From picnics and zebras to musical fountains, herea��s how Spain works for young mums on holiday
MY brothera��s destination wedding in Ireland wasA�not just an emotionfilled one, but also anA�excuse for us to take a quick detour, to one of Europea��s most beautiful cities,A�Barcelona. With my not-yet-two toddler, Iniya, in tow, we were a little apprehensivea��about the long flights, new country and food not being very kid-friendlya��but we soon discovered that vacationing inthe Catalonian city is childa��s play. At the El Prat airport, the driver of our pre-booked taxi greeted us with a cheerya�?holaa�?. He had also brought along a baby seat and some munchies for the little one, since the ride to our AirBnB accommodation(an entire house, complete with a kitchen to whip up baby meals) was a longA�one. Driving in, our first impression was of a hip city with a vibrant and thriving night life. Iniya loved the bright lights,A�so we decided to drop off our bags and head out for a stroll in Girona, in centralBarcelona. The a�?tapas-culturea�� was very evident, with cosy watering holes andA�wine bars punctuating every street, allA�exuberantly bustling. As we made ourA�way to one such nook, we found familiesA�much like ours, complete with toddlersA�and children. Why should young parentsA�miss out on the fun!
On the wild side
We planned our first full day as a babycentricA�one. Geared with maps of the cityA�and the metro lines, we made our way to
the Zoo de Barcelona (`1,204/`753 forA�adults/children), one of the finest inA�Europe for its collection of animalsA�housed in a naturalA�setting. As expected, IniyaA�had a ball, and we joinedA�her in spotting gazelles,A�Iberian wolves and KomodoA�dragons, though the loudeA�s t c h e e r s we r eA�reserved for theA�zebras and lions.A�There were freeA�shows, too, withA�dolphins and seaA�lions. In the evening,we walked tothe harbour, t oLa��Aquarium, the largest Mediterranean themedA�aquarium in theA�world (`1,505/`753 for adults/A�children). It was yet another family-funA�experience as we not only got to see a fascinatingA�world of coloura��in theA�giltheads, moray eels and seaA�horsesa��but also watched theA�sharks and penguins being fed.
Barcelona has plenty ofA�green open spaces, so on dayA�two, armed with comfortableA�sneakers and a buggy for theA�little one, we set out to exploreA�the charming city. Breathing inA�the sights and smells, we pausedA�often for churros con chocolat atA�the ubiquitous dispense vans. WithA�a sumptuous picnic basket, we spentA�a few hours under the shade at theA�sprawling Arc de Triomf A�boulevard,A�enjoying one of Barcelonaa��s iconicA�landmarks, while Iniya was captivatedA�by the jolly street artistsA�and performers. The popular LaA�Rambla promenade was no different.A�We also got to marvel atA�some landmark buildings, likeA�the Gran Teatre del Liceu andA�Palau de la Virreina. Next,A�the beach beckoned. So LaA�Barceloneta it was. GorgeousA�weather and weekends meantA�one thing: no space to spreadA�our beach towels. But once weA�learnt to navigate our way, weA�were soon building sand castlesA�and slurping ice pops.
Ever since I started watching internationaltravel shows on TV, Ia��d wanted toA�visit a food market. So, to visit one inA�Barcelona was on the top of my to-do list.A�Following a tip from our AirBnB host,A�we decided to visit the Mercat de SantaA�Caterinaa��which was where the localsA�shoppeda��rather than La Boqueria,A�which was supposedly rather touristy.A�We snacked our way down the aisles, onA�Roscos de Naranja (orange fritters), localA�biscuits and farm-fresh juices, while weA�stocked up on olive oil and balsamic vinegar.A�We even sampled some homemadeA�tapas at one of the many pop-ups there. AsA�for Iniya, the shopkeepers were generousA�and a free bunch of plump cherries keptA�her busy all through.A�What was truly remarkable about ourA�time in Barcelona was that there wasA�something for everybody. What seemedA�like adult activitiesa��like a walk throughA�the beautiful Gothic quarter with itsA�Medieval architecture or a visit to theA�mock Spanish village, Poble EspaA�olA�(`903/`527 for adults/children)a��wereA�all surprisingly appreciated by the littleA�one with equal gusto. Similarly, we wereA�thrilled to spend time at the chocolateA�making and tasting sessions at MuseuA�de la Xocolata (`452), and the TibidaboA�Amusement Park (`2,257/`828 for adults/A�children), located on Tibidabo hill withA�the Barcelona skyline as a stunningA�backdrop. And let me not forget the goofyA�time we had at the musical fountains andA�coloured lights show at Font Magica.A�As clichA�d as it may sound, there wasA�too much to do and too little time to doA�it all in. As we bade a�?adiosa�� and boardedA�our flight back home, holding on to everyA�little memory created, we knew we wouldA�be back again, with ourA�toddler in tow.