For the love of itineraries

A month from now, P and I will be heading to Vietnam and Cambodia for vacation. I can’t believe that around November last year I wrote that it was our next travel goal…and it’s finally happening. Which brings me to my pre-vacation mode: getting all excited with the planning and the itinerary.

I like to plan. I’ve mentioned it here a couple of times. Whenever I travel I like to come up with a detailed itinerary (hello, control issues). However, as I have learned from the over-stuffed itinerary of the 2010 Japan trip, I don’t have to beat myself up when I don’t get to follow the plan (goodbye control issues?). When you’re traveling, there’s always something new to discover. BUT I still like to refer to something when I find myself wondering, where can I go next? And so, I still make my itineraries. (Making the Saigon to Siem Reap itinerary now.) I find joy making them. Even for other people.

When P had to go to Barcelona for work and I couldn’t go with him, my accommodating husband (knowing how much his wife loves making itineraries) asked me to plan his five free days post-conference. He gave me the names of a couple of places he wanted to see and I went about looking for his accommodations and making his itinerary for the beautiful city of Barcelona. (All photos and text in italics are by P)

Where to stay
When it came finding him a place to stay in, I booked him in two guesthousesย  (Casa Diagonal and Residencia Eixample) in the Eixample District. From the guidebooks and online travel guides, Eixample is a beautiful and well-planned neighborhood where a lot of the cities’ famous modernist architecture can be found (including Sagrada Familia!).

If you’re traveling on your own or just want to be able to stay in the center where you can easily venture toward Park Guell in the Upper Neighborhoods (north of Eixample); and Placa de Catalunya, La Rambla and Barri Gotic (southwest of Eixample), this 19th century old neighborhood is a great base.

First day: Walking tour
A guided walking tour is always a good and quick way to orient oneself in a new place. I booked one with Barcelona Turisme. It was a two-hour guided tour around the neighborhood, focusing on Barcelona’s modernist style buildings by architects such as Antoni Gauidi, Domenech i Montaner, and Puigi Cadafalch.

The tour went from strolling through the beautiful though crowded main avenue of Passeig de Gracia (check out the lamp posts) down to narrow, little streets in between old buildings.

The tour uses a wireless tour guide system so even if you’re not next to the guide, you can still hear every word she’s saying. As for getting photos minus the crowds, well, forget about it.ย  But at least I knew where to go back to when I decided to check out some of the places I saw in the tour.

Montaner's Casa Lleo Morera, now a designer store. (Tour guide in front)

Casa Amatller and Casa Batllo and throngs of tourists

Windows in Casa Batllo

Gaudi's Casa Mila (more commonly called, La Pedrera)

Closer shot of Casa Mila's wave-like gray stone facade and wrought iron balconies

Second day: check out of first guesthouse, get settled in second; DIY walking tour around Eixample and Barri Gotic

As the second guesthouse was just a couple of blocks away from La Pedrera and Casa Batllo, P spent the day exploring the two Gaudi structures, indoors.

At La Pedrera around 9 am and surprisingly there were just a few other tourists in line to go to the roof, which is the highlight to a visit to this UNESCO World Heritage Site. You pay an entrance fee of around 8 Euros and this gives you access to the roof (couldn’t get enough of the interesting chimneys) and the attic, where you can find the exhibit. There are also rooms that have been preserved from the early 1900’s decor.

Post-breakfast, it was time for Casa Batllo. Then the next two days he spent exploring Sagrada Familia (or Castle Grayskull as P refers to it), La Rambla, and Parc Guell. (Will post more about it in another entry…this is already too long)ย  It wasn’t a tight itinerary and I’m trying to keep that same level of planning when it comes to our upcoming trip together. (Saving the 19-page like itineraries for Japan) ๐Ÿ™‚

Casa Diagonal
Address: Avinguda Diagonal, 2
08007 Barcelona
15 min walking to Plaza Catalunya, 2 blocks to La Pedrera and 3 blocks to Casa Batllo. With metro’s station and bus line very near. 3 minute walk from Diagonal Metro Station and 9 minute walk from train to the airport

Residencia Eixample
Address: Calle Diputacio 75
Phone: (0034) 93 2894317
The closest metro stops are Urgell (red line) or Rocafort (also red)

Casa Batllo and Casa Mila are both along Passeig de Gracia

11 thoughts on “For the love of itineraries

    • Yes. I’ve always wanted to see Angkor Wat–it’s right there on top, after seeing Japan ๐Ÿ™‚ There’s also a race I signed up for, so I’ll see the massive temple complex and run around it as well, hehe.

  1. Sweet! I’ve done Saigon and absolutely loved it; won’t be doing Siem Reap until February, so I shall just wait for your itinerary and copy off of it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    For your happy eats: Try Banh Xeo 46A in Saigon; skip the banh xeo (lackluster, I am afraid; there are better elsewhere); go instead for the cha gio (fried spring rolls; perhaps an assault on the arteries, but well worth it, honest!); the goi cuon (fresh spring rolls) and soft shell crabs. Who knew heaven was a hole in the wall in Ho Chi Minh? Bring your appetite with you; the servings are generous.

    Barcelona looks gorgeous from your hubby’s photos. I still dislike their football club. ๐Ÿ˜€

      • Oh and for something a touch splurgey, maybe afternoon tea at any one of Park Hyatt, Caravelle, or Sheraton. ๐Ÿ˜‰ There’s something strangely sweet about colonial traditions in the tropics. And the little sweets and savories look so dear. ๐Ÿ™‚ Drat, now I’m getting peckish.

  2. @wandering lass We won’t be heading to Hanoi this time. Though I want to have a taste of its Cha Ca fish dish. CebuPac just brought back their flights to Hanoi so that’s an option for another trip ๐Ÿ™‚

    @Mariella I love the afternoon tea idea! Writing it down now. hehe. I’m sure it will be a sweet and relaxing break from all the street food. All those little sandwiches and sweets with a cup of tea. Now, I’m getting hungry! ๐Ÿ™‚

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