1786 was the first year of Barcelona Christmas Market. It was held in front of Barcelona’s Cathedral on Avenida de la Catedral, in the Gothic quarter. Till our days it is celebrated here and is called The Fira de Santa Llúcia. Even if, Barcelona is not on the top 10 Christmas Markets cities. We assure you that it has it’s charm and prettiness. Barcelona begins to prepare for the Christmas from the mid of November and till the end of November all the city is glittering with lights. Barcelona Christmas Markets give their charm and festive feeling to the city.

The main Christmas Markets in Barcelona are:
Feria de Santa Llúcia – opens its Market on 25th of November and lasts till 23rd of December.
Feria de Navidad de la Sagrada Familia – opens its Market on 25th of November and lasts till 23rd of December.
Fira de Reis de la Gran Vía – opens its Market on 21st of November and lasts till 6th of January.

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Feria de Santa Llúcia is the biggest one, and the most popular within tourists. Four weeks filled with enchanting encounters, colorful stands full of fantastic gift ideas. Joy and lights transform into a paradise the traditional “Pessebres”, Tió de Nadal and Caganer.

Pessebres” – the nativity scene, is the most traditional (dating back to the 4th century) Christmas decoration in Catalonia.
Tió de Nadal(“Christmas Log”) but its popular name is “Caga Tió” (“Shitting Log”). A hollow log with red blanket on it. And on Christmas Eve, children hit with a stick in order to make it “drop” them some gifts.
Caganer – is another traditional figurine that symbolizes fertility and prosperity in the following year. The man with his trousers round his ankles, is captured in the act of defecation. Caganer goes together with Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus in the nativity scene. Nowadays, it is popular that this figures to be celebrities and politicians.

The spiritual environment and traditions preserved with great care and sentiment, fascinates both the young and the old. The enormous choice within original, stylish and precious goods makes people to come and buy a lot of gifts for Christmas holidays.

How to get there: Metro Jaume I (Yellow Line, L4), Bus – Via Laietana / Jutjats: 45, 120, V15, V17

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Feria de la Sagrada Familia. Nestling the Market right in front of Sagrada Familia it is full of stands teem with gift ideas, nativity figurines, Christmas decorations and festive food. Every stand has their own special features, highlighting passionate and enthusiastic craftsmen of Catalonia. It is much smaller than Feria de Santa Llúcia. Has less variety of gifts, but this doesn’t make it less attractive.

Apart of Christmas gifts, you can find a great choice of candies, roasted chestnuts, roasted or baked sweet potatoes and preserved fruits (candied or glazed fruit) selling on the stands.

How to get there: Metro Sagrada Familia (Blue Line, L5) and ( Purple Line, L2), Bus Mallorca / Marina: 19, 33, 34, 50, 51, H10

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We enjoy having a natural Christmas tree every year in our house. But we don’t like this to be cut every year for few days of Christmas Holidays. That is why, we use to buy a tree with roots. In January we leave it on the street. There is a special company that collect all the Christmas trees and plant these in mountains. So maybe we will buy our tree next year.barcelona-christmas-market-5

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Apart of these Christmas Markets, in the city are other markets in every district. Much smaller and with less variety of products.

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Tenerife – 365 days Summer Island

Travel with a kid is always a challenge, because it involves more planning and equipment than you would think. With a toddler, who is almost 2’s old, it is even harder. But, after all those long days of decision making, we thought that it will be great to choose a destination, where we can go and relax, and enjoy our first real holiday. We went to Tenerife.

Tenerife is considered 365 days summer island as all year round has approximate 20-24 C degrees. Because, it is rounded by Ocean, the water is colder than expected but still acceptable. The island is a perfect destination to go with kids on holiday. We had stayed in an aparthotel, for different reasons:

  • Our plans were to discover the picturesque landscapes of the island, and not stay all day long in an all inclusive resort
  • Taste the best of the local cuisine
  • Discover the best beaches of the island

 

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Flights

To book a flight from Barcelona to Tenerife is very easy, as there are a lot of flights daily. The best way to find a good price for the flight is skyscanner.com. We always use this flight engine for searching the best prices on flights.

