Europe · 12 Days · 90 Moments · August 2017

17 August 2017

So long to our apartment and into a taxi straight to the airport. The strike was still on so people weren't exactly friendly, especially when they took a sleeping Lewis out of his pushchair. We didn't realise it was quite a trek to the gates from the main departures lounge so ended up being in quite a rush despite arriving 4hrs before the flight! Bye bye Barcelona, it couldn't have been better!

16 August 2017

Bill's turn to look after the boys whilst Mummy and I headed to the Palau de la Musique for a concert by The Barcelona Guitar Orchestra. A real treat. After a long but enjoyable phone-led walk along the back roads, we arrived at the venue hidden in the old side streets off Las Ramblas. It was stunning! I don't think I've ever seen such an ornately beautiful interior. There were even mosaic sunflowers just for the mother 🌻 The concert was a bit of everything - guitars, opera and flamenco. Extremely enjoyable.
Poble Espanyol. This place doesn't get great reviews but as it was just behind our apartment, we gave it a go and were very pleasantly surprised. They've built replicas of lots of famous Spanish buildings and filled them with craft shops, artisans and restaurants. Tacky but we love tacky! It turned out to be the perfect place for the boys as it wasn't crowded, was enclosed and they could just run around freely. They particularly liked the 'disco rooms' where the lights and decorations were supposed to give the feeling of different parts of Spain. The boys just boogied! We had a hassle-free paella 🥘 and green noodles for Isaac and decided to ditch plans to walk up Montjuic in order to soak up the relaxed atmosphere and beautiful buildings. Bill went up the mountain!
Our apartment. The location was ideal, right next to the Magic fountains, parks and with plenty of 24hr supermarkets nearby.

15 August 2017

We reached the seafront at Barceloneta again and found the 'Eyescream' shop I was desperate to try out. Genius ice cream 🍦
Walking through the beautiful and atmospheric old streets.
Wonderful cafe in the cloisters
Some more famous sites walking towards the cathedral.
La Pedrera - Gaudi's apartment block. Can't say I found this a particularly relaxing visit! The rooftops with a wild 1 year old, a bouncy four year old, an often unstable OAP plus my own wonderful balance abilities put years on me! Quite a unique place though and the boys loved it! Isaac especially enjoyed sheltering from the sun in his 'caves.' Bill of course enjoyed his audio guide.

14 August 2017

A quiet afternoon at the apartment followed by a romantic sunset cruise with my husband ❤️My mother kindly stayed with the children whilst we sat on the nets of a catamaran, sipping cava and listening to a live saxophonist, the sun setting perfectly as we sailed smoothly along. The perfect date night! We then went for paella 🥘 on the beach. Bill even took care of the bill!
Met Gaudi up on the viaduct! Lots of street performers and a great atmosphere though our legs were getting tired!
Picnic with a view. We were joined by noisy parrots and some rather cheeky, yogurt-loving lizards!
Souvenir selfies Go Jetters style!
Perfect place for playing peekaboo!
Wonderful archways. The green shorts didn't stay green for long!
Palm trees and parrots
A shady spot on the mosaic bench, Cheetos wotsits feast and an overly friendly lizard 🦎
Park Guell - Gaudi's playground. I've always wanted to see these mosaics and fairyland buildings. I wasn't disappointed. Heeding the advice of a friendly American on the cruise, we avoided public transport and long uphill walks and took a taxi. Bill cycled!! We met the famous dragon/lizard.

