Europe in Winter: Barcelona, Spain (Day 2)

The bus mentioned in yesterday’s post was the Barcelona Bus Turistic.  It turned out to be a lot of fun and would have been an even better value if we’d had the time to book it for 2 days instead of one.  We purchased two tickets for the north-south route via Viator.  Our hotel was conveniently located just a short walk from one of the stops.  The route takes you past every attraction of note in Barcelona, and with the option to get on and off the buses at various points when desired, it’s possible to see a lot of Barcelona this way.  In addition to the bus tickets, we received large coupon books of discounts to a large number of the attractions the bus takes you past.  Another underrated benefit of the bus–good wireless internet access.

One such discount is for the Montjuic cable car, which takes passengers to and from Montjuic Castle.  The views of the city from a cable car are pretty amazing, and the castle at the top is a nice place to walk around a bit, or just sit and relax.  There are many other stops worth getting off to see that I’d like to visit on a return trip, including Camp Nou, the Gothic quarter, and some of the museums.

Tomorrow, we bid a too-soon farewell to Barcelona and fly to Nice, France.

Europe in Winter: Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is the first stop on our trip to Europe (hotels courtesy of my lovely wife, flights courtesy of me). In our first 36 hours here, we’ve managed to recover from the change in time zones between DC and Barcelona, visit La Sagrada Familia, and visit Park Guell. Both were highly-recommended by the concierge at our hotel (Ritz-Carlton Barcelona, also known as Hotel Arts Barcelona).

Buying tickets ahead of time for La Sagrada Familia is highly-recommended also. We bought a tour with an English-speaking guide on for under 40 euros and probably saved ourselves 2-3 hours of waiting in line to get in. The guided portion of the tour was around an hour–the guide shared a wealth of historical information about the architect (Gaudi), the building, some of the sculptors, Catholicism, and the Bible itself. As someone who appreciates history and churches, the tour was excellent.

Park Guell was quite a bit of walking, but also fun. The monument zone of the park charges admission, which gives you access to some of Gaudi’s interesting outdoor works (along with some shops and restrooms). Once you leave the monument zone however, you can’t return without paying the same fee again. The best views of Barcelona are actually outside the monument zone anyway (if you don’t mind climbing a lot of stairs).

We got to and from both attractions and our hotel by metered cab. Ride costs ranged between 8-12 euros. Only one of the four cab drivers we’ve had so far spoke enough English for us to have a conversation.

Tomorrow, we’ll probably try the 1-day hop-on, hop-off bus and see as many attractions as we can.