Disney Information Station Logo

Go Back   The DIS Discussion Forums - DISboards.com > Global Neighbours > UK Trip Reports Board
Find Hotel Specials & DIScounts
 
facebooktwitterpinterestgoogle plusyoutubeDIS UpdatesDIS email updates
Register Chat FAQ Tickers Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read





Reply
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 02-15-2008, 09:13 AM   #1
Mike Jones
....nothing clever to say... just daft about Disneyworld!
I was right not to touch my own tag!!
Victim of a drive-by tag attack!
 
Mike Jones's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: UK
Posts: 1,373

Barcelona Short Break - our 1st Anniversary, January 2008

Saturday 26th January – Monday 28th January, 2008

Well, can it really be a year since we tied the knot? It’s certainly been a busy one, if a bit short on holidays (we’ve only managed a week in Paris and a week in Rome since our honeymoon in the Lakes last year! )

This trip almost arranged itself – I was playing around on the low-cost airline sites last year, when I discovered that, on the day of our anniversary itself, we could fly to Barcelona (a bookmarked favourite since our first trip there in 2006) at dawn for the princely sum of £0.99p each, and return on the following day, Sunday, evening at 10pm, for the same amount! Ok, I know it’s plus taxes etc, but it was still only about 30 quid! We sorted a cheap hotel close to the old town and that was it… all we had to do now was look forward to some lovely seafood and maybe a bit of winter sun.

Life’s never that simple is it? A few week’s later we were advised that Ryanair had changed our return flight to mid afternoon on the Sunday, and it now all looked a bit of a rush… we cancelled the return flight and booked another (same price) for the Monday evening instead, and increased the hotel booking to 2 nights.

Right, on with the action. I tend to ramble on a bit as a rule, with detailed descriptions of our toilet stops and all, but for this one (and as I haven’t yet finished the trippie from Rome last October) I’m going to try and be a bit more succinct. If your interest is drawn to the city, have a look at our previous trippie, where there’s a bit more detail about the Modernista architects and buildings..

DAY 1 – Saturday

We awake at 230 a.m. somewhat drowsy after a bottle of wine too many last night. An hour and a shower later we’re headed off down the M62 to Liverpool John Lennon airport. As usual, we use Liverpool Park And Fly (dot com) at Lenox Farm a mile or so away in Hale Village – they have great, secure parking at less than the (insecure) on-site provision.

It’s 430 as we enter a spookily quiet terminal and check in 10 minutes before the desk is even supposed to be open! Security is a doddle too, and by 4.50 we’re camped at Starbucks waiting for them to open up at 5.00.

Coffee and breakfast is followed by an hour of people-watching before heading to the gate shortly after 6.00. We’re boarded by 6.20, but then wait around for an hour due to a large group of about 30 people who were delayed at security. It’s 7.25 when we eventually take off.

A pleasant flight of 1hour 50 minutes, with fine views across the French countryside and Pyrenees.



We have a row of three seats to ourselves almost at the rear of the plane and are therefore first off after landing at 10.15 local time. I head off to buy tickets for the Barcelona Bus (21 Euros each, return) while Amanda retrieves our single hold case. By 10.35 we’re outside the terminal and climbing aboard the coach – very relaxed so far! Oh, and it’s sunny, and warm!

The journey to Estacio del Nord in the east centre of Barcelona takes 70 minutes. We reckon it’s about a mile or less to our hotel, the Confortel Almirante, on the Via Laietana, and we stroll across the Sant Pere district in search of it.

It’s easily found, a bit closer than we thought, but a little further up the Via from the harbour. Our room isn’t ready yet, so we dump the case and spare cabin bag before heading off into the old town streets.





The Cathedral (Le Seu) square is nearby and we walk across, noting that this magnificent building is still undergoing renovation, and into Placa De Sant Jaume where the administrative heart of the city and region lies. There’s some sort of political rally underway and laid-back policemen are directing traffic into the narrow maze of old-town streets, creating wonderful chaos!