13 August 2017

The Caixa Forum at night. Our apartment was right next to this. Always a welcome sight!
We kept walking down to the beach (not the most scenic of strolls this time). Hungry and thirsty, we found a real treasure of a bar at the end of the beach with cactuses on its roof where we had cocktails and tapas. It's probably some really trendy beach bar that's never seen children before but we were made to feel very welcome and had a terrific time blindly picking tapas, playing on the boats, digging holes and waving at jet skiers. The only problem was that we didn't leave enough time to get to the night show we had booked at La Pedera. It took us forever to find the metro station though it was a very enjoyable walk along the seafront with the sun setting, watching the world go by. Once finally at the metro, we just wanted to collapse. Bill however had no intention of wasting tickets so he left us on the metro and disappeared to the show. The Barcelona metro is NOT pushchair friendly! Stairs up then stairs down then up again. Somehow we arrived back at the apartment!
Parc de la Ciutadella. The largest park in Barcelona with a huge amount going on - street sellers, musicians, a boating lake, trees to climb, performers and happy folk lying in the sun. We were happily entertained by some jugglers and tap dancers. The woolly mammoth was a great hit. Isaac loved running up and falling down the fountain steps!
Wonderful pedestrianised path from the Arc de Triomph to the park. Much wider and more relaxing than Las Ramblas. Stunning palm trees 🌴
Quite a walk towards Parc de la Cituadella via the Arc de Triomf. It's a joy walking in Barcelona though with its beautiful straight promenades and numerous ice cream stands. My father would've been very impressed with my 68year old mother's walking stamina.
There are playgrounds next to every famous site in Barcelona. Very useful for little beings and picnics! There are also bubble men at every famous site and who doesn't love bubbles?! Isaac loved having a go.
It was very difficult to tear Bill away from his audio guide once the boys were getting past it. This resulted in a bottle being thrown and spilt (by Lewis not me!) We then had to stand on top of the spillage to stop people from slipping over. Lewis had already sacrificed one precious bottle to the cathedral by lobbing it down a floor and onto a glass roof! I hate audio guides!!
Bill and I headed up one of the towers. I wouldn't overly recommend it unless you have a thing for spiral staircases. There was very little view, just of the stairs spiralling down.
La Sagrada Familiar. Gaudi's unfinished masterpiece. The outside isn't exactly soul stirring but once we'd stepped inside, surrounded by the light from the stained glass, it was simply 'wow' as Lewis put it. We were lucky to have bought our tickets in advance as there weren't any left on the day. The boys were quite awestruck and behaved extremely well.

12 August 2017

Our Airbnb couldn't have been better. We booked it back in September so I was slightly panicked about it falling through and having to spend a fortune on alternative accommodation. However, it all went perfectly to plan. The garden terrace was a godsend ☀️
Look at what greeted us at the bottom of Las Ramblas!! Debarkation was very early in the morning. We were booked for breakfast at 7am! After settling our bills, we reluctantly stepped off the Disney Magic. As we were leaving the terminal, the lady who had chosen us as the family of the day right at the beginning came to say hello. A lovely touch. We dropped our large cases at Bags and Go - an ingenious idea. We handed our bags over for 10 euros each and they dropped them off at our apartment at 5pm. Definitely didn't want to be wandering Barcelona with the suitcases. We stepped onto the shuttle bus for a whole 6 euros and Bill was waiting for us exactly where we had arranged! Amazing! But then he hadn't eaten or slept in the 4 days that he'd had on his own, so he was probably desperate to see us and our slightly looser wallets! He'd taken his foldable bike and had been cycling around the city, up the mountains, sleeping in a noisy dorm and eating smoked meat and cheese on the go! Fun!!
Thank you Disney Magic. You exceeded our wildest dreams!

11 August 2017

So special! It was as if it was just for us. We will never be able to top that 😍When Isaac eventually returned to his bed, 'Giant Woof' was waiting for him so that he can remember his best friend Pluto in his dreams
Lewis made the most of every second: attacking characters from behind; climbing on Pluto's back; trying to do handstands and making everybody laugh! The American Dad from the other family said, 'the little guy is fearless!' The characters were fearless coping with him! How they managed not to tread on him, I don't know! Pluto protected Isaac from Captain Hook.
The perfect finale! Our final night was certainly fully packed. The first major excitement was Pluto's Pyjama Party for Isaac in The Oceaneer's Club. Sadly no grown ups allowed! We then had to quickly take our seats in the theatre for the Dreams show. Arguably the best show in the world! Lewis was half asleep but managed to muster enough energy to stay transfixed, clap and sing along to Let It Go! All my favourite Disney bits were featured - Under the Sea, the Beast and The Lion King. Isaac got to sing Naase venya! Just when things couldn't get any better, we then had the captain's party. It was magical beyond words and imagination. Pluto skidded across the floor with glee towards Isaac, giving him a huge hug the moment he entered the room. Every character imaginable was there alongside all the stars of the show and just 2 families! Isaac only had eyes for Pluto, much to the entertainment of all the characters! He was described as Pluto's little henchman!
Our last day on board. We just didn't want it to end!
We were queuing for Minnie but then Isaac spotted Pluto again! Run!
Lewis manages to bump into lots of beautiful princesses and Spider-Man teaches Isaac how to find magic powers
What better way to end the cruise than a special invite to the captain's VIP party 🎉
An early start to get to 'Wake up with Disney Junior' in the D-lounge. The early start was so worth it as we were the only ones there! Dancing along to Disney Junior including our new favourite, the Lionguard. We'd been practicing the Hot Dog Dance ready for this and were thrilled when Goofy appeared and joined in!