Hotel

The aparthotel where we stayed is in Costa Adeje. It was booked for a very good price, 145 for 5 nights. The apartment we stayed had mountain views, a living room and kitchen. The hotel itself has a pool and sea views from it. We enjoyed the pool just in one of the days that we stayed there.

Car

We rented a car directly in the airport. Because, we had a bad experience previously while booking a car on renting pages. The best value in terms of personnel service, car, and good price is Hertz, and it is our personal opinion. They know how to make their clients happy.

Things to see

Tenerife are sensations at every mile, and it is true. We got very impressed of all the places we have visited there.

  1. Our journey began at Puerto de Santiago – this place is related with “Acantilados de Los Gigantes” and “Playa de la Arena”. This place is well known for its grey-black beach. One of the natural beaches, which was made during centuries as a result of Teide lava. The beach is one of the cleanest on the island, and has been awarded the European Blue Flag for cleanliness. From this beach you can clearly see, the other main place to visit, “Los Gigantes”
  2. “Acantilados de Los Gigantes”(Cliffs of the Giants), natural vertical Cliffs that extends on western coast of Tenerife.
  3. Going further, we stopped to have our lunch in Masca. A very touristy village, where it is very difficult to park your car, but it worth to stop here. All restaurants that are here, have spectacular views over the cliffs and the ocean. The prices for lunch are quite higher that in the rest of the island, but even though you can eat cheap compares with other European destination.
  4. “Buenavista” was our next stop. Nestled in the north of the island, the area is characterized by emerald swathes of banana plantations, laurel trees and infinite ocean.
  5. Garachico – another town in the northern part of the island. As all the beach are from rocks, there are no beach worth mentioning as the coastline is volcanic debris, even though its charming views are a reason to visit it. The main beach, seems more like swimming pools, because of natural rock and paving that lies right in the water. We have seen a lot of kids swimming there, but I can firmly say that this place is for adventurous ones.
  6. Icod de los vinos/ Arbol del Dragon- this place is worth to visit mainly for the Ancient Dragon Tree (El Drago Milenario: the Thousand-Year-Old Dragon), it has almost 1300 years. Situated inside a park which of course is not free of charge :), but it worth to see it.
  7. Vilaflor/Mirador del Pino Gordo – this place is over 1400 m over the sea, where you can find the highest and largest trees in Spain. The largest tree has 8 m. The tree had a small hole in it’s trunk, enough to put in your hand in.  A local guide was telling to some Russian tourists that by throwing money there, your wishes come true ( a good alternative source of making money for the tourist 😛 )
  8. Parque Nacional del Teide is the biggest park of Canary Islands and it is on Mount Teide. Landscape that we found here, were like in films about other planets. We remained very impressed. We haven’t went to the top of the mountain as we were not prepared to climb it.  As well, here we found the rarest plant called “Tajinaste flower”, that grows up only in Tenerife, and it lasts only 30 days in the year. Honey made from this plant has medicinal properties.
  9. La Orotava – a town that holds breathtaking views over Santa Cruz de Tenerife and over the ocean.
  10. Santa Cruz de Tenerife – the capital of the island. A beautiful city, but it didn’t impress us as much as other places of the island.

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Things to do with kids.

  1. Enjoy the time at the beach, the most popular according to statistics are “Las Americas” and “Los Cristianos”. Even though in our heart remained “Playa de la Arena” with its grey-black sand. And another lovely beach “Las Teresitas beach” with its crystalline clear and calm water, yellow clean sand which is great for kids.
  2. Loro Parque and Siam Park – we didn’t go to these parks as we had full 5 days agenda, but we heard that it worth to dedicate a day to go there..
  3. Dolphin & whale watching. Perfect place to go with kids. We were too tired and slept all mornings, and here you need to go early in the morning to catch the best moments.
  4. Teide – show to your kid a real volcano
  5. Enjoy Spanish culture in all the villages of the island.

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Time past fast, and even if I prefer to write about beaches and places to go in summer, I would never say that winter time doesn’t have it’s own charm. It is the best season to go to mountains for sledding with kids. Top 10 Tips for sledding with kids, we propose in this article, are very good to know while going to mountains. Bigger your family are, better you have to be organized.

