Barcelona December 2011

Dec 28th, 2011, 09:15 AM
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Barcelona December 2011

Part 1-This is going to be completed as I go along (hopefully)
Me, Mrs Muck and a couple of friends, arrived in Barcelona from bristol this afternoon.

The weather is gorgeous, we got a taxi from outside the terminal to our hotel. Hesperia del port. Cost 35 euros.
Hotel seems ok, quite clean and modern. But above all a good location.
Took a walk to the Ramblas area, had some food on one of the street restaurants and watched. The game of cat and mouse between the street sellers and the police. The conmen doing the 3cup trick were right in front of us. Some punters actually took part in the game-and lost. The secret is to get within eye level of the table, that is dont look from above.ok we are off out now, I will keep this going as we go along and as long as the iPod touch allows.Bye for now
Mucky is offline  
Dec 28th, 2011, 09:25 AM
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Lucky you! I love Barcelona. Here's a restaurant recommendation. We eat there every time we're in Barcelona. The last time was early December 2011. Your hotel can make a reservation for you.

Cafe De L'Academia
Lledo 1, 08002 Barcelona, Spain

Off Pca Sant Just near the cathedral in Bari Gotic. A very easy walk from La Rambla.

¡Buen provecho
Betsy is offline  
Dec 28th, 2011, 10:07 AM
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Muck! Barcelona! Waaahhh!

Have a great time!

Cheers from us in Kiama
margo_oz is offline  
Dec 28th, 2011, 10:22 AM
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THANK YOU for being one of the many people who actually went to Las Ramblas and enjoyed it/didn't get murdered/didn't get pickpocketed or any of the rest of the usual Fodorite scary happenings. Yes, isn't it a great city?
Dukey1 is offline  
Dec 28th, 2011, 12:48 PM
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More, please!
TDudette is offline  
Dec 28th, 2011, 10:54 PM
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Part 2. Barcelona is interesting by night too. Our hotel is on the busy ave de parallel. Last night we were quite tired, so walked up the road away from the sea and found a restaurant which was very busy with locals, not the most refined place, reasonable prices and 2euros a beer. Better than the 6Euros at Ramblas. Restaurant was called Brasserie. Looked to be a nice bar next door.(one for later). We also found the RIta blue restaurant, our NYE destination, looks like an interesting place. So today. We had a good sleep and the weather is again gorgeous, so we are off to take the open bus ride and see where the day takes us.
One thing about the hotel. No tea making stuff in the room. I need a cuppa.
Back soon.
Thanks Betsy for the restaurant recco, will add it to the list.

This is difficult on this iPod.

Mucky is offline  
Dec 29th, 2011, 04:52 PM
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I recommend Cerverseria Catalana in the Eixample neighborhood for excellent tapas. WE ate there twice. It's always crowded but well worth the wait.
Kwoo is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2012, 12:52 AM
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Hi chaps,
Gave up on the ipod writing session. Time, tired eyes and WiFi signal played a big part so I will complete this from home.

Be back soon

Mucky is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2012, 07:04 AM
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Just saw this so marking for later.
TDudette is offline  
Jan 21st, 2012, 09:27 PM
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Oy! Muck!

Where's the rest of the story???
margo_oz is offline  
Jan 21st, 2012, 10:47 PM
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Hi margo , sorry, been lazy (busy with other stuff) but i've not forgotten.
Working on it
Mucky is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2012, 02:30 AM
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Hi there, we have been home a while now, but found it difficult to settle down and write anything. Also just bought my first imac and the change from windows is fairly straight forward, but a few new things to learn.
Ok to continue.
Dec 29th
The best way to see Barcelona is by open top hop on/off bus. Now there are 2 companies that provide this service.
We chose the Barcelona Turistic bus.

Now this appears to be a bit expensive at first view. The cost was €23 for 1 day or €30 for 2 days. Now that we had a bit of an understanding about exactly how big Barcelona is, we decided to take the €30/2 day pass option. Are we pleased we did.

