I thought I’d share some of my travel research tips that helped me prepare for our trip to Barcelona. We were here for over a month and I knew that we would need to have plenty of options of things to do so we wouldn’t get stuck in a rhythm in this city that has so much to offer. We also did not do any day trip traveling. The one place we were considering was a trip to Figueres to visit the Dali museum but we kept stumbling upon so many things in Barcelona that it really just fell into bad planning (more below). Finally, for an extended stay, we wanted to be sensible about it financially and treat it more as a relocation versus a vacation.
AirBnb. This was a first for us and we could not have been more satisfied. We lucked out and one thing I was concerned about was would I be living in someone else’s house. I think this is what a lot of AirBnb’s are but ours was set up to be a rental specifically. We were in an apartment building and our host lived on a different floor, which was convenient. It was completely decked out head to toe with Ikea and was spotless and adorable. It had an amazing view of the Sagrada Familia that I could stare at and watch progress. They take a lot of breaks so I’m not sure how this will get done in the next 10 years.
Here are a few things to consider that we learned in our AirBnb research:
Air Bnb or just Bnb: Not all places are going to have air conditioning, especially internationally. If sleeping comfortably is important to you, check on that. We were here a couple of summers ago and the air was out in our hotel and it was miserable. Housekeeping: We lucked out with having a washing machine and a full kitchen but depending on the length of your stay you might be responsible for things like cleaning your towels, drying your clothes on the rooftops, taking out the trash, that sort of simple housekeeping that you don’t get with a hotel. We also wanted to do a lot of our own cooking (which I will dedicate an entire post to).
View from our rooftop
Google Pinning! Last time we visited with family, my sister-in-law created a travel map full of Google pins that highlighted everywhere to go. It was lovely and I was so inspired. About a month before our trip, I started pinning. I highly recommend doing this. It’s addictive too! When you add pins you also have the option of adding a label so you can leave a little note. What’s great about this too is that it will sync to your smartphone. To expand upon this a bit, I added a Passport package to my phone carrier for the trip. For an extra fee, I have unlimited text messaging and while roaming the streets I can pull up my pinned map and it guides you without having to use your data roaming. That phone really is smart! Notice that I have the Metro stops added as well so it shows you which lines take you where. It could not be any easier.
Learning the language: I spent about a month prior attempting to learn Catalan. I only know French, not Spanish and the Catalan language was closer to French than Spanish. Speaking it was a different beast as I could never respond. I abandoned it early on but I had a good Catalan vocabulary that allowed me to read a lot of menu items in the Gracia and L’Eixample neighborhoods. The locals can spot us right away and we made good attempts to buy from the markets in Spanish, order from restaurants in Spanish, that sort of thing. It goes a long way. It’s also nice when they ask if you want the English menu to say Esta bien, lo entiendo. Not to mention in this day and age, Google Translate is too easy.
One last note about the Figueres trip. We thought we would plan it when we arrived. I’ve seen people write about doing this trip in a day but I could see it being a long day on a timetable. Buying tickets online for the Dali museum is encouraged and I wouldn’t take the chance of having to stand in a line after the 2 hour train journey from Barcelona. However, we tried to buy the museum tickets about a week out and the ticket options were very limited and it didn’t coordinate with the train schedule so you’ll want to check both the train and ticket times simultaneously. My advice would be to travel to Figueres on a late afternoon, arrive in time to go out to dinner and stay the night. Visit the museum the following day at a leisurely pace and then head back to Barcelona.
And then there is a thing called spontaneity. Sometimes it’s okay to get lost and figure it out as you go. That’s when you stumble upon something unexpected and realize that all is well and without all of the technology and planning, (start singing) Every little thing is gonna to be alright!