quinta-feira, 28 de fevereiro de 2013

Last day in Barcelona

On our last day in Barcelona we had our flight in the afternoon, so we had a full morning to enjoy. Since we only carried backpacks we did the hotel check out and started our journey with our three days baggage, it is not so easy to walk with something heavy on your back.

Our first stop after leaving the hotel was a place to eat, we had a cake and a drink while walking and headed for the metro. Our next stop was Camp Nou, the Barcelona FC Stadium with a capacity around 100.000 seats. We did not enter inside the stadium, just a small walk around it and entered inside the Barcelona FC shop.

The Barcelona FC replica of  the old bus with dolls inside.
 After the small walking around Camp Nou, we headed Royal Palace of Pedralbes, which is ten minutes away, walking normally. The palace is in the Av. Diagonal, one of the most important avenues in Barcelona.

The Royal Palace of Pedralbes
Statue in the fountain of the entrance of the Royal Palace of  Pedralbes.

Statue in front of the Palace

Like many places in Barcelona, the Palace and the garden in front are beautiful places to visit. If you do not have much time, you are probably not interested, but a trip to this part of the town is also remarkable. This area is also known for the University, which is very near from the palace. 

It was time to go back to the airport, but first we decided to have lunch between our trip from the "Palau Reial" metro station to the Airport, at the Barceló Sants Train Station. We decided to eat at the McDonalds in the station, but you have other choices inside the station.

We decided again for the train, it was a safe option and cheaper than the Aerobus.

The Barceló Sants Station, where we caught our train to the Airport.
In the airport you have to walk a little to the terminal you want, be prepared because you may need more than 10 minutes to reach your check in desk, or even the terminal you want.

Corridor between the Airport Train Station and the Airport.
Our trip was over, Barcelona is a remarkable city, probably we will be coming back and visit the city in a relaxed way, specially enjoying the beach.

terça-feira, 26 de fevereiro de 2013

My Trip to Barcelona - Afternoon of the second day

We had lunch in the Ramblas and continued our own walking tour to Pl. de Catalunya. From there we decided to take a bus and went to Parc Guel, one of the most beautiful parks due to its architectural elements, with works by Antoni Gaudi.

It is a place worth to see if you go to Barcelona, even being a little farer from the city centre, it is worth the trip, specially in a sunny day. 

Sustained by nice columns, this is the main belvedere of Parc Guell, always with people enjoying the view
As normal, be prepared to walk, walking throught the park can be a long journey to see everything, if you need to eat or drink something, there are some nice alternatives ten minutes from the park, specially on the "Travessera de Dalt"
View of Barcelona from Parc Guell
As you can see there are lots of trees in the park, the green area is also good to walk with the nature around. In the main paths you can find street sellers, selling sunglasses, handbags and other counterfeit objects.

One of the bridges in Parc Guell with its own architecture and the nature around

Columns made from rocks

You will appreciate the loveliness of the park and its uniqueness, but that is not all, you will also have the chance to see the city, Parc Guell has splendid views over several parts of the city, so while you walk between all the green, you can look at the horizon and see the blue sea.
Agbar Tower with the Mediterranean behind. Nature always present with the green and the bird

Mapfre tower on the left and Hotel Arts on the Right, view from the Parc Guell
View of the Passeig de Sant Joan in the centre
View of Barcelona from the Parc Guell

There are also some houses in Parc Guell, the Gaudi House Museum, the pavilion in the entrance and in the picture, the Casa Martí Trias i Doménech.

One of the building you can find in Parc Guell, this is one of the simplest.

We had completed our visit in Parc Guell and decided to go to see the water show in the Magic Fountain of Montjuic. The show is worth the visit, but be prepared since there are lots of people who go there and the best places are occupied.
The performance happens:
October - April
Fridays & Saturdays
19:00 & 19:30 & 20:00 & 20:30

May - September
Thursday - Sunday
21:00 & 21:30 & 22:00 & 22:30 & 23:00

The following video is not mine, I believe it will interest you.

After the performance we headed to the Arena and had our dinner in a restaurant on the outside of the Arena Mall. Our trip to Barcelona was almost over.

quinta-feira, 21 de fevereiro de 2013

Arriving in Barcelona - Tips

Let's start with the city of Barcelona. The capital of Catalunya and home of the Sagrada Familia, one of the most visited monuments in Spain, and that is still being finished.

There are several ways to arrive in the city, by road, water or air. There are several trains serving the city, motorways, and both the port and the airport are near the city.

By Car

There are several motorway and national roads that will lead you to Barcelona. One of the most important comes from France, it is the AP-7, the other comes from Madrid, the AP-2.

