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 guesthouses (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. 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.
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) 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) 🙂
Address: Avinguda Diagonal, 2
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
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