Ireland or Spain with teenage boy

My son and I will be traveling through the U.K. in July -- London, York, Scotland. We'll have roughly six days before we need to meet family in Paris. Should we go to Ireland or Spain? Our current plan is to hop over to Ireland but I'm concerned that after 2 weeks in the U.K. Ireland might not hold as much interest for him as Spain. He is interested in battles, weapons, castles, and current politics. Any suggestions? Thanks!

Posted by David
Seattle, WA, USA
1414 posts

Tough call. Spain would have a lot more to interest him if he's into military history, sword fighting, conquests, battles - teenage guy stuff - there's a LOT of it. But Spain in July is going to be hot, perhaps miserably hot, for folks from the temperate Pacific Northwest. As much as I love Spain, I'd skip it in July or August because of the heat. You might have to look a little harder in Ireland to find that much "battle stuff" but there's some there, and you could experience it without the wilting heat of Spain. Plenty of "politics" in Ireland, too. I'd head for Ireland.

Posted by Kevin
near Ringwood, Hampshire, UK
521 posts

Spain, focusing on the civil war. He could read George Orwell's 'Homage to Catalonia' en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HomagetoCatalonia beforehand. Barcelona is a key city, controlled by the anarchists during the war. Suggest that he Google Robert Capa, who photographed a lot of that war, as did Gerda Taro. Next time I'm in Barcelona I hope to take the walking tour mentioned in this article: www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2012/jul/22/barcelona-spanish-civil-war-travel

Posted by Steve
Gaston, Oregon, USA
869 posts

While in Paris have you aloted time to go West to visit the DDay museums, invasion beaches, and cemeteries? Absolutely facinating; especialy if you sign up for some of the tours. (this alone could eat up at least two days) I could have spent the entire day in just the Omaha beach visitor center; walking thru the cemetery brought tears to mye eyes. The entire Normandy area has all types of neat history that could merit quite a few days: Mt St Michael,The Plague Cemetry and The Joan of Arc story and Museum in Rouen, Bayeux, and the tapestry and Battle of Normandy museum, etc. You may want to make this a stop if you have not already planned it.

Posted by Melinda
Portland, OR, USA
11 posts

Thank you everyone for your suggestions. After some consideration, the teen and I have decided to forgo Ireland for Barcelona. We realize it will be hot, but it will sure be a welcome change from the dreary, rainy English/Scottish and Oregon weather. We have six days in Paris so plenty of time for day trips to the battlefield sites of WWII. We were considering visiting Andorra on our way to Avignon from Barcelona but after reading trip reports we're going to skip it and head directly to Provence.

Posted by Jeff
Bend, OR, United States
1145 posts

There is a ton of WWII stuff in France and Belgium. From the UK you could go to Normandy, rent a car and trace the war east through Belgium before returning to Paris.

Posted by Steve
Gaston, Oregon, USA
869 posts

Melinda, it you do pick BCN make sure that you are "pick-pocket-proof"; no purse, and no wallets. Money belts, inside the pants wallets, neck purse, or across the shoulder pac safe, etc. are the way to go. BCN is the pick pocket capital of Spain, and they are good. And sign up for the Fast Bike Tour of the town...both of you will havea great time! You may want to look at staying on the ocean at some of the neat little towns that are less than 1/2 hour from BCN.

Posted by Melinda
Portland, OR, USA
11 posts

We have many opportunities to tour battlefields and WWII sites as we'll be in France a week earlier in the month as well. Thanks for the heads up regarding Barcelona, Steve. I've read that it rivals Italy for the number of pickpockets. I always travel with a money belt and a small amount of cash in the daypack.