We reckon we’re hungry, and as a main objective of this trip is to enjoy a fish fest at one of the Palau de Mer seafood restaurants on the harbour, we walk in that direction, through the old town



..to the seafront.



It’s early yet, and the two we fancy most are both quiet. We settle on the Cal Pinxo and are shown to a table on the sunny terrace overlooking the marina.





We both order the largest, grilled-seafood platters and share a bottle of white Rioja.



The food is superb – half a lobster, razor clams, regular clams and huge swan mussels, langoustines, king prawns and various other shellfish I can’t even name!
Mike Jones is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-15-2008, 09:13 AM   #2
Mike Jones
....nothing clever to say... just daft about Disneyworld!
I was right not to touch my own tag!!
Victim of a drive-by tag attack!
 
Mike Jones's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: UK
Posts: 1,373

We sit for half an hour or so after the meal, to finish our wine and watch the growing numbers of people strolling by. The restaurant is getting busier now too.

The bill is requested (‘el compte’ in Catalan) and although it’s a mildly eye-watering 146 Euro, we were expecting it to be such and had saved our Christmas money for the event!

It’s after 2.00 as we stroll off along the waterfront marina (Port Vell, or ‘Old Port’). The unlicensed street vendors are out in force, but they seem to have learned a new trick – their blankets of ‘designer’ goods are now secured at the corners with four ropes which they keep firmly in hand, ready for a hasty exit when the police arrive to see them off!



We carry on along the harbour..





to the bottom end of the famous Ramblas. The weather is perfect, and to our blue, northern hides, ideal for t-shirts and bare arms (as you will see from the piccies, most of the natives are wrapped as if expecting snow!)



There’s a flea market at the lower Rambla, where we browse the jewellery stalls.

On our last trip we were unable to see one of the nearby, Modernista mansions, Palau Guell, as it was under refurbishment and completely screened by scaffolding and sheets. This time it was mostly visible if as yet unfinished. The details of the tiling and ironwork in particularly are stunning, although what may not be apparent from the photo is that the façade is beautifully carved marble, not brown stone.





We fancy a coffee and cross over the Ramblas into Placa Reial, where we enjoyed the atmosphere and café-bars previously.





Although still lovely and scenic, this time (of year) most of the bars are closed, and the only one in sunlight doesn’t impress.



Another pretty spot from the last trip is only a couple of streets north, where three small squares surround the beautiful church of Santa Maria Del Pi.

The one we liked best (Bar Del Pi) is closed, (naturally!) but there’s another to hand, the Osterhase in the Placa Del Pi to the north side.

Mike Jones is offline   Reply With Quote
|
The DIS
Register to remove

Join Date: 1997
Location: Orlando, FL
Posts: 1,000,000
Old 02-15-2008, 09:14 AM   #3
Mike Jones
....nothing clever to say... just daft about Disneyworld!
I was right not to touch my own tag!!
Victim of a drive-by tag attack!
 
Mike Jones's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: UK
Posts: 1,373

This bonny square is hosting a small farmer’s-type market, and although the sunlight is climbing away from the street, the tables have patio heaters dotted around. There’s just one table left and we trip a couple of old ladies up to stop them getting there first!





Dos Café Americano and a couple of brandies please. And… repeat! Effectively we spend the next three hours here, under orange trees, people-watching and drinking brandy. It’s a hard life! Happy Anniversary!







It’s going dark as we pay the bill at 6pm and wander back across the Old Town to our hotel to check in.

Our bags have been taken to our room – 710, at the rear of the hotel, with a large, private terrace that has views across to the Agbar Tower (a bit like the Swiss Re Tower in Docklands, aka The Gherkin) and in the distance, the Sagrada Familia cathedral. The room is fine.. spacious, modern and well equipped, including a flatscreen tv, free WiFi, marble bathroom, and, get this, a free mini-bar!





