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Barcelona suggestions.
Old 03-02-2007, 10:57 PM   #1
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Barcelona suggestions.

DW and I decided to visit Barcelona later this month. We've spent some time in Spain, but never in Barcelona. Anyone have suggestions or "must see" sites?
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Re: Barcelona suggestions.
Old 03-03-2007, 12:22 AM   #2
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Re: Barcelona suggestions.

parc de guell is a must-see. It is a park designed by Antoni Gaudi - who also designed the Sagrada Familia (the big/important religious temple).

Also, I very much enjoyed going to Parc de la Ciutadella. There's a fountain that you can sit up at the top of, and on a good day (which it will be at the end of April / early May) the snack vendor is out and he sells beers.

During an afternoon with good weather, go down Las Ramblas to see the street performaers. There's also a tapas bar at the beginning of Las Ramblas (it's on the right just as you start on Las Ramblas) which is definitely worth a stop. There was also a wonderful flower shop that had many different colors of roses, which even for us guys is kinda neat to see such colorful variety rarely (in my case never) found in the US.

If you're into museums, there's an average Sex Museum (not as good as the one in Amsterdam), and I did enjoy half of the Picasso museum. It's free on the 1st Sunday of the month and closed on Mondays.

You can skip the aquarium unless you've got nothing better to do. They had a penguin. That was nice. Other than that, it's rather small.

When I was there, I stayed with a local which really enhanced the experience. Whenever I travel alone for pleasure, I always find locals on craigslist or just by searching, and every time it's been a wonderful experience. There's nothing like having an instant inside scoop.

You can walk into a McDonald's just to witness the menu... particularly of note is that they sell beer there.

Public transport is good there, and the Information Center is very helpful (free maps, too!).

Other than that, the most enjoyable thing about Barcelona was just wandering around.

If you're going to stay for a while in Spain, then take a weekend down in Seville. It's just a delightful little town with a lot of Spanish flair. That's where you'd see authentic Flamenco dancing, as well as Christopher Columbus's tomb.

And if you're debating Madrid, skip it. It's a big city, nothing interesting, and the locals will take tourists for a ride. No, literally. The taxi drivers will take the "long" route even if your location isn't very far they find a way to jack up the fares. And theft is a bit more rampant in Madrid (it' the only city in Europe where somebody attempted to pickpocket me).

FYI -- when people try to sell you things on the street (like watches) particularly on Las Ramblas, don't even give them the time of day. There's a lot of tourist scams specifically for people who see that you're a tourist and stop you specifically to sell you something at a great price. Everything from bait-and-switch (box really has nothing of value), to having kids pickpocket you when you're distracted by the seller.
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Re: Barcelona suggestions.
Old 03-03-2007, 08:15 AM   #3
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Re: Barcelona suggestions.

Las Ramblas is a must.

But the real "must-see" is La Sagrada Familia, a basicila which is the
architectural masterpiece of Antonini Gaudi. It was begun in 1882, and
it wasn't finished when Gaudi died in 1926 and work goes into it to this day. It is a neo-gothic cathedral, whose name means, I believe, the church of the holy family. There are huge, high towers, which you can go up in an elevator, and this place is worth the trip to Barcelona. It is still not finished.

Links:
http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=Sagr...a&m=tags&s=int

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sagrada_Familia

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Re: Barcelona suggestions.
Old 03-03-2007, 09:59 AM   #4
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Re: Barcelona suggestions.

I second those suggestions, especially the one about taking a trip to Seville while you are there. Best way to get there from Barcelona is flying. I used Vueling airlines which is very cheap. Seville would be the place to see a bullfight if you care for that type of event, but at least take the tour of the bullring. Don't miss the flamenco shows. You will notice a big temperature change between Barcelona and Seville if you go. Also, the Santa Cruz area is beautiful, especially in the evening.

Madrid is good too, but 2 or 3 days there is plenty. The Palacio Real and the Prado Museum are must sees and you can rent a small boat for $4 in the pond at Park Retiro and enjoy a nice lunch there.

In Barcelona don't miss the 2 Gaudi houses (Casa Mila and Casa Batllo), the Sagrada Familia, and the Barcelona Zoo if you like zoos. Spend a half hour in St. Josef's market which is a side street off of Les Rambles to see a dazzling display of fruits and vegetables.

Be ready for hot afternoons, especially around 4pm and late dinners at 10pm. Good idea to go back to your hotel at 4pm and take an hour nap to get away from the heat and refresh yourself for the nightlife.



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Re: Barcelona suggestions.
Old 03-03-2007, 10:18 AM   #5
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Re: Barcelona suggestions.

Oh and another thing...

I had always heard rumors of this "siesta" but never believed people actually closed their businesses in the afternoon.

I was rudely awakened while in Spain....
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Re: Barcelona suggestions.
Old 03-03-2007, 04:39 PM   #6
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Re: Barcelona suggestions.

Just to pile on, don't miss the Gaudi architecture in Barcelona other posters have mentioned. Really cool stuff.

I think Madrid is well worth two or three days. Two other great art museums (other than the Prado) are the Thyssen and the Reina Sofia ("MOMA of Madrid"). See Picasso's famous Guernica at Sofia.

Madrid eating and drinking tips: Lhardy is a rip-off :P, good steaks at Casa Paco, great pork at Casa Botin, wonderful food and beer at the brew pub at Plaza Santa Ana, enjoy friendly service at Bar Esquina (hope I spelled that right) which is across street from Casa Paco.
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Re: Barcelona suggestions.
Old 03-03-2007, 05:57 PM   #7
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Re: Barcelona suggestions.