10 August 2017

Fireworks 💥 to end the pirate party! It was quite difficult staying awake for the 10.15pm start but lots of fun. People stayed dancing the night away. We went back to our cabin to remove a beard
Everybody was dressed up as pirates! Lots of pirates for Isaac to play sword fights with!
Tick Tock the crocodile! Isaac is still petrified of Captain Hook. He planned to steal all his treasure whilst Lewis 'got him!'
Pirate meal at Lumieres. All the staff were wonderfully dressed up and people loved my rather uncomfortable eyelashes! The meal finished with a rowdy pirate dance parade through the middle of the restaurant. The boys were more than willing to join in! Arhhh!
Special time spent on our own with Pluto on deck. Isaac chatted away. Lewis tried to play chase. We waved at the people getting back on the boat. Isaac was very much in charge!
Then we spotted Pluto! Perfect timing as it was time for him to be taken for a walk on deck...
Isaac showed Pluto his shadow and talked about his dog Flindall who 'isn't that keen on exercise!' Lewis was more interested in pulling Pluto's whiskers! Couldn't believe our luck having that time with Pluto again. Disney magic 😍
Meeting Stitch
Mickey's turn! What an amazing holiday outfit! Isaac showed him his invite to the Pirate Party
With one child bobbing up and down for the foreseeable future and another fast asleep, we took the opportunity for a lunchtime buffet feast at Las Cabanas. Delicious lamb chops!
Arhh! Our scaringly convincing pirate!
Bibidi bobidi boo boutique for Isaac's 'Pirates League' makeover ready for the pirate party. Isaac chose to be made up in the style of Jack Sparrow. Little did we know how much black eyeliner and a beard would suit him! Tickling and initial refusal to wear a girl's earring aside, Isaac was the perfect client! He was given all his pirate treasures and a pirate identity - Tobias. Before leaving, he was made to take the pirate oath which Isaac took very seriously, making sure he completely understood everything he was repeating! Our little pirate was now very much in character!
Pluto didn't want Isaac to go!
Isaac noticed the shark on Pluto's swimming vest. Playing sharks became one of their favourite games 🦈
Attack of Goofy! It's amazing how they manage not to tread on children!
Isaac's favourite place. Open every day from 12. The supervision was fantastic. No way anything could go wrong. The only problem was when they cleared the pool now and again for no real reason. Isaac would take himself off to different places, including the hot tub whilst we went grey wondering where he'd gone!
Trying to retake my favourite photo from 2014! The boys were pretty obliging whilst being bribed with sweets
Open house at the kids' club
Enjoying the sunshine docked near to Rome ☀️

9 August 2017

Dinner at South American themed Cariocas
Bed time. Lucky Mummy! Lovely, big comfy bed but having to share it with an overly cuddly Lewis
More fun at the pool
We waited for Pluto at the top of the stairs where he was thrilled to play some more with his best friend Isaac.
Back to Pluto!
Cheeky Chip and Dale are terrorised by Lewis shouting 'mine, mine, mine!'
A chase around with Pluto
Breakfast again in our favourite place. This time joined by a congregation of tractors as we arrived in Livorno!!

