Spain & Portugal trip this June - any general tips for this trip and thoughts on adding Barcelona

My husband and I are going on the Spain & Portugal trip beginning June 17 this year. We look forward to meeting our fellow travelers. If you’ve already been on this trip, do you have any tips? We’re thinking of taking the train to Barcelona from Madrid. Is anyone else in the group considering this or have you done this on a previous trip? Thank you for your suggestions on logistics and on Barcelona sites. We’ll have only 1 or 2 days in Barcelona.


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    We were in Barcelona (with Tauck) in late 2019. The Barcelona hotel used by Tauck then was the Le Meridian. It is very nice and centrally located (we walked all over the city from there). The top tourist site in the city is Sagrada Familia. It has tight security and is usually crowded—if they don’t sell advance tickets online, consider going with a local tour to avoid the lines. The Barcelona Cathedral is also very good—and try to find the fun Kiss Mural in the surrounding neighborhood. The waterfront area and beaches of the city are impressive, as is Montjvic (home to a great art museum). Excellent food is everywhere, including a large market a half block from the hotel. Also consider the iconic Viena Café near the hotel for a bocadillo. The massive El Corte Ingles department store is near the hotel too, and along with shopping, it has an excellent cafeteria on the top floor with deceptively good paella and churros.

    If you decide against Barcelona, there is plenty to do with an extra day (or 2) in Madrid. You will only see part of the Prado with Tauck and we enjoyed going back for a second visit on our own (no additional cost). The Royal Palace is spectacular and should not be missed (self-guided tour), and the adjacent Cathedral is unusually uplifting and happy. An off-beat and very fun thing to do is to find the “secret” cookies made by the nuns of Monasterio del Corpus Christi (google it). The National Museo Arqueologico is excellent, as are other art museums in addition to the Prado. And a walk through Retiro Park, especially around the lake, is a must. Tauck uses the Westin Hotel. It is well located for walkers, though you need to hike a bit (10-15 minutes) to reach the main shopping and cultural hub of the city.

    We found both cities very safe to wander in, day and night. We did get slightly caught up in a few of the protests in Barcelona. Although the crowds were large and loud, they were not threatening and we felt minimal stress from them. Emails from the State Department “smart traveler” program tipped us off about daily protests and gave good advice which areas of the city to avoid at what times of day.

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    edited January 2020

    I visited Barcelona several times many, many years ago courtesy of Uncle Sam. You must eat at Los Caracoles. It is about 2 or so blocks just off the Ramblas on one of the many narrow side streets/alleyways. It was/is a fantastic restaurant. According to their website, it is still there and is still highly recommended! As you might expect from their name, they are noted for their caracoles (snails), and other specialty fare, roasted chicken, paella, etc. You can't miss the exterior. You'll see chickens roasting on spits in the window. I'm not sure what currency the prices are shown in, but the food won't be cheap.


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    Barcelona is my favorite city in Spain.

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    edited January 2020

    SPAM! Everyone please flag and report all posts by Justify! The one above has a link. Do not click on it!

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