paula toledo

Where Discovery Meets Gratitude

Ode to Wonder is an experiential community, a creative space built to exercise mental well-being and positive states of mind by engaging in curiosity, discovery and gratitude.

It is a celebration of the simple things in life, accessible through the beauty of humanity, art, travel, and sports/nature. The four pillars fit together perfectly as an acronym, 'H.A.T.S. Off' to describe a mental wellness regime based on self-care and self-compassion. 

While crossing paths with innovative and inspiring people, Ode to Wonder will share their stories of adversity, but mainly offer insight into their individual strength and the resources they used to  help them work through life's challenges.

May Ode to Wonder be a contagious remedy for some, offering enlightenment. May it be a dare to dream bigger, believe in oneself that much more. A dare to climb up those stairs, open the door to the rooftop of the world and wonder.

For we are one. Let us all be part of each other's wonders. 

Ode to Barcelona - Family Travel  (Part I) 'tournKeys': Magic Fountains

Ode to Barcelona - Family Travel (Part I) 'tournKeys': Magic Fountains


Single Mom - Family Travel in Barcelona

by Paula M. Toledo

A city that impresses itself upon you changes you forever. At least that is how I feel with all the cities I have ever fallen in love with. The smell, the colour palette of the city's architectural landscape, its sound, a certain pitch in the din that fills the cafés, the way people's eyes lock with yours. Albeit for a millisecond, sometimes these slight connections with locals passing by, living their day to day routine, add up. Just like body language - we all give off signals. So collectively, it makes sense that a city, in a way, has its own kind of body language. With Barcelona, I felt welcomed from our first meeting. Arms uncrossed, head tilted, curious for me to discover it. 

I have found, the way a city greets you and how you greet them is akin to the same type of alchemy found in new love and relationships.  At least, that is how I have come to understand it when it comes to cities like Barcelona

I first met Barcelona while on a student study abroad program. I remember walking down La Rambla, full of awe and wonder. Soaking in the Barrio Gotico, I could feel my heart expand, racing faster. On my second day, perhaps with a hope of superstitiously stoking my extended love affair, I visited the Font de Canaletes and drank from it. A 19th century fountain situated at the head of La Rambla near Plaça Catalunya, the Font de Canaletes' legend has it, that anyone drinking from the fountain will fall in love with the city and return over and over again. This legend didn't escape me. Over a decade later, I would return but this time as a single mom with my two active kids in tow. 

Seeing Barcelona through the eyes of my sons brought an even greater depth to the love I already had for this city. I had forgotten how warm and friendly the Barcelonians are, how engaging and family-centric their culture is. Meal times are pinnacle to social connections with friends and families, with stores and businesses shutting down for 'siesta'. At this time, typically from around 2 to 5 pm, the city feels a reprieve from the incessant hustle and bustle.  

Upon planning our travels, I admit, I was at first a bit reticent about spending two weeks with my kids in such a big city. But pushing fear aside, we jumped in and never looked back. 

For families and especially single moms wanting to travel to Barcelona, I have listed our favourite adventures below. I am sharing our experiences and turn-key (TOURnKEY) sample itineraries with the hopes that it can guide you towards more carefree family travel. 

TOURnKEYS - Sample Itineraries I - Family Travel Barcelona 

In the PM:

1800 - 2100h: For a 360 degree panoramic view of Barcelona, visit the rooftop and deck of Las Arenas, a commercial leisure and cultural centre. Inaugurated in 1900, the dome was formerly a bullring Plaça de Toros de les Arenes, until 1977 when it had its last fight. Re-modeled by architects Richard Roger and Alonso-Balaguer, the deck has excellent viewpoints to Plaça d'Espanya, Parc Joan Miró, Palau Nacional. If you arrive on the earlier side, there are restaurants situated on the rooftop deck where you grab a meal. We opted for grab-n-go and took a bocadillo picnic in our backpacks.  


Cost: There are two options to access the viewpoint, you can pay € 1 per person to take advantage of an elevator that whisks you up to the deck from street level. Or it is free through the commercial center's 5th floor escalators.

Location, how to get there: 

Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes no. 373-385/08015/Barcelona

Metro: Metro L1, L3 (Stop Plaça Espana)  Bus: Plaça Espanya/Centre Commercial Las Arenas: 13, 46, 150 Plaça Espanya: 13, 23, 30, 37, 46, 50, 65, 79, 91, 109, H12, H16. I recommend you plan your routes here . Or use Google Maps which can also give you a detailed transit route with estimated arrival times. 

21:00h* : Depart for Magic Fountains or Fuente Mágica (Font Màgica) de Monjuïc is a symphonic light show and water ballet taking place at the fountains on Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristina, the street running from the Palau Nacional to Plaça d'Espanya in Montjuïc. Choreographed among 50 different hues, the anticipation of the water propelling upwards perfectly synchronized with the crescendo of the music, only to rise further and collapse unexpectedly, was exhilarating for the kids. Thousands of people come out for see the magic, so arrive early. For extra adventure, arrive early and secure front row seats by the fountain - expect to get WET!

Cost: Free 


Location, how to get there: 

P1Carlas Buïgas, 1/O8038 Barcelona/El Poble Sec (Sant Monjuïc)

Metro L1 and L3 (Stop Espanya), Bus 55 

We took the bus and with children it can take about 15 minutes - 30 minutes to walk from the bus stop to the fountains. So leave a buffer and plan your routes. Or use Google Maps which can also give you a detailed transit route with estimated arrival times. 


*In the summer, shows start at 21:30 but verify times here:

by Paula Toledo

Ode to Barcelona - Active Family Travel (Part II), 'TOURNKEYS': Beaches & Poblenou

Ode to Barcelona - Active Family Travel (Part II), 'TOURNKEYS': Beaches & Poblenou

Ode to 1001 Fesses Project & Real Women

Ode to 1001 Fesses Project & Real Women