Attending a Flamenco Show with Children with Autism

Attending a Flamenco Show with Children with Autism pin

 


Hello Margalit,

My name is Dondria, and I’m from New Orleans, Louisiana.
We are traveling to Madrid, Spain next month and my husband, and I were trying to decide on something. Our twin fourteen-year-old sons have autism. We have taken them places and done road-trips, and they have flown before, and we survived.
Now for this trip, they are older, and we think they will be able to cope even better. We were wondering whether we should take them to a Flamenco show or not since everybody that I spoke to seems to recommend it. Have you been to Spain? Did you go to a Flamenco show? I know so little about that country and the shows so I was hoping you could give me some tips and pointers.

Thanks in advance,

Dondria

Dear Dondria,

I’m so excited for you.
There is so much to see and do in Spain so be sure to read our posts. With the increase in the interest and popularity of Flamenco recently, there has been a new awakening to this art and dance form. About five years ago, it was declared to be one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. In fact, there are dance academies dedicated to teaching Flamenco all over the world.

Because of this, I have to agree with your friends. If you are going to be in Spain, you should try to go to a Flamenco show. It is authentic and a real cultural experience at the place where it all began.
I will share what I know and one of my personal experiences so it will be easier for you to make an informed decision regarding taking your sons along.

 

Attending a Flamenco Show with Children with Autism man

Booking and Length of Time

As you can imagine, Flamenco shows are very popular with tourists visiting Spain – in particular for the first time.
Flamenco shows typically happen during the evenings and can last anywhere between two to four hours depending on if they include a dinner. The best show need to be booked ahead otherwise you will struggle to get in, especially during the holiday season.
I’m glad you mentioned the age of your boys since shows like that are not necessarily recommended for children younger than the age of 10.

Specific Autism Concerns

With that said, though, taking children with autism to shows, may prove quite challenging. Scheduling can prove to be difficult since no parent can know for sure how their child is going to feel on that day.

Given the nature of the performance, the show can be quite loud. You should consider this if one or both of your sons has any sensitivity to noise.

The shows can be quite pricey anywhere between 50 to 100 euros. You don’t want to unnecessarily waste that money by not attending as planned or by leaving because your children are overwhelmed by the sensory experience.

Another issue is the fact that many of the most up-scale venues require a dress code. This fact can be a difficulty with a person who has sensory problems and might not be comfortable wearing button-down shirts or even a jacket.

One of the shows we attended was four hours long.! The venue had very few food choices coupled with uncomfortable seating close to the dancers. The room itself was also somewhat crowded and dark. The tables were placed close together forcing people to sit close to one another. It was almost impossible to move or get up to take a break.

Attending a Flamenco Show with Children with Autism ladies

Recommendations

Here are my recommendations for if you DO  decide to take your children.

Explain to them in advance what Flamenco is all about. You could show them a few clips on YouTube so that they can get an idea of what to expect.

Get a table that is not too close to the stage so that the experience is not as intense. Also, if you do have to leave early, it is easier and less disruptive to move.

Plan to go to one of the shorter shows. If they can sit through a movie, they will be able to sit through a shorter Flamenco performance.

Have a meal before attending the show. This way, the kids won’t get hungry or deal with food that they don’t want to or can’t eat.

I hope you have a wonderful time of making memories and that this will be the first of many good experiences for your boys.

Margalit

 

 

 

 

Taking Kids with Autism to Madrid Spain

 

Taking Kids with Autism to Madrid Spain pin

Madrid is a popular travel destination for international travelers. It’s high standard of living, and thriving economy attracts many visitors year round and the culture that is prevalent throughout the city keeps them coming back for more. There are dozens of attractions throughout the city that attract all ages. Here are our favorite spots in Madrid for families who have children with autism. 

Taking Kids with Autism to Madrid Spain church

Theme Parks

Warner Brothers Movie World (Parque Warner)

Parque Warner, just south of Madrid, is a booming amusement park full of well-known and beloved movie characters. From Superman and Batman to Yogi Bear and Scooby Doo, visitors can find the park littered with rides and shows that feature all Warner cartoon characters.

There are many different rollercoaster rides perfect for all visitors, from children to thrill seekers. The park also features water rides for hot summer days. For those who are not interested in rides, the live shows, performances, and food attractions are the best in the area.

Teleferico

The Teleferico cable car runs a fifteen-minute track from Paseo del Pintor Rosales to Casa de Campo. Here, travelers can get a fantastic view of the Parque del Oeste, the Egyptian Deborde temple, the Manzanares River, and the Royal Palace.The cable car runs noon to nine PM, and rides are free for Madrid card holders.

Taking Kids with Autism to Madrid Spain color

Parque de Atracciones

Parque de Atracciones is Madrid’s main amusement park. This park is open every day May to mid-September and weekends for the rest of the year. Young children can enjoy a special area of the park, and there’s plenty of thrilling rides for older kids. Families can enjoy the park’s bars, restaurants, and outdoor shows.

Faunia

Faunia is a zoo theme park that features miniature versions of different ecosystems in several domes. Travelers can see the Amazon jungle filled with exotic birds and a recreated tropical storm as well as a Penguin World with an artificial Antarctic in the same park.
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Outdoor Areas

El Retiro

El Retiro is a must-visit spot for anyone visiting Madrid. This beautiful park is home to over 15,000 trees. The lush landscape makes El Retiro the best location to lounge around, take a break, and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature. Kids can enjoy activities like biking and roller blades or take a boat ride over the pond.

