Barcelona – 2017

In May of 2017 we spent a week in Barcelona. If you read my post on travel, you know that in the beginning Barb was reluctant to travel. Well once she got a taste of travel with our first trip to Europe (Prague) she was addicted. Working long hours (without overtime pay) that often began the work day at 7:00 AM and ending past midnight with a break in between to come home and have supper before she began working at home, she insisted that she needed a break. We tried to decide between Budapest and Amsterdam. So naturally we ended up in Barcelona.

We booked 7 days/6 nights in Barcelona. We included several tours:

In Prague 6 days was plenty including our non-tour train ride to Karlštejn Castle the large Gothic castle founded 1348 CE by Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor-elect and King of Bohemia  If we were to do it again, and we plan to, we would have extended our trip to Barcelona and taken the 3 day tour of Medieval villages that included a trip across the Pyrenees to France (Aragon and other places). Don’t get me wrong, our tour of villages was excellent and at the recommendation of our guide we had lunch in P:ruit which turned out to be the best meal we had on our trip next to the gourmet that included champagne at the Flamenco dancer show.

I would highly recommend the Flamenco dancer show with dinnerThe dinner include many tapas. A tapa (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈtapa]), in Spanish cuisine, is an appetizer, or snack. It may be cold (such as mixed olives and cheese) or hot (such as chopitos, which are battered, fried baby squid). In select bars in Spain, tapas have evolved into an entire, sophisticated cuisine. In Spain, patrons of tapas can order many different tapas and combine them to make a full meal.  The dancers were excellent and entertaining.with seating a few feet from the dancers.

Montserrat was along bus ride into the mountains to visit a Benedictine monastery built high in the picturesque mountains. The views were spectacular and we ran into many mountain climbers there. The bus trip was an adventure climbing and descending the narrow winding mountain roads with heavy traffic. But, the highlight of the trip was sampling the various flavors of Benedictine liquors. Since Bard is not much of a drinker, she gave her samples to me. I am sure that was why the bus ride down the mountain was more relaxing than the trip up.

The Gaudi tour was a walking tour. If you take the tour, bring your most comfortable shoes.
The tour started at the La Sagrada Familia, and moved on to the Parc Güell and then to several building on the streets of Barcelona. I was unfamiliar with Gaudi’s architecture. In fact the term gaudy always conjured up a negative image. However, once I saw his architecture and understood it better, I can honestly say I like it.

The good and bad:

  • Unlike any other city we have visited, tours do not pick you up at your hotel. You must go to the tour business,
  • Ham is Prosciutto like and most popular. However, too much of it and I lost my appeal for it. For example, we had döner kebap (wonderful Turkish kebab similar to Greek gyros) that had ham instead of lamb and beef,
  • I love the fact that there are no street corners. Blocks are not square but rather octagon shaped. A car turning might have 2 red lights – one before the turn and a second at the crosswalk after the turn,

    Barcelona street “corner”

  • Of all the places we have visited, we found the people of Barcelonan the most courteous. Barcelona Compared to Rome is like comparing San Diego to New York.
  • The only negative thing I can say is that like most European cities, there is an abundance of pick pockets. One tried to pic my pocket on the subway but as an experienced traveler, I carry a fake wallet and know that pickpockets usually have an accomplice that distracts you while your pocket is picked. In this case the accomplice dropped some earphones boarding the subway, at which time I immediately put my hand on my wallet ahead of the pickpocket to his surprise,
  • Transportation is economical with subways throughout the city. Subway ticket is around 1 Euro ($1.10 dollar at this time). Taxis are economical and honest. Because there were 2 of us we often chose to take a taxi. For the convenience and small difference in cost.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

  1. Stay near Las Ramblas – the main street, where many attractions and tours are located.  Alternative stay near the ocean where there are hundreds of seaside restaurants that are a little pricier but more upscale.
  2. Take the 3 day medieval village tour that includes France.
  3. Include dinner if you see the Flamenco dancers.
  4. Do side streets in the daytime.
  5. Bring comfortable shoes.  Walking around you will see many things you might otherwise miss.  Love the pastry/bread shops.  Pasties were not overly sweet.
  6. Visit the Seaside