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Tips about Barcelona and Madrid by Women for Women

ORANGE JUICE EVERYWHERE IN SPAIN -- writes Katherine in Tuscon, USA -- Pretty much throughout our trip we were blown away by the quality of the orange juice, which was almost invariably freshly squeezed and absolutely delicious. If you are in a hotel that includes breakfast in the price of the rooms, you will probably be given it automatically. If you go anywhere by train and order it, it will most likely be prepared by a very cool machine called a "Zumex" (because "zumo" is the word for juice throughout Spain, unlike "jugo" in Mexico). This is a machine with a curved wire funnel on top that they toss the oranges into; as they go into the machine you can watch them being automatically cut in half and squeezed, with the juice going into one bin and the skins and seeds into another. A wonderful invention .. I'd love one for my kitchen! Anyway...do try the orange juice!

 

GREAT MASSAGE AND REFLEXOLOGY IN BARCELONA -- writes Susan in Seattle, USA -- I was in Barcelona for three days during the week of Thanksgiving 2012 traveling by myself. After having walked for miles (literally) I found myself in desperate need of a massage I found a wonderful Thai massage spa and received an amazing hour massage followed by an hour of reflexology. Ban Thai Massage is an easy walk or inexpensive cab ride from Plaza de Catalunya. Ban and her staff speak English and communication was no problem. Her spa is immaculate and you can't beat the prices. Address: C/Viladomat 145, Barcelona 08015 Spain. Tel: +34 933 255 431.

 

MY FAVORITE HOTEL IN BARCELONA -- writes Barbara in Toronto, Canada -- My favorite hotel in Barcelona is the Balmes. It's a member of the small chain, Derby Hotels. If you walk out the front door and turn right and then right again on the first street you will, within two blocks, be on the street called Gracias, which has many attractions, Gaudi and others. When a travel agent booked it for our group of 4 women, it turned out he had a corporate connection and the rate was extremely reasonable. The hotel's lobby features modern sculpture. Rooms are simple and clean. A bonus is a small garden with a small pool just off the lobby. Breakfast is extra cost.

 

BARCELONA BATHROOMS -- writes Lyn in Seattle, USA -- We're all JourneyWomen so pardon the frankness, but you have to pay to pee at most train stations and large department stores such as El Corte Ingles (~.20€). Also, most smaller shops DO NOT have bathroom facilities. However, most museums and restaurants do not charge customers for use of their facilities. Plan your bathroom trips around free facilities to avoid discomfort.

 

MERCURY FOUNTAIN IN BARCELONA IS A MUST SEE -- writes Katherine in Tuscon, USA -- Probably the most unusual thing we saw in Barcelona, which I didn't know about before going there, is the mercury fountain at the Joan Miro museum. It was made by Alexander Calder, who was a good friend of Miro's, and it is filled with mercury rather than water! We could not tear ourselves away for several minutes because it was so compelling watching how the mercury flows...very, very different from water (after all, mercury is a metal, the ONLY metal that naturally exists in liquid form!). One of the most fascinating things I've ever seen. And, oh, yeah, the museum also provides a wonderful overview of Miro's works...AND it's covered free by the Barcelona card.

 

BEWARE OF THIEVES IN BARCELONA -- writes Vivien in USA -- I boarded the notorious subway in Barcelona being pushed from behind. In front of me was a guy with his back to me holding the one and only pole. As I tried to take hold of the pole he raised his arms higher making me raise my arms. A split later he spun around and said something to the guy behind me who responded and they jumped off the train as the doors were closing. Looking down I discovered my "bum bag" (worn at the front, under my sweater) had been unzipped, from behind, and I had been relieved of my iPhone, reading glasses and 100 Euro. I hadn't felt a thing and it all happened within a few seconds. My advice: (1) If there are crowds boarding wait for the next train if you can. (2) Don't wear "bum bags". (3) Attempt to keep absolute necessities in zippable inside pockets of a jacket or vest ( not everything in the same pocket). (4) If you need to take a back pack either wear it at the front or head straight to a place on the train where you can stand with your back pack pressed hard against a window. (5) Have a 24hr number for your phone company so you can block your number immediately. It took me 24hrs in which time the thieves ran up calls to the value of $946 all to Morocco! It was my first day in Barcelona. There were many many people, travellers and locals, at the police station, who had all been robbed, so be especially vigilant in Barcelona. Happy, safe travelling.

 

OPERA HOUSE IN BARCELONA -- writes Karen in Ohio, USA -- In Barcelona, don't miss the Palace of Catalan Music (Palau de la Musica Catalan). It is a gorgeous opera house full of stained glass windows and mosaics on nearly every surface, that make Gaudi's creations look almost tame. It is by far the most interesting architectural and artistic place we saw in Barcelona. You can only get in and look around on a tour; tours are offered in English and tickets have to purchased a head of time, but you can do so online at www.palaumusica.org. After the tour, the tapas served at the snack counter are some of the best and most interesting in Barcelona... definitely not your typical "tourist tapas". Also, Mercat Santa Caterina, right around the corner from the cathedral, is a fascinating food market somewhat smaller than La Boqueria; definitely as interesting, but also much less busy, filled with locals rather than tourists, and selling things for about half the price as the stuff in La Boqueria. A gem of a place!

 

BONUS TIP -- SEVILLE

Flamenco Performance

Bonus!While in Sevilla (my favorite city while in Spain), my friends and I went to a show at the Tardes de Flamenco at the at the Centro Cultural Flamenco. It is not a typical Flamenco dinner theater, but a small theater with Flamenco artists perform a show. It is a different group every night, and it was obvious in watching the performers they do not work together all of the time. We were very close to the stage and I really enjoyed watching the talent in the performers in motion, the guitar player involved in percussion using his feet, the singer also providing percussion with his hands and feet, the dancers involved with it all. And, it was really enjoyable to watch the performers watch and admire the talent of their fellow performers on stage. It appeared they truly enjoyed their art and sharing with others, and really enjoyed watching and admiring the talent of the others. When given an opportunity to see a great performance from people who truly enjoy what they do and each other - it just makes it that much better for the audience.
Submitted by Linda in La Verne, USA

 

Bonus!BONUS TIP -- BILBOA

Hot Chocolate

I want to tell everyone about the best hot chocolate in Bilboa. A local man told me that the New York Café had the best hot chocolate in town. He must be right, because it was incredible stuff. Spanish hot chocolate is nothing like ours in the states—it is very rich, and so thick it is barely liquid. They also had beautiful pastries and meringues, but the hot chocolate took priority. Cost: 2.50 euro. Address: Buenos Aires Street, just off Gran Via. Directions: Buenos Aires is next to the statue of the founder on Gran Via; close to Old Town.
Submitted by Jessie in Spokane, USA

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