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Barcelona Trip Report

Just returned from Barcelona to attend the Women’s World Cup field hockey tournament and experience the history, gastronomy, and culture.

My 20-year-old son and I had agreed that the trip would be a mix of together time and independent exploring. We stayed in touch via text message. It worked out well. In 2016 we went as a family (wife + 2 kids, then 12 & 14) and loved it; they were too young then to really explore on their own.

-Airport Security: zero issues, both ends, in fact, it was a breeze.

-Catalan language: I’m glad I learned some Catalan for the trip. I would greet anyone I met in Catalan - shopkeepers, waiters, hotel clerks, and it always brought a smile to their faces. Just some simple phrases - check YouTube, there are many videos.

-Airport transfer: Aerobus service was easy, convenient and cheap; online tickets (10.40€) meant no lines at pickup points.

-Transit: T-Casual 10-trip passes (3 zones) covered metro, buses, commuter trains, and funiculars; super convenient.

-Hotel: H10 Racó del Pi hotel was excellent. Location and price (122€ /night) were spot-on; booked directly via hotel website, delicious breakfast included. Friendly, professional staff.

-Spanish Civil War Tour: Fascinating tour! Highest recommendation. Catherine is a knowledgeable guide and passionate storyteller, and we were under her spell in an instant. We came away from the tour filled with visions of the history that had taken place all around us. For the duration of our stay, we found ourselves referring back to the tour in conversation, for the valuable context it provided in understanding the significance of the other sites we visited (e.g., Montjuic Castle) and their role during the civil war.

-Montjuic Castle: Although RS says the castle is ‘mostly empty’ we found the visitors center contained a terrific series of historical exhibits. Between our visit here and the civil war tour, we learned quite a bit about the history of Catalonia on this trip.

-Palau de la Musica Catalana: Stunning interior and wonderful guided tour. The architecture is fabulous. I look forward to attending a concert here someday.

-Barcelonetta: delicious seafood dinner at Can Ramonet (C/ Maquinista, 17), Galician monkfish, Bacalao Llauna, plus classic Catalan desserts Mel i Mato and Crema Catalana. Seated indoors, ambiance lively but restrained, couples and families at other tables. If outdoor table is desired (more of a party atmosphere), then reservations recommended. Afterwards we walked along the beach which was still going strong at 11:00pm.

-Els Quatre Gats: Lovely dinner, lively crowd, tasty food. No prior knowledge of Picasso required.

-Els Quinze Nits: If you don’t mind eating at an indoor table, go straight to the head of the line and let the host know… we were seated in no time flat. Food very good, service seemed distracted.

-El Prat Airport Terminal 1 (returning to USA): just past security, you’ll see a bunch of shops and restaurants; I recommend eating here (or takeout to eat at gate). Once you clear passport control, food choices dwindle.

-LEVEL airlines: Crew friendly and professional, smooth flight. But… unless you pre-order food online prior to flying, the best you will get is a cup of water. I kid you not. Otherwise they just zip right past you with the food/beverage carts. We did flag them down at one point to purchase coffee (CCs only). Economy seating very tight; the fully reclined seat in front of me was exactly 12 inches from my face (I am 6’-1”).

Overall, excellent trip! So much more I could write. I would definitely return. Next time we will be exploring the Catalonia region. Perhaps a Catalan language course in some far-flung university town…

Happy Travels! Matt

Posted by
50 posts

Thank you for the report! I'll be in Barcelona in December and starting to make plans. What company did you use for the Civil War tour? I would love to do that.

Posted by
2 posts

The tour guides (Nick Lloyd & Catherine Howley) have a website which you can find here:

The best way to book the tour is by emailing Nick directly and giving him your available dates/times:

One month after returning home, I am still swooning over Barcelona. Hope you have a great time! M

Posted by
96 posts

Thanks for the helpful report, Matt.

My husband and I are flying into Barcelona on September 13th. I am curious about how things went with respect to the Spain Travel Health Portal that I have read we must fill out within 48 hours of our arrival. Did you do that? How did that part go for you?