Trip Coach: June 19, 2007
AnneLise Sorensen, author of 'DK Top Ten: Barcelona,' answered your questions on Barcelona and Catalonia.
AnneLise Sorensen: Hola--this is AnneLise, and thanks for joining me. Whether you're a first-time visitor or a smitten regular, Barcelona has a way of seducing all who pass through. As a travel writer and editor, I'm often asked two questions: 1) How do you become a travel writer? and 2) What's your favorite city in the world? The first question deserves its own forum, so that's for another day, but the second question is easy: Barcelona. Like many artists and writers before me--Miró, Dalí, Picasso, to name a few--I'm passionate about the Catalan capital. As for my roots, I'm half-Catalan myself: I grew up summering with grandparents, aunts, uncles and 20-plus cousins in and around Barcelona. And, I also cover Spain for guidebooks and magazines, including DK Top 10: Barcelona. I look forward to answering your questions about my favorite city, so bring them on!
Denver, Colo.: My husband and I will be celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary next year and want to go for a 7 - 10 day long trip (without our 3-year-old daughter!). We are thinking about going somewhere along the Mediterranean where we can meander through cute little towns, enjoy the water and views, eat incredible food, and drink lots of wine. We would like to stay in some local inns but wouldn't mind a splurge for a night or two on a luxury hotel. Our anniversary is in August but we're thinking a trip in fall will help us avoid crowds and heat. We're on a budget so we're looking for a destination area that will not drain our bank account. Where would you recommend?
Thanks so much for any advice!
AnneLise Sorensen: Jen, congratulations on your anniversary! First, one option is to spend a few days in Barcelona--which has an excellent mix of reasonably priced lodging and splurge-worthy hotels--and then meander north up the Costa Brava. As a natural phenomenon, this coast is gorgeous--all craggy bluffs, secluded coves, and transparent blue water. If you'd like a more intimate experience, skip the first set of tourist-packed towns north of Barcelona, like Blanes and Lloret de Mar, where it may be hard to see the sand for all the oiled throngs. Instead, push on to Tamariu, a sleepy beach town that has retained its village character, and after a languid day or two here, continue on to lovely Cadaques, with whitewashed houses and waterfront cafes, where you can tuck into the fresh catch of the day washed down with local wines. While you're here, don't miss the surreal and captivating Museu Teatre Salvador Dali, which lies in Figueres, a short distance inland.
Another option after hanging out in Barcelona is to head south to Tarragona and the Costa Daurada, which is an oft-overlooked coast, and therefore can yield some excellent deals. En route, you'll pass the laid-back beach town of Sitges, with cheery waterfront restaurants that serve up tasty paellas topped with fresh seafood, and plenty of Spanish wines. Further south lies Tarragona, once an ancient Roman stronghold, which sits on a rocky hill overlooking the sea, and offers an enticing mix of historic architecture and sun-speckled beach. As for timing--yes, you've made the right decision to come here in September, which is the ideal time to travel, as you can still enjoy the summer weather, but with far fewer crowds and, often, much better deals. Enjoy your anniversary in the Mediterranean!
Hanford, Calif.: I'm going with a large group of friends in September to Barcelona. We know that the club/party scene will be amazing but I was wondering what are some of the best sites to see and things to do that are not party related. I don't want our entire time in Barcelona to be spent in the clubs and recovering the next day. What are some of the fun things to do besides partying on Las Ramblas?
AnneLise Sorensen: Hola--once you've had your fill of the buzzy party and club scene, I'd suggest that you hit at least a couple of architect Antoni Gaudi's captivating creations, including the otherworldly Sagrada Familia. Also, stroll up stately Passeig de Gracia for a glimpse of more Modernista marvels, both by Gaudi and other Catalan architects. As for museums, head to the intriguing MACBA (the contemporary art museum), a gleaming, cutting-edge cultural center that sparked an urban revival in the El Raval district. Other interesting museums include the Picasso Museum, which focuses on the artist's formative years, offering the chance to discover Picasso as he was discovering himself. And, if you've been out late the night before, consider relaxing (a long siesta, perhaps?) at the Parc de la Ciutadella, a central, leafy respite with plenty of grass, walking paths and an eye-catching Modernista fountain. Enjoy your visit!