A DAY IN BARCELONA

Barcelona, Spain

A DAY IN BARCELONA

By:Gala Reitz

American Airlines has scheduled daily non-stop service between JFK and Barcelona.However it doesn’t always have 2 Captains like our Flight 152.Our Boeing 767 lifted off from JFK at 7:00 p.m. commanded by Captain Doug Reitz and assisted by Captain Al Tesini plus an international first officer.The 8hr. and 10 min. flight across the North Atlantic usually has a few bumps along the way mixed with a beverage service, dinner, movie and breakfast before landing.

With daylight upon us, passengers with window seats get a great view of the coast and surrounding area.Our final approach gives a better view of the city and port area.Here we are arriving on schedule at 9:10 a.m.

Depending on the air traffic in Barcelona like in Paris you may or may not have a gate.Our flight had a “hard stand” that’s when the airplane parks in the field and doesn’t pull up to a jet bridge.You will have to carry your carry-on items down the stairs.Put a shoulder strap on your tote so you can use the hand rail.Use caution when deplaning.The metal stairs are very slippery.

We boarded a bus which took us directly to the Immigration area.When you enter the Immigration Hall, be sure to have your completed Immigration form & Passport out and available for the Agent.Stand in the Non E-U lines which will form to the left.Proceed to baggage claim and then thru the door with the green sign overhead indicating that you have nothing to declare.

In the arrival area stop by the Combio (Currency Exchange) unless you have pre-arranged, pre-paid transportation.Like most of Europe, the local currency is the Euro.Coins run from 1 cent to 2 Euro and notes from 5 Euro to 500 Euro.Most shops are reluctant to accept notes of more than 100 to 200 Euro.Get enough currency to get you into town.You will get a better exchange rate if you go to an ATM in town rather than the Combio at the airport or hotel front desk.

Transportation from the airport to the city is available by taxi, train or bus for as little as 5 Euros 90 cents with a travel time around 23 minutes to the front of Corte Ingles.

We stayed at the beautiful and modern “NH” Hotel in downtown Barcelona.For information and reservations contact your travel agent or NH Constanza in Barcelona at:

Deu I Mata, 69.99

08029 Barcelona, Espana

Telephone:011 34 932 811 500

Email:nhconstanza@nh-hotels.com

Website:www.nh-hotels.com

Barcelona is a huge city with diagonal streets intersecting circles and squares.A really convenient and safe way to sightsee is the Barcelona Bus Turistic, which starts at 9 AM.You can hop on and off at the city’s most interesting sights for the price of a 1 Day Ticket for 30 Euros (or $35.05).There are 3 routes, the North Route, South Route and Forum Route.There will be an Official Tour stop close to your hotel; be sure to ask your concierge for directions.Look for a red, blue or green Official Tour post.When you board be sure to get a route map, tour book, discount coupons and ear buds.Although the native language is Catalan, Spanish is also spoken here.Plug in your ear buds and you have your Private Tour Guide explaining the sites in English.One strategy is to ride the complete bus route once and then on the second round get off at points of interest to you.However on a one day trip to Barcelona we had to employ a different strategy.

Our first stop on the blue route was Placa d’Espanya.This square, with its central monumental fountain marks the gateway to the great park of Montjuic, the setting for the 1929 International Exhibition and the 1992 Olympic Games.

As we approach the hill of Montjuic we see the Magic Fountain.This was one of the last features built for the International Exposition of 1929.From this location we get a great view of the National Palace in the background.Montjuic was the home of the first inhabitants of Barcelona even before the arrival of the Romans. The hill is big enough to accommodate hours of walking in some of the city’s lesser-known gardens and an outstanding vantage point over the harbour.Escalators have been installed from the fountain to the first garden level.The hike up the stairs will reward you with a fabulous view. Today the National Palace is a museum of modern art.Admission is about 20 Euro.When you leave the museum take the garden path to the left for a short cut to the tour bus stop.As a bonus there are various sculptures for viewing.

One of the major transformations of Montjuic hill in the past century was the Olympic Ring.This is the epicenter of the Olympic Games held in Barcelona in 1992.It is easily accessible, thanks to the escalators that connect it to Avenue.It includes the Olympic Stadium, renovated specially for the Games, Palau Sant Jordi, a stadium now the home of the first-division soccer club and communication tower.From high on top the hill to the left we can see Sagrada Familia and to the right Agbar Tower.

A must do is a ride on the Montjuic Cable Car to the Castle. There is a 2 Euro discount in your bus coupon book. This fortress was built in the 18th century not to defend the city, but rather to watch over it.In June and July, the castle moat is the venue of the Montjuic Film Festival for independent films and a concert.From the end of the 19th century, it was used as a prison and the site of executions until just a few decades ago.It currently houses a Military Museum and offers magnificent panoramic view of the coast. For a little something different take the Montjuic Turistic bus on the way down.Take 20% off the 5 Euro fare by using the coupon in your coupon book.

Our last stop on the blue route is the Monument to Christopher Columbus, one of the symbols of Barcelona.On a majestic iron column rising almost 50 meters (165 feet) stands the figure of Columbus with outstretched arm, pointing to the horizon.It is believed that Columbus is pointing to the New World, but in fact he is pointing in almost the opposite direction.You can ride the lift to the top of the Monument for what I hear is a breathtaking view.

Barcelona has become a favorite embarkation point for cruisers.To accommodate newer, larger ships, the port is currently undergoing major expansion and renovation.

Our transfer to the red route was really easy.No food or beverages are allowed on the bus so be sure to eat your ice cream before you board.

After a short tour around La Rambla, now the city’s largest concentration of art galleries and unique specialty shops, thru the Gothic quarter passing The Cathedral we finally arrived at Placa de la Sagrada Familia.

You’ve all hear about this one . . . construction of this famous Basilica began in 1882 and one year later Gaudi was appointed Project Director.He worked on the project over 40 years until his death in 1926.From the beginning, the only financing for building the Basilica came only from private donations and alms, and it continues to be so to this day due to generous donations from the faithful, admirers of the project and a 22 Euro admission charge per visitor for an audio tour or 24 Euro for a guided experience.Tickets for visiting the towers are not included in the basic entry price and can be purchased online as part of the combination ticket “Top views”.There is a lift to take you to the top of one tower but all visitors must take the stairs down.

Although the Tram, motorcycles and Vespers are popular in the city, for us there is no better way to continue our city tour than the double decker bus.We had an outstanding vantage point of the Royal Palace, the Arch, the old and the new, the stately and the unusual, the traditional and the eclectic, from Gaudi to Picasso; and the extraordinary Agbar Water Company building it was a day to remember.

As we sit sharing a little Sangria, Cerveza and tapas we reflect on the beauty that is Spain.

Sterling Travel Group thanks you for sharing a Day In Barcelona.If you would like more information or to book your Barcelona experience, give us a call at 239-592-7233 or of course, you can always email at:Sterling@SterlingTravelGroup.com.Hope to see you in beautiful Barcelona!

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