At 7.30 we head back out and make our way towards the Passeig De Colom (the main seafront highway) to see if a rustic, Catalan restaurant we like, La Flor Del Norte, is open, passing through the lovely, ancient streets of the Barri Gotic on the way. The ancient church of Santa Maria del Mar is on the route, and we pop in to have a look around.





The square at the back of the church has a huge and unusual iron lantern sculpture, with a torch illuminating what we think may be a martyrs’ memorial, although our Catalan is insufficient for the task.

Mike Jones is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-15-2008, 09:15 AM   #4
Mike Jones
....nothing clever to say... just daft about Disneyworld!
I was right not to touch my own tag!!
Victim of a drive-by tag attack!
 
Mike Jones's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: UK
Posts: 1,373

We carry on to the Passeig De Colom and locate the restaurant, which is happily open for business and less than half full (it’s quite early yet by local standards, this place was full to bursting last trip)





This is a relaxing, laid-back place. So laid back in fact that the sixty-odd year old, lady owner is getting merrily p*****d with some pensioner cronies while her hubby waits on tables.

We both order rabbit and grilled peppers with potatoes, which today turn out to be chips!



It’s lovely, and with a couple of beers and some wine costs around 40 Euro.

We leave at 10.00pm and continue our meandering through the city, along the Ramblas, stopping at an Irish pub for a pee, and up to the vast Placa De Catalunya.





Time for a last drink or two (I know, we’re lushes, but it’s our anniversary.. we’ll be good tomorrow, I promise!) at a pavement –terrace bar near the Cathedral (Taverna Del Bisbe – ‘Pub of the Bishops!’ ) where we catch up on the trippie notes and once again chuckle at the experience of sitting outside at midnight in January!







Home to the hotel at midnight, I can’t resist a (free) beer from the mini-bar on the terrace. We slump happily and pleasantly squiffy into bed at 12.30.

Mike & Amanda – One Year On.
Mike Jones is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-15-2008, 09:16 AM   #5
Mike Jones
....nothing clever to say... just daft about Disneyworld!
I was right not to touch my own tag!!
Victim of a drive-by tag attack!
 
Mike Jones's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: UK
Posts: 1,373

Day 2 – Sunday 27th January 08

Not surprisingly, given the amount of alcohol we imbibed yesterday, we sleep pretty soundly. We are briefly disturbed at 5.00am by voices from outside the room, as some young revellers head for their beds (suddenly I feel pretty old, as 12.30 seemed risqué to me!) but must have fallen asleep again easily enough, waking naturally by bladder clock at 8.00am.

The views across the east of the city are lovely, and I take a few pics either side of my ablutions as the light levels change. The Agbar Tower and Sagrada Familia are prominent.





We leave the room at 9.10, fortified by fruit juice and water from the mini-bar (restocked daily, apparently, so we don’t want to leave anything!) and walk to Placa Catalunya before striking out north-west along the Passeig De Gracia.



The last time we wandered this way we were in bustling, rush-hour conditions, so the atmosphere this January, Sunday morning is eerie…. There’s hardly a soul around! It’s T-shirt warm again, and promises to be another lovely day.

Today’s agenda is to revisit a favourite Modernista building (Gaudi’s incredible Casa Mila/La Pedrera) before continuing on to see the Gracia district.

On the way to La Pedrera we pass another stunning Gaudi building, Casa Battlo, although the effect is somewhat marred by the sheets and scaffolding covering its under-repair neighbour.





We arrive at La Pedrera at 930, expecting a lengthy queue before it opens at 10am (there’s always a queue here, according to our Rough Guide, and this was indeed the case in October 2006)…. Well, we need a new guide book, as it opens at 9.30 now, and there’s no-one here!





We have the place virtually to ourselves as we tour the central courtyard, attic exhibition space, bizarre roof terrace and period, show-apartment… I’ve just counted up, and we took around 200 photos between us in less than an hour! So here they all are….

.. only kidding! Here’s a random selection.. just go and see the place for yourselves, it’s stunning!





