Last weekend, Grant was set to be back in the United States for his Wharton reunion and a board meeting in Boston and when I checked the weather forecast, it was more rain for Zurich! A quick glance at Google Flights showed inexpensive flights to Barcelona where the weather would be perfect and sunny - two clicks and we were booked!
A quick Mother's Day Weekend in Barcelona with my little girls was exactly the way I had hoped to escape another rainy day in the apartment, so with a backpack and double stroller, we took the tram to Zurich airport, checked in with Vueling Airlines, and then explored the amazing kid-room filled with changing tables, bottle warmers and a million clean and well kept toys for the girls to play with and get their energy out before our 1 hour and 45 minute flight.
I had never taken Vueling Airlines before and it was okay. The seats were really really tiny - especially with an active 1.5 year old on lap, but the plane was clean and stewards very nice. While absolutely nothing is included - no luggage, entertainment or even a glass of water, the price was right and we took off after an hour delay on the runway. My big gripe with them though is they let us gate check our double stroller - but when we landed in Barcelona - we had to pick up with odd-sized luggage at Baggage Claim (which no one had advised us). Frustrating to haul through an airport with two little beans overly excited and exhausted from the early morning flight, it was less than ideal. Even the airport staff was perplexed as to why they wouldn't have a gate checked stroller waiting when we got off the plane.
That said, there are worse things - and I wasn't about to let it ruin our awesome girls getaway! Next up I had arranged airport pickup to take us to our hotel through Welcome Pickups. I had googled the best way to get from the airport to downtown with two toddlers without bringing our own carseats, and Welcome Pickups seemed like an awesome service, boasting carseats and english speaking drivers who would give you highlights of the city on the drive in - and the price again was right - just $80 round trip!
Well lesson learned, sometime you should pay more for a service. While the website looked professional, I can barely begin to explain how awful it was trying to meet up with our driver - who was an hour late AFTER he called me and I told him we had landed 40 minutes before and were just getting our stroller. His English skills were debatable, racking up $40 in phone bills trying to talk to him. But the kicker? Not only was he late - he arrived sans car seats. Thankfully the girls were passed out so they didn't know they were not properly strapped in, but oh my gosh I was livid yet out of options. I spoke with their customer service, who refunded $6 (ha!) and promised me carseats on the way back to the airport. No such luck, but this driver was nice, had a clean car and did show up on time, so whatever.
Determined to still have a great vacation with only 29 hours on the ground in Barcelona, we got to the hotel, quickly refreshed and headed out on foot to enjoy the beautiful day! We were staying near the Arc de Triumf which was absolutely beautiful, the landscaping surrounded was lush, the sun shining, and people everywhere enjoying the sunshine. We stopped for a quick al fresco lunch and then headed down to the aquarium.
The Barcelona Aquarium was a great place for the little ones to get some energy out and they sure did! We were tourists and bought the photo taken at the beginning of the tour of course and also couldn't resist helado (ice cream) in the cafe. The exhibits were nice, but the view the real gem overlooking all of the enormous yachts in town for the race. To be honest, the Monterey Bay Aquarium back home is about 100x nicer with more interactive exhibits, but for toddlers, it was a blast and they were free under age 3. We then walked along the coast all the way to the Olympic Village, stopping to play at half a dozen playgrounds peppered along the walk before we turned in for the night, this mom exhausted having walked around 11 miles pushing a double.
The next morning we were up very early and out to feed Grace's cravings for pancakes at a lovely little bakery. Then we ventured up the street to La Sagrada Famlia where the sun was coming up over the gorgeous church, highlighting each detail. There are two amazing playgrounds, one on either side of the church, and we explored both and made some new friends while I enjoyed the views. We wanted to attend a mass but there was a lot of police activity with huge guns, so we decided to move on and venture downtown as we had a 10:30am class scheduled at the Museum de Xocholate.
The "Chocolate Museum" was offering a class (in Catalan) for ages 0-3 to paint with chocolate. I signed us up, because why not? All morning the girls were a buzz with excitement - Grace excited to "Go to school with baby Emme and paint with Chocolate". Of course we had to sample some even before the painting began. While in theory it was a great idea, the girls were exhausted and while Emery painted, Grace had a bought of homesickness after we said we would paint California. She just wanted her dog, her room and her friend Kenna so she went and sat in a corner and sulked. ;) Oh well, I tried! After class, we toured the museum and headed back to the hotel to change as we had chocolate in ever crevice.
Once home, we regrouped then went out for a lovely tapas lunch while Grace slept in the stroller. We hit another playground and then decided to go to the Museum of Barcelona Culture. I think it was $4 for adults to enter, and you can go twice - but really we went only because it was close to the hotel and air-conditioned. The cafe was amazing, but the exhibits were definitely geared towards adults and security wasn't taken by my cute little toddlers running freely through the exhibits so it was a short visit.
We tucked into bed early, as the next morning, mother's day, we had a 7am flight which meant a 5am airport pick-up. I awoke Mother's Day in a twin bed with both my girls, sleepy but smiling, and wouldn't have traded it for the world. Overall, an excellent trip and I would highly recommend Barcelona to anyone traveling with Toddlers - it is stroller friendly and the park are everywhere and welcoming - not to mention prices unbelievably fair in comparison to Zurich ;)
Hope you all had a great Mother's Day! We are off to visit Bavarian Castles throughout Germany and Austria this weekend, glad to have Dad home and in for the adventure!
The Swiss Family Allen