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Trip Report Trip Report - Madrid and Barcelona

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Hi, just got back from 13 nights in Madrid and Barcelona. I do make notes throughout the trip, but I’m trying to get this report finalized before I forget all the details. I warn you, it's long!

First of all, thanks to everyone who has posted in the past - I spent a lot of time doing my research and your reports definitely helped. John and I have done a lot of travelling, but this was our first trip to Spain. Barcelona has been on our list for a while now, and with Air Transat offering direct flights to Madrid and Barcelona, it seemed perfect. We booked our flights and even booked our seats in advance – I’m not tall, but I do have knee problems and I wanted to make sure we had good seats. Here goes:

Overall Impressions

Loved Spain! I’m so glad that we saw both cities – they are quite different from one another, and I’m not sure which one I liked best. Madrid was a revelation – so lively and so much culture. Prices overall were very reasonable in both cities and the quality of the food was excellent. Good food is important to us and both cities did not disappoint. John doesn’t drink, so he usually had mineral water but I usually had at least one or two glasses of wine (red, white, cava, I don’t discriminate) or beer. We usually paid with Visa when we could. We walked our feet off, but the metros in both cities are also excellent – so convenient. There seemed to be a lot more tourists in Barcelona than in Madrid, which I guess I expected, but at times it is a bit too much, if you know what I mean. My impression was that people dressed a little better (or maybe I should say more formally) in Madrid. We saw a lot more people wearing shorts (and not necessarily nice shorts) in Barcelona – maybe it was because it’s on the coast and it was hot and humid there. (It didn’t do much for my hair – I definitely looked better in Madrid.) We had no problems with late dinner reservations – eating dinner at 10 PM was fine, although I’m glad I didn’t have to get up to go to work in the morning. I do speak a very little Spanish (Castilian) but we could get by without it. Catalan is really different from Castilian and I think it might be more difficult to learn! The recession has hit both cities and you can’t help but feel badly for the people. Even with the bad economy, though, the people are still out enjoying themselves. The tapas bars are packed – someone told us that before the economy tanked, we wouldn’t have been able to get in to many of the places. I could have gone nuts shopping – I’m not interested in the stores that we have here in Canada (like Zara), but all the little independent stores were wonderful. However, budget concerns kept my shopping to a minimum :). Most of what I did buy was handmade in Spain.

At the end of the trip, we agreed that there was still a lot to do and see in both cities but we’re happy with what we did do. City vacations are exhausting!

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