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See a Top Mediterranean City (Barcelona) in 8 HoursAuthor: PenelopeCorelli (More Trip Reviews by PenelopeCorelli)
Date of Trip: July 2009
Sunday, June 28: Arrival in Barcelona
My husband Jim, teenage daughter Cate and I arrived in Barcelona on Sunday, June 28, at about 7:30 pm. We picked up our luggage and found the lockers fairly quickly. We got 39€ in change at the machines there, then was told that we only pay for one day, paying the rest when we return with the ticket. The attendants chuckled when they saw all our coins. - So now we have lots of euro coins.
We took the train to Barcelona "BARNA" - really tired - but found the hotel - Hostel Neutral. Quaint, perfect location. The doors have the old-fashioned keys & locks. I notice that here they use their antiques - chairs, etc. We have a nice room with a pretty tile floor, a small bathroom, 3 single beds, and a double door that opens onto a balcony above the street. It's busy at night, but as it's hot & we're tired, hopefully we'll be sleeping well in spite of the city noise from our open balcony doors.
We walked a few blocks to Taller de Tapas & ate inside, as their outside tables were closing. We had lamb, potatoes, roasted asparagus, bread with fresh tomato "sauce", and chorizo. Each was a separate dish (tapas). The lamb came with potatoes & was priced the highest at €9.50. The total, including 2 house wines & a bottled water, was €29.50. Gave a couple of Euro tip (Europeans don't usually tip much - their salaries are higher, I think.)
Back at the hotel, we bought 2 large cold bottles of water for €1.50 each. The waiter had said that Barcelona tap water is bad & he never drinks it, contrary to some travelers who say that the water all over Europe is fine.
Monday, June 29: Barcelona
Walked to Boqueria Market -- fruit salads were €1, chocolate croissant €1.30, water €1.50.
Took a bike tour with Fat Tire, lots of riding -- narrow streets, people, cars, poles -- challenging for us older folks, although our 14 year old daughter had a blast. It was hot & humid, and my hands sometimes got slippery from the sweat! We stopped at different sites where our guide, "JJ', would tell us about it.
Initially challenging to find Fat Tire -- we got several answers when asking for directions, and forgot that some people will direct you even if they have no idea, deeming it impolite not to help. (Sometimes I wish some were not as "helpful".)
The bikes have hand bells, which no one pays any attention to, so they're useless -- a loud horn would have been better. Riding in the street with all the cars is fun, also.
The park by the zoo has a Gaudi inspired fountain and a lake where rowboats can be rented. We also stopped at the beach. After the tour, we stopped at Cafe Imes in the Eixample area for a nice deli lunch (€5.10 each) -- a sandwich or baguette w/ meat & cheese, a plate of tapas salads, and a drink (includes wine or beer).
PS: American portions at restaurants are twice what they are here, so it seems you are paying twice as much for half the amount. But very few fat people here. The humidity is also a factor in this!
Needing detergent (in the cruise bag) & shampoo (pre-cruise), we found a great grocery store -- Caprabo -- on Calle Consell de Cent 301. Amazingly low prices, esp. on their generic brands. Bought 1L OJ @ €1.20, 11/2 L water, € 0.42, shampoo (2 for €3), detergent €1.73 bag. Wondering about soda prices? One small grocery was charging €22 for 24 Coke cans. In Caprabo: a 12 pack for €5.30!
Nice department store, El Corte Ingles, by Plaka Catalunya -- bought several fans. Prices range from €2 to €45 or so, with lots of selection in the €6 to €12 range.
Tuesday, June 30: Barcelona & Montserrat
Breakfast at Ciudad Condal, a Catalan upscale Denny's of sorts; nice Spanish omelets.
Took the L1 subway to the train station to buy 3 tickets to Montserrat (€67.50). Wanted to buy the combination train & aeri (cable car) but the lady was gone. We got the train/funicular tickets, and then found we had missed our 9:36 train. It takes a while to get the tickets, figuring out what is needed -- and interpreting the machines correctly, inserting proper change, etc. We waited an hour for the next train.
Nice ride to Montserrat & an interesting place. Not a whole lot to do there, but it was a good day trip. Did not want to wait for an hour in line to see the Black Madonna. In the church plaza is a vortex. People stand in the center of the circle and raise their arms heavenward.
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