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Trip Report TR: yk & family 6 days in Barcelona; October 2011 (with photos)

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In late October, we went on a 11-day trip to Europe: 6 days in Barcelona followed by 5 days in London. Since the 2 parts of the trip are quite unrelated, I've decided to post the London segment in a separate thread.

Introduction
Why Barcelona?


Back in June 2011, my parents received an invitation to attend a ceremony in London in early November (details will be described in the London TR thread). They wanted to tag on a second European destination to the trip prior to London. At their age (late 60s/70s) and not very internet-savvy, they find DIY trips to be too much hassle.

Initially, they checked tour company brochures for bus tours and cruises that take place during late October, but pickings were very slim. Finally, they mentioned to me that they'd like to visit Barcelona. As travelers all their lives, my parents have been to most parts of Europe, yet Barcelona remains one of the few major cities they haven't visited.

I was fortunate to have been to Barcelona twice in the last 4 years
[long-winded trip reports here:
Feb 2008 http://www.fodors.com/community/europe/yks-12-days-in-spain-by-herself-trip-report.cfm
Nov 2009 http://www.fodors.com/community/europe/yks-trip-report-barcelona-modernisme-montserrat-daytrip-nov-09.cfm ]

I volunteered to go with them and be their tour guide. My parents decided to invite my DH along - DH hasn't been to Barcelona either.

Who?
DH & I - in our late 30s
My parents - late 60s/70s

When?
Last week of October 2011

Pre-booking
1) An apartment in Eixample through Habitat Apartments
2) Tickets to Faust at Liceu opera house

Weather
It was quite warm throughout our week: mostly mid-to-high 60s. However, we encountered rain and cloudy skies most of our week.

Day 1
As my parents insisted on paying for one of our plane tickets with their miles, DH & I flew separate airlines from Boston to Barcelona. DH was booked on Iberia, transferring in Madrid (in order to get AA miles). My "free" ticket was on Lufthansa with connection in Frankfurt. DH's ticket was under $700 booked in late June; mine was free but I had to pay $200 for taxes/fees.

Our flights were scheduled to depart and arrive approximately the same time, though DH's flight was an hour shorter. It was almost a miracle when I found DH at the Barcelona El Prat airport baggage claim the next morning; no need for our backup plans B, C, D...

We took the long (and very cheap) way into town. Since we arrived at Terminal 1, we first took a free shuttle bus to T2, where the train station is located. At the station, I bought a T-10 ticket from the machine (€8,35) and we got on the next train to Barcelona-Sants. The R2 train runs 2x/hour and the journey takes 20 minutes. At Sants, we exited the commuter rail and entered the underground for line L5. 3 stops later we were at our destination: Hospital Clinic station. All of this only cost 1 ride on the T-10 ticket, ie, €0,835 per person. All-in-all, it took 2 hrs from the time our planes landed to our arrival at the apt (and yes, we had checked luggage).

Our 3BR/2BA apartment was rented through Habitat Apartments. http://www.habitatapartments.com/en/barcelona/apartment/view/ninot.htm

I picked this one because it came up as the cheapest option when I searched for apts in late June. Our nightly rate was €130 which I thought was very reasonable.

I wrote a full review on the NINOT Apartment here: http://www.fodors.com/community/europe/barcelona-apartment-location-input-please.cfm#comment-7365680
After we settled in, unpacked and refreshed, it was time to return to the airport to pick up my parents. Their flight from Houston (via Frankfurt) was scheduled to arrive around 3pm. We took the cheap way to the airport and back; by the time we were back in the apartment, it was late in the day. Mom decided to stay put and rest; the 3 of us went out.

We first headed to the main tourist office in Placa Catalunya to buy transport tickets for Montserrat. I also bought 2 Ruta del Modernisme voucher booklets at €5 each.
[Details about Ruta del Modernisme here: http://www.fodors.com/community/europe/ruta-del-modernisme-in-barcelona-anyone-familiar-with-it.cfm ]

We then walked south along La Rambla and visited the Mercat de La Boqueria. Finally, we arrived at Liceu where I picked up our prepaid Faust tickets from one of the automatic machines.

We took the metro back home and did some grocery shopping at the nearby Mercat del Ninot. This was quite disappointing actually. The market building is undergoing major renovations; a temporary market is nearby but much smaller. Moreover, the 3-4 times we visited the temporary market (well before closing time), we found 80% of the stalls not open. So, unless we're willing to go shopping during the day instead of sightseeing, we miss most of the grocers. Dinner that night was weisswurst, pasta, and romanesco.

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