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Barcelona and Environs for about a week

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May 29th, 2012, 11:15 AM
  #1
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Barcelona and Environs for about a week

I've just started long-term planning. We're taking a cruise out of Barcelona next fall. I've been there, but not for years, and my husband never has. We like to soak up the local ambience of a place, find locals cafes and bars, plus we like history, art, music, of which there is plenty there I'm sure.

So I'm thinking that the thing to do is to spend about a week in and around Barcelona. I'd like to do a day trip, or perhaps overnight, up to Girona and the Dali Museum in Figueras and his home. Montserrat is mentioned frequently as well.

Anybody have any ideas about this? If we did a VRBO or something similar for a week, what would be a good neighbourhood. Not too touristy, vibrant and real, rather. I read about Eixample, for instance--it sounds nice.

Then for day trips, just take a train to Figueras, for instance, either for the day, or overnight. And the same for Montserrat. Or would we be better off spending a few days in a hotel in Barcelona, then heading out with a rental car for a few days. We're going to be burdened with "cruise duds" for two weeks, so won't be travelling terribly light. With an apartment, at least we could leave most behind there, and travel light when going out of town.
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May 29th, 2012, 12:13 PM
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I can't speak from experience, just research I've been doing. We are doing a cruise out of Barcelona in September and staying several days post-cruise (starting Sept 19).

We are currently booked at Hotel Curious, about a block off La Rambla. After tons of looking, this had very good reviews and seemed to be a great price for a clean, nice hotel that includes air conditioning, wi-fi, and breakfast. Best rate I've found so far is with the hotel itself at €113 per nt. You mentioned "cruise duds" (us too!), and the only negative I hear about this hotel is that the rooms are quite small.

I've looked a lot into renting holiday/short-term-stay apartments. Since we've decided to stay near La Rambla/Gothic Quarter, apartments are a bit more expensive. But, if you don't want to be right in the touristy area, I'd definitely explore apartments. More space, same or less money. I found several good links by starting with Trip Advisor.
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May 29th, 2012, 12:47 PM
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Thanks for the reply. The Gothic Quarter would be great, but if we're going to spend a week, I find it nicer to be in a real neighbourhood, away from the tourist hubbub. Las Ramblas wasn't very hectic in 1970, but I believe it is very hectic now.
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May 29th, 2012, 01:24 PM
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I think you're right about it being hectic now. This hotel is supposed to be in a relatively quiet location--relative meaning quiet while being near La Rambla at during Fiesta de Merce! I'm still going to look for a Bed/Breakfast or apartment, but if nothing better shows up for the money I'm okay with this.

We have loved staying at Bed and Breakfasts in Europe. Having a personal contact makes it so much more interesting! Unfortunately, the B&Bs I found near La Rambla just weren't what we wanted (must have ensuite bathrooms). Here's a place to start:
http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotels-g1...ia-Hotels.html


If you want to dig around for apartments, this might be a place to start.
http://www.tripadvisor.com/VacationR...n_Rentals.html
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May 29th, 2012, 01:47 PM
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La Rambla is VERY hectic now. I was just there last May. However, our budget 2 star hotel (Hotel Jardi) just off the Rambla on a quiet square, was a convenient haven. I was so happy with our location - steps away from the energy of the district, but easy to escape. Yes, the rooms are small, the bathrooms are astonishingly small, but we didn't spend much time in them. A nice balcony was wonderful, tho' - makes all the difference. I was there with teenagers, not sure I'd go that bijou with my husband if I went back, but I loved it.
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May 29th, 2012, 02:00 PM
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Eixample is a good starting point.
Apartments can be more modern and spacious than those you find squeezed into the medieval houses of the old town.
But Eixample is a very huge district. You want to be sure about the exact address (which is usually no issue as most apartment rental sites have mapped locations of their properties).
The most fashionable part of Eixample is probably two blocks left and right of Rambles de Catalunya (those are not "the Ramblas", but start north of Pl. Catalunya), between Aragó and Diagonal.
As I usually cannot or don't want to afford that neighborhood, I usually veer off a bit to the left.
Most tourists rarely go beyond Pl Universitat, and left of Casanova it becomes more residential. But still with many restaurants and shops in 5 min walking distance in each direction and at every intersection.
To remain somewhat centrally located I would remain between Gran Via and Aragó or Mallorca.
Somehow I find what is right of Passeig de Gràcia not as interesting, but thinking about it, I can't even give a reason.
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May 29th, 2012, 02:22 PM
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Here's what I'm thinking today, based on the fact that my husband is a Dali freak (and I really like him.) We do an overnight to Figueras or Girona, so that we can do the Dali museum plus Portlligat where his home was (now a museum as well), and possibly visit Cadaques where he did lots of early painting. I suspect we'll want to do that with a car, so I'm wondering how tough the driving is. I have only been to Malaga in recent years, and the roads there seemed to be very good indeed. This can be done as a day trip with several companies, but I think overnight would be better.
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May 29th, 2012, 02:27 PM
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Thanks so much, Cowboy, that is very useful information about that district.