Guests here can find several gardens with classical themes, a lake where visitors can go for a boat ride, and monuments and fountains dedicated to historical figures. Located in the center of Madrid, El Retiro is easy to get to, so there is no excuse to pass up stopping by this beautiful park.

Burrolandia Donkey Refuge

This Donkey Refuge is only a fifteen-minute drive outside of Madrid. Kids can pet or feed the over twenty-six donkey residents. While entry is free, any donations will go to the center’s upkeep. The center is open Sundays from 11 AM to 1:30 PM.
Taking Kids with Autism to Madrid Spain building

Real Madrid Stadium

The Real Madrid Stadium hold over 85,000 spectators and is home to numerous football games throughout the year. Even the FIFA World Cup has taken place at the Real Madrid Stadium. The stadium was first constructed during the 1940’s and has since become an even larger venue. Tours offered throughout the stadium. This place gives sports fans a chance to see some behind the scenes action right up until the game begins.

Historical/Art Museums

The Prado

Located in the center of Madrid, the Prado is the national art museum. It is home to many historical art pieces from throughout Europe. There are pieces dated from the twelfth to nineteenth centuries. The beautiful old building holds 7,600 paintings and thousands of sculptures, drawings, and historical documents. The entire collection at the Prado is based on the former Spanish Royal Collection. Within the Prado, one can find numerous pieces from famous artists such as Francisco de Goya, Diego Velazquez, El Greco, Titian, and Peter Paul Rubens.

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Museo del Arte de Reina Sofia

The Reina Sofia is one of the world’s largest contemporary art museums. The museum used to be a hospital. Today, it houses the works of several famous artists such as Dali and Picasso as well as more modern artists in temporary exhibits. Parents can let kids enjoy various workshops and tours, and children will likely find the exterior glass lifts fun to travel inside.

Caixa Forum

The Caixa Forum in Madrid features numerous exhibitions on history, art, political debates, and social events. Here, families can observe Spain’s first vertical garden, boasting 15,000 plants. They often host great workshops for parents and kids.The Forum is open daily from ten AM to eight PM, and admission is free, though some events may charge.
Taking Kids with Autism to Madrid Spain street

Palacio Real de Madrid

This palace originally held the local royalty, though now it is mainly used for ceremonies. Today, visitors can see the Palacio Real de Madrid’s beautiful gardens and architecture. For free, guests can explore the King and Queen’s quarters as well as the palace’s pharmacy with hundreds of bottles for herbal remedies. Art from different famous Spanish artists decorate the walls throughout the palace.Travelers should check out the Changing of the Guard, a popular event every Wednesday from eleven AM to two PM.

Shopping

El Rastro

The El Rastro flea market happens every Sunday morning all along Plaza de Cascorro and Ribera de Curtidores. Here, visitors can find many interesting artistic items that one can’t find anywhere else. It is certainly the best place for a unique souvenir.

Taking Kids with Autism to Madrid Spain play

El Corte Ingles

The El Corte Ingles is a famous shopping center on Gran Via. This center is made up of several buildings and features a vast collection of Spanish designer clothing. Brands here include Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Dior, Hugo Bos, and Bulgari. Those looking for some high-end fashion directly from Spain should come here.

Fuencarral Market

At the Fuencarral Market, one can find interesting and offbeat items. This market was originally made as an alternative to department stores and has grown to feature the art of some of Madrid’s most skilled artisans and designers. Family members into alternative items like piercings, tattoos, and extreme hairdressing will love this market, though it is certainly for older kids. At the market, travelers can also listen to the on-site DJs playing music.
Taking Kids with Autism to Madrid Spain tree

 

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Faunia is not a cheap day out. Guests are not allowed to bring in food from outside, and queues can be long.
  • In Palacio Real de Madrid, one can rent a locker for coats and cameras since photos are not allowed inside the buildings.
  • Caixa Forum’s workshops are great to bring flighty kids to since the admission is free and one can leave at any time without wasting money.
  • Some artwork in Reina Sofia is extreme in their content, which is either violent or sexual. Parents should make sure to avoid particular areas that might be too much for younger kids.
  • Those with the seventy-two-hour version of the Madrid card gets free entry to the Parque de Atracciones. There are no accommodations in the parks.
  • There might be long queues to enter the Prado in the summer so parents should consider purchasing tickets online.

Best Madrid Day Trips for Families with Autism

 

 

 

Best Madrid Day Trips for Families with Autism pin

Madrid‘s central location makes it an ideal base to stay in for families wishing to explore Spain‘s nearby cities of Avila, Segovia, and Toledo. In fact, families can explore a variety of medieval castles, religious shrines, and local culinary delicacies while staying comfortably in one place and driving less than two hours at a time. For parents wishing to explore the famous spots here are our best Madrid Day trips for all families including those with autism.

Best Madrid Day Trips for Families with Autism avila view

Avila

Our personal favorite is Avila, the City of Stones and Saints. Only an hour’s drive away from Madrid, a magnificent medieval wall surrounds the city. To this day, Avila is still the highest town in Spain. It is a World Heritage site, founded in the Celtic-Iberian era of the fourth century. It is today considered the best-preserved medieval walled city in the world.

Sightseeing

City Walls

The walls built in 1090 remain one of Spain’s most famous attractions today. Visitors can experience the City Walls tour where they can even see re-enactments of historical battles. For a special treat, travelers should stay after dark and walk along the ramparts when the walls become illuminated.

