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assorted Madrid/Barcelona questions

Almost ready to leave for our Madrid/Toledo/Barcelona trip. Super excited and the people on this forum and the Rick Steves Spain book have been invaluable. I do have a few questions that I can't seem to find the answers to so I am asking them here.
1- Can you drink the water in Barcelona? I would have never thought of it but my niece did a semester in Spain and she warned us not to
2- My husband wants to know if you can get a good cup of coffee, especially for breakfast? Apparently this was a problem for him when we were in London!
3- Is The Temple of Debod worth doing?- again the traveling niece.
4- I was leaning towards doing the Museum card rather than the Madrid card since basically that is where our interest lies. Does this make sense? We will be in Madrid 2 1/2 days and we want to leave some time just to wing it.
5- In Barcelona we will be traveling with friends who aren't much on pre purchasing but I know we should be purchasing tickets for Sagrada Familia in advance. Is it possible to purchase them at the ticket window, say at the end of the day for the next day or two or will the lines still be crazy long?
Thanks. I am sure a few more things will come up but this will help.

Posted by
507 posts

There is a contact email & a phone number listed. I truly do not know the answer to the church question.

  1. I did not have any problem with the water while I was in Barcelona for two days. When I travel I do carry a card of Imodium AD should Montezuma's Revenge strike.

The other two questions I am not able to help with.

Posted by
984 posts
  1. There is legislation about water quality. Whether the water in Barcelona suits you compared to what you are used to is impossible to say. The mineral content of this hard water or over chlorination may be a concern.
  2. There are many ways to order a coffee in Spain. Learn how to order whatever coffee suits. 'Coffee in Spain' as a google will give you lists and descriptions. Eccentricity in what is wanted is normal, so again he will have to learn how to succinctly order what he wants if nothing on the list suits.
  3. It' s an hour of visit maybe, it is free, and there is not much like it outside Egypt, if interested in ancient Egypt. Put it together with something else in the vicinity that your guide suggests.
  4. No comment. Never used such.
  5. No comment.
Posted by
5295 posts

The water is fine. This is 2014 and we are talking about Europe.

Posted by
2880 posts

1.- Yes, although you're in a hard water area therefore the water has a high concentration of calcium which gives it a taste not everybody likes. Other than that, the water in the city complies with all the health regulations set up by the WHO. Many of us use it for cooking/drinking.

2.- What is a good cup of coffee?? Don't know where you're coming from therefore it's hard to guess what 'are you used to' ;)) In any case, note that as Mediterranean country, we like our coffee strong --'nuff said, LOL!

5.- Yes you can. BUT... note there are tourists all year around therefore you're bound to queue. Furthermore, if you're visiting say in summer or Easter (or during any other typical vacation period) these queues can be substantial (ie. at S.F. in summer you might be queueing for three or four hours under a scorching sun). Obviously you are not suggested to pre-book everything (there are over 150+ sites/museums/landmarks worth visiting in Barcelona) but for the most popular it's recommended to.

Posted by
1178 posts

The water is great, but purchase bottled if you must. It is everywhere...The SOLAN brand is in plastic and glass. Get a glass one to bring home with you Dark blue bottle..makes a great bringsomethinghomethatisunique item.

Coffee? The Spanish claim to have 'over one hundred ways' to serve it or some such... At any rate it is good...different from what we have at home, but try it and enjoy.

The Temple of Debod is good, but other things are, in my view, more interesting...You are in Spain, Madrid, Barcelona...and Egypt, while interesting is not on my top list item there..A drive by is enough.

Never purchased either of the cards, so can not comment.

Purchase the Sagrada Familia tickets in advance of your trip...well worth the doing.

Posted by
4535 posts

Sagrada Familia should be pre-purchased as it is extremely popular and sells out a day or two in advance. You can do it online with the link provided earlier or, if in town several days, buy tickets in person for another time. If buying in person, you'll wait in whatever line exists at that time.

If you wish to see Parc Guell too, that is another pre-purchase ticket that is highly recommended. Parts of the park are still open for free, but not the best areas. The ticketed area is a timed entry (you can stay as long as you wish) and they sell out a few hours in advance. Since there is little else to do around there, it is best to pre-purchase on line.

Casa Mila and Casa Batllo can be done day of usually. Lines can be up to 30 minutes, but this time of year shouldn't be any worse than that.

Barcelona's water taste doesn't seem odd to me. Not sure why your niece would say not to drink it; if she lived there she would well know that it is perfectly fine to drink. Maybe she didn't like the taste? Bottled water is very common, and when ordering water at a restaurant it will be assumed you mean bottled (gas or no gas?).

One thing to be aware of in Spain, you will likely be asked more than once if you want your credit card or ATM transaction in euro or dollars (assuming you're from the US). ALWAYS demand euro. Dynamic Currency Conversion is a way for the merchant to set the exchange rate and they will not give you a favorable one. Your cards will always use the interbank rate (they may add on their own foreign currency fees, but not more than about 3%). If not asked and they try to charge you in dollars, have them cancel the transaction and re-run it properly.

Posted by
2880 posts

Adding to Douglas... in restaurants there's no choice... it's always bottled. Serving tap water is prohibited by law since 20 or 30 years ago.

Posted by
1495 posts

Yes, but you may not like the taste. Order small glasses of beer. By the way, Madrid water is excellent.
Starbucks exists in Barcelona and Madrid.
We did not purchase any cards.
Pre purchase and save your sanity.

Posted by
12154 posts
  1. Yes, the water is drinkable as much as if you were traveling to another city in the US. If you would have trouble in another US city, you may have trouble in Europe. If not, you will be fine.

  2. Most of Europe are coffee drinkers so I don't think you have to worry.

  3. I like Temple Debod. IMO one of the few historical things to see in Madrid, even though this is Egyptian. Beware they have relatively short hours, can't recall if it was siesta or just early closing. Go in the morning.

  4. Generally you can walk Madrid, so a museum card may be all you need (but it's a long walk between Temple Debod and the Prado). Depending on where you are staying, a Madrid card might make sense to use the transportation or it may be something you don't really need.

  5. Sorry I don't know the answer to your last question. You may also be able to purchase them at a TI a day or so ahead.