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Andorra dog sled

TOP 10 TIPS FOR SLEDDING WITH KIDS:

  1. CHECK THE WEATHER – it is important to check the weather in advance and make sure you dress properly.
  2. SAFETY FIRST – Choose the right hill. Think, not all hills are proper for our kids, a lot of them can be less safe than others.
  • Select a hill which doesn’t end on a street or parking.
  • Select a hill that is free of obstacles such as trees, fences, jumps, bumps
  • It is better to choose a hill snowy rather than icy.
  • Try to avoid too crowded hills.
  1. CHOOSE IMPERMEABLE MITTENS – while playing with snow it is easier to get the mittens wet. As a consequence, the hands are losing heat very fast. Impermeable mittens are the right solution.
  2. USE SUNSCREEN – it is easy to get sunburn in winter time, don’t forget to check your summer pack 😉
  3. USE SUNGLASSES – for kids is important, sunglasses with elasticated neoprene strap or similar for comfort.
  4. SUPERVISE YOUR KIDS – periodically check kids, how do they feel and ensure their hands and feet are toasty and dry.
  5. KEEP HYDRATED – Don’t forget to keep hydrated. When you are well dressed, your body gets faster dehydrated.
  6. FIRST-AID POST – get informed in advance where is the nearest first-aid post
  7. CAMERA – take your camera, the memories you will create there, you will enjoy your entire life
  8. ENJOY – Make sure you follow all the above steps and enjoy it as much as you can.

Our favorite places to go sledding with kids are La Molina and Andorra. We choose La Molina most of the times, because we get very fast there. It is almost 3 hours ride by car and there are a lot of free parking places to leave your car. And Andorra, because it is magic, and you feel like in a fairy-tale.

La Molina.

About the place

La Molina is one of the oldest ski resorts of Spain. It is located in Cerdanya region. It offers a wide range of activities for those who are professional skiers and for those who are less.

How to get there?

We always went by car and never took trains. You can find on renfe.com the prices to get there by train very fast and for a reasonable price. On La Molina web you can find different package offers forfeit + train together.

Sledding area.

The sled, where we usually go, is used by professional skiers. There is another hill to children use only, it has a lower elevation and do not always have snow. It is important to check the snow conditions before you go.

For adults use only, and for children from certain age, you can buy a forfeit. Forfeit is a daily pass to go to the highest hill and make use of ski or snowboard. We went with our preschooler and we haven’t made use of it. The prices for forfeit you can find here.

Renting area
You can bring your own sleds or rent sleds right there. You can choose sleds for one person use or for 2 people. The prices for a large sled differs, but these are about 6-12EUR per day.

On the rental shops you can rent snowboards, ski and other utilities you need. All the shops have a very affordable price, what I am happy about.

Other

Apart of sled/ski hills, rental shops, and bars there is a special school of skiing. It is great place to begin to teach your kid to ski. I think skiing is a dangerous sport and it has to be learnt with a professional.

And do not forget about our Top 10 Tips for sledding with kids. Be always prepared.

La Molina

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Andorra.

About the place

Andorra is not a part of EU, even though the currency is euro. Catalan is official language of this country. Andorra la Vella is the capital of this country and main shopping area is here, on other towns of Andorra, you will find only supermarkets and renting shops. The old town of Andorra la Vella is amazing. We went there before Christmas holidays. The decorations were hanging all over for Christmas Day. We dedicated only one day, exactly, only few hours, to have some walking and then to get to our apartments in Encamp. Few hours it is more than enough to see main places of Andorra la Vella.

How to get there?

We were only once there, and went there by car. It took us 4-5 hours of ride, as we went on weekend and there were a lot of traffic. In Barcelona it is available a daily bus service from Barcelona Airport to Andorra or another option is Nord station to Andorra and it takes 3 hours ride, but as well it depends on traffic.

Sledding area.

In Andorra are 5 ski resorts in total. The hills have a really high elevation and are for professional skiers and snowboarders. If you plan sledding with your kid, you have to look for a proper hill. 

