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We will be traveling with our college-age sons to Barcelona, arriving Christmas morning. We've booked an apartment with BCN Gotic. We're aware that the city will be shut down on the 25th, and most shops closed on the 26th as well. A few questions at this point:

1. Is the Aerobus the best way to travel into the city from the airport? According to the website they operate all year, does anyone have experience with this on Christmas day? According to the TMB website, the subway also operates on Christmas.

2. I'm beginning to research restaurants that serve lunch on Christmas day. If anyone has suggestions, I'd love to hear of them. Also, how far in advance to make the reservation?

3. Any other ideas for that week? Our interests are architecture, museums, food--we'll be doing the usual Barcelona things, but welcome other suggestions. We're all first-timers to the city, and speak some Spanish.

Thanks in advance!


Amy in MA
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Posts: 11695 | Location: Newton (outside Boston), MA | Registered: 17 June 2001Report This Post

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1. Is the Aerobus the best way to travel into the city from the airport? According to the website they operate all year, does anyone have experience with this on Christmas day? According to the TMB website, the subway also operates on Christmas.

I have taken the Aerobus and found it very convenient, but to go to BCNGotic, there is one change of metro. For your arrival when you will be jetlagged, I strongly recommend you spring for a taxi.
Taxis are abundant and inexepensive.
quote:
2. I'm beginning to research restaurants that serve lunch on Christmas day. If anyone has suggestions, I'd love to hear of them. Also, how far in advance to make the reservation?

Xmas Day closing is like August closing for restaurants. The restaurants do not seem to have a policy that they stick to year in year out. One example is my favorite tapas bar near the BCNGotic. For many years the whole resto is closed for holiday for the entire xmas-new year period. The last two years it was open over that period.
One excellent tapas lunch place - in front of the old Cathedral, an easy walk from BCNGotic - is Bilbao Berria - seems to be consistently open on xmas day. It is a great tapas place (hot tapas in the back of the bar on the counter) and is not a real restaurant.
Another two restos nearby that have good food and hav been opened in at least one xmas-new period in my experience are Senyor Parellada (in front of the BCNgGotic apartment house) and Set Portes. They are both popular spots and will be doubly popular for xmas day. I'd find out whether they are open in late November and reserve then. Set Portes is known to tourists, who form a long queue outside. Lunch is still full of locals - entire families lunching until 5pm. No wonder they dine late !
quote:
3. Any other ideas for that week? Our interests are architecture, museums, food--we'll be doing the usual Barcelona things, but welcome other suggestions. We're all first-timers to the city, and speak some Spanish.

I won't recommend all the usual Gaudi suspects. Am sure you have read about those in every one of the guidebooks, and are planning to see them.
- I would not miss the Palau de la musica
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P...e_la_Música_Catalana
Although its full name is Palau de la Musica Catalana, its program covers all kinds of music. On Xmas it puts on a festive classical program, a bit pot pourri, but it's a great way to appreciate the jaw-dropping interior. You can also join a tour - sign up early ! But following a group of 50 persons, with one group preceding you and another following you - is not the best way to get into that whole universe of over-the-top Catalan extravagance.
- We love this self-guided walk called the Modernista route.
http://www.rutadelmodernisme.c...dy_queeslarutaen.htm
which I recommended and explained here .
Actually my friends' children really like the wowey architecture because it is so out of the ordinary, so opposite of boring.
- From BCNGotic, you can reach the pull-all-stop market of Boqueria. Everyone should visit the Boqueria at least once (mornings). There's no market overwhelm like this one. For your everyday market, the much nearer Mercat Santa Caterina with its wowey architecture is just as good, if not better, since it has less tourist-oriented stalls. About one minute walk from BCNGotic, on Carrer de Santa Maria, is the swooningly excelLent butcher La Botifarreria de Santa Maria that also sells all kinds of cooked dishes.
In fact walk around the church once. You will find all kinds of nice things, wonderful wine bar, wine shop, an eerily beautiful spice shop (Sombrerers, 23).
- Barcelona has two strange food genres. One is canned food. Am not kidding. There is a very good canned food and - again spice shop nearby is La Ribera (Plaça Commercial 11), where you can buy, - well, everything - high-quality saffron without breaking an arm and a leg.
- The other strange food genre that I love are the milk bars - the Granjas. My fave is Granja Viader, not far from the Boqueria market. My fave drinks from the tigernut milk bar are the Majorquina and the Crema Catalana. The interior is old-time funky.
- I won't focus too much on the Ramblas. The Ramblas used to be the place to be for Barcelona. But in recent years as Barcelona became better and better, including the formerly worst no-man's-land corners of the city, the Ramblas have been going downhill. If you like bad tourist panini places and the worst mimes in the world, do go.