Cathedral

The Cathedral of Avila is another iconic location in this city. This church is the oldest cathedral in Spain built in the thirteenth century. It is considered one of the most beautiful buildings in Avila for its mixture of Gothic, Romanesque, and Renaissance styles. Visitors can enter the church to see alabaster sculptures and centuries old tapestries. Furthermore, those interested can stop by the Cathedral Museum to see a display of coins and paintings.
Best Madrid Day Trips for Families with Autism ramparts

Convent of Saint Theresa

Avila is also the birthplace of Saint Theresa. Travelers can visit the Convent of Saint Theresa and view the room where Saint Theresa was born as well as the alter created by Gregorio Fernandez that displays Saint Theresa’s vision of the Cross.

Unique experience for kids

Visitors can rent bikes for a tour of the surrounding area or rent horses to ride outside of the town for a real Medieval experience.

 Best Madrid Day Trips for Families with Autism aquaduct

Segovia

Families looking for a longer day trip to take should put Segovia on their list. The city has been home to the Celts, the Romans, Islamists and Christians and is teeming with history.

Sightseeing

Plaza del Azoguejo (Roman Aqueduct)

The city’s most iconic feature is its aqueduct located in Plaza del Azoguejo. The aqueduct is a prime example of Roman engineering in Spain and spans 818 meters with over 170 arches. Emperor Trajan’s engineers built it around the second century to carry water from the Frio River into the city, a Roman military base at the time. It was an impressive piece of architectural genius back then and continues to wow visitors to this day.
Best Madrid Day Trips for Families with Autism alcazar

Segovia Cathedral

Adorned in gold and curvy spires,  Segovia Cathedral is a beautiful church to visit. Dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the Cathedral was completed in 1768 and is considered the last Spanish Gothic cathedral built.

Alcazar of Segovia

Originally built by King Alfonso VIII in the 12th century, the Alcazar of Segovia features a moat, drawbridge, and towers. Many members of the Spanish royalty have used this palace as their home, adding personal touches to the castle.Over the years, it has served as the wedding location for King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella as well as a military academy.

Today, the palace is a museum featuring multiple armory rooms filled with weapons, swords, crossbows, and cannons. For antsy kids, there is a maze ready to be explored on the side of the palace.
Best Madrid Day Trips for Families with Autism tower

Unique experiences for kids

Garden of La Merced

Segovia has parks and gardens throughout the city where travelers can take a break from the hustle and bustle. The Garden of La Merced is the first public garden opened in Segovia and is also considered to be the most beautiful.

 Shopping and dining in Plaza Mayor

Travelers looking for something to eat after visiting the city’s sites should head to the Plaza Mayor. There are a few souvenir shops including an old fashioned toy shop.Whether it is for lunch or dinner, travelers shouldn’t leave without trying the city’s roasted suckling pig, a local delicacy.

 

Best Madrid Day Trips for Families with Autism toledo

Toledo

Another fantastic city to visit for the day is Toledo known for its well-preserved medieval architecture.In 711BC, Arabs moved into Toledo which already housed Christians and Jews, and their harmonious coexistence helped the city become a culturally vibrant spot.

Sightseeing

Medieval Gates and Bridges

The city boasts several old gates.The Old Bisagra gate, the original main entrance of the city and the Puerta de Nueva Bisagra, marked by Charles V’s coat of arms. Further up the hill, travelers can see the Puerta de Sol or Gate of the Sun a beautiful Moorish Style gate built in the fourteenth century.

Toledo also features several impressive bridges, since the Tagus River surrounds it on three sides. The Puente de Alcantara, Arabic for Bridge, located on the eastern side of Toledo as the oldest bridge in the city. The Punte de San Martin over 130 feet long with five arches of solid stone on the western side of Toledo was hailed as an engineering feat for its time back in the fourteenth century.
Best Madrid Day Trips for Families with Autism cathedral

Cathedral of Toledo

Those wishing to learn about the city’s reputation as a religious and cultural melting pot should visit the Cathedral of Toledo. This cathedral frequently compared to Notre Dame for its beauty is also one of the biggest Gothic cathedrals in the world.Built between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries it features sculptures, paintings, gold and silver altar pieces, and 750 stained glass windows.

Jewish Quarter

The Jewish Quarter occupied a large area in the city back in the Middle Ages. After the expulsion of the Jews in 1492, it nearly disappeared, and the synagogues converted to Christian churches.

Today, there are two Jewish synagogues that travelers can still visit.
The Synagogue Maria la Blanca, a beautiful pristine white decorated building, and the Synagogue El Transito, built by Samuel Levi, lavishly decorated with lattice windows and hand carved ceilings.

Avid history buffs will get a kick out of walking the narrow alleys in the quarters and envisioning how neighbors in such proximity got along with the absence of basic sanitation.

Best Madrid Day Trips for Families with Autism synagogue

Unique experiences for kids

Damascening

Many stores throughout the city sell jewelry, plates, swords, boxes and various other objects that feature the famous Toledo damascening. Children will be fascinated to watch the artisans demonstrate the delicate and intricate inlay process.

Unique Sweets

No one should leave Toledo without trying the Toledo almond paste marzipan. This dessert inspired by the Moors is a marzipan cupcake with powdered sugar. For parents wishing to give their kids an extra dose of sugar, the ponche toledanas, which are shortcakes filled with quince jam and topped with almonds are perfect.