There are 3 main tour routes, which have colours to identify them.
They are -Blue, Red and Green.
The Green route covering the Port Olympic South East area is only open between 1st April and 25th September
The Red route covers central and south of the city.
Blue starts off at the Placa de Catalunya and heading North of the city.

Placa de Catalunya is a hub for both the red and blue bus. You can get them both from here.
The stops are clearly identified and the buses are very frequent.

The Placa de Catalunya.
This appears to be the nerve center of the city, marking the beginning of the famous Rambla.

Sagrada familia.
We took the blue bus for the first day and headed off intending to get off at the famous and beautiful Sagrada Familia. As we approached we were amazed at the wonder of this beautiful building, and also amazed that almost 2/3 of the worlds population were queuing in a huge line to gain entry. There were huge amounts of building materials around and we decided, that the 200 pictures taken from the bus would be enough for now, perhaps re visiting at a quieter time (if one exists).
My idea of seeing any place is not to spend hours in a queue. If I see a queue anywhere at home I avoid it. Even at the supermarket check out. So that was our personal decision and something that I am sure others would want to scrap about, but it worked for us. ☺

The other point to note is that if we were to get off the bus here, the chances of getting back on at this stop would have been pretty slim as the other 1/3 of the worlds population was in the queue to board this bus and get to the top level.

The bus gently headed off up through Gracia and then on to Park Guell. We admired the buildings, took endless pictures and saw the Gaudi influences along the way. But our target for now was the Stop Tramvia Blau-Tibidabo.

Getting off the bus at the bottom of quite a steep hill. There is a tram called Tramvia Blau, which has been in service for over 100 years that takes passengers up this hill, but it only seems to be in action at weekends. Alternatively there is a bus to take its place. It cost just over a €1 one way and we decided the walk down would be good afterwards, so just got the single.

At the top of the hill is a funicular, I love these things, having been on one very similar at Petrin hill in Prague and Victoria Heights in Hong Kong. (Pretty good bit of engineering too.)
This took us to the top of the highest point on the Collserola massif where we had the most fantastic view of Barcelona. Only here is it possible to gain any idea of the size of this fantastic place.

Here is also a small funfair, Parc d’Atraccions Tibidabo with some really strange rides. It was quite surreal watching the big red aeroplane do it’s rotation, passing gently over the open cliff. Also there was a small ride with the track above the car, again taking its passengers over the cliff edge.

After some time we headed back down the funicular and walked gently down the Av Tibidabo, admiring the beautiful houses/buildings along the way.
Down the hill a little is the science museum Cosmo Caixa, this includes a planetarium and a flooded forest, although we didn’t visit it. We did see a submarine parked in the middle of the road, so I suspect it was close by.

Ok back to the bus, this plodded on through Sarria, lovely part of town, antiques fairs market, town hall and church lovely cake shops and a nice place for a gentle stroll.

Monastir de Pedralbes, a must for Catalan Gothic Art lovers, most of the monastery is open to visitors.
Palau Reial-Pevellons Guell, look out for the wonderful iron railings shaped as a dragon.

Next stop for us was the Barcelona football stadium, Camp Nou. Not bothered about doing a tour, just as well at €22 pp I though it was a bit steep, so we wandered around had some photographs taken at various places.
Looked round the Barcelona shop, €100 for a shirt (they are having a laf) a quick beer and a snack and off to the bus, satisfied that we had been to (if only the outside) of a stadium where several of the world's greats have played.

The bus took us on to Diagonal, where we spotted the statue to Pau Casals the world’s best known Catalan musician (sorry……Pau who?) (I am an uncultured slob)

So we headed off back to the hotel, for a sleep and to get ready for the evenings dinner.

We walked up the Ramblas turning up one of the side streets found a restaurant and despite going there twice, I never logged the name of it! It was ‘something grill’ I’m sure but will have to investigate further.
But it was a lovely place with a long and old wooden bar. Food was being prepared opposite the bar and a really splendid ambiance. In the corner was a strange glass booth, it was a bit like a confessional. Couples can have some privacy in there and probably a great place for a romantic meal.
(Not sure what the 2 big fat blokes were doing in there though ☺ )

After a good meal and a few drinks we headed off down Ramblas and watched the actors, the con artists and the police playing cat n mouse again with the illegal street sellers.
At this point we were thinking that Ramblas is no more intimidating than many other places we have been to, but that was all going to change on New Years Eve.
Headed back to the hotel tired again and ready for some shut eye.

