On my recent trip to Costa Barcelona with several other family travel bloggers, we discovered all kinds of things to do with children, from preschool to teenage years. We bounced around on ocean waves, walked on idyllic sandy beaches, ate regional specialties, waterskied, and much more. I’ve written a bit about what we did and will soon be sharing a great itinerary for your next visit to the area.
But beyond the specific activities, there is something so beautiful about the textures of the area, with its Catalunyan culture, influenced by the ocean and taking in a wide variety of landscapes. Armed just with your camera, you can capture small details that bring the place alive.
I was struck by these tiles as we walked the narrow streets of Calella, about 40 miles northeast of Barcelona and the first place we visited. One person in our group thought they were “so Seventies!” but I just loved the mottled background texture and the interlocking pattern they create. Maybe a little bit Seventies, but in a good way.
On the beach in Calella there was a festival during the Festa Major, with stalls selling sausages, cheese, sweets, fruits, beer and more, family activities, music and much more. These flowers were hung in a canopy you could walk under. I shot this picture looking straight up at the sky.
I loved this pattern on the tablemat at the Nui Beach restaurant, Calella, a bright breezy restaurant steps from the waves. I loved the food — paella, fideua (think paella with noodles instead of rice), seafood, local wine. I loved the entire vibe. Like this pattern, the entire experience was traditional and modern at the same time.
The grass poked up in the square spaces of these tiles in delicious little tufts. I snapped this in Malgrat de Mar’s Parc Francesc Macia, a sprawling outdoor space where your kids can tear around and do anything from skateboarding to football to mini-ziplining to water play (in the summer months). The park also featured huge pieces of cake to climb on, torpedo-sized pencils…funky and fun.
Go for a walk in Montseny Natural Reserve with a guide and you’ll look at the forest in a whole new way, discovering creatures tiny and, um, middle-sized, making “perfume” from fragrant plants and “drawing” with natural materials. This clear stream, with its glassy surface, had hidden depths.
Another interesting sight in Montseny Natural Reserve, a cork tree with part of its outer bark harvested.
After our walk in the natural reserve, we ate at the Restaurant Fonda Montseny, right on the square with stunning views over the valley. White beans with sausage are a local specialty, here served simply on a patterned plate, with a nice glass of white wine, of course.
The spring water that surges to the surface in Caldes de Montbui is heated to a finger-stinging 76C (168 F) — you can experience it at a fountain in the centre city square, right next to the original ancient Roman thermal baths. The baths are hewn of stone, both smooth and rough and have a long and storied past. The wall behind the arches was where they once held prisoners chained to the wall — so macabre!
The inside of the castle in Castelldefels, 30 minutes from Barcelona, is grand and glorious. This wallpaper was in one of the rooms we walked through — it’s a fascinating combination of recognisable forms such as the leaves and this design in the middle with arrows and dotted lines.
The grandness of the castle interior contrasts with the leafy, green texture of the hills around Castelldefels, with bits of sky lighting up the small clover leaf windows at the top. The model is my fellow travel blogger Lisa from Travel Loving Family.
So many places we saw in our few days there had tiles in a similar style to these — brightly coloured, smooth and cool, evoking both sophistication and simplicity.
My experience in Costa Barcelona was a good reminder to soak up these tiny details. They make visiting a new place so rich and varied, and you can learn so much by paying attention to the details, to the way a place defines itself through textiles, design and through its natural setting.
10 great family experiences outside Barcelona on Jenography
Planning a family holiday in Costa Barcelona, by Maria at One Tiny Leap
Bring the kids to the vineyard! by Susanna at A Modern Mother
13 things to do on the Costa Barcelona with kids, by Cathy at Mummy Travels
Destination guide: Costa Barcelona with kids, by Lisa at Travel Loving Family