A Travellerspoint blog

March 2019

Barcelona - Travel Tips

sunny 18 °C
View Barcelona on IainT's travel map.

Old Style

Old Style

Well then, what about some of the nuts and bolts of that trip to Barcelona.

I arrived on a direct Ryanair flight from Edinburgh. It cost £99 for their “Plus” service, which includes a checked in bag.

Being direct made it attractive, but the 06:30 departure detracted from it. I live 40 minutes away from the airport and with early morning being one of the busiest times there, you assume you will have to be there before 05:00.

Ryanair, 04:45

Ryanair, 04:45

The other negative was arriving (10:30) in Barcelona long before most accommodation places will let you check in.

On balance it worked out well, partly because I stayed at an airport hotel the night before and partly because Ryanair had their bag drop really well organised. It took just 5 minutes. Of course the hotel night added to the cost significantly - £69 including breakfast.

I left on Air France via Paris. £153 one way. It was a 17:50 departure, which gave me half the day in the city.

Our Airbnb host suggested the Aerobus service to and from the airport, as its city terminus is at Plaça de Catalunya and is convenient for the Metro line closest to the apartment. The bus was excellent. €5.90 each way. The service runs very 5 minutes to/from terminal 1 and every 10 minutes for terminal 2.

Aerobus

Aerobus

The host also suggested Locker Barcelona for luggage storage if we needed it. We did. It is very conveniently located on Carrer d’Estruc, 5 minutes walk from the Aerobus. It cost €13 for the day for their largest locker, taking our 2 suitcases and 1 carry on bag.

Yes, you guessed by now, we had an Airbnb apartment. It was one of the highlights of the visit, in fact. We loved it. Quiet, spacious, clean, convenient location - no negatives.

Terrace

Terrace

It is in Carrer de Pàdua, close to Lesseps station on the Metro line L3. It is on the fringe of the Gràcia neighbourhood, which is wonderful for small shops, bars and restaurants with the bonus of being relatively tourist free.

It was a 5 minute walk in the morning to buy croissants for breakfast. It has a terrace to eat them on.

The cost was £82 per night (for 5 nights) including a cleaning fee and the Airbnb fee. Great value for money.

We used the Metro to get around. A 10 journey ticket cost €10.20 - a great deal compared with a single for €2.20. It has a reputation for pickpocket problems, so we were careful but had no problems.

Barri Gòtic

Barri Gòtic

As for sights we visited Parc Güell, Montjuïc, Barri Gòtic, Port Vell and Sant Pau Recinte Modernista. Oh, and the beach.

Parc Güell

Parc Güell

We did not pay to get into the monument area at Parc Güell having seen plenty just walking around the park. You get great views of the city, especially from the highest point (strange that, but true anyway).

Castell de Montjuïc

Castell de Montjuïc

Montjuïc gives fantastic views too. We paid to get into the castle - €5 p/p. The cable car and funicular up from Paral-lel Metro were not operating (out of season), although the cable car from Port Vell was.

We walked. It was good for us.

We enjoyed sitting outside at the cafe inside the castle - a few days into March and 18⁰c.

Sant Pau Recinte Modernista was one of the sights we enjoyed most. It is less visited than some, and I got the recommendation from someone who regularly visits family in the city as a result of which she has a bit of an inside track. Entry was €14 p/p.

Sant Pau Recinte Modernista

Sant Pau Recinte Modernista

We ate very well in the city. The local wine was great, and fantastic value too. We had a tapas “dinner” at La Bicicleta and normal dinners at Can Punyetes and El Rebost de la Plana.

Can Punyetes

Can Punyetes

To give an idea of prices, dinner for two at Can Punyetes cost €34.70. For that we had grilled veal as main courses, desserts, bread, water (a medium bottle), a coffee and a litre of house red. The wine was €5.50, and excellent.

Being honest, I cannot find fault with any of the arrangements we set up for travel or accommodation, nor with our food, drink or sightseeing experiences. A wonderful few days.

Posted by IainT 15:14 Archived in Spain Tagged beaches food barcelona restaurants spain transport flights catalunya airlines Comments (0)

Barcelona, Re-Discovered

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View Barcelona on IainT's travel map.

Catalunya

Catalunya

Last week I went back to Barcelona after a very long absence.

My last leisure trip to the city was in February 1973. I was there on business during the late 90s but it was just overnight and I saw nothing apart from the airport, the hotel and taxis in between.