Dec 30th
After breakfast down the road in the café Dino Pan and we decided part 2 of the bus tour was order of the day. and headed in the direction of the Mirador de Colom (bit like Nelsons column to us)
There was a bus waiting when we got there, we hopped aboard and headed up on top deck to sit in the lovely December sun.

Today we are taking the red route.
With no real stop off planned we decided to just do the whole route and see what happens. With the weather being so good we decided we could then hop on and off if we fancy it.

This route seems to have a lot more stops than the blue route.
Heading off from the Colom we were heading towards the Estacio de Sants to Creu Coberta then on towards the area that housed the Olympic athletes, Port olympic.

One of the tall blocks is now unsurprisingly a hotel and the other an office block. This area was the home of the sailing events. Olympic sport = very interesting to me.

At this point I decided I wanted to get off the bus when it reaches the Olympic Stadium, now that was worth seeing. We stayed on board, just soaking up the atmosphere and seeing large differences in architecture, old and new sit side by side very well in Barcelona. It is a huge area to cover and this bus is the only way to do it IMHO.
Stuck in traffic now as we drive through the Barri Gothic it was a welcome delay, I think this is probably the most interesting area of Barcelona, narrow lanes gorgeous old buildings and so much atmosphere. Decided that this area would be our initial focus next day.
Next ……The tour goes on.....
The Olympic stadium, the cable car ride and the Port area and a great restaurant find.
Mucky is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2012, 04:09 AM
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You might recognize the cellist Pau Casals by the name under which he was most known when he was performing, Pablo Casals.
Nikki is online now  
Sep 21st, 2012, 12:22 PM
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Hi Mucky (and to Mrs Muck)! Just found this - then what heppened?! We need to know -especially after that cliffhanger, "we were thinking that Ramblas is no more intimidating than many other places we have been to, but that was all going to change on New Years Eve"?!?

Hope it's not the new job that has kept you too busy to continue - how is it?
caroline_edinburgh is offline  
Sep 22nd, 2012, 07:35 AM
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crikey falling behind here. I have Berlin France and next week Hungary to think about.
I must make more time !
Mucky is offline  
Sep 22nd, 2012, 07:47 AM
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I envy your trips, Mucky!
TDudette is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2012, 06:27 AM
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This is a little late I know.
We visited the Olympic stadium
having taken the Red Bus Turistic we got off at the Anella Olimpica stop.

Having been to the Barcelona ground previously and found a €22 charge to enter, we were pleasantly surprised to find that the Olympic stadium is Free.

What an opportunity to visit the site of the 1992 summer games.
The Palau Sant Jordi, which is an indoor arena that sits 16500 people. The incredible telecommunications tower that looks over the city and the location of the Olympic diving pool, which has the most incredible view over looking the city. Just imagine the excitement of diving on the hill with the City of Barcelona right there in front of you. Brilliant feeling I bet.

There is Sports museum there too and you can see many famous stars footprint on the pavement in a walk of fame.
The stadium is now the home of the Catalan National football side and they were training whilst we were there.
This stadium is magnificent and the original Olympic flame still sits there as a reminder of the opening ceremony in 1992, when the paralympic archer Antonio Rebollo lit the flame with his arrow of fire, lit by the last torch runner. (In fact he didn't light it due to safety reasons but it looked pretty good)
This was the first summer olympics since 1964 that Germany had sent a reunified single team and South Africa were allowed to participate after suspension due to apartheid. So when you visit this magnificent stadium, pause for a moment and reflect. The world had made many changes since the last Olympics were held and the reality of those changes were here for the world to see.