Mike Jones is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-15-2008, 09:16 AM   #6
Mike Jones
....nothing clever to say... just daft about Disneyworld!
I was right not to touch my own tag!!
Victim of a drive-by tag attack!
 
Mike Jones's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: UK
Posts: 1,373















It’s 10.30 as we leave, well satisfied, but peckish. A nearby Starbucks provides coffee and sub rolls for ‘brunch’, which we eat on a Gaudi-inspired bench.

We’re now only a few blocks from the northern suburb of Gracia, once a separate village but now an integrated part of Barcelona’s urban spread. As we approach the ‘centre’ it certainly seems to have retained a distinct and individual character.





We more or less follow a Rough Guide-suggested route around the area, taking in such sights as Casa Fuster (now a hotel),



Mike Jones is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-15-2008, 09:17 AM   #7
Mike Jones
....nothing clever to say... just daft about Disneyworld!
I was right not to touch my own tag!!
Victim of a drive-by tag attack!
 
Mike Jones's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: UK
Posts: 1,373

Casa Vicens (Gaudi’s first, private commission from 1885)







Placa De La Virreina…



Placa del Sol



And Placa Rius I Taulet, with its lovely 30m clock tower.





It’s 1145. The day is still warm and sunny, and we are thinking about lunch. Paella sounds good, so we decide to head off down the 3 or 4 miles to Barcelonetta where we know a couple of possible venues.

We return along the Passeig de Gracia as far as the Avinguda Diagonal, and follow this wide boulevard as far as the Passeig de Sant Joan (and that’s John again, not Joan!) which in turn leads us down to the Arc de Triomphe. We pass a variety of beautiful buildings and viewpoints along the way…



Mike Jones is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-15-2008, 09:18 AM   #8
Mike Jones
....nothing clever to say... just daft about Disneyworld!
I was right not to touch my own tag!!
Victim of a drive-by tag attack!
 
Mike Jones's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: UK
Posts: 1,373





Families and couples are out in force, enjoying the lovely weather.



We cross into Barcelona’s favourite green space, the Parc de la Cuitadella,



A happy group of mixed ages are working hard at improving their Salsa skills on the bandstand, dancing around a huge pile of coats!



One of the reasons for visiting the park was to view an imposing fountain and ornamental lake worked on by the young Gaudi, but sadly it is covered and under rehab…



We pass through the park and onto the harbour front before entering the 18th century grid of streets that make up this not un-pretty residential area… we enjoyed a lovely paella at a café here a couple of years ago.

It’s still there, and open, but we want to sit outside and at this time of year the terrace is in the shade. We return instead to one of the bigger restaurants on the edge of the suburb, the Port Vell Terrassa. It’s already (at 1.30pm) encouragingly busy, but we secure a table on the patio terrace.



Paella Marinara for 2, plus water and a bottle of white Rioja.



It’s first class.

Declining desserts, and paying the 40 Euro bill, we head onto the seafront, past the marina



to see if the cross harbour cable car is operating.

It is, but there’s a 30 minute wait, so we turn north east instead and strike out along the beach towards the Port Olympic and Olympic Village areas.
Mike Jones is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-15-2008, 09:19 AM   #9
Mike Jones
....nothing clever to say... just daft about Disneyworld!
I was right not to touch my own tag!!
Victim of a drive-by tag attack!
 
Mike Jones's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: UK
Posts: 1,373

The beaches are well used, with walkers, cyclists and sunbathers along their length. Some cracking sculptures too.








In the distance we can see what appears to be a huge, shiny, copper whale or fish on top of a building..



We play ‘spot the Brit’ – basically, anyone in a T-shirt is from the UK, and all the natives are in winter coats! Hysterical! It’s around 70 or 72 F!



We stop to use the public toilets along the way – they are truly grim, and I determine to cross my legs until I reach a bar before succumbing again!