From the French city, Perpignan, the toll charge to Barcelona is estimated in €17,85 by Via Michelin
From the city of Zaragoza (between Barcelona and Madrid) the toll charge is estimated in €30,70 by Via michelin

By Train

Renfe Train

If you are in Spain, you can check the best trains at Renfe or AVE (fastest trains).If you are in Paris or Geneve you may want to check the RailEurope.

By Airplane

Vueling, Easyjet and Ryanair are the biggest airlines in the
Barcelona airport, when comparing Passengers.
The airport is located 15Km from the city center. From the airport you can take the taxi, the train or the Bus.

The Aerobus is a frequent service between the Airport and the city, it costs €5,90 for a single ticket and it stops in Pl. Catalunya, Pl. Universitat , Gran Via-Urgell, Sepulveda-Urgell and Plaza de España.

Train to the Barcelo Sants station departs every 30 min from the Airport Station and it costs €3,8 and it takes 20 minutes between stations.

There is also the bus by the Barcelna Metropolitan Transports, it is the line 46 and it is between the Pl. Catalunya and the Airport (map).

If you have a valid Barcelona Transport Card, the Train or the Bus are good options, since the prize is included.

By Ferry

Barcelona can be reached from several cities, like Livorno and Genoa, and the islands of Palma de Mallorca and Ibiza.

Most of the docks are near the Columbus monument with an excellent view from below to the Montjuic

Staying in the Airport

If you need to stay at the airport you have to option to sleep in the Air Rooms, an hotel located right in the Airport.

quarta-feira, 20 de fevereiro de 2013

My Trip to Barcelona - The morning of the second day

On our second day we left the hotel heading to Plaza de España. We decided to take our breakfast on our way, at a local supermarket, they always offer nice cakes and cheap deals.
We arrived the Plaza de España and saw a refurbished bull fighting arena, we did not know our luck when we went to the top of the commercial centre Arena, it had opened one week before.
These are some of the photos we took from the Arena

View of the Plaza de España with the National Museum of Catalonia Art behind.
Zoomed view to the National Museum of Catalonia Art in Barcelona

Plaza de España

Parc de Joan Miró on the right, Carrer de Tarragona on the left.

View over Barcelona from the Arena top

Walking path around the last floor of the Arena

Swimming pool on one of the last floor of a building , with the Sagrada Familia on the background, on the right.
As you can see in some of these images, the trip to the Arena is worth the effort and definitely a place I highly recommend. Many sightseeing buses stop nearby, it is also a good place to eat and drink and it is between the Ramblas and the Montjuic.

After the Arena, we headed to the National Museum of Catalonia Art, walking through Av. Reina Maria Cristina where you can find benches if you want to rest a little.

View over Barcelona from the NMCA
From there you can walk in the parks and use the escalators to reach the higher levels. It is a nice place to walk with all the green area around you and the city so close.

On the area of the NMCA there are treadmills available for the public.
After some minutes walking you will reach the Olympic Stadium and the Olympic Ring (Anella Olimpica), an area which was the main centre of the Olympic Games in 1992.

Plaza Europa in the Anella Olimpica
It is a wide open area where you can view the Sant Jordi Palace, the Montjuic Communications Tower, the Olympic Stadium and an excellent view to the south of Barcelona, where the Airport is located.

Palau Sant Jordi

Montjuic Communications Tower in Barcelona designed by Santiago Calatrava

Olympic Stadium

After seeing the Europa Plaza we headed for the Olympic Stadium to see the interior, open for the public for free.
Olympic Stadium
There was a little mistake in one of the boards in the Stadium
We had seen the stage of the Olympic Games, and we continued our journey to the top of the Montjuic, we decided to go by the Carer l'Estadi / Av. Miramar. On our way we stopped at the Estació de Funicular (Cable Railway Station) which has also the stop to go by cable car to the Montjuic Castle.

One of the overviews that you can see when on the cable car
If you are not afraid, it is worth to pay for the cable car ride. You get splendid views and it is a faster way to get to the top of Montjuic. We bought the return ticket.

You can also walk to the Castle, but if you want to walk there, you should be well prepared physically.
The Montjuic modern Cable Cars

Gardens around the Montjuic Castle
When you reach the top of the Montjuic Castle be prepared if you think you are going to be hungry, thirsty or with a strong will to use a bathroom, there are not much facilities there.