Best Madrid Day Trips for Families with Autism souvenirs

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Those wishing to visit Segovia should print a map with English names online before arriving since it might be challenging to find one in the city
  • Segovia ‘s narrow cobblestone roads can get crowded during the summer weekends which may be hard for travelers with autism. Also, pedestrians share the streets with cars and scooters, which can be daunting.
  • Toledo features lots of stairs and steep street to navigate. This fact can be difficult for travelers with wheelchairs or sedentary kids.The ZocoTren (mini train) is a great option to explore the city without getting tired.
  • Temperatures during the summer can be as high as 111 degrees Fahrenheit in all the cities. Therefore, parents should bring a mini fan and plenty of water for temperature sensitive kids.
  • Parents tempted to purchase their kid an authentic sword as a souvenir should remember the weapon needs to fit in luggage and go through customs.
  • Kids should wear close toe shoes since there is a lot of walking and climbing involved.

Ten Best Things to do with Kids in Barcelona

 

Ten Best Things to do with Kids in Barcelona pin

Barcelona is a beautiful city inundated with life and culture. Tourists come from all over the world to see its famous attractions and enjoy the relaxing pace. Most travelers do not realize that Barcelona is very kid friendly as well. Below are the ten best things to see and do with kids when traveling to this great city.

Parc Guell

This park is extremely colorful and vibrant. Antonio Gaudi, a late 19th-century architect, created this park as one of this many love letters to his city. What is significant about Gaudi is that, unlike the other creators of his age who preferred geometrical straight lines, Gaudi built his structures with curved lines. Although the artist never finished Parc Guell, it has become a mainstay in the city for tourists and locals alike. Children cannot resist the bright colors and vibrant landscape. It is one of the most whimsical places in the city.6107332566_35daf531c6_z

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Pack some closed toe walking shoes for the kids, as there are many steps to traverse. Try accessing the park from the escalators in the back to save your feet!
  • Bring a water bottle because just like in any tourist landmark, the water will be expensive.
  • Pack some bandaids, sunscreen, and insect repellant.

Segrada Familia Cathedral

This famous cathedral, also created by Gaudi, has been under construction since the late 1800s. Construction on this and several other works by Gaudi stopped suddenly after he was unexpectedly struck by a horse pulled tram and, after being confused for a beggar, received subpar treatment and subsequently died.

Touring the Segrada Familia is a real treat. Kids will marvel at the model makers at work inside and can also view plans for the finished product. This is a truly spectacular sight and is a must see during any traveler’s visit.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Encourage kids to explore and ask questions. Segrada Familia is one of the few rare living church history lessons in progress.

La Pedrera

The last creation of Gaudi, La Pedrera has become a tourist attraction mainstay in the city. At its first creation, the building was the subject of controversy because of the unusual twisting construction of the windows and balconies. The distinct lines and forms always intrigue children. Admission is free for children up to 13 years of age. This place is a must see during your visit.

Ten Best Things to do with Kids in Barcelona building

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Be sure to visit the attic where the works of Gaudi are housed. Children always find this part particularly interesting.
  • Prepare kids by reading a little bit and introducing them to the work of Gaudi before visiting.

Picasso Museum

This museum houses some of Picasso’s most famous works. The Picasso Museum building consists of five former medieval palaces. Fans of the artist can see his most obscure paintings in chronological order, tracking his artistic development. It also has an area that is exclusively dedicated to children. The sights and sounds will delight kids and immerse in a culture as they meander through the museum.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • This would be a great place to visit on a rainy day. Staying indoors would be much preferred to fighting the weather outside with the kids under an umbrella.

Bari Gotic (Gothic Quarter)

This is one of the quiet neighborhoods of the city with a historical essence. If you are looking for a pedestrian/family-friendly environment, then Bari Gotic is your destination. Quiet strolls and simple café eating are the order of the day here.

Ten Best Things to do with Kids in Barcelona street

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Parents who forgot to pack a lunch for the day should not worry. The many cafés and restaurants offer ample food choices that are easy for tight budgets.
  • Don’t leave without trying the Spanish hot chocolate and churros.

Olympic Village

Designed for the Olympics held in Barcelona in 1992, parts of the village dominate the skyline. Kids will certainly enjoy the beach that is located in the village, and there are many playgrounds for them to explore and enjoy.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Make sure kids wear bright colored shirts or bathing suits so they will be easy to spot in the crowd. The Barcelona coastline can get quite crowded and this is a handy way to make sure to keep an eye on the kids at all times.

La Rambla

This is perhaps one of the most colorful and vibrant boulevards in the world. La Rambla is truly a one-of-a-kind street with street performers such as magicians, balloon artists, and mimes. A must see stop is La Boqueria, mentioned in the next segment, to help with hunger pangs and sensory overload.

Ten Best Things to do with Kids in Barcelona market

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Plan this trip on a day that is slightly overcast. This makes for a much more enjoyable stroll down the street, especially with kids who have light sensitivities or are prone to migraines.
  • Pickpocketing is prevalent, so don’t let the kids carry valuables of any sort and keep an eye on them.

La Boqueria

The La Boqueria is a massive market located in the heart of the city. The history of this market dates all the way back to the early 13th century! However, it was not legally recognized in its current form until 1835. All of the colors and smells will delight children, and all that food in one place certainly makes for an impressive display.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Let kids pick out a few items that they would like to eat or cook later. Involving them in the process is an excellent way to bond as a family and expose kids to new foods, textures, and cultures.

Font Màgica de Montjuïc

From its very first performance in 1929, this fountain show accompanied by music has been delighting audiences of all ages for almost a century now. Children are always captivated by the many different colors and sounds that the fountain features.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • This attraction is best viewed at night. Make sure to let it get good and dark so the kids will get the full impact of the display.
  • The best part is the fact that it’s only twenty minutes, which even kids with the shortest attention spans can sit through.

