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Tinami Amori
06-03-2012, 11:51 PM
All other tips and advice about Madrid and Barcelona are welcome. :D

What have you outlined for yourself already? Maybe you've covered all the best items in the 3 days you'll spend in each place?

kwanfan1818
06-04-2012, 12:10 AM
Go to FNAC and buy CD's :) Don't miss Park Guell or the market (La Boqueria). Eat calcots (a bit like leeks), grilled and served with Romescu sauce (unless you're allergic to nuts). (We had them at El Glop (http://restauraweb.com/elglop/).) If you like red wine, you usually can't go wrong with Rioja tinto, and mineral water is well worth the price. (Vichy Catalan, for example, is wonderfully minerally: it doesn't taste like most of the stuff that's readily available in North America. I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to get a case home on the bus from Seattle next weekend.)

You'll be a stone's throw from Casa Mila (La Pedrera) and Illa de la Discordia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illa_de_la_Disc%C3%B2rdia), four Modernista buildings next to each other, including Casa Battlo by Gaudi. Casa Mila can look hideous in photos, but although it's inland from the sea, in person, it looks like a malleable sea creature. Those are buildings you can walk by, and I think you can go inside the lobby of Casa Mila for free most hours.

Vagabond
06-04-2012, 05:25 AM
Take a one-day cruise up the Costa Brava. :summer:

Jenya
06-04-2012, 06:52 PM
What have you outlined for yourself already? Maybe you've covered all the best items in the 3 days you'll spend in each place?

I don't have any firm plans for either place and am open to suggestions. Also, which tickets should I buy in advance? (Prado, Sagrada Familia?)

I have been trying to purchase my train ticket from Madrid to Barcelona on the RENFE site today and have not been having any luck - I keep getting an error message and have tried different browsers/credit cards. Does anyone have any tips or has anyone successfully used the site before?

Tinami Amori
06-04-2012, 09:42 PM
I don't have any firm plans for either place and am open to suggestions. Also, which tickets should I buy in advance? (Prado, Sagrada Familia?)

I have been trying to purchase my train ticket from Madrid to Barcelona on the RENFE site today and have not been having any luck - I keep getting an error message and have tried different browsers/credit cards. Does anyone have any tips or has anyone successfully used the site before?

I'll put together my set of Barcelona, Madrid, Toledo favorite tourist stuff this eve.

Re RENFE tix. I'll just copy you last year's old recap that has been put together and posted on another travel website, its the same this year.
======

1. Don't sweat working the website in Spanish or worry about trying to keep it in English. The site switches languages on you seemingly at will, and most of the terms are pretty easy to figure out even if you never took Spanish 101. When in doubt, consult the above tutorials for their lists of terms.

2. If the site wipes out your search entries when you hit "continue", don't worry. Just do it again! You're probably in a different language again--or perhaps you are even in the homestretch of buying and you just didn't know it! It's sort of the "Mr Toad's Wild Ride" of internet purchasing.

3. If the schedule isn't posted 62 days out yet, just keep checking in periodically. In early January, not even 31 days were loaded into the system but then suddenly, ta-duh!, I could see my dates in March. Use that time to get more familiar with the vagaries of the site and do a few dry-runs of ticket purchases with dates that are on the same days of the week as your future trip.

4. Register for an account BEFORE you get your tickets. That way, you have the opportunity to get a confirmation from RENFE that you are part of the ordering system (just don't check the box for YES, I WANT EMAIL PROMOTIONS).
and now...

5. I'd like to recommend, "Call your credit card company and let then know you are buying online with the website" but that actually didn't work that well for me. . I hope you guys have better luck! Here's my saga, and maybe it will give you heart when you encounter a problem....

I called my credit card company 10 minutes or more before I attempted my RENFE transaction with the EXACT specifics of my transaction. I then completed the info on the RENFE site, had my mastercard special verification code at the ready, entered that, and you guessed it--I got the GU001 error.

I logged out of RENFE and signed in again, and looked for My Journeys. Nothing. I waited ten minutes to see if anything came through my email. Nothing. So I called the credit card company, and the first thing they did was give me an automated spiel about "an attempt has been made"...and I pressed the number that said I had authorized that transaction.

I then spoke to an agent, who again asked me about this attempt on my account. I explained (and by this time, I was no longer sweetness and light) that not only had I authorized the transaction, but that I had CALLED the company beforehand to authorize it. She looked at the records and said, "Oh, I see that that transaction has gone through now." And I said, "But I don't have a confirm of that transaction and now I can't print my tickets unless I call Spain, and I don't understand why I have to spend extra cash for a phone call when I did everything right as a card holder."

She put me on hold and I made sure to refresh my email in case anything surfaced without my knowing. Nope.

When she finally got back on line, she said, "You'll have to repeat the transaction (so much for "that transaction has gone through"). "I won't be charged twice?" I asked. "No--and if there's a problem, just call us and we can remove any duplicate charges."

I repeated my steps again (almost making the reservation for the wrong day), entered all the payment info again, and wonder of wonders, I received the confirmation screen AND a confirmation email almost simultaneously.

In summary, RENFE actually wasn't that bad if one expects it to be goofy. And expect things not to go smoothly the first time with the credit card/bank dealings no matter what you do!"
==end of 2011 RENFE instructions from another board===

kwanfan1818
06-07-2012, 12:12 AM
This isn't Barcelona hotels, but I thought people reading this thread would be interested in Barcelona.

The Spanish Table, a great food- and wine-centric store in downtown Seattle -- take the elevator in Pike Place Market down to Western, and go left (South) a few storefronts down -- published this in their latest newsletter:


Do you have friends or family in the midwest who would like a free trip to Spain? In exchange for receiving periodic offers about vacationing in Spain, Chicago's Tourist Office of Spain will send two people on a free trip to Barcelona! The offer unfortunately is limited to residents of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wisconsin. To enter, click on INeedSpainSweepstakes.com (http://ineedspainsweepstakes.com/).