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To Madrid/Barcelona on Sunday! 8 Qs to help make the trip amazing

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Hello! I am headed to Madrid & Barcelona this Sunday! So incredibly excited but because of crazy work loads, I haven't been able to put in the hours of research that I normally obsess about prior to a trip. But this is also a different kind of trip - rather than try to see absolutely everything, I really want to focus on having a (somewhat) relaxing and incredibly romantic trip with my husband (13 yrs together, married 7 yrs, + a 3yo daughter at home with her grandparents!), with the focus on great food/wine and memorable experiences.

Here's a brief rundown of our itinerary:

Madrid. Arrive at 10am on Monday at the airport. Will head directly to Hotel Europa (http://www.hoteleuropa.eu/en/), located at Puerta del Sol. Spend all of Monday and Tuesday in Madrid and then sometime on Wednesday head to Barcelona via train.

Barcelona. Upon arrival will head directly to Hotel Inglaterra (http://www.hotel-inglaterra.com/en/) in the old town of the City, between Catalonia Square and University Square. Spend the the second half of Wednesday, then all Thursday, Friday and Saturday there, before heading back home on a 10:30am flight on Sunday.

Here are my questions:

1. Barcelona Hotel. I accidentally booked a second Madrid hotel for our nights in Barcelona (!! so unlike me, did I mention I've been slammed at work?) but luckily realized it last night. Had a frantic online session trying to find the *perfect hotel before giving up (everywhere i checked was booked up!) and booking at Hotel Inglaterra. It looks great - just more than we wanted to spend. They only had premium rooms available, at just under 200eu/night. Ouch. I'd really like to be paying closer to 150eu, or less! Any recommendations? We generally like to be close to where the action is, but not right on top of it.

2. Any advice on traveling by train between Madrid and Barcelona? Especially different types of tickets available? Can/should I order them online prior or is it fine to book at the station?

3. What are the must-see (romantic-ish) sights of Madrid and Barcelona to be included? I've listed the ones I'd like to hit below. Please comment!

Madrid: Are there any MUST-sees besides the Royal Palace and Puerta del Sol ? Likely we will hit up maybe one museum, but envision strolling the streets late into the day, and just enjoying.

Barcelona: Ramblas, Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, La Boqueria, Casa Mila/Palau Guell (which one to go inside?), Magic Fountain.

4. Is Barcelona's beach worth a visit? Do people go into the water?

5. Flamenco show suggestion? Better in Madrid or Barcelona? It had been mentioned previously that there was a big Flamenco festival (?) happening in Barcelona during our time there. Will that make it easier or harder to get tickets? And how?

6. Food. As I mentioned before, we LOVE good food. I will visit any recommendations! We'd love to try the local cuisine, and generally just love good food of ANY kind. But I've learned the only way to have a good food experience is to get current recommendations from real people. Please help here! Or direct me to good sources?

7. Nightlife.

In Madrid, I imagine it's all about the Paseo - strolling late into the night, pit stopping at tapas bars for little bites and wine along the way. Is that about right? Are there any night time destinations/sights not to miss?

In Barcelona - I hear there is a very big party/clubbing scene. We are in our early 30s and still like to have a party night - though we've never done it while traveling in a foreign country. But apparently it's not to be missed in Barcelona. Any recs?

THANK YOU FODORITES!!! I LOVE YOU ALL!

knemo

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