Bilingual Family in Barcelona Part 1
Whenever you have the opportunity to travel to a country that speaks your target language, take it! We recently were given the opportunity to travel to Barcelona, Spain for the first time. This trip was a couple's trip, and not for the entire family, however searching for materials and books for my nenes was a big priority on my "to-do/see" list for Barcelona.
It was fun researching and learning about Barcelona before our travels. What fascinated me the most was the prominent use of Catalan, a romance language - not a subset of Spanish - rather a language like any other. In fact, Catalan is closer to French and Italian more so than to Spanish or Castellano. It was fascinating seeing street sings and printed materials in Catalan and it being a sense of pride in the region. Most people in the inner-city speak Spanish, making it easy for us to communicate with whoever.
If you find yourself in Barcelona and want to pick up quality tools, resources, books, and toys for your children here is Nene Bilingüe's list of places to visit:
1. Repollos Rebeldes
Londres 71, Barcelona, Spain
This toy shop is full of creative and educational toys for littles. Lots of sensory toy options as well as building blocks and shapes. Few plastic toys, rather many toys made of quality wood can be found on their shelves. They carry toys from all around Europe and a few made in Spain by Spanish toy creators and makers. The toys found here are well curated for their customers. Any and all questions were happily answered by the owner herself. link
Chain - variety of locations
This is the big box toy store. You can find lots of Disney and brands also found in the US. I did find a few puzzle and education toys in Spanish. This is also the shop where I found a cash register that featured five languages, which I wanted to purchase but knew I had no space for.
Calle del General Álvarez de Castro 5, Barcelona, Spain
Part book store and part toy store there is lots to choose from for a variety of ages ranging from infants to teens and even some books for adults too. They provided customers with yearly and seasonal toy catalogs and carry an assortment of toys too. Their books are not only in Catalan and Castellano, they also have German, French, and English books among other languages too. link
Carrer d'Aribau 84, Barcelona, Spain
One of my personal favorites. This shop has been around for over 100 years providing their customers with quality books and toys. It is here where I finally found our Spanish fabric calendar, a calendar I looked for in every store I list here as well as online and shops even in Mexico. Like Abracadabra, they also offer books in a variety of languages and their store is well organized. I also liked that they had a variety of Habe (German brand) simple cooperative board games for children. I would have purchased a few that caught my eye, but again, I was faced with the limited space in my luggage. They also had a whole section of Djeco brand art and craft kits for children labeled by suggested age. link
5. Abacus Cooperativa
Chain - variety of locations
Another favorite of mine. Everything and anything educational can be found here. The good thing is that there are a variety of sites so if one shop doesn't have what your looking for, chances are another shop does. The location where we visited had a bookstore section and around the corner was the toy and equipment section. You could be lost in this store for hours looking through their shelves. I didn't even get to see everything they had to offer, but what I did see I loved! Their books are organized by theme and subject. It was easy to locate books, I just had to pay attention at language versions of books. Most of their books come in Castellano and Catalan, however I did find a few that only were written in Catalan and was bummed I couldn't understand it. Sure, I could have purchased it and translated the whole thing but the formatting of these books in particular did not allow for that to happen. They carried a large selection of non-fiction books for children which I enjoyed finding since that was the genre I was particularly looking for. As for toys, they had an array of toys most of which came in English, Spanish (Castellano), and Catalan. You can become a member to qualify for discounts throughout the store. link
6. Casa del Libro
Rambla de Catalunya 37, Barcelona, Spain
This book store is like our US Barnes and Noble. They had a large selection of books for everyone. I was able to pick up a few titles for the nenes and even some for us too. We did spend more than an hour here as we were able to sit and read some books that interested us. Their children's section was bright and welcoming. They had a large room at the back of the store set up for book talks and other events. Most of the books they carry are printed in Spain and they feature many Spanish publishing companies. link
7. Al-lots Libreria Infantil y Juvenil
Calle Consell de Cent 266, Barcelona, Spain
This book store carries books for children. You can find board books, picture books, and chapter books for kids. Looking through their shelves I did find lots of translated books from the US as well as a great selection of local books. link
Calle Balmes 71, Barcelona, Spain
"La libreria de la naturaleza" This shop is focused on nature. They have a small selection of books for children of the same theme. I found their books in English, Spanish, and Catalan. In addition to their children's book selection, you can find everything you can imagine about nature, bird watching, plant information, and the list goes on. link
As mentioned above, our trip was kid free, however we did visit a few spots worth taking children to, to have fun and immerse them in experiencing Barcelona.
1. Just for Kids
Calle Casanova 173, Barcelona, Spain
When we visited, they had a party going on. This is a space is for children's artistic exploration and learning. They have a number of workshops for children throughout the week, and when classes are not going on the space doubles as a party hall to host children's parties. Worth looking into their schedule before arriving to see if sign ups are available. link
2. L'Aquàrium Barcelona
Moll d'Espanya del Port Vell, Barcelona, Spain
Beautiful open aquarium right on the port. We enjoyed walking through the exhibits and seeing large fish like sharks and some octopus swimming about. We ended our visit by feeding the koi fish. link
3. Tibidabo Amusement Park
Tibidabo Square 3-4, Barcelona, Spain
An amusement park over 100 years old (don't worry rides are safe and upgraded). Beautifully placed high above with a breathtaking view of the city of Barcelona. link
4. Zologico de Barcelona
Parc de la Ciutadella, Barcelona, Spain
We did not get to visit the zoo, however it was left on my list of "to-see/visit" for next time. I would have loved to visit as I think it would have been just as amazing as the aquarium. link
There you have it, our list of educational, immersive, and resource locations for next time you find yourself visiting Barcelona.