Barcelona: Yes or No?...

Jan 20th, 2011, 09:36 AM
  #1  
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Barcelona: Yes or No?...

We're planning a trip in Europe that --- based on friends' recommendations -- includes Prague and then DRIVING to southern France (Provence, French Riviera)...
...But then we need to CHOOSE between Northern Italy (we've been there but there's always more to see...) OR Barcelona.

We hear (and read) some conflicting reviews about Barcelona.... Up to a year ago everybody was so enthusiastic, this past year we hear more and more "lukewarm" reviews, claiming that the place is overly touristy...

What do you think, and if not Barcelona, are there other, better places to drive to in north-east Spain? Or just go back to good old Northern Italy (car rental companies don't like us driving thru Italy, surprisingly enough --- which would mean higher rates for us...)...

Thanks!
mamamia2 is offline  
Jan 20th, 2011, 11:09 AM
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What people like ( or don't) is subjective.
Barcelona is one of my favorite cities in Europe:
unique architecture, great food, elegant shops and
tons to see.
Yes, there are some touristy spots, but it is a big city
- one can find many charming areas .
I would not recommend going in the summer months.

Driving in the north of Spain is a different holiday.
Depends if you wish to spend time in a big city or
drive around.

If you think Barcelona is overly touristy...
wait until you see Prague!
danon is offline  
Jan 20th, 2011, 11:13 AM
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There's nowhere I can think of that would qualify for "over-touristed" that parts of ITALY. But there's usually a good reason the "tourists" like you go to places, right?

You can choose to believe whatever you like but IMO if you skip Barcelona then you'll regret it.
Dukey1 is offline  
Jan 20th, 2011, 11:21 AM
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the bad rap you may have heard about Barcelona is that crime against tourists is a serious problem - much more IMO than in most European cities. But IMO if you take proper precautions - just common sense and you if you know there is a problem then the problem is not that much a problem. But if unsuspecting you could be a sitting duck target.

That said IMO Barcelona is one of my very favorite cities in Europe and one with a look and feel (and language - Catalan, quite different from Castillian Spanish) that is totally unique. The Bario Gotic (sp?) is IMO one of the finest old-world looking city centers in all of Europe. The city has spruced itself up tremendously in past years so it sparkles.

and yes in July and August, like many southern European tourist meccas (meccas because they are so stunning) the city does attract swarms of visitors so if you are not traveling during those two hectic months the crowds will not be so thick - and even in high season to me zillions of folks on the street at night just ad to the city's charm.

Barcelona IMO is right up there with the best cities, tourist-wise, in all of Europe.
PalenQ is offline  
Jan 20th, 2011, 01:45 PM
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when is the best time to visit Barcelona?
despirited is offline  
Jan 20th, 2011, 02:00 PM
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Thanks for the feedback....

We're gonna be there 2nd week of May....

Since we're gonna be driving a rental car there, what are the issues we need to be considering? Having a German license plates might attract some "bad guys" who may assume the trunk has some valuables, no? Leaving the car at the hotel? Any idea about an inexpensive, clean hotel, even if in the outskirts of the city, where we can leave our car all day and take public transportation into the city?
mamamia2 is offline  
Jan 20th, 2011, 05:23 PM
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"when is the best time to visit Barcelona?"

I visited in mid-March, late April-early May,
end of Sept. and second week in Oct. Each time between 5-7 days.
I remember one rainy night first week in Oct. and all day rain - May 4th last year. ( unusual)
This year we'll be there just before Easter.
If you like warmer weather ( but not hot summer temp) , I would guess mid May and late Sept.
danon is offline  
Jan 21st, 2011, 07:49 AM
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Since we're gonna be driving a rental car there, what are the issues we need to be considering?

yes you should leave no valuables in the car and have nothing in it that looks valuable from the outside - true in many European cities, not just Barcelona.

for driving in spain I understand there is a law that if you wear glasses - mandated to drive with them - you have to legally carry a spare pair of spectacles - there are roadside checks on cars and this apparently is one thing that is checked on. You should also have an International Driving Permit, available for a few bucks from your local AAA - this is a translation of the info on your home drivers license and may or may not be required (rather murky often if it is techncially required but it may be so check that out.
PalenQ is offline  
Jan 21st, 2011, 08:02 AM
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Barcelona is lovely...Yes you have to keep your eyes open as in any major city, but I have witnessed no street crime during several visits.