Thanks for the great suggestions so far. It gives me some things to focus on as we make plans. In our previous trip to Spain we spent some time in Madrid, but mostly we were in Cantabria climbing through caves and looking at Paleolithic cave art. Barcelona sounds like a very different experience. I can hardly wait.

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Re: Barcelona suggestions.
Old 03-03-2007, 06:53 PM   #8
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Re: Barcelona suggestions.

I was in Barcelona 30 years ago when I was in the military. I can remember Las Ramblas and the massive Gaudi cathedral. It is a great city. It has a population of a million+.


Another great place is Palma de Mallorca. Absolutely beautiful. If you are not on an orgainzed tour and can afford an excursion.. got there. You will not be sorry. I have always wanted to go back. I will take DW when we ER.
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Re: Barcelona suggestions.
Old 03-30-2007, 01:10 AM   #9
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Re: Barcelona suggestions.

Just got back from Barcelona last night, so I'm still a little jet lagged. It was quite an adventure. We had a 4+ hour holdover in Newark on the way over there. Someone pickpocketed my wallet during that holdover, so we started our trip by having to call and cancel all my credit cards before we even got there. My DW has one credit card and one debit card independent of me, so we figured we would be okay. But her independent credit card is with the same credit union as one of my cards. Although we explained to them that they needed to cancel my card and definately not hers, they canceled them both. So we arrived in Barcelona with one valid debit card (MasterCard). MasterCard is still not accepted at as many places as Visa or AmEx, so we made sure we carried more Euros than we normally would have carried.

Despite this rough start, we had a good trip. Our hotel was on La Rambla. We had time to see several of the Gaudi homes and buildings, several history and art museums, several Medieval churches, a couple of parks, public art, beaches, the old shipbuilding works, . . . We also had plenty of time to enjoy the wine, beer, and tapas of Barcelona. We even spent an afternoon at the zoo. Their metro system was unbelievably efficient -- never waited more than 5 minutes for a train. We also walked many miles a day because the streets were fun and interesting.

Having only one valid debit card was a little bit un-nerving -- especially to DW who tends to worry. The card was rejected a couple of times (because it was a MasterCard), but we always had enough cash to deal with it. Then, on the last morning when we thought we had our financial situation licked, we tried to check out of our hotel and discovered our debit card had a daily limit that was about half of our 10 day hotel bill. We may have had just enough in $US and travelers checks to cover the difference, but since our plane was leaving in the morning, the banks would not be open to exchange money for several hours. Fortunately, we were checking out at the same time as a professional colleague who knew of our credit card cancelation problems and she loaned us the payment by putting our bill on her company card. We had a few other typical travel snags on the way home (taxi let us off at the wrong terminal, delayed take-off made our connection very tight, my stolen wallet had my parking ticket for my car at the airport, . . . ) but nothing we couldn't deal with. I spent this morning at AZ MVD getting a new drivers license and making phone calls to activate my replacement credit cards.

Our credit union was not very useful during this process. We called them on three separate occasions including from the front desk during our aborted check-out. Each time we went through numerous automated dialing menus, waited long minutes on hold, eventually talked to people who had no idea what to do and apparently had not authority to do it. We plan on shopping for a new bank tomorrow.
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Re: Barcelona suggestions.
Old 03-30-2007, 08:47 AM   #10
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Re: Barcelona suggestions.

Sorry to hear about the pickpockets.

They got me in Madrid. Going up the narrow escalator. Fortunately, all they got were my sunglasses. The trick was for the guy to drop something just in front of you and his accomplice behind you (or on the escalator going the other way) grabbed your stuff. I was wearing a money belt, safely stuck in my underwear. You might be a pro pickpocket, but if you put your hand there, I will surely feel it.
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Re: Barcelona suggestions.
Old 03-30-2007, 10:51 AM   #11
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Re: Barcelona suggestions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eagle43
Sorry to hear about the pickpockets.

. . . I was wearing a money belt, safely stuck in my underwear. You might be a pro pickpocket, but if you put your hand there, I will surely feel it.
Yes, I am a believer in distributed cash strategies. I should have mentioned that I was also wearing a money belt in my underwear with most of my $US and a pouch around my neck with my passport and Euros. I also wear a leather money belt with emergency dollars. My wife does the same thing. That dispersion philosophy is what made it possible for us to continue our trip. My plan would have been to empty my wallet of credit cards into my pouch when we left the US and lock my wallet away until we returned.

I'm not sure what I will do going forward. I've always carried my wallet in my back pocket here in the US. For awhile, at least, I plan on being more selective about what I actually keep in my wallet and try carrying it in a front pocket.
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Re: Barcelona suggestions.
Old 03-31-2007, 12:30 AM   #12
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Re: Barcelona suggestions.

I've always kept my wallet in my front pocket and never had a problem, regardless of the country I traveled in. Pickpockets know that front-carriers are much more difficult and tend to stay away.

That said, when I was in Spain getting onto a subway with my full backpack on and one hand carrying a bag of food, a guy getting off the subway tried to pickpocket me. I immediately felt it (because it was front-pocket) and put my hand in my pocket and glared at him. He tried to apologize, but he was smart to keep moving and get away from me quickly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sgeeeee
Yes, I am a believer in distributed cash strategies. I should have mentioned that I was also wearing a money belt in my underwear with most of my $US and a pouch around my neck with my passport and Euros. I also wear a leather money belt with emergency dollars. My wife does the same thing. That dispersion philosophy is what made it possible for us to continue our trip. My plan would have been to empty my wallet of credit cards into my pouch when we left the US and lock my wallet away until we returned.

I'm not sure what I will do going forward. I've always carried my wallet in my back pocket here in the US. For awhile, at least, I plan on being more selective about what I actually keep in my wallet and try carrying it in a front pocket.
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