Cruise editor Rebecca Tobin succumbed to "Gaudi fever" on a
one-day layover in Barcelona, Spain. Her report follows:
BARCELONA -- Although the "Year of Gaudi" here is coming to a
close, hang onto your Iberia airline tickets, folks.
Officially, the 150th birthday celebrations for Antoni Gaudi,
Barcelona's most famous architect and one of its strongest tourist
draws, will end this year along with all of the tours and
festivals. But luckily for those who won't make it to this year's
events, Gaudi's architecture isn't going anywhere.
No visit to this city is complete without a stop to gawk at some
of the most unusual buildings in Europe, such as the Casa Battlo
and Casa Mila, where the curved facades resemble underwater coral
If your clients have one day to spend in Barcelona, I'd recommend
Parc Guell and the Sagrada Familia church.
My companion and I bought a one-day pass on Barcelona's subway,
the Metro, which is fairly painless to use.
However, the walk up the steep street from the Metro station to
Parc Guell had me calling the place "Park Gruel."
But the park -- a relaxing space with colored mosaic benches and
fantastical sculptures -- was worth the climb.
Another long walk and we were at the partially finished Sagrada
Familia, which -- both massive and whimsical, the definitive Gaudi
church -- is unlike any other I've seen.
Visitors can take an elevator to the top of its spires --
affording unparalleled city views -- where you're so close to the
sculptures that you're practically in their midst.
Back at our hotel, the posh, pricey and centrally located Hotel
Ritz, we discovered that some friends had seen both the park and
the church via Barcelona's easy-to-use Bus Turistic.
The bus operates two loops around the city. Visitors can hop on
and off; a one-day ticket, at about $14 for adults, can be bought
on the bus.
Commissions at the Hotel Ritz start at 10%; rack rates for a
standard room start at about $360 per night.
For more on the hotel or to book, call (011) 34-93 318-5200,
e-mail [email protected] or visit www.ritzbcn.com on
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Contacting the Tourist Office of Spain
Chicago: (312) 642-9817
Los Angeles: (323) 658-7188
Miami: (305) 358-8223
New York: (212) 265-8822