Omg ! The French Olympics champions just came down on several buses down the road, from Gare du Nord to the Champs for a parade. Later …
 
Posts: 7870 | Location: Paris, France | Registered: 01 March 2007Report This Post

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Amy - One of the highlights of our week in Barcelona last may was "finding" a museum we had not seen reference to before our trip - the Museum of the History of Catalunyaa. We spent four hours there - it is well signed in multiple languages, has hands on exhibits, is amazingly well organized, and tells a wonderful story - from prehistoric times to the present. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

And I second Americana's tapas place recommendations. We, too, stayed at the BCN Gotic apartments, and were repeat visitors to Senyor Parellada. And don't miss stopping at the small bakery just across the street from the apartment and up towards the metro station. Don't remember the name (I remember its being almost next door to the small market in the same block), but it had amazing pastries!

Judy
 
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Amy,
I suppose you have noticed that the BCNGotic 3-bedroom apartments come in two sizes. Remember to choose one of the bigger size apartments. The 55 m2 (approximate size according to my memory) are too small.
 
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Thanks, Nancy and Judy. I love the menu at Set Portes--unfortunately, they said in their very nice reply to me that they're already booked for Christmas! On to other options, trying Senor Parellada.

And yes, we spent a few more euros for the larger of the apartments.


Amy in MA
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Amy,

I second Judy's recommendations.

And also (partly because of college-age sons), do check out the Caganer figurines . . . Wink
 
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Absolutely Caganer.
I have meant to mention that but the champions' bus made me forget everything.
 
Posts: 7870 | Location: Paris, France | Registered: 01 March 2007Report This Post

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Restaurants: When we stayed in Barcelona over a Christmas period we found everything was shut on Christmas day.
We had booked a restaurant via email for Christmas day. Checked the location and confirmed the booking a few days before the 25th. The restaurant denied the correspondence and we unfortunately did not think to print it off. We now feel that there were not enough bookings for them to feel they should stay open that day.
In the end we found a Chinese restaurant open. Booked that. However being the only ones eating that day was rather sad. The meal was ok. We sat on the beach most of the afternoon as the temperature, for us was good. Again we had the place to ourselves. But this was not so sad!

A bar: We would recommend the La Oveja Negra (the Black Sheep) AT times it can be packed to the gunnels, sometimes there is live music. But wherever the atmosphere is great for young and old.
I do not know if you have a preference for beer or wine. But small breweries are popping up in Barcelona seeming all the time.
This blog has a fair bit of details on various places you can drink “Cerveza Artesanal”


Unfortunately you will miss the Santa Llúcia which is sort of market place for traditional arts and crafts come Christmas market. I liked this a lot. So all I can suggest is the tourist website for the city will give you a list of events on during your stay. http://www.barcelonaturisme.com/

Getting to and from the airport: Going we took the train. We wee staying very near the Plaça de Catalunya and if I recall correctly this involved one change. We were not jet lagged as we flew from The Netherlands!! Our return flight was an early departure so we took a taxi. We did not have large cases thankfully as the boot was almost taken up with an LPG gas tank. It is cheaper to run a car on LPG.
The airport website gives some excellent information on various public transport options. Airport Barcelona
Apart from the above website also have a look at the taxi website:
Here you can work out the fares in advance. There are a few supplements to a lot of fares which you must beware of.
There is also information about how to complain/question about the service you have received.
 
Posts: 2585 | Location: Galicia Spain | Registered: 16 April 2008Report This Post

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quote:
Originally posted by JonJohnsen:
And also (partly because of college-age sons), do check out the Caganer figurines . . . Wink


And the Tió de Nadal...
 
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Sombrerers, 23

Sorriest I wrote my post so sloppily.
The spice store next to the Santa Maria del Mar on Sombrerers 23 is called Casa Gisbert.
quote:
From BCNGotic, you can reach the pull-all-stop market of Boqueria.

I meant: From BCNGotic, you can reach the pull-all-stop market of Boqueria in 15-20 minutes.
 
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Excellent info, all! Much appreciated. I'm finding all sorts of little offbeat museums and things to do through the tourism website.

