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Leaving in 3-1/2 wks! Please help finalize Barcelona itinerary!

Leaving in 3-1/2 wks! Please help finalize Barcelona itinerary!

Old Jun 17th, 2014, 11:27 AM
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Leaving in 3-1/2 wks! Please help finalize Barcelona itinerary!

Hello fellow travelers,
With help from many of you, I have been planning a trip to Barcelona and Italy this summer. I will be traveling with my intrepid DH and two teenage sons, ages 18 and 16. They are fairly experienced travelers, as we have taken two similar trips the past two summers.

We will be traveling for 3 weeks, starting in Barcelona. None of us has been to Barcelona, so it’s been a learning curve to plan that part of the trip. We’re leaving in 3-1/2 weeks, so I know I need to get plans settled! I would be so grateful for any suggestions from those of you who are familiar with Barcelona, as I finalize our plans…

Barcelona Itinerary Draft:
Saturday: arrive 9:40 am from JFK; drop off bags at Hotel Colon (across from Sagrada Familia), lunch near the hotel

PM: Park Guell? My concern with this is that we should pre-book our visit, and if complications arise on the journey, that could be a problem. We could also use this time to do a stroll on Las Ramblas or the Bari Gotic

Sunday:
Morning: Las Ramblas stroll; be at Cathedral for the Sardana dance at 12:00, then lunch nearby.

Afternoon: Barceloneta/Palau Guell/Montjuic? We need to decide which

Monday:
Early morning: Sagrada Familia with guided tour
Late morning: Casa Mila
Lunch near Casa Mila
Afternoon: Casa Battlo

Tuesday:
Bari Gotic/Barceloneta/Montjuic : choose whichever we haven’t visited before
Tuesday night:
Palau de la Musica Catalana: concert (tickets already purchased)

Wednesday: fly out to Genoa/Santa Margherita Ligure

I can see that there is much more to see and do than we can accomplish in a few days. We want to see the highlights, but don’t want to just rush from place to place. We’d like to allow time to absorb the culture and enjoy the experience. Thank you so much for any help you can give us.
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Old Jun 17th, 2014, 11:43 AM
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Visit Palau Guell the afternoon you arrive since you don't need to pre-book. You can do Parc Guell Sunday morning and then be at the cathedral at noon.

Monday - what time are you booking tickets at La Pedrera? You don't want to cut short your time at Sagrada Familia and I don't think late morning at La Pedrera will give you enough time at SF. Best to book La Pedrera for early afternoon, after lunch. Casa Battlo doesn't matter as the tickets are not timed, they are good for the entire day.
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Old Jun 17th, 2014, 11:56 AM
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The Colon is NOT across from Sagrada Familia but rather across from the Barcelona gothic cathedral unless there are two Colon hotels now.
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Old Jun 17th, 2014, 11:59 AM
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Yes, you should prebook Park Guell, otherwise you may not get in, depending on the day.

"If you wish to purchase a ticket at the ticket offices or ATMs at the Park itself, the price of the general ticket is €8. In this case, the availability of tickets will be subject to the number of visitors in the Zone at that time"

PARC GÜELL
www.parkguell.cat). Open from 8:00-9:00 daily.

LA SAGRADA FAMILIA - Admission is €14,80/person, €19,30 for a guided visit or with an Audio Guide. You can include the visit to the towers for an additional €4,50. Visit to the Basicllca is free for children up to 10 years of age. There is a €2 discount for students and retired, those under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Bags and backpacks must be checked-in to enter. For €18,30 you can purchase a combo ticket for the Sagrada Familia and Gaudí House Museum in the Parc Güell (www.sagradafamilia.cat). (from Maribel's Guides)

CASA MILÁ - Tickets can be purchased online to avoid the long lines (www.lapedrera.com).

CASA BATLLÓ - General Admission is €20,35 and it always seems packed (www.casabatllo.es).

I would also make lunch reservations since there will be 4 of you, especially in the busy areas where you will be going.
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Old Jun 17th, 2014, 12:03 PM
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Dukey beat me to it. Sagrada Familia is not a Cathedral. On the other hand the Cathedral is where the Sardana is danced and you are within walking distance of the Palau and in the Barri Gòtic.