Columbus Monument

This monument, opened in 1888, is located directly in the center of the city. Parents can take children for a ride in the elevator to the top where they can enjoy a spectacular view of the city. The Columbus Monument is an excellent way to enjoy a part of Spain’s history, introducing your kids to the impact that Spain left on the world.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • The inside of the monument’s column has an elevator. Here you can take the kids to the top of the monument at night for a different scene. Check to make sure it is open beforehand.
  • Buy tickets ahead of time to avoid lines for the elevator.

Overall, families will find Barcelona very kid friendly and have a great time. Parents should introduce children to the art of Gaudi and Picasso ahead of time, so they will understand and appreciate the vibe of the city better.

Ten Best Things to do with Kids in Barcelona columbus

Staying with Kids at Barcelona’s Le Meridien

Staying with Kids at Barcelona's Le Meridien pin

One of our favorite places to stay while visiting Barcelona, Spain is the Le Meridian hotel. This five-star establishment, located at 111 La Rambla in the heart of Barcelona, contains 231 rooms and is centrally situated in the city.The hotel is a short walking distance from the Barri-Gotic old town, as well as the Picasso museum.

Staying with Kids at the Le Meridien Barcelona beach

What Makes the Le Meridien Family Worthy?

As stated before, the hotel is within walking distance of the Liceo Opera, and the epic Cathedral Sagrada Familia. It is also within 30 minutes of the beach. A wide variety of shops and eateries as well as the city’s famous market are less than five minutes away. The property offers excellent connecting suites, which is an incredible bonus for families that are traveling together but wish to have some privacy during their hotel stay.The property offers excellent connecting mini-suites, which is a fantastic bonus for families that are traveling together but want to have some privacy during their hotel stay.

Décor

Although the hotel’s sleek décor is mostly comprised of dark hues, splashes of vibrant color and metallics are used as an accent throughout the public spaces and rooms. The boutique hotel lobby reminded us of an upscale Starbucks coffee house with modestly padded seating that felt quite uncomfortable within minutes of sitting down.

Staying with Kids at the Le Meridien Barcelona 450

 

Fellow Travelers

Since the property is on a tourist thoroughfare, most travelers are couples and families wishing to experience the vibrant atmosphere.

Suites

Rooms 447 and 450 in this hotel were the best connecting mini suites we’ve ever stayed in. Each of the carpeted rooms was connected via a narrow hallway that also had a separate door leading outside, which could be locked at night.

Staying with Kids at the Le Meridien Barcelona bed

 

The comfortable suites had a modern, minimalistic décor, yet the furniture included in the rooms was quite functional. The large beds were incredibly comfortable with fluffy pillows that weren’t too hard. Our king sized bedroom had a hip orange chair, a convenient place to relax in the evenings. By contrast, the twin bedroom had a desk where guests could work on projects or check social media. Both spaces had good shelving units and sizable closets for storing luggage and all the items we brought along. There were flat screen TVs and coffee makers that helped round out the furnishings. Also, not only were the rooms incredibly well lit, but they also had an adequate amount of outlets for charging electronics.

The Bathroom

Each room had its own bathroom, which was slightly different. The master came with a natural stone shower area, sink, and commode. The kids’ room came with a natural, dark gray-hued stone bathroom with a bathtub/shower combo with a top of the line shower head. Both showers had fixed rain showers overhead. The hotel provided complete amenity kits with nail files and shower caps as well as slippers and toiletries. Our kids loved the fact that each bathroom had a mini TV in it to watch while taking a bath or shower.

Staying with Kids at the Le Meridien Barcelona building

Hotel Amenities

Massages and aromatherapy treatments were available at the hotel’s spa. The Le Meridien also boasted a working gym, hot tub, Turkish steam bath, and sauna. Useful for everyone these days was the fact that complimentary Wi-Fi was available in all the hotel’s public areas and that the reception desk was open 24 hours a day.

Staying with Kids at the Le Meridien Barcelona food

Restaurants & Bars

The property has two main dining venues that serve local Spanish food. The Cent Onze restaurant offers spectacular views and fresh Mediterranean dishes, while the Longitude Bar 02º 10′ has fresh pastries and coffee. In the evening, the Longitude Bar has traditional Spanish tapas for the guests as well. The hotel has an international breakfast buffet every morning, which we were told was excellent. However, we have yet to try it since we always seem to get the early flights out of Barcelona that leave at 6 AM.

Service

While lounging in the lobby waiting for our room to be ready, we ordered coffees and hot chocolates. Our son with autism managed to spill his immediately on the floor. He started to cry since he knew that there were no free refills offered and he was looking forward to having that hot chocolate. One of the employees in the coffee shop immediately jumped to the rescue and made him another hot chocolate with plenty of whipped cream on top to keep him happy.

Housekeeping was impeccable, and the staff arrived within minutes of us picking up the phone and requesting additional towels.

Staying with Kids at Barcelona's Le Meridien market

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Since this is Europe, parents need to be aware that there are hotels with smoking rooms. However, non-smoking rooms are available, and all the public areas are smoke-free as well.
  • Those who are light sleepers might want to request a higher floor to keep any sound from the nearby pedestrian areas from disturbing their rest.
  • Noise sensitive individuals may additionally want to avoid booking rooms that face La Rambla Street. Guests should instead opt for quieter rooms in the back of the hotel with no view.
  • Some of the suites, like the one we stayed in, have handheld showerheads. These are useful for bathing young children or other individuals who require assistance.
  • Other rooms feature tubs with a safety bar on the side. Because of this, a disabled person can enter and exit the bath without slipping.
  • Both rooms we stayed in had glass closet and bathroom glass doors, which may be hazardous for younger kids.

