Before we became parents, we spent a good few years going on holidays two, maybe three times a year, booking one break as soon as we returned from the last. We spent long weekends in Venice, Seville, Budapest and Berlin, taking time to mooch around Paris, London and Florence. By the time we got married in 2011, we already had an almost two-year-old son, and although we wanted to go on honeymoon as a family, we wanted to recapture some of the fun of our city breaks from before.
We chose Barcelona for the promise of some Mediterranean sunshine, a big dose of culture, a shortish flight and its family-friendly credentials. It didn’t disappoint.
I’ve just been looking through the photo album I made from this trip, and my eyes welled up to look at how happy and carefree we were back then. A lot has happened in the past few years, and not only have we spent a lot of time in hospitals after my husband fell ill, but we also have another member of the family. Our three has become four, and although baby gal has a passport, she is yet to use it!
Thinking about why Barcelona is my favourite city, I found a common theme. Yes, it’s got the quirky architecture, fantastic food and vibrant nightlife. But it’s also got three more unusual things that make it stand out – its fountains! This is Barcelona we’re talking about though, so they’re not as obvious as you might think.
There is the fountain in La Seu cathedral, where a flock of white geese make their home. It’s in a courtyard within the cathedral, like a small slice of tranquility within the bustling city. I remember running through the pouring rain to get to the cathedral, before chasing our toddler through the building, only to be drawn to the geese plodding round the mossy pond within. No-one said holidaying with kids was easy, but when you find little gems like this, it makes those hairy moments memorable and magical.
Which brings me to the Magic Fountain of Montjuic, or Font Magica. Based at the top of Avenida Maria Cristina, this evening spectacle sees jets of water lit up in ever-changing coloured light, all set to music. The atmosphere is amazing, as tourists and locals alike gather round to watch the show on a Friday and Saturday night. And the best part is, it’s absolutely free, leaving you some spare cash to treat yourself to a cerveza or two on the way home.
Staying on the Montjuic theme, up on the hill is the unmissable Joan Miro Foundation, home to the famous Mercury Fountain. The fountain, designed in the 1930s by American sculptor Alexander Calder, is full of pure mercury, which wasn’t known to be dangerous at the time. These days, the shimmering silver-coloured liquid metal is displayed behind a pane of glass to keep visitors from breathing in the toxic fumes. The museum is such a relaxing place, full of light to show off the Miro collection at its best. It was definitely one of my highlights and I would recommend anyone going to Barcelona to pay a visit.
This post is my entry into the Accor Hotels competition, A Tale of Three Cities.