8 August 2017

Isaac got to sleep up top!
During dessert, the screens burst alive with a beautifully moving montage of Disney clips. I remembered why I was in floods of tears the last time I saw it when they started the dying characters section with Bambi looking for his Mum 😢But of course all things Disney end with a happy ending and we were soon uplifted with clips of the beast coming alive and springtime in the forest. Just as we felt our souls could rise no higher, Mickey himself dressed as the sorcerer's apprentice appeared to wave magic and happy endings all around. All the staff including Dennis our server appeared in colourful waistcoats (though not as good as the boys') What a dinner show!
Animator's Palate. A magical dining experience. As we ate, the pictures turned from black and white to colour. The pizza was a huge success!
A Pirate/Princess party, a chance encounter with a duck and groovy moves in the atrium. We even managed to get a professional photo taken.
It's Pluto!!
Waistcoats ready for formal night. Thank you Auntie Bec
More exploring. Deck 10 was the best place for sunbathing with a drink whilst Isaac continued to bob up and down in the water.
Exploring the ship with beautiful views of Cannes. We had very little inclination to leave the boat. The boat had to be tendered meaning getting off was too much of an undertaking plus we had the best view from where we were.
Wonderful breakfast in our favourite place looking out over The Mediterranean

7 August 2017

Sunset out on deck. We came back to our room all ready for bed. The bunk bed had appeared from nowhere! Unfortunately Isaac couldn't spend his first night there as he was already out for the count! Lucky mummy got to sleep up top once Lewis had settled below e.g. about 5.30am! Thank goodness for 24hr Disney channels in the room.
Dinner at Lumiere's. The first on our dining rotation. The boys loved their corn chowder soup. I wasn't so fond of my frozen prawns. Mummy learnt that creme brûlée isn't marzipan.
Armed with his special bracelet, Isaac entered The Oceaneer's Club for the first time. He was thrilled to dance and wiggle his bottom along with Stitch at the Aloha Party.
Sail away party! Off we go to the honk of 'when you wish upon a star.'
First stop swimming pool! Isaac went on the slide over and over again! Little did my mother realise how big it actually was!
We were chosen to be Family of the Day! This meant we were the first people on the boat; chosen to start the boarding process. I believe we owe this honour to an excited, skipping, dancing, singing Isaac holding onto a scruffy, very well loved Big Woof. We were supposed to board at 12.30pm but had arrived at the terminal with plenty of time to spare. Little did we know we'd end up being the first on the ship, escorted and helped through check in then sat in the concierge area. We even got to push in the front of the line for a photo with Minnie. The Liu-Williams family from Petersburg was announced to the thousands waiting to board as the family of the day! We waved, then skipped our way down the ramps and onto The Disney Magic, welcomed by a corridor of clapping staff to an empty ship - ours and ours only for a few precious seconds 😄🚢

6 August 2017

The Magic Fountains show just 10mins down the road. Quite spectacular! My mother was an easy target for every street seller present, much to the pleasure of Isaac! The show started at 9.30pm so it was quite a late one for the boys. Isaac managed much better than Lewis who was in direct competition with the loud speakers for the loudest noise! The colours and the amount of water pressure were amazing.
According to my phone, we've walked over 10km today! The walk back to the hotel was definitely a bit of a strain but made bearable by gorgeous side streets and numerous parks. The only negative we currently have about Barcelona is the number of homeless people with their large dogs based right next to the children's parks. We are now fighting a loosing battle trying to convince the boys they want a sleep before the fountain show. Isaac has eventually given in. Lewis?-never!!
Lewis loved being off his reigns to walk and dance along the slightly wobbly wooden walkway past the harbour. He was rewarded by his favourite McDonald's al fresco. Soon we'll be on that water!
Las Ramblas. The famous promenade. Crowded and bustling with some lovely souvenir stalls but not exactly pedestrianised when you have cars on both sides! We couldn't resist the very blue ice cream! Isaac chose the classiest souvenir there - a blue Catalonian bull 🐮 The living statues were a bit mingey - no performance for less than 2 euros!
A long walk! On a mission to find the port via Placa d'Espana. Beautiful tree-lined roads and tweeting parakeets. Pushchair friendly pavements. They seem to have 2 paths either side of the road and then one down the middle.

5 August 2017

First impressions of Barcelona at 11pm are very good: a man offered to help with my luggage; a woman laughed hysterically at my steering abilities; the taxi driver saved Isaac from getting squashed by a bus and our bed and breakfast/hostel room is near palatial.
Birmingham airport was the most pleasant, hassle-free airport I've encountered in a long time. Well set out, spacious viewing areas, friendly staff and most importantly plenty of space for the boys to play in. Time went very quickly
A right royal Maltings send off! Waved off with Welsh and English flags from the Maltings.