View of Barcelona from the Montjuic Castle

Montjuic Castle Collage
After enjoying the moment in the top of Montjuic it was time to go down, back to Barcelona, since we had the cable car return tickets, we used it and went to the Funicular Station, there we got the cable railway and ended in the Av. Paralel. It is not a great place to view, it is strange and I read that in the evening there are some signs of "illegal activities".

We headed to the Plaza Drassanes and then to monument to Columbus, after that we started our tour by the famous Ramblas.

It was time to eat, we decided to stop in sandwich restaurant. You have several choices in the Ramblas, from typical places to the big brands.

segunda-feira, 18 de fevereiro de 2013

Mc Donalds - Free WC and cheap food

Wherever you go, you will probably find the American company with the franchise restaurants, McDonalds the worldwide known brand for the hamburgers.

In some restaurants around Europe the restrooms are not completely free, you have to buy something, to eat or drink and in the receipt there is the password to enter, in France that is common in most McDonalds located in tourist places.
In Budapest I found a more rudimentary way of controlling the entries in the bathroom, there was a person in the door that if you did not show the receipt, you would have to pay to use it. The strange part was the person, since there were no signs in the clothes of being a McDonalds employee.

Interior of a McDonalds in Europe
In any European country you can probably find a McDonalds, so you can expect a safe place to go to the toilet if you are far from the Hotel.

About the food... it is fast food, so forget about a tasty beef, or typical food of the country or a typical beer, you will find the tasty hamburgers with sauces, which you can eat with a soft drink.
It is a fast & cheap option
You can always drink the beer from the country, in many McDonalds beer is an option when ordering the drink, but you have to choose the brand that McDonalds offers.

Hamburger and Fries from a Typical McDonalds

If you are used to European McDonalds, you are used to comfortable seating and the possibility of eating a salad. However, if you are used to an American McDonalds, you will find it very different.

sábado, 16 de fevereiro de 2013

My trip to Barcelona - Day 1

Barcelona Arch of Triumph
We went to Barcelona in the last weekend of March of 2011.

The weather was marvellous, we were probably lucky, since we had the chance to enjoy one of the first weekends what it was good to go to the beach. The goal of the trip was to see the city, so we did not sunbath, but we enjoyed a nice time to rest in the beach of Barcelona.

We arrived at the Barcelona Airport at 21:30 and we had booked the Zenit Borrel near the Barcelona Sants Station. Since the hotel was near the train station we decided to risk and catch the train instead of the Aerobus.
It was a good decision, that is probably why the train is mostly used by Spanish, it was cheaper than the bus and the station was nearer the Hotel. After leaving the station and eating something at the McDonalds inside the Barcelona Sants Station we grabbed a taxi to the hotel, charging us €7 for a small distance that we did not want to walk since it was dark and we did not know the city.

The colours of a Taxi in Barcelona

Day 1 in Barcelona

The first day we decided to walk to the Plaza de Catalunya, we were told that it was one of the main plazas and where you could catch the tourist bus. However we decided to walk by the city, so we headed to the Gothic neighbourhood, and after that, to the coastal area.

View of the Montjuic from the "Ronda Litoral" the coastal street

The Gothic part of the city is a very different part of Barcelona, it is unique and in the city centre. The curious part is that you are minutes from the beach, which is rare in a big city in Europe.

The Barcelona Beach  near the famous W Hotel.
After walking by the beach and enjoying the breeze we reached the Carrer Marina. It is a nice part of the town, with modern buildings and big avenues. It is not a must see, but it was worth the walk.

View in the Parc de la Ciutadella
Getting back to the tourist part of Barcelona we passed by the Parc de la Ciutadella, the city park.
Small statue in the top of the fountain

The park is also a great spot to rest and recharge your batteries. It has nice benches where you can seat and enjoy the view and fresh air. We decided it was the perfect place to have lunch, so we bought some sandwiches and eat in the gardens.

You can also find the Castle of the Three Dragons in one of the park exits.
Three Dragons Castle in Barcelona

The exit near the castle leads you to the big walking avenue, The Passeig Lluis Companys, that leads you to the Arc de Triomf, the Barcelona arch of triumph.

Since we still had time, we decided to get a little further from the Hotel and visit the Sagrada Familia, a must see.
The Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia and people in the queue
We did not enter inside the Sagrada Familia so we decided to continued our trip to see the buildings of Barcelona, even some regular buildings are artistic, not like La Pedrera, but still good enough to enjoy.

Some examples of the Barcelona unique Buildings.

This is part of the walking path we have done. Maps Google Day 1

Depending on what you are going to visit, and your walking speed, this can be done in eight hours, or you can even take two days to visit everything, you may even want to spend a day in the beach.