 

Visiting the Alhambra Palace with Family

 

 

vISITING THE aLHAMBRA PALACE WITH FAMILY1

The Alhambra Palace is a UNESCO world heritage site located in Granada, Spain that features well-preserved Moorish Architecture. It is also a vast and beautiful palace that travelers from around the world flock to see. Visitors can gaze at this fantastic “pearl set in emeralds,” cited as an example of Muslim historical art. If visitors find themselves in this part of Spain, they absolutely cannot miss this fantastic piece of history.

Visiting the Alhambra Palace with Family landscape

Alhambra’s History

The Alhambra Palace was originally designed as a small fortress in the year 899. This fortress was forgotten by history until its renovation in the mid-thirteenth century. The fortress officially converted into a palace in 1333. The Alhambra Palace, as recognized now, was built for the last Muslim rulers in Spain.

Traveling European scholars rediscovered Alhambra Palace in the nineteenth century. Through its restoration, the Alhambra Palace has become one of Spain’s major tourist attractions and is the country’s most significant and well-known example of Islamic architecture.

What to Marvel About

The palace is composed of a series of rooms and courtyards intertwining to create a fantastical maze of architecture and design. The palace’s tremendous size can be attributed to the gradual addition of rooms varying in dimensions and connecting each other. As travelers will find out, the majority of the buildings are quadrangular in shape with the rooms opening up to a central court.

Visiting the Alhambra Palace with Family water

Not only is the Alhambra Palace itself large, but it is also surrounded by an enormous woodland. The park (Alameda de la Alhambra) is a gardener’s paradise because of the overgrowth of wildflowers, roses, oranges and myrtles all planted by the Moors. Not to be missed is the dense forest of English Elms that were brought over by the Duke of Wellington in 1812 and which enhance the natural elements of the palace.

Not to be Missed

One should take the opportunity to visit the Hall of Ambassadors. The Hall of Ambassadors (Salón de Los Embajadores) was the grand reception room and also where the Sultan sat to greet his guests. The hall is exquisite with four-foot walls covered in tilework that hold a series of oval medallions with inscriptions, interwoven with flowers and leaves. The ceiling is also exquisite, painted in white, blue and gold inlays in the shapes of circles, crowns, and stars.

Visiting the Alhambra Palace with Family tile

Those interested in stories and legends should stop at the Hall of the Abencerrajes. The hall itself is splendid with a honeycomb style dome and beautiful mosaic tiles, but it is the story itself that draws pedestrians. Legend has it that the last sultan of Granada invited the chiefs from the Abencerrajes family to the Hall of the Abencerrajes (Sala de Los Abencerrajes) and slaughtered them all because of a romantic dispute. In the room, there is a fountain where you can see rust spots claimed to be the blood of the murdered chiefs.

The Courtyards

There are a few courtyards that one must see if visiting Alhambra. Probably the more famous of the courts is the Court of Lions. The Court of Lions (Patio de Los Leones) is surrounded by a gallery supported by 124 white marble columns. Paved with colored tiles and white marble, the court gleams in the sunlight creating an airy feeling as guests stroll. Various depictions of foliage adorn the columns themselves. In the center of the court, you will find the famous fountain lions. The fountain is an alabaster basin supported and surrounded by twelve marble lions. The Lions all represent strength, power, and sovereignty. As visitors walk around the fountain, they will find at the edge a poem written by Ibn Zamark attempting to put the wonders of the Court of Lions into words.

Visiting the Alhambra Palace with Family fountain

Another important court to visit is the Court of Myrtles. The court holds a pool to help keep the palace cool in the warm summer. Interestingly, this pool is also a traditional symbol of power. Water was scarce at the time, and keeping the pool full was a challenging and tedious task. There is also a pond set in marble full of goldfish with myrtle growing along the sides, which is said to encourage peace and tranquility.

Our Take

We took an organized tour so that we wouldn’t have to deal with tickets or entrances. The palace is wondrous, but it’s best enjoyed with older kids. Even our children had one or two moments where, after seeing several of the halls, they were a little “halled out.”

The most interesting thing we explored was the Women’s Quarters. Here, walls separated the harem from the rest of the palace. The separating wall had tiny peepholes that the women could peek through to see what was happening without being seen themselves.

Visiting the Alhambra Palace with Family arch

Not only did our kids learn about Spanish history and the Moors, but they also saw the different beautiful mosaic designs on the walls and exquisite wood carvings unique to the palace. Our family considered it a day well spent.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • The best time to visit is in spring or fall, as it gets crowded and hot during the summer. It is also best to visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid these crowds.
  • You can buy tickets ahead of time, which we highly recommend. Your family can also take an organized tour of the palace.
  • The palace is easy to walk, though there are a lot of stairs. Prepare your kid for walking, and make sure everyone wears comfortable shoes.
  • If you visit in the summer, you may have to deal with bugs or heat. Bring sunscreen, water, insect repellent or a mini fan from home, or consider coming in the fall.

