Country houseAn example of a 'casa rural'
As soon as I moved to Barcelona, I joined the BCN Tots Google mailing list, which is a great way of receiving all sorts of information about what’s going on in the English-speaking parenting community in Barcelona. Through the group I’ve made friends, found out about play groups and sold toaster ovens.
As the weather became warmer during the spring, I noticed that a few people on the list were beginning to post and exchange information about 'casa rurales'. There was talk of chickens and cows, remote countryside and idyllic nooks containing hammocks and whatnot.
I had been thinking of somewhere to escape to during the Sant Joan holiday weekend. I am not a fan of loud banging things exploding right outside my window so the idea of relaxing far far away in a Catalan farmhouse in the middle of nowhere during the festivities sounded appealing. Unfortunately all of the BCN Tot casa rural recommendations were fully booked for the weekend in question. Thus began a detailed period of research the likes of which I have not engaged in since I bought a new vacuum cleaner several months ago, an endeavor which involved translating customer reviews from both the German and French sites of Amazon.com. You’d think I was charged with planning a royal honeymoon rather than just two nights with one husband, two children, several baby farm animals and 10,000 mosquitoes.
Some of you may already know what a casa rural is, but for those of you who don’t, here’s the rundown. A casa rural is pretty much exactly what it sound like: a rural house. In Catalunya, they are often converted masies, traditional Catalan farmhouses. Although they vary widely in what they offer, they tend to feature appealing amenities such as swimming pools, terraces overlooking scenic valleys and delicious home-cooked meals. Many are actually working farms and offer children the chance to interact with the animals (gathering eggs, riding ponies, screeching at the ducks and so on).
To aid me in my search for the PERFECT casa rural, I used a few different websites. My favorite was Top Rural where you can search by location as well as other amenities (swimming pools, activities for children, proximity to beach, etc). In the end, the one I found was great. Not perfect, mind you, but a lot of fun for all of us. They had a small children’s playhouse stocked with toys, a paddling pool and several adorable farm animals, including a rambunctious puppy (or “Goggy” as Luca called him), ducks (“Gucks”), a donkey (“Gonkey”) and chickens (“kitchens”).
The only drawback to the whole weekend was Luca’s obsession with our rental car. You see, we don’t have a car, so for him riding in one is quite a treat and all weekend long he would continually ask us where it was. From the moment he woke up in the morning, he’d throw up his hands with an air of puzzlement and start searching. Could we have parked it in the bathroom? Left it under the bedspread? “Car? Car???? Caaaar?” Even while in the midst of feeding chickens, splashing in the pool or playing with the headless dolls in the playhouse, you could see him scanning the horizon out of the corners of his eyes, always on the lookout for that elusive parking lot.
Because sure, the “Goggy” and the “Gonkey” were great but WHERE WAS THE RENTAL CAR? We came to realize that he would have been as happy as a clam just sitting in the car in front of our building in Barcelona all weekend.
Actually there was one other drawback to the weekend and this is that I messed up the dates and planned it so that we actually were in Barcelona for Sant Joan. After a loud, sleepless night, I needed that relaxing weekend in the casa rural more than anything!
Where do you go to relax with your kids? Do any of you have a good Casa Rural to recommend?
The Family Matters blog returns in September.