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A brief report on a brief visit to Barcelona

A brief report on a brief visit to Barcelona

Old Oct 25th, 2011, 02:04 PM
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A brief report on a brief visit to Barcelona

Hi all, just back from five days in Barcelona. I was there with my parents - who will soon turn 75 - and my brother and his wife. It was for each of us our first trip to this beautiful city. As usual, I relied on everyone on this forum in planning the trip and am really grateful for all your good insights and advice (special thanks to ekscrunchy for her excellent dining reconnaissance!). We had a wonderful time!!

I won't chronicle all our activities, but will offer a few observations. Let me first say that five days was not nearly enough time to do and see everything. We went heavy on the Gaudi because OMG it is all jaw-droppingly amazing. But there were many important sites that I did not see or that I saw only briefly, and we didn't get to take any day trips, so I will have to go back. . . . As many others have noted, you definitely want to purchase your Sagrada Familia tickets online so you don't have to stand in that insanely long line. Also, I screwed up our Park Guell visit by taking the metro. This would have been fine for the youngsters in the group, but my parents had a tough time with the giant hill (even with the escalators). It would have been much better to take a taxi or a bus.

One highlight was a tour on motorcyles with sidecars. This was a TA find and it was super wonderful. We took the tour on our first day and it gave us a great overview of the city. Joao, who runs Bright Side, is really lovely, as were the other guides Esther and Matthieu. And it was an ideal way for us to cover a lot of ground without walking everywhere (which was not possible with my parents) or taking an impersonal bus tour. I highly recommend it. http://www.ridebrightside.com/

I also took a running tour (another TA find) with Running Tours Barcelona. For those of us who like to run in new cities, the running tour is a wonderful concept, and Robin was a terrific guide. I did this on my last day and it was a great way to tie everything together (and also to see Park Guell without any other people in it!). http://www.runningtoursbarcelona.com/

Now for the food. We started with lunch at Bar Mut, which was fantastic. It isn't inexpensive, but the food was well executed and delicious. We had lots of seafood - every kind of clam, mussels, lobster, scorpion fish (really ugly but tasty), langoustine. Plus some patatas bravas, croquettes and jamon. A great wine selection and great service. It was my favorite meal of our trip. We also hit Xampanyet for tapas. Standard fare, but the scene was lively and atmospheric. The next night we went to Tapac 24 - very fun and yummy ("ñam, ñam"). The offerings were quite rich, dishes like smashed eggs w/ foie gras, fried rabbit ribs (heavenly), oxtail, grilled cheese w/ truffles, and eggplant "guacamole" (really good).

And here is where the story takes a bad turn. I woke up the third morning with a punky stomach. The timing was terrible because we were having lunch at Cinc Sentits. I figured it was a passing thing and did feel a little better after a glass of cava and some of the beautiful amuse bouche. But as lunch progressed, I started to feel not so well. By the time they brought out the gorgeous tenderloin w/ truffled potatoes, I was done. I could not eat another bite. And when the wine captain came to pour the wine for our "first dessert," my stomach went into full revolt. I had to flee the restaurant, leaving my family to enjoy (and they did enjoy!!) the next three courses. I spent the next 12 hours in bed and was not able to enjoy any of our meals for the rest of the trip. TRAGEDY!!

Having a stomach thing is really unusual for me - I've traveled all over the place (including Spain), I have eaten and drunk everything in sight, and haven't ever had an issue. But I guess my body was not happy with all of the foie and the truffles and the eggs and the fried stuff. Just the thought of it . . . . And so, I have learned my lesson. I can overindulge in many places, but not in Barcelona. The next time I go, I will eat at that cute little Vietnamese restaurant near the Cathedral!
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Old Oct 25th, 2011, 02:49 PM
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Next time eat at Cerveceria Catalana.....great tapas for half the price of fancy spots

I got back from Barcelona a few days ago. ( not my first visit)...gets better each time.
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Old Oct 27th, 2011, 08:26 AM
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Thanks for your report - the tours on the motorcycles w/sidecars sound like fun. It stinks to get ill on holiday but it sounds like you made the best of it. We'll be back in Barcelona in November and look forward to many meals at Cerveceria Catalana! I'm so glad that it's in our neighborhood.

Danon, glad to hear you had a terrific trip! We visited Barcelona last year for the first time and knew we'd be returning. It's such a wonderful city with so much to offer.
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Old Oct 27th, 2011, 08:54 AM
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We ate at Cerverceria Catalana twice when we were in Barcelona last October and LOVED it! I highly recommend this restaurant.
txtree, that's too bad about getting sick. But still sounds like you had a great time.
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Old Oct 27th, 2011, 10:25 AM
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Cerveceria Catalana was right across from our hotel - it looked great and my family enjoyed it. At least getting sick gives me the perfect excuse to go back soon. I barely got a chance to eat!
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Old Oct 27th, 2011, 12:03 PM
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Thanks mvor.
I was in Madrid for 3nights and Barcelona for six.
The weather was splendid....I love both cities and keep going back.
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Old Oct 27th, 2011, 05:47 PM
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We made the same mistake the first time we went to Parc Guell. Have some great photos on the escalators, though. And coming in that entrance forces you to walk around the park.

Love El Xampanyet for dessert and cava. "Atmoshperic" is a great adjective for it. For meals, Cafe de l'Academia is one of our favorites - excellent, interesting food at fair prices.

So when you return, hope you stay well and try it.
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Old Oct 27th, 2011, 09:47 PM
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Thanks for posting!

I was in Barcelona for a few days last year and can't wait to bring my husband with me to see some sights and enjoy the wonderful food. I was surprised at how good the food was in Barcelona. I don't know why, but I hadn't expected that.
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Old Oct 28th, 2011, 07:30 AM
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Wanted to add to the discussion about how to enter Parc Guell. I feel like we entered the wrong way, too. We walked there from Gracia because first we had lunch at a cafe at the square in Gracia. For some strange reason, we thought it would be a short walk. And I think we took a right when we should have gone straight. Anyways, we ended up walking a long roundabout route, going uphill, & entered through a side entrance. I was exhausted & cranky by the time we got there, & we missed the escalators completely. We entered close to where the "pillars" are, & we also spent some time at the serpentine benches, but we missed the dragon (think that's what it is) sculpture that I've seen photos of. So we didn't see as much of the park as I would have liked. so this is another reason to return to Barcelona. Needless to say, we took a taxi back to our hotel
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Old Oct 31st, 2011, 01:46 AM
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For others to know, if you visit Park Guell while taking the Bus Tour, the Blue line I think it is, same uphill experience from the bus stop to the entrance. So either be prepared to walk uphill or try to flag a taxi which usually are in the area.
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Old Oct 31st, 2011, 02:18 AM
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TX: I am so glad to hear that you loved Barcelona and so sorry to hear about the gastro revolt.
As others have said, you must return, if only to give Cinc Sentits another chance! What a thrilling city..I hope to return as well.
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Old Nov 4th, 2011, 05:39 PM
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FWIW, we were in Barcelona 10 days ago. IMHO, the best (and cheap) way to get to Parc Guell is by BUS 92. It's stop is right outside the Eastern gate entrance, where the upper stone colonnades are. We got off the bus, wandered DOWNHILL the entire time until we got to the main entrance. The walked DOWNHILL to the main road and took Bus 24 back to Placa Catalunya. My parents are in their late 60s/70s, and my mom can't walk uphill too well. Our route allowed her to see all the major stops in Parc Guell without hiking up steep hills.
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Old Nov 4th, 2011, 10:31 PM
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