband is from Bilbao, but I’ve lived there too and can enthusiastically vouch for just how magical it is!. You really don’t want to miss your chance to eat “pintxos” in San Sebastián!

  22. you lucky ducks!! my husband and i just got back from a trip to spain and the provence region of france and we loved barcelona!!walking around the streets, especially in the el born + la ribera areas and visiting the markets (la boqueria + mercat santa caterina) was my favorite thing to do. i think the whole family will like the design store vincon located at Passeig de Gràcia, 96. and i would highly recommend the restaurant tapas 24 (http://www.tapas24.net/). have an awesome time!!

  23. Enjoy Barcelona! It’s one of my most favorite cities in the world, (even tho. I’ve only been once and that was a looooong time ago.) We used airbnb when we went to Florence, it was wonderful! Your apartment looks lovely!

  24. Oh fun!
    Before kids we did hostels, tiny hotels in Europe, slept in the car a few times, and lots of small, charming hotels.
    Now, 4 kids later, we don’t travel nearly as much.
    But we have done camping trips, lots of weeekends with the grandparents, and a yearly stay at a 100 year old, 600 square foot, 1 bedroom cabin. And we just took our kids to a hotel for the first time this weekend.
    6 people in 1 room with 2 queen beds.
    2 people per bed, 1 kid on the floor and baby in the porta crib.
    It worked and they LOVED it!
    Anything can be a fun adventure if you have a great attitude, right?
    Your adventure looks wonderful. Enjoy your time!
    Love from,

  25. I agree – not crazy but taking every opportunity to see and do what you can. It’s been 10 years since I was, I loved, possibly my favourite city. Things may have changed in 10 years, but I was mugged on Las Ramblas so take care and be vigilant. So looking forward to these photos!

  26. We LOVE Airbnb! My hubby, baby girl, and I live in Sicily (Italy), so I know we’re going to be using Airbnb a lot. In fact, we just used it to rent a gorgeous little studio in the heart of Venice. I’ve blogged about it–and shared many photos of and from that studio–on my blog here:


  27. As many have already said, La Sagrada Familia is a must see. (It is truly breathtaking. I am not one to be moved to tears, but I cried when I went in.) MAKE SURE that you buy tickets online or one of their partnering banks before you go. The line to get tickets there is crazy long. It saved my husband and me hours of waiting in line.

  28. Don’t know if you remember me but you were sweet enough to let me get copies of your poppy field photos and they are now beautifying my front entrance in our flat in Barcelona. If you need any tips, we’ve been living here for about four years now and have had two of our children here and any day now are about to have our third. Great city for kids and yes, it is perfectly acceptable to keep them out at all hours of the night. The only warning I have is that there are pickpockets and purse snatchers everywhere, especially in the old city. And they’re especially attracted to rental cars– don’t open or unlock your doors for anyone. And I agree with other comments about the hop on and off tourist bus that goes around. A lot of the sites the kids will enjoy are a bit spread out and so you’ll save a lot of headache getting places. Lines at Sagrada Familia can be long but move fast and aren’t so bad now that tourist season is winding down and it definitely shouldn’t be missed. Parc Guell is another beautiful sight but without the tourist bus it takes a while to get to and requires a lot of hiking uphill. The Gracia neighborhood is a kind of mini village within the city and is a real centre of Catalan culture– wander around and enjoy fantastic boutiques and restaurants. If you’ve got the time the monastery at Montserrat is incredible and the gondola ride up there is pretty thrilling. It’s about an hour to get to by public transport from the city centre but worth it if you have time and I think taking a car cuts the time down even more. I hope you guys have a great time. We live in the old city neighborhood so I’ll have to keep an eye out as I run errands tomorrow. Would love to thank you in person for the photos.

  29. These European trips bring back sooo many memories! We stayed in a hostel in Barcelona at it was immaculate…….Barcelona was really beautiful in it’s own way. The Gaudy stuff…………………….wow! I think you will really like the Gaudy. Don’t miss the delicious Paella in Spain!!!!

  30. We travel often and stay at everything from 4 star hotels, to bed and breakfasts to hostels. We stayed in two places listed on Air BnB in March when we went to Italy and it was fantastic! Loved meeting the families and staying in real homes. Hope your experience is as good as ours was.

  31. My parents are the mission presidents in Barcelona right now. It’s the most amazing city, you are going to love it! It’s such an artistic, hip, fun city. Go to Tomas for patatas bravas & to see the grumpy waiter. Also Vincon is a really cool shop downtown. I hope you enjoy one of my favorite cities!

  32. Nothing ridiculous about it. I love that you’re taking advantage of the breaks to take trips. I’ve never been to Spain, so I look forward to seeing what you have to say about it!

  33. Thank you so much for posting the Airbnb site. I’ve been looking for somewhere to stay in Paris and couldn’t find anything that I liked but I’ve found the perfect place on there! Thanks so much Gabrielle. Have a wonderful time. Your children are so lucky :) x

  34. Camped in a large french tent on the beach in Barcelona during my youth (with my family) – a place called The Merry Whale. Now I have an RV for stateside travel, but stay at small hotels or rent studios/apts in Europe and UK. Have a wonderful time in Barcelona.

  35. We’re mostly family travelers – it means free places to stay in Germany and Spain, and domestically, in Florida and Washington State, not to mention New York and Vermont. It does sort of limit where we stay, but with a toddler, I feel like I want to stay places where they will understand our need for kid-proofing. When our child (and then children) are older, we’ll expand our destination repertoire!

  36. Maria Ortiz-Cintron

    How Awesome! What an adventure! The whole thing sounds just wonderful. Have a great time and post lots pics! :)

  37. Sorry, just had to add a few more ideas about this city we love. Definitely, the patatas bravas at Bar Tomas ( http://www.google.com/search?gcx=c&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=Bar+Tomas ) are the definitive tapas in BCN. We also always recommend a trip to the Picasso museum– it’s not the biggest collection and doesn’t house the most famous works but it does give a great understanding of his evolution and history and it can be done in an hour or two. It’s right down the street from Santa Maria del Mar, a beautiful example of the Catalan gothic style, but the best part is stopping at the gelateria that’s between the two for one of the best waffles you’ll ever have. The gelato isn’t bad either but if you’re really into gelato and want to get experimental, Belgious ( http://www.belgious.com ) has around fifty flavors including things like Lavender or Curry or a really delicious Chocolate with Goat Cheese. Ok, I’ll stop and just wish you luck and safe and happy travels. Can’t wait for a report.

  38. Oh, I am genuinely swooning. I lived in a small village about 40 minutes outside of Barcelona called Caldes de Montbui. I just have to say again how amazing I think what you are doing is for your entire family. I cannot wait to see the photos you take of your family en La Rambla.

  39. How awesome that you guys are getting to travel so much! I hope we can do so soon. Anyway, I prefer condos/house rentals with the kids (so we can cook) and hotels without.

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