Ian, if you had added in a movie, you'd have had the classic "Jewish Christmas" experience. I think we'll be lucky if we can stumble into a half-way decent Chinese place Christmas day--I have visions of tucking a box of pasta and bottle of olive oil into my checked luggage for an emergency meal. Wink Both Senyor Parellada and 7 Portes are booked already, and the two other places I inquired at say they don't yet know if they'll be open Christmas. Ah well, it's our arrival day, we'll likely be too jetlagged to properly appreciate good food anyway. Nah. Roll Eyes


Amy in MA
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Posts: 11695 | Location: Newton (outside Boston), MA | Registered: 17 June 2001Report This Post

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In that case, on xmas day go to the Bilbao Berria tapas in front of the old Cathedral and stuff yourselves silly.

Cerveceria Catalana has very good tapas and also good sitdown food is conveniently located between the two famous Gaudi houses. But one xmas day it was open, and another it was not. Dunno what will happen this year.
I also had a very good xmas lunch one year in Euskal Etxea and in Paco Meralgo, but again am not sure if it is open this year on xmas day.
 
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Any chance of asking the apartment agency to order in some food so that you can eat in? A few bottles of chilled cava, charcuterie or a shellfish platter, bread ...


Veronica in France
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Posts: 941 | Location: France | Registered: 09 February 2005Report This Post

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I have found the street view of the restaurant. It is the frontage with the red doors.

http://goo.gl/maps/pBXl9

In looking for more information I found this.
http://www.outofchinabarcelona.com/menu-de-navidad
However I do not understand if this is a meal set for “office parties” and/or if it is available Christmas day.
IVA is not included so add 21% to those prices. It is expensive.
Going back to the original restaurant I cannot find anything on the web about it.

When I have more time I will dig a little deeper in my photos taken on this trip.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Americana in Parigi:
In that case, on xmas day go to the Bilbao Berria tapas in front of the old Cathedral and stuff yourselves silly.



Sounds perfect for a Barcelona Jewish Christmas. Cool


Amy in MA
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Posts: 11695 | Location: Newton (outside Boston), MA | Registered: 17 June 2001Report This Post

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Ian, if you had added in a movie, you'd have had the classic "Jewish Christmas" experience.


Actually, unless custoums have changed, that is the way Christmas afternoon is done, at least in Barcelona.
kathyk
 
Posts: 522 | Location: Cadillac, Michigan | Registered: 25 October 2007Report This Post

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Doing some trip planning as we get closer to December.

I've discovered that Casa Batllo is open all day on Christmas; and La Sagrada Familia is open until 2. They are also open on the 26th, along with tours of Palau de Musica.

My older son is an Urban Planning major, he's interested in this Gaudi in Context walk.


Amy in MA
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Posts: 11695 | Location: Newton (outside Boston), MA | Registered: 17 June 2001Report This Post
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Here are some christmasy events I wrote about that you can visit once a year in Barcelona:

http://www.things-to-do-barcel...vents/christmas-2012
 
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If anyone needs Christmas restaurant ideas, I was just told that La Llavor dels Orígens will be open.


Amy in MA
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Originally posted by Amy:
If anyone needs Christmas restaurant ideas, I was just told that La Llavor dels Orígens will be open.


MMMM... get the canalones. You won't be sorry.
 
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MMMM... get the canalones. You won't be sorry.


I'll second that!

Judy
 
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I third that!

Amy, I might have said this before, but don't miss the interior of the Sagrada Familia. You'll probably remember that Judy and I were there at the same time. Bruce and I had been to see the exterior and hadn't wanted to wait in line to get inside. When we later saw Judy, she recommended that we go back and wait in line. We did and I'm so, so glad that we did. Gaudi's design ideas for it are mind-blowing. PS We loved Casa Battlo too.

I like the Jewish Xmas Tapas idea!

I know you said that Dan is interested in the Picasso museum. For me, it was a bit of disappointment - not to discourage you from going, but... I'll be interested to hear your impressions.
 
Posts: 6809 | Location: New York City | Registered: 15 June 2001Report This Post

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Thanks for the info! We're buying tickets ahead for the Sagrada Familia. The guys want to go up one of the towers, I'm happy walking around with the audioguide.

We've booked a late afternoon-early morning walking tour through My Favorite Things which someone had posted a positive review of a while back. We're planning on doing the Modernista Walk that AinP linked to above, the boys want to go to Camp Nou ( Uh-uh No!), the History of Catalonia Museum, the History of Barcelona museums, plus just lots of walking and gawking. Tapas and cava, I am so ready.