Would suggest losing the car in France and getting the train there.
alihutch is offline  
Jan 21st, 2011, 08:10 AM
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Not sure where you are picking up a car - but picking up in one country and dropping in another is horribly expensive so you may want to think about factoring that in.

Also, the drive from Prague to Southern France is very long - approx. 12 hours per googlemaps - will you be breaking this up with other stops? How much time do you have for the whole trip?
jamikins is offline  
Jan 21st, 2011, 09:05 AM
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We're landing in Frankfurt, flying next morning to Prague RT. Back in FRA pick up the car for our trip to Provence and French Riviera, and considering Barcelona. Then driving back to FRA.

Is the need for an international driving permit apply only to Spain?
mamamia2 is offline  
Jan 21st, 2011, 09:14 AM
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It's really a lot of driving. If you decide on Barcelona there is an inexpensive Vueling direct flight from Prague. Barcelona to Nice drive is about 6 hrs.

I love lakes in Northern Italy (Como, Garda, Maggiore); lots of very picturesque small towns, nice drives and plenty of beautiful sights. But it's hard to compare to Barcelona stay which a city experience.
hkto is offline  
Jan 21st, 2011, 09:57 AM
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I'd go the Vueling flight option. I flew Vueling from Barcelona to Granada and it's decent and cheap. You won't need a car in Barcelona -- subway is well marked and easy to use. Sagrada Familia, Parc Guell, Boqueria, Picasso Museum, Cathedral, FOOD! GO! We went to a tapas place that was super crowded and fun -- touristy, but good food and experience. Cervesceria Catalana.
cmlyons is offline  
Jan 21st, 2011, 01:49 PM
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90 Euro Prague-Barcelona is not cheap to me....

But in general, I prefer driving, the freedom of stopping anywhere we wish, change our minds, deciding to stay a half day in a place, skip the other....... I am not a big fan of spending hours in airports, dealing with security, delays, cancelled flights, worry about missing a flight, loaded with luggage, just not for me, or for the kind of vacation we're planning.....
mamamia2 is offline  
Jan 21st, 2011, 04:01 PM
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OK, we're driving to Barcelona 2nd week of May, so please, anybody familiar with that city (and there are a few here, so it seems), please, could you suggest to us what suburb of Barcelona we should look for a B&B or a small hotel in.... SInce we're "stuck" with a car, it makes more sense to stay outside the city (also quieter and less expensive), leave the car there while taking public transportation into the city... We'll probably stay there for 2 nights....

Thanks!
mamamia2 is offline  
Jan 21st, 2011, 07:12 PM
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sorry, don't know the suburbs..
I don't believe they have B&Bs in Spain.
danon is offline  
Jan 21st, 2011, 07:29 PM
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I assume you are spending between three weeks and a month in Europe.

Car rental drop off rates in other countries are exhorbitant, if they allow them it all.
_____________________________

Barcelona is one of my favorite cities but that does not mean you would enjoy it as well. There is great architecture and a sense of style or design that is rare.

As as being too touristy, it is nothing compared to Florence. But please remember that you are a tourist as well, and you are there to see the unique features that are Barcelona.
Aduchamp1 is offline  
Jan 21st, 2011, 07:37 PM
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Re: B&B in pain. Stayed at a very convenient one in Barcelona with a parking garage 1/2 block away MarinaViewB&B.com Jose Maria was very helpful as a host. We had a car and left it in the garage until we needed it to drive to Sagres and the next day to Monserratt. His apt. B&B is a couple blocks off Las Ramblas and walking distance to the harbor..Again he is a great help and speaks English very well.
amer_can is offline  
Jan 21st, 2011, 07:38 PM
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Taht should be Spain!!! not pain.. Sorry
amer_can is offline  
Jan 21st, 2011, 07:39 PM
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OMG what a poor typist I am..
amer_can is offline  

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