Visiting the Alhambra Palace with Family door

  • Pickpocketing is frequent around the area. Watch your belongings, wear a money belt under your garments, and don’t bring electronics unless you’re prepared to hold them in hand at all times.
  • Visitors are not allowed to touch things within the palace. Prepare your kid for this accordingly.
  • The palace is vast, and you could easily spend an entire day there without noticing. However, for kids, two to three hours is enough time to explore the best parts of the palace.
  • If your child is not a history or architecture fan, they might feel bored by the guided tour. You’d be better off just seeing one or two halls and courtyards and calling it a day.
  • Wheelchairs are available in the main ticketing office. There is a wheelchair accessible route through Alhambra, though visitors taking this course won’t see the entire palace.
  • You can buy replicas at the shop, all handmade by local artists. Our son fell in love with a beautiful bone model. These are expensive but well made.

Visiting the Alhambra Palace with Family end

Top Five Family Activities on Lanzarote Island

top-five-family-activities-on-lanzarote-island

 

Although the Spanish Canary Islands could have once housed the legendary Garden of Hesperides, these islands were mentioned by Pliny the Elder in his encyclopedia of the natural world. At that time, Lanzarote received the descriptor of a “purple island,” and the island’s name from the natives was Tyterogaka, meaning “one that is all ochre.”This was the location of the filming for original Planet of the Apes, and the island it is especially notable for its “Martian” landscape.  Today, people living on the island rely primarily on tourism and agriculture for their income. As is the case with any popular travel destination, there is plenty to see at this spot so here’s a list of some sights you should check out on your next visit.

Top Five Family Activities on Lanzarote Island landscape

Timanfaya National Park

Travelers will want to take advantage of the complimentary bus ride around the lava fields at this national park. Commentary on this trip is in three different languages including English, and the journey lasts about fifteen minutes.
Hungry visitors should stop by the onsite restaurant which uses heat from the volcanos to cook the food that they serve. Our kids were fascinated with the process and watched it over and over again. Travelers should be aware that people arriving on organized tours get sightseeing priority over those that have made their own way to the site and make their plans accordingly. The park can be found about a half hour drive from the nearby town of Puerto del Carmen.

Top Five Family Activities on Lanzarote Island sky

Be sure to take a camel ride, because it is a once in a lifetime experience that your family will remember forever. Instead of riding on top of a blanket like in most countries, two people ride on each side of the camel in a basket. According to the tour guides, they only use female camels that are more friendly and less likely to bite visitors. The ride is twenty minutes along the uneven sand dunes, and we spent the first five minutes in fear of the camel tripping making us fall from the basket.

Top Five Family Activities on Lanzarote Island camel

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Be sure to try a meal cooked over a volcanic rock while you’re here but rest assured they also have  spagetti  on the menu for th picky kids.
  • The national park is wheelchair accessible. Admission users get in for free, and some coaches are specially made to handle wheelchairs.
  • For the camel rides, prepare your child, especially if they are afraid of heights.

César Manrique Foundation

This unique home was created using the natural lava bubbles found here as a design element. The building is now home to a tidy museum that houses the modern artworks of its’ former owner, including sketches by Picasso and Miró. As the video shown by the museum explains, Cesar Manrique was a visionary who tried to protect his island from the effects of rampant commercialism. The house itself provides travelers with an excellent view of the surrounding area. Visiting this spot will only take about thirty minutes, and the grounds also contain a place that sells snacks as well as a gift shop.

Top Five Family Activities on Lanzarote Island rocks

Autism Travel Tips:

  • You can grab a cup of  hot  chocolate and churro  in the garden.
  • This place is best for family members particularly interested in art and unique architecture.
  • The home is small and easy to explore quickly. It’s recommended as a quick stop during your vacation rather than an all day excursion.

Papagayo Beach

Papagayo Beach is a beautiful area with fantastic views and a perfect blue sea. It’s not very crowded most days, and the area is considered by main to be “pure” and “unspoiled.” Most of the nearby facilities are away from the beach, but there are restrooms and restaurants where you can get a bite to eat if you haven’t thought to bring your own provisions. You can find some special eating areas inside the nearby volcanic tunnels.

Top Five Family Activities on Lanzarote Island red

Autism Travel Tips:

  • You will need to rent a car to get to the beach. Part of the drive is down a dirt road so plan accordingly.
  • Visitors will need to be able to maneuver up and down a flight of stairs to access the beach itself.
  • It’s a rocky beach, nothing like the sandy beaches of the Carribean, and some people might not like walking in the rocky areas.

Rancho Texas Lanzarote Park

As a current holder of a Certificate of Excellence from the folks at Trip Advisor, this animal populated area in Puerto del Carmen is sure to delight young children. Some performances take place on the grounds, and these are well worth making an effort to see, particularly the sea lion and parrot shows. Tasty, good value meals can also be found on the premises as well. Toddlers under the age of two are admitted free of charge. The park is open every day from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm but it does open a half-hour earlier than usual on Fridays.

Top Five Family Activities on Lanzarote Island food

Autism Travel Tips:

  • There is a Country/Western night that involves sitting with or next to strangers in proximity. If your child needs a lot of personal space, this might not be the best night to come.
  • Teach your kids to be respectful and wary of the local animals by telling them not to get too close to or touch them.

The Devil’s Caves

This cool spot is a good place to get away from the blazing hot sun, particularly during the summer months. The caves are an excellent place to view the impressive white crabs that make their homes here as well as the usual cave features such as stalagmites and stalactites. The site is open between the hours of 10 am and 6 pm, with the last tour departing promptly at 5 pm. The tours themselves last a little less than a full hour.