Please get a map and mark the places you want to visit. The nearby plaça catalunya metro stop has many lines and buses to get you where you want to go.

And as noted you do not need tickets for Parque Guell.
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Old Jun 17th, 2014, 12:03 PM
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Thanks for your reply adrienne--very helpful! I like the idea of putting Park Guell later anyway, since it sounds like it might take a bit of energy and we'll likely run out of energy around 3:30pm.

When I looked at La Pedrera website to book tickets, they recommend early morning and late afternoon. Do you think that is because it gets too hot mid-day? We could always move La Pedrera to another morning...

Do you know anything about the Magic Nights at Casa Battlo? They offer a dinner and music show under the stars which sounds like it might be nice. If we did that, we could book a "Cultural Visit" + Magic Night. If it's really nice, we might be interested, but we don't want to fall into a tourist trap!
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Old Jun 17th, 2014, 12:06 PM
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We really enjoyed the free walking tours by www.runnerbeantours.com. You may need to pre-book as they are quite popular. We enjoyed the first tour so much we returned and did a second. One was Gaudi-focused and the other was more of an overview of Barcelona.
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Old Jun 17th, 2014, 12:11 PM
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Dukey and IMDonehere,
Whoa! Thank you for clarifying! When I first booked the hotel, I had only begun to read about Barcelona, and later assumed that Sagrada Familia was the cathedral. So, that changes things...good news that the Sardana is right out front, though!

IM: I did have my map marked, so now I just have to reorient my thinking! So thankful as always that I asked for help on fodors!
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Old Jun 17th, 2014, 12:23 PM
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I went to La Pedrera first thing in the morning. I'm sure all the houses get hot in the afternoon and I doubt they cool off until the next morning. If you do La Pedrera at first entry you are on the roof alone for a short time. Their plan is to take everyone to the roof immediately via elevator and you walk down.

I'm always doubtful about dinner & music at venues other than restaurants (such as boat cruises with dinner) as the price is usually steep and the food is banquet fare. But I don't know anything about the dinner at Casa Batllo. In a city like Barcelona with so many good restaurants I'd prefer not to eat at Casa Batllo.

>

It's been reported on this board (several times) that you must have advanced tickets for Parc Guell as the lines are long and they have a limited number of entrants. I would not take a chance.

BTW - I don't see where anyone stated that Sagrada Familia is a cathedral.
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Old Jun 17th, 2014, 12:26 PM
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Well...I guess you did think that SF is a cathedral but it sure didn't seem that way in your post. SF is a basilica - more important than a cathedral.
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Old Jun 17th, 2014, 01:07 PM
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They always recommend early morning and late afternoon for tickets, it's just the time at almost any museum or tourist venue that is least busy. I can't imagine it has anything to do with heat as it's inside. Besides, Barcelona isn't that bad in summer, I've been there in July, it's about like many places in Europe.

I wasn't even that crazy about Park Guell, but that will take more energy and the heat does matter there as you can be in full sun. I don't think I went there until I was in Barcelona a couple times.

I don't think basilicas are more important than cathedrals, they are just different things, a cathedral is the seat of the bishop. And some basilicas are a lot more important than others. I don't think anyone would say Sacre Coeur is more important than Notre Dame in Paris, for example.
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Old Jun 17th, 2014, 01:16 PM
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The OP inferred and that wrote directly that she thought Sagrada Familia was the Cathedral. It is a common misconception which would have been clarified as soon as she checked into the hotel.

A Cathedral was the seat of the Bishop. Of out curiosity I looked up Basilicas and there are 8 in Barcelona including Sagrada Familia.
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Old Jun 17th, 2014, 01:23 PM
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Well, taking into account your helpful information above, here’s our new and improved itinerary:

Saturday: arrive 9:40 am from JFK; drop off bags at Hotel Colon (across from Barcelona Cathedral), lunch near the hotel

PM: stroll on Las Ramblas or the Bari Gotic; visit Palau Guell (no need to pre-book; should I buy ticket in advance to avoid a line?)

Sunday:
Morning: Casa Battlo 9:30am (buy ticket in advance to beat the queue; no assigned entry time); be at Cathedral for the Sardana dance at 12:00, then lunch nearby.

