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Catalonia/Barcelona Itinerary-need advice. 1st trip to Europe!

Catalonia/Barcelona Itinerary-need advice. 1st trip to Europe!

Sep 4th, 2011, 08:47 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2005
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Catalonia/Barcelona Itinerary-need advice. 1st trip to Europe!

This will be our first trip to Europe, and we’re thrilled to be going to Catalonia, Spain. We will spend the first week touring the country around Barcelona and the last week in Barcelona. We have done a lot of research, but you can’t learn everything from reading so PLEASE add your recommendations or point out planning mistakes we’ve made. ViaMichelin has been very helpful planning the driving portion of our trip.

There are two of us 50 somethings, we are active and love history, beautiful scenery, interested in seeing stone villages, the Mediterranean, you name it!

Morning flight into BCN El Prat.

Take Bus Plana (http://www.busplana.com/) from airport - pickup at T1 - to Tarragona bus station.

Sightsee Roman forum, amphitheatre, museum, city walls, etc. Overnight Tarragona. LODGING RECOMMENDATIONS?

Pick up rental car next morning in Tarragona, see aqueduct or anything we missed day before.

Drive to Poblet Monastery and perhaps visit a bodega or two in the area. (i.e. http://catalanwinesusa.com/catalan-dos/tarragona/).

We would love recommendations for anything not to be missed while in the Tarragona area or points driving toward the Pyrenees.

Drive to Pyrenees and Ribes de Freser. We might pass by Montserrat on the way, but we'll probably tour it the next week while in Barcelona.

Take rack railway to Vall Nuria, and hike down. Overnight in this area. LODGING RECOMMENDATIONS?

From here we will take our time exploring the volcanic area of Olot & Santa Pau, and see Castafollitt de la Roca, Beselu, and Banyoles. Any ‘must see’ opportunities we’ve missed? Lodging recs?

From there, spend a night in Cadaques. Then drive down the Mediterranean to see Empuries and Pals.

Finally, on to Gerona where we’ll turn in our rental car and spend a couple of days sightseeing.

We’ll take the train to Barcelona and get the keys to the apartment. Although it is a distance from Barri Gotic, La Rambla, Plaza Cataluña, etc, we like the idea of being more among the locals. Besides, we got a great deal and the views seem to be killer! ;-) http://www.friendlyrentals.com/en/ap...ment-437-1.htm

Thank you for all the advice you can offer!

BayouGal is offline  
Sep 4th, 2011, 08:48 AM
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This trip is the last week of Sept and first week of Oct, 2011.
BayouGal is offline  
Sep 4th, 2011, 09:27 AM
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Don't miss the frescoes in Taüll, even if they are only copies; the originals are in Barcelona.


I geo-tagged the pictures to establish their location.
Michael is offline  
Sep 4th, 2011, 09:39 AM
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the apt. looks fabulous. have a good time. I can't help you with the other questions. Sorry. But I will enjoy seeing this take form!
lincasanova is offline  
Sep 4th, 2011, 10:49 AM
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We will each have one carry-on only - probably a rolling backpack or regular backpack, and using the wear 1 pack 2 method, all mix and match and wash and wear. We've done this successfully on a few 2 week trips already. We'll also each have a day pack, and using leg and waist belts for security.

We're renting a mini car and we've located parking for the stone villages so we don't get wedged between two walls on any town streets (not joking, it has happened). I just hope our little car won't struggle on the mountain drives in the Pyrenees. Any advice on that? We are not driving in Barcelona.
BayouGal is offline  
Sep 4th, 2011, 11:05 AM
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I just hope our little car won't struggle on the mountain drives in the Pyrenees. Any advice on that?

Downshifting compensates for the lack of power. Don't be afraid to be aggressive on the RPMs, it's only a rental.
Michael is offline  
Sep 4th, 2011, 11:07 AM
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I don't think I'd worry about the car, in the Pyrenees. We did a trip to B'lona in May, and wanted to get up into the Pyrenees. Picked up car in B'lona, stopped in Montserrat for a few hours, then drove to a parador in Bielsa for a night. Somewhat further west than you are thinking, but we were headed to San Sebastian after that.

I didn't find driving in that area of the mtns to be of much concern, but I was only in that one area, and the weather was great.
ekellyga is offline  
Sep 4th, 2011, 11:52 AM
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bayougal, our trip in May this year follows yours almost exactly. We took the bus from Barcelona airport to Tarragona stayed at the Hotel Placa de la Font which I recommend. We were there 2 nights. Be certain you know where to pick up your rental car. I made the mistake of thinking it was at the closest train station but it was at the one far from town. Luckily we worked with a very helpful woman at the train station that arranged a pick up at a more local National/Atesa but it still took two taxi rides to finally get to our rental car in Tarragona---learn for our mistake!!