Upon reaching the Port Olympic marina we discover more interesting sculptures



and find that the bronze/copper fish is effectively a lattice-style roof over a lovely, sunken garden and restaurant area…





Time to walk back.. this time along the upper, promenade level,



Mike Jones is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-15-2008, 09:19 AM   #10
Mike Jones
....nothing clever to say... just daft about Disneyworld!
I was right not to touch my own tag!!
Victim of a drive-by tag attack!
 
Mike Jones's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: UK
Posts: 1,373

and cutting the corner through Parc de Barcelonetta, we see an intriguing, modern, glass tower block nearby…



It turns out to be the HQ of the Gas Board! Fabulous architecture!









Still warm and T-shirtable. Back across the Old Town streets…





to Placa Del Pi and ‘our’ new, favourite people watching spot….



..although we have to menace a couple of lads into leaving and letting us have their table!

4.45. Sun well over the yardarm, so coffee and brandy it is!…& another…..& another….. with a cheese and ham toastie or two……this goes on for a good number of hours, during which time the patio heaters are ignited and the generators light the
stalls in the square.

Mike Jones is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-15-2008, 09:20 AM   #11
Mike Jones
....nothing clever to say... just daft about Disneyworld!
I was right not to touch my own tag!!
Victim of a drive-by tag attack!
 
Mike Jones's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: UK
Posts: 1,373



Eventually the stall holders pack up and leave, and so do we.

Passing through the Old Town at 9.00ish we (alright, ‘I’) profess to still being hungry, and we buy a couple of steak sandwiches from a ‘Bocetta’ outlet (bit like a Subway or Pret place).

It’s around 10pm as we land back at the hotel, somewhat the worse for wear. I have to empty the mini-bar now, it’s a legal requirement, but Amanda’s had enough and goes to bed. It’s probably about 1100pm when I join her gently-snoring person.

Goodnight…..


Day 3 – Monday 28th January 2008

Sadly the day doesn’t start too well… Amanda is violently sick at around 2am and then more or less constantly in the bathroom until daylight. It eases somewhat at 800ish and we both doze for an hour or so.

I’m fine, and hungry, so I leave her in bed while I go to Starbucks downstairs for coffee and a bun. The weather’s perfect again and I head south along the Via towards the nearest Starbucks where I grab a pastry and a coffee. There’s an organic supermarket nearby where I stock up on bottled water for Amanda.

When I return, Amanda is feeling delicate but stable, and we take our showers and pack before checking out at 10.30. The hotel offers a left-luggage service which we take advantage of.

Today we’d hoped to visit Park Guell in the northern suburbs, but it’s clear that Amanda won’t be up to long hikes and should probably stay near to restrooms, so we stroll slowly into and across the Old Town, passing the cathedral and a hotel that amuses me for some reason..



We continue along the Carrer De Portaferrissa to the Ramblas and walk down in warm sunshine towards the port area.



We divert briefly to wander around the vibrant, 19th century food market (Mercat St Josep la Boqueria)…





…makes you think - we have Tescos instead!

We carry on down the Ramblas..




It would have been pleasant to take the boardwalk (‘Rambla de Mar’) over to the modern shopping complex there, but unfortunately it’s closed for maintenance.

Sitting on the harbour for a while, watching the boats, it’s clearly a lot quieter today than over the weekend.



We continue east, towards Barcelonetta, taking photos of the port-side road and the views back to the hills of Montjuic.



There are some whacky sculptures scattered around the place, including a 30’ lobster!

Mike Jones is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-15-2008, 09:21 AM   #12
Mike Jones
....nothing clever to say... just daft about Disneyworld!
I was right not to touch my own tag!!
Victim of a drive-by tag attack!
 
Mike Jones's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: UK
Posts: 1,373

The theme continues as we wander gently back into the old town,



sitting for a while in a pleasant square before finding ourselves in the Passeig el Born, a popular nightlife area and attractive by day too.



Carrying on, we stroll northwards …



..passing a shop we could probably all use on occasion..



…up to Pl. de Catalunya where we avail ourselves of the restrooms under the Triangle shopping complex.