Afternoon: Park Guell (need to pre-book timed entry to Monumental Zone) We’ll be flexible on this; I’d like to see the views and the Gaudi work there, but we'll only go if the weather is clear.

Monday:
Sagrada Familia 10:00am with guided tour (need to pre-book timed entry)

Afternoon:
Barceloneta/Montjuic : choose whichever we haven’t visited before

Tuesday:
Casa Mila 9:30 am (need to pre-book entry time)
Afternoon: visit any areas we haven’t seen, just stroll around and enjoy last afternoon in Barcelona
Tuesday night:
Palau de la Musica Catalana: concert (tickets already purchased)

Wednesday: fly out to Genoa/Santa Margherita Ligure

This takes into account our actual hotel location: thanks again for setting me straight on that! I’d welcome any more advice before I go ahead and book tickets.

Also, per Robert’s suggestion, I will go ahead and book lunch reservations. From what I’ve read, that is the main meal of the day and we certainly don’t want to miss it with two growing teenagers!

Adrienee: I agree with you about the dinner & music. I think we’ll just find some nice restaurants and visit Casa Battlo during the day.

Christina: thanks for your reply. Do you know if they have air conditioning at the houses? I couldn’t find that information on their website.

IM: I certainly would have been quite surprised when we checked into the hotel! I originally booked the hotel based on recommendations here, though, so I’m still confident that it’s a good choice. How nice to have the Sardana right outside!

Please let me know your thoughts on the new itinerary!
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Old Jun 17th, 2014, 01:25 PM
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I still don't see it but it doesn't matter. Many people think every church in Europe is a cathedral.
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Old Jun 17th, 2014, 02:18 PM
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My husband and I just returned a week ago from a month long trip, Barcelona being our last stop. I would recommend the hop on hop off double decker city tour buses. One price for the 3 different lines that show you a lot of sights of Barcelona. They give you a great feel for the city.and the tickets are for 2 days. As far as weather, it rained a lot for us. We ended up in Sitges, a 40 min. local train ride, a beautiful beach community that your teenagers might enjoy. Barcelona is big and crowded, and a beautiful city. Enjoy your time...we did!
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Old Jun 17th, 2014, 02:44 PM
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Thanks debragartin, I'll look into those double decker buses. They sound great. Sounds like the US isn't the only place that had a wet spring; I hope it will be cleared up by July!

Did you have any restaurants that you'd recommend in Barcelona?
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Old Jun 17th, 2014, 03:43 PM
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Sorry I can't help you with restaurants, we basically would find the closest restaurant to where ever we were. It's hard to have a bad meal in Spain, in my experience anyway.
My husband and I are not big plan oriented people, we go where the wind blows us and have never been disappointed. Example, while on the city tour bus, we got off at a place that looked interesting. As we entered the building we found it was a German Beer Garden (in Barcelona)with the Umpa Band and all...Beer and food everywhere. We had a wonderful time, stayed for 5 hrs. met local people where we all practiced our Spanish/Catalan/English. I believe it was the Montjuic area. Up on the hilltop. Also those sky gondolas are up in that area too, your teenagers might like that as well.
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Old Jun 17th, 2014, 05:16 PM
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just one more bit of info on the hop on hop off city bus tour...it will cost about 35 euros per person for the 2 day pass, and it looks like it will take you to most of the sights you might want to see and probably more. I'm sure you can get just a one day pass. Taxis are very reasonable from point A to B...the bus does give you the lay of the land with information about the city via those little earbud earphones.
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Old Jun 17th, 2014, 06:16 PM
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Thanks for that information debragartin. It sounds like it would be more enjoyable than the metro. I'll definitely look into it.
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Old Jun 22nd, 2014, 08:52 PM
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Hi Cybertraveler, we were in Barcelona in May, no rain, just a little cooler than expected but still great weather, especially after the never ending Boston winter! It should be even better now.
As far as recommendations, I see you have the major sights covered. We did enjoy Montserrat, DD age 24 says that was the best part of the trip but not sure how teenage boys will feel..

Restaurants - of all the ones we went to, I do recommend Arcano and Barceloneta. If I can find the name of the Italian restaurant we went to in Eixample, I will add that to the list.

Enjoy Barcelona, we loved it! Just wish we had more than 4 days.....
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