Top Five Family Activities on Lanzarote Island rocky

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Those coming here should be aware that the cave walls can be quite narrow in places and there are no elevators on the premises.
  • The tour guides speak multiple languages, but their accents can be thick so keep this in mind when you and your family want to visit.
  • In the caves, water can drip on your head at any point. Kids need to be aware of this.
  • The caves are dark with uneven ground, and there is a strange smell because it is underground. Kids who are sensitive to any of these factors might have issues navigating the caves.

Trekking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela with Autism

As some of you may know our readers are always invited to contact us to ask for advice, tips or any other help planning their trips. The service is free and is available through private email on our contact us section on tour navigation bar or via our FB page. 

In this case, Lisa’s question about taking her son with autism on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela was first posted on our FB page and as we thought other readers might benefit we decided to turn it into a post.

 

Dear Margalit

Do you have any thoughts on taking one’s adult autistic offspring on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela? I am considering doing just that, although would take it a lot slower than most people, and have more rest days.
I would spend about two years physically and mentally preparing my son to go.
As my son is also intellectually disabled, an epileptic, as well as a coeliac, am I crazy to even consider it?
Any feedback would be gratefully received.
Thanks, Lisa.

 

Dear Lisa,
Thanks so much for your question.
The Camino is quite different than some of my other destinations as it is really ‘off the beaten track’, so to speak, and unique in its place in the travel industry.
It is, of course, a magnificent part of the world; with some routes and their monuments in both Spain and France even earning UNESCO World Heritage status.
Known as a predominantly Catholic pilgrimage route for centuries and called Saint James Path or The Way of Saint James; it used to be referred to as a means for spiritual growth or soul-searching for a few dozen pilgrims each year.

Trekking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela with Autism view

Photo credit: Bev Kelly

Nowadays, it has become far more familiar with a few hundred thousand travelers making the journey annually and not only for spiritual reasons.
A lot of people like the idea of peace and quiet and the tranquillity of the path that the Camino offers for an alternative holiday or getaway. Some hikers use it as a personal conquest and for some, it is not unheard of to walk the Camino to find a spouse.

Trekking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela with Autism hikers

Photo credit: Bev Kelly

In years gone by pilgrims did the journey on their own, but now there are even organized tours that make arrangements for singles, couples, and groups.
In recent years, there have been some unique accounts of people making the trek in wheelchairs with the help of their family or friends. The ultimate aim of the journey is to be able to receive a certificate of accomplishment (Compostela) to say that the pilgrim has completed at least 100 kilometers by foot; the only thing that is required for this is to walk, eat and sleep.

Trekking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela with Autism boot

Photo credit: Bev Kelly

What you need to know.

  • Good hiking boots are vital and then one has to decide on food and lodging.
  • Some people complete the walk with the bare minimum; camping out in the open and really ‘roughing it’.
  • For those who don’t like sleeping under the stars, other options are little hostels called refugios that are economical and give one the opportunity to contribute to the community’s economy.
  • The route passes through small villages and towns, and there are cathedrals and chapels along the way that appeal to religious and non-religious alike.
  • The architecture and views are spectacular and along the whole route, care has been taken to show hospitality to pilgrims with trails marked out accurately and foot fountains to soothe aching feet.
  • As a bonus, these days, all the refugios offer free WiFi, really appealing to the modern pilgrim.
Trekking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela with Autism car

Photo credit: Bev Kelly

Regarding special needs and autism, it absolutely can be done and has been done.
A woman with autism from the United States completed the route in 2013 which was a fantastic achievement.
It is, of course, imperative to plan, like you said.
Every single need and possible concern should be discussed and taken into account.For most people with autism, a schedule is vital.In an unusual way, walking the Camino provides a routine in itself.Even though you wake up in a different place every morning, the pattern of the day is the same, and there is an end goal.Your son would not need to feel pressured; walking pace and resting times are flexible.

Trekking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela with Autism road snacks

Photo credit: Bev Kelly

Autism Travel Tips

  • How comfortable is your son with sleeping in a different bed than his own? Part of your preparation can be to expose him to sleeping in different motels.
  • If he is sensitive to light, make sure that he has a sleep mask as each refugio will have different arrangements regarding blinds or curtains.
  • If your son is noise-sensitive, then earplugs or headphones will be very beneficial.
  • If your son is sensitive to heat, then choose to travel in the cooler months.
    Most hikers start out early in the morning also to avoid the heat of the day. I suggest you break-in new shoes a few weeks before to avoid getting blisters.
  • You mentioned that he has celiac disease so you would need to make allowance for carrying extra weight in gluten-free substitute foods and snacks in your backpack.
    There are stores and stalls for purchasing food along the way, but there is no guarantee that it will be suitable for your son’s digestive system.The meals at the refugios are simple, and if you are in a town or village, there is the possibility of eating at a tavern or restaurant.

 

 

Trekking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela with Autism solo hiker

Photo credit Bev Kelly

  • If your son is on medication for epilepsy, for example, you will need to take an ample supply and also a means to keep it dry and at a suitable temperature no matter where you will be staying on the route.
  • If you choose to go with a specialized tour, they do provide you with water, food and first aid as well as the option of a ride to the closest medical center if necessary. It should go without saying that travel insurance is a priority.
  • If your son enjoys the outdoors, gets a sense of accomplishment from completing goals and embraces the challenge of doing something new, then walking the Camino might be just the thing for him.
Trekking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela with Autism mountains

Photo credit: Bev Kelly

Please let me know if you are going to do it. We, at Autistic Globetrotting, would love to hear about your experience.

 

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