We then stayed 3 nights at the Hotel Villa Engracia in L'Espluga de Francoli with a view of the Monestery Poblet out our window

We then went up to Cadaques for 3 nights staying at the Hotel Sol Ixent--it was about a 15 minute walk into Cadaques but I wouldn't recommend doing it in the rain--lots of slippery surfaces when wet

We stayed 5 nights at an apartment in Sales de Llierca so that we could do day trips one of which was the train to Nuria, we were pressed for time so took the train up and down---if you find some sunglasses on the train they are mine!!

We then stayed 2 nights in Girona staying at a small B&B located right on the Rambla de la Libertat called Bells oficis--it's a two star with a good location and very helpful owners--a small warning about the privacy of the toilet and shower however

We took the train to Barcelona and finished our visit to Catalonia with 9 days there.

If you have any other questions I'd be happy to help. I am in the process of packing for a month in France--we leave in 2 days but I'll be available to answer any questions. It was our first trip to Catalonia but hopefully not our last. Depending what your expectations are, I would recommend all the places that we stayed. Deborah
DeborahAnn is offline  
Sep 4th, 2011, 11:56 AM
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Bayougal, I just saw which rental company you are using in Barcelona--we used Friendly Rentals also--but a different apartment. We had no problems with any part of the rental and our apartment was exactly as described!! Deborah
DeborahAnn is offline  
Sep 4th, 2011, 01:27 PM
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Very good choice for your first Euro trip BG!

I walked from the Rambla to Sagrada, a long walk but doable, so I don't think you are too far away from the action.
thereyet is offline  
Sep 4th, 2011, 04:17 PM
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Hi DeborahAnn... Will be in barcelona for 4 days. I'm curious to see what were the highlights of your trip so we can squeeze in our much shorter time. Also was considering doing a day trip to montserrat or stiges... would you not recommend considering we would lose a day?

Many thanks,
kaleidoscopik is offline  
Sep 4th, 2011, 05:53 PM
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Kelley, I'm probably not the one to make suggestions about daytrips from Barcelona as this was our first trip there. We had so much to do that we never made it out of the city. If I listed the must sees, the Familia Sagrada would be right up there as one of the most beautiful churches we've ever seen. We have been is some of France and Italy's finest and this one moved me like few others. My husband and I loved being in a major city and being able to take time to walk along the beautiful beaches. Barcelona has so much to offer be it architecture, art, food or fun. Wishing you a great trip Kelley, Deborah
DeborahAnn is offline  
Sep 4th, 2011, 06:28 PM
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The Picasso Museum in the Latin Quarter.

Park Guell designed by Gaudi.
thereyet is offline  
Sep 4th, 2011, 06:43 PM
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Latin Quarter?
Picasso Museum is in El Born.
for suggestions re: Barcelona take a look at

danon is offline  
Sep 4th, 2011, 07:29 PM
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We spent a week -our first- in Barcelona last November and three highlights for us were Sagrada Familla (can't even begin to explain how surprising and amazing this space was/is); Casa Batlló and Casa Milà/LaPadrera. We also went to a concert at the Gran Teartre de Liceu. The building is exquisite and you may take tours and/or dine in their cafe w/out attending a performance. Barcelona for us was just a great place to walk and eat. We'll be returning this November and maybe this time we'll take a day trip out of the city.
mvor is offline  
Sep 5th, 2011, 08:38 PM
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BayouGal I have no advice to give you . I just wanted to say it looks like you've done a lot of research and your itinerary looks really great . Wishing all the best on your first trip to Europe .
kodi is offline  
Sep 6th, 2011, 05:32 AM
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HI there - YOur itinerary and ideas look fantastic.

As much as I would love to chime in with some ideas/suggestions I am limited as in the last few years we have traveled mostly to the north and south of Spain as well as Madrid.

The last time I was in the area you are visiting I was a young college girl on a shoe string budget and my ideas of fun certainly have changed since then!!

I am so happy for you!!
annesherrod is offline  
Sep 6th, 2011, 05:48 AM
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We did spend a very short time in the Pyrnees area. Our Spanish friends drove. We were on a very tight schedule this part of the trip so I felt we mostly were in the car. We did stay 1 night at an amazing Parador though before heading back to Madrid to go home.

My husband goes to Barcelona on business frequently - but usually does not leave the area. I can see if he has anytidbits to share!
annesherrod is offline  
Sep 6th, 2011, 05:48 PM
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You can click on my name to read my trip report from Last October. We spent 5 days in Barelona, then rented a car for a 3 night/4 day road trip along the Costa Brava, Girona & spent a day driving through the Pyrenees. We stayed at Playa Sol in Cadaques, visited Dali's house in Port Ligat & drove up to Cap de Creus.

We loved Girona. After leaving Girona, we spent a day driving through part of the Pyrenees. Had breakfast in Besalu, drove to Ripoll & toured the 9th century monastery, & stopped at Rupit (the stone village), & made a very quick stop in Vic. My report lists restaurants, sightseeing, etc. We drove through Olot & thought it looked very nice but didn't have time to stop.

I envy you! You will love your trip!
Kwoo is offline  
Sep 10th, 2011, 10:38 AM
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Regarding the "vias verdes" in the volcanic areas near Olot, see this new article from the NYTimes:

ekscrunchy is offline  

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