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Trip Report yk's Trip Report: Barcelona Modernisme + Montserrat daytrip - Nov 09

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Hi everyone - I just got back yesterday after one full week in Barcelona. Thank you to all of you who have responded to all my questions and those who have posted trip reports in the past. And special thanks to CAPH52 who has been so helpful with her information regarding the apartment we rented.

Background
Who?
Me: mid-30s; and sister-in-law (husband's sister) who is a few years older and fluent in Spanish. I will address sis-in-law as "N" in this trip report.

Why?
Some of you may recall that DH & I have just returned from a trip to Berlin last month. I had no intention at that time to go on another European trip so soon, and certainly not to Barcelona since I was just there in Feb 2008 (trip report here: http://www.fodors.com/community/europe/yks-12-days-in-spain-by-herself-trip-report.cfm )

Anyway, this was N's idea. Originally, she was planning to go to Mexico around Veteran's Day holiday. However, it didn't work out logistically, so she thought about Barcelona instead since she's never been (she's been to other parts of Spain). When she mentioned it - this was early October - I naturally invited myself. While I don't love Spain like many people here do, I did enjoy Barcelona very much on my last trip and wouldn't mind going back. N didn't mind having me on the trip with her - in fact she prefers traveling with a companion over traveling solo.

So, this trip was planned a little under 1 month in advance. I was able to find a reasonable airfare on AA ($588 all-in r/t BOS/BCN), which also will help me keep my platinum elite status for 2010.

My Interests
I like art and architecture; but specifically, I really enjoy Art Nouveau / Jugendstil / Secession period. So, Barcelona is perfect with all its Modernisme architecture.

Our budget and travel style
We are budget-minded, but I don't have a set budget. We only used public transportation (no taxis, no HOHO, no private shuttles); we rented an apartment and ate some meals in the apt.

Our itinerary
We had 7 full days, of which I spent 6 days IN Barcelona. On our last day, we took a day trip to Montserrat.

Since I was in Barcelona less than 2 years earlier and have visited many tourist sites (Barri Gotic/Cathedral, Casa Mila, Casa Battlo, Sagrada Familia, Palau de la Musica Catalana, La Rambla, Hospital de Sant Pau), N and I spent about half of our time together and half separate, so that she can visit the sights that I've previously been to.

Preparation
Pre-trip booking
The only thing I had booked in advance was our apartment, through Habitat Apartments.

Books & Movies
I asked for suggestions here: http://www.fodors.com/community/europe/books-movies-suggestion-for-barcelona.cfm and here: http://www.fodors.com/community/europe/ruta-del-modernisme-in-barcelona-anyone-familiar-with-it.cfm

In the end, I didn't get around to follow most of the suggestions. I did watch the film Antonio Gaudi by Hiroshi Teshigahara. I rented the 2-DVD set, where the 2nd disc has other documentaries. I also started reading Robert Hughes's Barcelona but haven't finished it - but I will.

Guidebooks
For planning; I took out a number of guidebooks from the library:
Fodors See It Barcelona 2008
Blue Guide's Art/Shop/Eat Barcelona 2008
Blue Guide's Visible Cities Barcelona 2004
TimeOut Barcelona 2009
Lonely Planet Barcelona 2008

I like the LP and Fodors See it. I am a huge fan of the Blue Guides series, but I find the Art/Shop/Eat too brief; and while the Visible Cities is good, it's dated (newest edition is 2004).

I only took the LP Barcelona 2008 with me on the trip; esp since I was planning to buy the Ruta del Modernisme guidebook once I arrive. I like LP's guidebooks - they have excellent maps, and I find the proportion of sight description to food/shopping etc just right *for me*.

Websites
I checked the websites for all the attractions I planned to visit - to verify opening days and times. Other websites I consulted included the Ruta del Modernisme website: http://www.rutadelmodernisme.com/default.aspx?idioma=en and also TMB for public transport in Barcelona.

General Info
Weather

Temperature was mostly in the 60s during our stay (high 50s at night). The first 4-5 days were partly sunny and cooler; the last few days was very sunny and quite warm. No rain. :)

Safety/Pickpockets
N used a moneybelt the whole time. I brought mine but didn't use it. Our apartment has a safe, so each day I only took enough cash with me for the day. I left my passport, credit cards and ATM cards back in the safe in the apt. During the entire week, I did not visualize any pickpocket activity at all, nor did I felt that I was a target at any point in time.

Getting Around
Since our apartment is in the Old City, we were able to walk to many sights. We each used up a T-10 pass (excellent deal at €7,70) and had to buy one extra single ride each.

Apart from using the Metro, we also used the local bus, plus suburban trains and funiculars. Overall, it was very easy to navigate. Buses were a bit more complicated, but many bus stops have a bus system route map so I was able to check if there is a bus alternative to metro. (I prefer riding buses over metro.)

Next: apartment review; then actual trip report with photo links.

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