We complete our circuit of the old town part of the city centre by returning to the Ramblas in search of somewhere sunny to sit, ending up at the southern end at Casa Joan.





A couple of Americans are entertaining visitors with a traditional magician’s routine and a quirkier juggling performance.

We spend the next hour here, nursing a coffee, allowing Amanda time to recharge her batteries (she actually dozes off in the sun for a while!).



When the sun slips away behind the buildings opposite, we pay up and head off into the warren of streets nearby for the last time.





Amanda plays it safe but I’m peckish and stop at a pannini joint in Pl. St. Jaume for a steak sarnie.

It’s around 5pm when we arrive back at the hotel where we recover our bags, use the restrooms and then sit around in the lounge until 545 or so. It’s then an easy stroll across to the bus station for the 18.15 transfer to Gerona airport.

As the coach is full they set off at 6.05pm (they seem to run plenty of vehicles on this route and there’ll be another one along soon)

We both nod off along the route, before arriving at 7.10.

Our check-in desk doesn’t open until 8.15, so we sit on chairs nearby rather than join the floor dwellers already in line. This means that eventually we do have to queue for around 40 minutes, so perhaps our tactics need reviewing next time!

Security is brief and non-eventful. There’s time for a drink and a snack before we board at 10pm. Although pretty full, we manage to retain a row of three seats for our sole use again, and the flight is soon underway.

We land at 11.15 UK time and are walking out to our pick up point less than 30 minutes later. The roads are empty on our 40 mile drive back home, and we are tucked up in bed by 1.00am.

Conclusion

We’ve had a lovely time, marred only by Amanda’s upset tum on the 2nd night. We really love Barcelona and were blessed this time with superb weather for the time of year. There is much more that we want to do in the area, including visiting the mediaeval walled city of Gerona itself, the Roman remains at Tarragona, the monastery at Montserrat and a return trip to Universal’s Port Aventura theme park, so I think we’ll be back soon.

Thanks for reading – we hope you enjoyed sharing our anniversary.

Mike & Amanda
February 2008

P.S. – I’M ON WITH ANOTHER REPORT, A 6 DAY TRIP TO ROME LAST OCTOBER – SORRY FOR THE DELAY!)
Mike Jones is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-15-2008, 10:07 AM   #13
natalielongstaff
I need a cup of tea and a big bar of free chocolate now
Was born with my dancing shoes at the ready
I will be back later to stalk some more
 
natalielongstaff's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: leicestershire,england
Posts: 80,421

What a detailed report, thanks for taking the time to post !

Shame about amanda's upset tum but other than that you seemed to have had a great trip
__________________
April 2003 DLRP, November 2004 WDW and Barbados, September 2005 WDW, September 2007 WDW,October 2009 WDW

natalielongstaff is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-15-2008, 11:48 AM   #14
OrlandoMagic
DIS Veteran
 
OrlandoMagic's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Buckingham, UK
Posts: 1,136

Really enjoyed reading your trip report. Some really nice photos. My girlfriend and I are both in love with the city and have been 4 times so far and we are going back to Salou this October so we will be spending a couple of days here.
__________________
Simon


Jul 2000 - Villa, Kissimmee ~ May 2008 - Best Western, I Drive ~ Sept 2009 - Saratoga Springs & Portofino Bay Hotel ~ Sept 2011 - Saratoga Springs & Dream Cruise ~Nov 2012 Legacy Vacation Resorts, LBV & Fantasy Cruise ~ Sept 2013, Calabay Parc Villa

OrlandoMagic is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-15-2008, 02:13 PM   #15
DizzneyDAnn
DIS Veteran
 
DizzneyDAnn's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 681

Loved it! Thanks.
DizzneyDAnn is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply



Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump

facebooktwitterpinterestgoogle plusyoutubeDIS Updates
GET OUR DIS UPDATES DELIVERED BY EMAIL



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 01:40 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

Copyright © 1997-2014, Werner Technologies, LLC. All Rights Reserved.