The stadium is situated above Montjuic park and there are two interesting cable car rides you can take. We took the old one down to the port area at €10 it was a little overpriced, but hey we got to see a superb view of Barcelona and the old girl needs a lot of maintenance too I suppose.

The Olympic stadium is a must see for any sports fan, and at no charge, it knocks spots off the €22 Camp Nou for value.

New years eve.
We had a reservation at the Rita Blue restaurant for our midnight celebrations, so we set off quite early from the hotel to absorb the atmosphere of las Ramblas.

We left our hotel and walked around 50 mtrs, turned a corner and immediately two lads aged about 20 handed us pieces of paper, it was clear that they were ripped up pages of a newspaper and they were claiming they were discount tickets for free drinks somewhere.

We ignored them and carried on walking and they persisted talking to us, once they realized we were British, they started talking about Man Utd football and Barcelona football. Then one of them began to pretend to dribble a ball through my legs and show me how Barcelona tackle. I was getting a bit pi$$ed off by now and knew exactly what he was up to.
After what seemed like a couple of mins, I felt his hand undoing the pocket button on my trousers, where I had placed a completely empty old wallet as a decoy. Yes he went for it; before he was able to extract it from my pocket I grabbed his arm and threw him on the floor. Wish I had thrown him on his head really but you never know what the other guy is going to do. So I shouted a few expletives at him and he scurried off with his mate tails between their legs. I wonder how rich they became that night.

Moral of the story, carry a baseball bat with you. (Just kidding)

Ramblas was busy a great atmosphere, but by now I was on the lookout for the next pickpocket, they were there, I could see them, we watched them at it several times. We were handed bits of paper one other time but I got so angry with the kid who handed it to me he legged it pretty quickly. (Mucky doesn’t get angry very often, but when he does you don’t want to be there ☺)

Eventally made our way to the Rita blue restaurant

This is quite a nice place, set in an old square, which is no doubt lovely during the daytime. Trouble is there seems to be a church that the local homeless congregate on the other side of the square. It was no big problem but it was there.

We were due to arrive at 9pm, so we had a few drinks and headed off for the restaurant. Red carpet outside, but the shutters were down. By now I was a bit concerned not just because I was starving, but I had pre paid for the set meal.
Anyway in typical Spanish style it finally opened at 9:35pm.
Food was good, cava very nice too ambiance was great, we had a good NYE scoffed the grapes at midnight and left the restaurant at around 1am.
By now we were ready for bed so we headed off down Ramblas which was still going strong, called in for a nightcap at a few places and got back to the hotel around 2:30 ish.

Tomorrow we fly back but firstly we plan to visit the harbour area.

January 1st.
Today is a beautiful day, quite warm, coats left in the hotel.
barcelona has a great beach, there were windsurfers doing their thing, in wetsuits.(must have been blinking freezing in the sea)

Stopped off for some refreshments and made our way across the road until we reached the beautiful old area of Bari Gotic. This area is really nice and well worth seeing on its own.

Eventually we found ourselves heading back towards our hotel, where across the road from the Theatre Apollo, we found a great restaurant that all the stars from the shows go. Quite an interesting place, hundreds of photographs of the owner with famous faces. (sadly famous only in Spain I didn't recognise any of them ) But non the less, food was good and beer was reasonably priced.

All in all we enjoyed our time in Barcelona, it is a huge and interesting city, don't be put off by the pickpockets, take normal care, this was New Years Eve and no doubt pickpockets were making a special effort this night.

Well that's Barcelona, ticked off the list.
Mucky is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2012, 08:24 AM
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I liked the breezy style of your trip report.
Pegontheroad is offline  
Sep 24th, 2012, 10:16 AM
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Well done Muck! Sounds like it was a top trip - you certainly packed in the sights and your NYE sounds excellent. Re "I grabbed his arm and threw him on the floor", though - blimey! I had no idea you were so dangerous!!

When are you and Mrs M coming to Venice?
caroline_edinburgh is offline  
Sep 24th, 2012, 10:18 AM
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P.S. There's a posting asking about travelling from Cardiff to Caerphilly & Castell Coch.
caroline_edinburgh is offline  

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