Amy in MA
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You will regret mot going up the towers. I don’t like cliff edges etc, a fear of the building collapsing. Most of the time I can over come this. This is one occasion I was glad I did.
The thing I enjoyed the most was being so near some of the exquisite detailing in Gaudi’s work.
There was a lift, the queues were long, so we used the stairs. In the end you have to use the stairs and narrow gangways any way.
I too thought the Picasso museum a bit of a disappointment. However the area around is great for souvenir or present shopping. We managed to find some quirky things when browsing the shops in th is area.
Weather sites here in Spain do seem to change their forecast like...well the wind! But at the moment the out look is quite good for this time of year.
Weather in Barcelona

I know the city will live up to your expectations, it is truly superb.
 
Posts: 2585 | Location: Galicia Spain | Registered: 16 April 2008Report This Post

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We were in the Sagrada Familia yesterday. It's an excellent idea to buy tickets online -- it means you get to go through a separate entrance, no queues. You can pick up the tickets from branches of the Caixa bank, from a machine. Printed on the ticket (if you opt for the tower) is an entry time for the tower. This is done, I assume, to manage the queue. We waited maybe 15 minutes for the lift -- the cathedral wasn't particularly crowded. I don't think going up the stairs is an option. Apart from the effort, they are only wide enough for one (not too bulky) person and are the default option for coming down.

I found the tower a bit disappointing TBH; you can't see that much from the top now that it's finished, as there's so much stonework in the way. The spiral staircase is lovely though! Don't go up there if you are scared of heights or claustrophobic.

It is well worth visiting the inside. We last visited in 2001, when it was still a building site, and the difference is incredible. I posted some photos on Flickr.

Barcelona has been very quiet the last couple of weeks, but our taxi driver said it would be much busier between Christmas and New Year.


Veronica in France
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Amy, here's a short video where the Barça football team will show you some local Christmas tradition. I am not sure the very last seconds show the caganer, but it might be. Tastefully done of course. Happy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I569XJH_U1A
 
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Shannon,

I have now wasted WAY too much time seeking the Cagener . . .

Happy Holidays!
 
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Well, the forecast is for 60 and sunny all week, we're packed, I have a huge document of recommendations, maps, and Barcelona apps on my phone, we have a few reservations, now to fiddle away a few hours until its time to head to the airport.

Downloaded two audio guides to our phones through the tourist office, details here: Medieval Barcelona and Gaudi's Barcelona

I'll be blogging as time allows, and will update this thread occasionally and of course upon return. Thanks everyone for your advice and interest!


Amy in MA
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Nice weather forecast - especially if there is a white Christmas on the East Coast. Have a great trip. Looking forward to pictures. Smile
 
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Christmas day was rather lively in el Born, with many people trooping down "our" street to and fro Santa Maria del Mar and the fancy pastry shop Bubo. Several restaurants and bars opened in the evening, and some of the small neighborhood grocery stores were also open for your jamon-flavored potato chip needs. Wink

Lovely lights in the streets, a cheerful vibe in the bars, and instead of our usual Jewish Christmas with Chinese food and movies in New York, we had cava and pintxos in Barcelona.


Amy in MA
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"A traveler without knowledge is a bird without wings."--Sa'di, Gulistan (1258)


euskal etxca
 
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Amy, I don't how you are managing all of this. Visiting all of the places you planned, eating out and writing an interesting blog to boot.
Glad you are enjoying the city.
 
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We got home last night, after a fantastic week in Barcelona. What a vibrant, exciting place to spend time! Highlights were walking the evocative streets of the Gothic, Born and Ribera districts; the marvelous Moderniste architecture from Gaudi and the lesser-known architects; the lively bars and restaurants; the markets; the museums; walking through everyday neighborhoods to find hidden extraordinary buildings; and being able to enjoy a glass of wine outdoors in December. And for those who may have read about crime in Barcelona, we did not experience or see anything unfortunate, although we took our usual big-city precautions of dividing up our cards and being careful where we carried things, and I noticed that everyone wears their bag across their bodies.

I'll be submitting my reviews of restaurants and our apartment today, and also finishing up my blog entries to record details of the week.

While Barcelona can seem to be filled with tourists (we fled La Rambla after five congested, chaotic minutes), it's very much a lived-in city. Here's something we chanced upon yesterday while strolling in Gracia--people swing dancing in Placa de la Virreina.


Amy in MA
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dancing
 
Posts: 11695 | Location: Newton (outside Boston), MA | Registered: 17 June 2001Report This Post

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Oh, and a question--many of the pastry and chocolate shops had piles of these cookies, which I think were called Sant Josep. Anyone know anything about them? They seemed to be chocolate-coated crunchy cookies in a folded oval shape. Awfully good.


Amy in MA
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st josep
 
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