Date of Trip: January 2009
Prior to my cruise, my wife and I spent two days visiting this lovely city that is overflowing with many sights, sounds and tasty foods. I arrived at the spanking new terminal 1, within minutes I was out of customs, passport control and the usual hoopla, it was the fastest I have ever experienced. Taxis are expensive in Barcelona so we had planned to exclusively use the city subway system which is very simple to use. We walked to the airport commuter train station where my wife bought a T10 ticket (cost 7 Euros) which can be used and shared (your ticket counts down) and rode the commuter train to the city, we then changed to the subway system to get to our hotel. The only downside was lugging our luggage up and down stairs when we changed from the train to the subway, a minor inconvenience but a HUGE savings(figure the average taxi to hotel is between 30-40 Euros).
I used my points to stay at the lovely and beautiful ” Hilton Diagonal Mar”, I would highly recommend this lovely hotel. The Hotel is located in the suburbs away from all the noise and hustle of Las Rambles and personally I am glad we stayed where we did as I saw a little more of what it is like to live in Barcelona. With much to see and little time to spare, we decided to-do a bike excursion with “fatbikes”, no need to prebook just show up at the designated spot. On our bikes we visited many of the sights(too many to mention) and stopped at the unbelievable magnificent Sagrada Famili words can not describe this awesome structure I was told that entering sagrada familia is only worth it if you have a lot of time to spend in Barcelona, our bike tour concluded with a stop at the beach. Going on this bike excursion was perhaps the highlight of my city visit and I would highly recommend this bike tour to anyone who wants to see a lot of the city sites while saving your feet for later. The bike excursion is not strenuous and was a nice wakeup after the long flight.
The following day we took a trip to Montserrat and timed it so that we got to see the black Madonna while listening to the boys’ choir (they perform at 1:00pm). Getting to Montserrat is easy but will take almost an entire day and plan to do a lot of walking, personally I was not overly impressed with Montserrat and in retrospect I would have rather stayed in town. That evening my wife and I ate dinner at a small food stand in La Boqueria, La Boqueria is located about halfway down Las Ramables and is similar to a farmers markets with many more fresh items in a compact area, be aware that most of the shops and eating establishments at La Boqueria close early, walking down Las Rambles is similar to Times Square in New York but with many more characters and street performers.
In the evening we visited the Magic Fountains (it is FREE), shows start running continuously at about 9.00pm and are repeated. At the fountains there is very little sitting room but you can sit across the street in the park (that is where we sat) and still have a good view. Park Guell is a must visit with all its monuments and you can walk to the three crosses (Tres Cruses) which are also in the park. We also visited the Gaudi masterpiece buildings; Casa Mila, Batllo and Casa Amataller, we did not go into the buildings but seeing them on the outside was incredible. Columbus Monument (you can go inside the monument and go to the top) is a must visit and was used as the start for our Las Rambles walk; Plaza Catalunya and Passeig de Gràcia are easy strolls but they are crowed no matter the time. Prior to my trip I had read many reports about pickpockets in Barcelona to be on the safe side I bought a money belt that tucks into my pants, my cash was secure and I encountered no problems.
In conclusion, two days is just not enough to see this lovely city and there is no need to use the Hop On/Off bus(Bus Touristic/plan on standing in long lines to get on) a good subway map along with some comfortable walking shoes is more then sufficient, enjoy the city.