I stayed in pensions (or pensiones), all over Europe in 70-71. Not sure why they insist on calling them B&B's now. Maybe *they* dont, maybe it's just Americans who call them that.

I generally like to stay somewhere modest, but with character, in a district that has easy access to tourist sights, but where we can find nice restaurants and bars locally, where we can hang out at times.
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May 29th, 2012, 02:31 PM
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I am currently staying in Begur, which is not far from figueres and it's fabulous. Maybe you could spend a couple of days in this region? Rather than just day trips from Barcelona? ( we have just spent 3 nights in Barcelona, will have 4 here in Begur ( will do day trips to pals/ figueres and Girona) then back to Barcelona for 1 final night?
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May 29th, 2012, 03:05 PM
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Smeagol, I could easily imagine doing something like this.

I have memories of an idyllic couple of days in a youth hostel in Arenys de Mar, closer in towards Barcelona on the Costa Blanca. But then, it will be mid-November. Tell me what is fabulous about Begur, if you have time.
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May 30th, 2012, 09:24 AM
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I looked at dozens of Barcelona apartment management sites yesterday. A concern is finding someone reputable. It's much harder to find reviews on apartments than hotels.

Then on the Cruise Critic message boards, VRBO was recommended for apartments in Barcelona (duh--why didn't I think of that?). Unfortunately, there are no apartments in the area we want, but they had some nice looking places in more residential areas. And the prices seemed better than those I've looked at through management companies.
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May 30th, 2012, 10:09 AM
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"I suspect we'll want to do that with a car, so I'm wondering how tough the driving is."

From Barcelona to Girona and Figueres there is a highway - no problem. No problem either from Figueres to Roses.
The tricky part if you are not used to driving on winding roads is the last 5 km to Cadaques.
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May 30th, 2012, 10:39 AM
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<>

Finding a reputable Barcelona apartment manager is NOT difficult at all. There are plenty of threads here about Barcelona apartment rentals. If you go to
www.apartur.com, you'll find dozens of apartment agencies that lease short-term for tourists. We used barcelonastuff.com and had no problems - they were responsive and responsible. They also did NOT require a cash deposit, which was good because Barcelona was our last stop in the Eurozone and we did not need a bunch of Euros refunded to us the day we left such that we'd have to convert them at the airport and get slammed on the exchange rate.

Do not go to airbnb or some similar pseudo-rentals.

I'm not sure why jarand is fussing about the rental prices, we had a two-bedroom apartment (and baby cot included with no charge) right off La Rambla on a silent (not quiet, silent) private key-access only street for about what her hotel costs.
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May 30th, 2012, 12:03 PM
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May 30th, 2012, 02:55 PM
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Thanks folks. Yes, I've looked at VRBO and am an active denizen of Cruise Critic. I have lots of time to plan this. I like the idea of going to Girona by car. In fact we could go directly there from the airport (jetlagged as we might be). Just a thought.
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May 30th, 2012, 03:06 PM
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You can go pretty easily from the airport to Girona by train.
I assume you won't need or want a car anyway if you stayed in Girona and have enough to do to explore the town on foot. And rent from Girona when you want to explore the coast or hinterland.
Otherwise your first experience with Barcelona will be a thorough exposure to the maze of the freeway system of the metropolitan area and to the road toll system
Not a very relaxing start after a red eye flight, IMO.
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May 30th, 2012, 06:08 PM
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That's a good idea. The main idea was to get up to see the Dali sites, at Figueras and Portlligat, but now Girona is looking interesting in its own right. Whether it's before Barcelona, or during, we'll see.
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May 30th, 2012, 06:10 PM
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And we will still have our cruise luggage to contend with. So throwing it into the back of the car at the airport would make sense. Or leaving it in an apartment in Barcelona while we jaunt off for a couple of days.
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May 30th, 2012, 09:21 PM
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You do have a point for the car if you have lots of luggage.
But if you wanted to take that with you on your one night/ two days trip up the coast it meant that you would need a much bigger car than you actually might want to navigate the by-ways and find a place to park.
The most convenient solution, IMO, would be to take a cab from the airport to your Barcelona apartment and get settled. At whatever day you want to go North, take the train to Girona and explore the city (with just a small bag for for you need for one night). Stay in Girona for the night. Pick up small car next morning to do Figueres etc, and drop it off at night at a location near your BcN apartment.
Alternatively, rent that small car from/to Barcelona for 2 days. But if you want to visit only Girona on day 1, the car will be more a liability (and you will need longer than by train to go from downtown Barcelona to the center of Girona).
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May 31st, 2012, 08:34 AM
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Thanks Cowboy, that sounds very sensible. Too bad I can't reach Portlligat by train. I wonder if there are local Dali tours from Girona. I guess I can find that out.
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