Renting area
Same as at La Molina, you can bring your own utilities or to rent there. There are a lot of companies who offer for a reasonable prices sledding utilities.

Accommodation

We choose an entire apartment in Encamp, for a very reasonable price. Encamp is one of the prettiest towns of Andorra for its impressible sightseeing, old buildings, wonderful landscape.

Other

Andorra is well known for its great opportunity of shopping. There are very low % of taxes and you can find a lot of things for lower prices that in other parts of EU. We didn’t make any shopping as our purpose was to go sledding. Andorra has breathtaking scenery, that makes it a perfect destination to go to explore the country’s spectacular landscapes.

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Andorra Andorra Driving in Andorra

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Summer of 2016 was full of positive emotions. A lot of great moments spent with our kids in Barcelona and Costa Brava. One of this moments that made great this summer was the evening spent at the rooftop terrace of H10 Cubik hotel, Atik terrace. This hotel is situated right in the heart of Barcelona, close to famous and most visited by tourists place in the city “Plaza Cataluña”. This hotel, is a new 4* superior hotel, opened to public in 2015. It has a very special chic design with pure colors.

I have to confess, I was really worried about one thing: we wouldn’t be permitted to enjoy the evening with our kids at such a lovely hotel. I was not right, the hotel is a family friendly and take much care of the guests with kids.

Atik Terrace H10 Cubik. Barcelona views

 

First Impression

Once we entered the hotel, it wowed us from the first second. The hotel is absolutely gorgeous, amazing decor. Depending on the door you choose to enter the hotel, you will find the reception or on the other door the Robotic Bar. A very modern bar with great design. Here you can take a drink at any time of the day and enjoy a collection of robot toys. For books lovers, you can get lost reading a book from the vast library of Robotic Bar.

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Atik Terrace

Located at the eighth floor together with Atik Bar. Both, have spectacular views over the city and over the sea. A perfect place to take some tapas and drinks. Relaxing atmosphere, and happy kids, what can be better.

Tapas at the hotel are excellent – and you have a lot of option to choose. Tapas come out between 6-21eur, depending on what you eat. With 3-4 tapas for 2 adults and one preschooler, baby did not eat :).

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Staff

The staff are very welcoming and professional. They know how to make their guests feel great.

Overall impression

Great design and with the service to match. Gorgeous sight-seeings.

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Below few images provided by the hotel:

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When first time we went in four to Pineda de Mar, it was a sunny Saturday of summer 2016. There were a private party on the beach, organized by the company where daddy works for. The Xiringuito L’Escora (Beach Bar) was chosen to be our host. Apart of the tasty food, and breathtaking views at the bar, there we had different activities for toddlers, kids and parents, as everyone could enjoy their stay.

Toddlers received a water splash kit with different toys to play with water. An inflated castle were free to jump. Kids from 10 to 11 years ride a banana on the sea (adults ride it as well), plus volleyball time for adults. Additionally, all day long all of us had part of marvelous music and Salsa dancing time right on the beach. We had enjoyed it so much so we decided to come next time with our folks.

Straight there, there is a Sailing company Club Nautico de Pineda de Mar which offer different sea activities for a good price. By the way, their main image on google maps, with the sail catamaran, is ours ;). We spent there the entire day and enjoyed the wonderful sight-seeings of Pineda de Mar and Costa Brava with parents.

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Some interesting info to take into consideration while traveling with kids to Pineda de Mar:

  • Pineda de Mar is almost 40km away from Barcelona and is part of Costa Brava.
  • There is a train connection to Barcelona, if you get there by car then you have a plenty of places to park your car right in front of the beach, for free. Price to drive on highway from Barcelona to Pineda de Mar is 4+.
  • Sand and water are very clean and you will have a pleasant stay there.
  • Eat. You can take some very tasty paella or fideua at the same chiringuito at the beach.
  • Sea. Near the bar there is a Sailing company which rents boats, catamarans, kayaks etc. All activities have a reasonable prices compared to Barcelona. For example, catamaran is about 60eur/hour, you can go as a group of 4, what means 15eur/pers. For more adventurous there are classes of sailing. Go and try!

For more beach tips with kids click here.

