But then I read about this amazing tour in Barcelona - Runnerbean's Kids and Family Walking Tour. Runnerbean is known for it's amazing walking tours in Barcelona. They do tours on Gaudi, The Old City, The Dark Past and A City of Contrast, as well as private tours. (When we go back in ten years to see the Sagrada Familia finally finished, We're so doing their Gaudi tour). But the Kids and Family Walking Tour is special. It's geared specifically for children, filled with Catalan and Barcelona history and all those little things that children (and children at heart) love. I contacted Ann-Marie and Gorka, the owners and asked if we could feature this tour on our blog. They kindly agreed and invited us along for the ride on Saturday morning, our last day in beautiful Barcelona.
The sun decided to join us as well, thankfully. It was a lovely sunny morning when we all gathered together at the meeting spot in the Gothic area. There were four families - us and three American families although only one family currently lived in the States. One had recently moved to Saudi Arabia from Texas and the other has been living in a nearby Catalan city for quite a few years. There were eight kids ranging in age from three to eleven. All the kids got a little workbook to follow along with and work on at home. Ann-Marie (formerly a teacher from Ireland) had thought of all the details and had pencils and pencil crayons, little wooden boards to write on and bags to carry everything in as we walked. The walk was to be three hours long.
Ann-Marie got right down to a challenge, describing the bloody history of the Catalan flag and challenging the kids to colouring it in just two minutes. If they succeeded she would buy each of us a candy at a nearby shop that had been making their own sweets for decades.
Ann-Marie showed the kids how to tell which shops had been in Barcelona the longest - by the commemorative plate set outside the door. Pretty soon they were experts and could point them out as we went along.
It seems that Catalan families have El Tio or Tio de Nadal (Christmas Log) in their homes before Christmas. He has a friendly face, a red Catalan hat (usually) and a little blanket on him to cover up his back end (which is important). Beginning on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8th) the children must feed Tio a little bit and keep him warm under his blanket every night.
Then on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, the children take sticks and sing a song that translates to:
Poop Tio Poop, poop turron
Poop Tio Poop, Christmas log
If you don't poop well, we'll hit you with a stick.
Then the children go into another room to pray that Tio poops well and lo and behold, when they return, they find delcious treats and traditional turron (Christmas nougat) under his blanket. Big presents come from The Three Wise Men (not Santa)
Ann-Marie had us sing a longer version of this song and told us of another Catalan Christmas tradition (I'll just link to him - El Caganer) that had everyone laughing in disbelief.
Thank you very much, Ann-Marie and Gorka at Runner Bean Tours!
Just a note that although we received this tour for free, our views, as always, are strictly our own.