This month’s visit was a 5 night midweek event. Time to relax and enjoy the place, as well as some warm spring sunshine.

Apartment Terrace

Apartment Terrace

One of the highlights was the weather - we had a cloudy day but it was not cool by northern European standards. Mostly it was sunny, and warm enough to eat outside at lunchtime, but not in the evening.

Sitting on the beach in March was a highlight for sure, even if it involved 3 layers of clothing. The beach did not exist in 1973 - along with so much in that part of the city, it was created as part of the developments around the 1992 Olympics.

Sun, Sea, Sand

Sun, Sea, Sand

The food and drink were a huge success, much as I expected, from tapas to burgers and steaks. Prices were very reasonable, especially in the wine department. It would be quite difficult to single out one food and drink experience as a favourite.

Can Punyetes

Can Punyetes

Our apartment (a last minute Airbnb arrangement) was superb, and made a huge contribution to the success of the visit. It was quiet, spacious, clean, and ideally located very close to the Lesseps Metro station, just on the edge of the Gràcia district.

We enjoyed all our sightseeing but perhaps the favourite visit was to Sant Pau Recinte Modernista. It was a hospital dating from 1401, it was rebuilt in Art Nouveau style in the early 20th century and has been restored after it stopped functioning as a hospital in 2009. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Sant Pau Recinte Modernista

Sant Pau Recinte Modernista

Parc Güell, Montjuïc, Barri Gòtic and Port Vell are other parts of the city we visited.

Barri Gòtic

Barri Gòtic

The locals were helpful and friendly, often bridging the gap between their lack of English and our lack of Spanish/Catalan with good humour and patience. I did find one menu in which the Catalan version was easier to understand than the English one.

Parc Güell

Parc Güell

It turned out to be a great decision to re-visit the city, and choosing midweek in early March was ideal.

Posted by IainT 08:36 Archived in Spain Tagged food barcelona restaurants spain catalunya Comments (0)

Sad

overcast 10 °C

"Good Old Days"

"Good Old Days"

With Brexit fast approaching (or not?), and massive queues through baggage check and passport control, it’s clear that dream died. R.I.P. that E.U. utopia

I had a depressing exchange of views on Facebook last week with a friend - mid 40s, and well educated - who was having a girn about how long it takes to get onto Eurostar in London.

Her comment about “that dream” relates to the expectation of the EU enabling frictionless travel and the Channel Tunnel facilitating it for the UK. When I suggested the freedom of movement dream is alive and well elsewhere in the EU, but the UK has turned its back on it, I got a snotty response…

… it’s only the privileged few who travel who would have noticed.

Being very aware of having just a few days left as an EU citizen, her comments and attitude were a reminder of the twisted attitudes of so many in the UK, much of it just based on abject ignorance and whipped up by xenophobic politicians and the media.

Democracy?

Democracy?

Scotland is much less affected by it than our cousins down south, but we have our bampot minority.

Her comments made me think of the masses of people in Ireland (north and south of the border) who drive across the open border freely as if it doesn’t exist - perhaps just folk in the south going shopping in the north because it is a bit cheaper. Or the people who live in County Donegal and commute across “the border” into Derry to work.

The Future

The Future

For the benefit of those who have not had the privilege, the border does not exist except on paper. When you drive across it, only the different road signs give it away.

People who live in the south of Bavaria don’t even think about there being a border with Austria when they drive across it for a weekend of hiking in the Alps - except for buying a vignette if they have to go on an Austrian Autobahn.

Kitzbuhel Alpen

Kitzbuhel Alpen

Again, only the change of roadsigns marks the border.

Those living in the east of the Freistaat might think about “the border” with the Czech Republic when they drive across to fill the car with fuel, but only because it is cheaper on the Czech side.

Folk in Vilnius don’t think they are crossing a border when they jump on a bus to Rīga to visit friends or family. The bus doesn’t even stop at the border. There is no security or customs or passport control.

Rīga

Rīga

Aye, the “privileged few who travel”.

Perhaps I wound her up with my comment about flying from Helsinki to Vilnius via Rīga in December, without showing my passport once? Well, she was taking the train to Paris to catch a plane to Martinique.

Posted by IainT 07:55 Archived in Scotland Tagged people helsinki scotland germany ireland finland transport riga vilnius bavaria lithuania derry brexit Comments (0)

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