Quick trip to Barcelona off season

Nov 30th, 2018, 01:12 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,705
Quick trip to Barcelona off season

We are home from our one-week trip to Barcelona, Alicante, and Alcoy. I've been to Spain several times, but never to Barcelona and this was my husband's first trip. Barcelona was to see the Modernisme architecture, the others for visiting friends. We went in November for off season and low airfares.

We booked with KLM, flying DL, KLM, and Transavia. BCN-ALC was on Vueling. The websites and the confirmation from KLM said that Transavia would not recognize Skyteam elite status, so would charge for a checked bag, but there was no way to book a bag online with the reservation through KLM, so I strategised one checked bag under the weight limit of their first tier charge and planned to pay at ALC. We also had a small backpack and an acceptable size rollaboard (but not small enough to be guaranteed onboard, possibly required to gate check to AMS). So complicated learning all the rules of multiple airlines operating code shares. As it turned out, no charge when checking bag. Rollaboard tagged as not guaranteed, but got on board. All flights went smoothly despite the snow storm in the northern US a day before our return. Time to eat a pancake in AMS in the international section. ALC was small, so we were there too early, but almost tried to board the wrong plan to AMS (one at 10:10 and one at 10:15 or so, but different airlines). That would have been embarrassing

Being off season, only La Sagrada Familia general entry and Parc Guell required advanced booking earlier in the day or night before. So, we had flexibility and did modify our schedule based on my husband's need for a nap (he never sleeps on overnight flights), rain, traffic, etc. I would have packed in several more house tours, but 30 years of marriage requires compromise.

We went to Institut Municipal del Paisatge Urbā, Av. Drassanes, 6, 21st Floor to buy the Modernisme Route guidebook + discount coupons for cash. Nice historic preservation folks with a beautiful view of the city. Because we weren't booking advance tickets, the discounts were worthwhile for us and easy to use. The book has lots of text about about 100 sites along with a small photo of each.

I purchased 25 euro first balcony tickets to a pianist's concert in Palau de la Musica Catalana in advance. We went early so I could walk around and take photos along with everyone else. The interior was stunning and the ceiling beautifully lit. I am sure I was grinning from ear to ear the entire time. Loved it. The concert was also good, so a great way to see the interior, though you don't see some behind the scenes included on the tour. The ticket did include a discount to return for a tour.

We liked the large thermometer on the side of the building near Pl de Catalunya.

The organic shapes in Palau Guell, Casa Batllo, and Casa Mila are a wonder. Sometimes a little crowded in places due to school groups and Asian tourist working forever to get the perfect glamour shot, but manageable. Casa Mila was probably my favorite from among these, but each is special. We probably spent 1 hour or so in each.

I was enthralled with the La Sagrada Familia interior, the architecture and the stained glass. We got tickets for 9:30am the evening before. I would recommend the 9:00am first slot, go directly inside and wander the interior first, then check out the facades and the side room displays. It does fill up fast. I think we spent an hour. The afternoon before we stopped by, walked around the perimeter, and sat on a bench for a while as well. Walk-ups could only purchase guided visit. Unguided visit must be booked online. In 2019 unguided visits will only be allowed after 2:00pm according to website. Nice bakery across the street if one needs a snack. (Seems like there is a bakery and tapas bar on every corner in Barcelona.)

I understand the negative comments about Park Guell. We rode the bus up the hill, waited in line for tickets (should have booked in advance online for just a bit more), then enjoyed the green space until our entry time. I think I would have been just as satisfied walking along the perimeter of the monumental core, seeing the Hansel and Gretel houses through the fence and the lizard from a distance. I was not impressed by the rest. (We did not tour the house.) Way too crowded. So my advice would be low priority, but OK to visit park, picnic, view from street, and not pay to enter.

From the park we walked to Recinte Modernista de Sant Pau, stopping in a local bakery for snacks enroute. I found the site interesting, but my husband was disappointed at the small number of buildings restored and open for tourists. Almost deserted, so very quiet.

We decided against a day trip to Figueres. Our time was short and it was a cold rainy day, so we opted to stay in Barcelona. We did walk through Mercat de Santa Caterina. OK market, but not worth a trip out of the way for a tourist. Maybe good for fresh food purchases if one has an apartment kitchen.

Despite not being modern art fans, we did go to the Miro museum. Thought we might learn something and also see the park area. It was rainy, so not a good time for walking or seeing views outside in the park. We left no more appreciative than we arrived. The funicular was closed for repairs, so we rode a bus from the center to the museum and back.

Eating was not a focus of the trip, so we chose places mostly for healthy options and convenience. Later our friends took us to a mountain restaurant with traditional cooking for sampling local dishes and then tapas bar hopping, so we got some local food experiences.

All in all a pleasant trip. I really enjoyed the architecture and if I had been solo, I would have visited several more houses. Barcelona is a busy, noisy city with crowded sidewalks and lots of cars. The metro and buses were easy to use after downloading maps from the website. We walked 6-8 miles a day in the flat areas and downhill, avoiding walking up to the parks by using the buses. The Aerobus was easy to use to/from Pl de Catalunya.

I'll have to make another trip to finish the sights and visit Girona and Figueres.
Kay2 is offline  
Nov 30th, 2018, 01:24 PM
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 4,760
What no pick pockets, no demonstrations?
Well done.
ribeirasacra is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2018, 07:44 AM
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 1,233
Kay 2, great (and prompt) report of your recent trip to Barcelona. We, too, enjoyed a concert in that gorgeous Palau de la Musica Catalana on a former trip. Glad you enjoyed your time there. Your TR motivates us to complete our report from our early fall trip to Northern Spain, ending in Barcelona. Thanks for posting!
tomarkot is offline  
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