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Marc was 2 months and we decided that we need a relaxing time as a family. We have spent last two months indoors staring at our new son and getting the hang over motherhood, two kids simultaneously, a preschooler and a baby. And dealing with them both, was somehow exhausting, till all of us got used to a new member of our happy family.

We decided very quick, we knew that we were not ready for any flights in 4. A city break was discarded from the beginning, and we decided to go to Costa Brava, easy to get with the best beaches to find. Tossa de Mar was our choice as it has all: large beach, great restaurant options, crystal clean water, amazing views and relaxing atmosphere.

Tossa is almost 100 km from Barcelona, what is pretty long way for a 2 months baby. I morally prepared to tantrums of both of our kids, but no, both of them were amazingly quiet, our baby boy slept all the way long, and our preschooler was unusually quiet. I think, Damian needed a vacation too, and he was happy that finally we went to the beach.

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Here’s our list of must-have beach essentials for a baby and a preschooler:

  1. Sunscreen, preferably 50SPF- one of the safest sunscreens you can find on the market for babies and young children. To be non-chemical, very water resistant, and perfect for sensitive skin. We kept Marc out of the sun and he stayed in the shade during our beach time. For Damian we applied sunscreen to every area of his skin not covered by clothes or a hat. We reapplied after he had played in water, even if the sunscreen is waterproof.
  2. A spacious sun tent or Umbrella. We have 2 in one and is the greatest thing while going to the beach.
  3. A big beach bag – for diapers, wipes, and changing clothes, towels, sun hats, swimsuits and all you need in one place.
  4. Inflatable pool – I love it because it provides a safe, close place for our preschooler to splash, play and keep cool on the beach while I am busy with our baby. Sea water and some float toys can keep our preschooler very entertained. We use one by Jané which found on Amazon.es and it has a very good price.
  5. Toys – our preschooler need lots of them.
  6. Quick-feed snacks. Squirtable fruit packets and dry cereal are always fast and easy.
  7. Cool bag with water and food. Kids used to get thirsty and hungry very often at the beach.
  8. Pushchair – for the nap time, as it is the best place he/she can sleep meanwhile at the beach.
  9. Formula kit, I used to breastfeed and I didn’t need it.
  10. Snorkeling mask or swimming goggles is a must have detail for any Costa Brava visitor. The Sea fauna is the visit card of this area. Last time my husband cached a Sepia with a simple plastic bag. Damian was very happy. Of course we return it back in the sea. I hope to show it to Marc next time :).
  11. Camera – to save all the best moments of your time with kids.

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Things to do while in Tossa:

  • Take sun on Platja Gran, beautiful beach with fine sand and little rocks.
  • To get lost in Vila Vela (Old Town), and enjoy the old architecture of the town. Take a break and have typical lunch in one of the prettiest part of the town.
  • Castillo de Tossa de Mar – walk to the top of the castle and discover amazing view over the town and over the sea. At the top there is a quiet place to take some fresh drinks and eat some tapas. Prices are higher compared to the normal bar inside the town. A coffee is 2.20eur and tapas varies from 8eur to 15eur.
  • Scuba diving – there are a lot of companies who offer diving right in front of the beach. Prices differs, approx price is 48eur/pers 1h of explanation and 1h of diving. But, in reality there are 20-30min of explanation, 20min of dressing and get used to the costumes and then 30-40min of diving. If you are diving for the first time, then you won’t go deeper than 8 meters in the sea. Even though you will enjoy diving as there are a plenty of beautiful fishes. This activity is for adults or for kids with certain age. After checking some reviews on Google we have stopped our decision on submares.com. They were super kinds and were able to provide instructions in several languages. We contacted the agency by whatsapp on the number:+34 653 93 23 23 and the operator was very receptive.
  • Discover closed beaches (Calas), there are plenty of them in Tossa. There is very clean water and it is warmer than on Platja Gran. These Calas do not have access from the road, the only way you can get there is hiking or get there by boat. If you don’t plan to use a boat, with kids is complicated to get to these closed beaches.

Tossa is a family friendly place to go and we advise you to go there and discover Costa Brava by yourselves.

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