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Ten Dos and Don'ts on Your Barcelona Trip
Barcelona is one of the most popular city destinations in the world for good reason. Actually there are many good reasons to visit; the weather, the culture, the people and the lifestyle. Furthermore, it is a pretty safe place for a large city in Europe. Yet, every popular city break destination poses its own challenges and pitfalls for the visitor as well as tourist traps of all kinds. These are some that are particular to Barcelona, along with tips about alternative "courses of actions" – the fun stuff and the practical solutions.
- Do: Be aware of the fact that some airlines label the airport of Girona, almost 100 km. north of Barcelona as "Barcelona Girona airport."
Don't: Choose a low-fare flight to "Barcelona Girona" believing that you are arriving close by the Barcelona city center!
- Do: Book accommodation ahead.
Don't: Decide to fix a place to stay upon arrival. Normally finding accommodation is not too hard but sometimes something is going on (large congress, big "fiesta" etc.) that will have beds booked across the board.
- Do: rent an official, legal Barcelona holiday apartment. This will give you a guarantee that you get the actual accommodation that you book, and that details regarding check-in, deposits etc. are handled in a professional manner. Apartur (The Barcelona Association of Tourist Apartments) membership requires that you have a legal, registered apartment. Only legitimate agencies can join. Checking if an agency is listed as a member should guarantee this.
Don't: opt for the "too good to be true" apartment deal that offers no guarantee that you actually get the standard you pay for, or actually get a place to stay at all! Check that you are booking through a reputable agency, via vacation rental reviews on SlowTrav as well as SlowTrav favorites for example.
- Do: explore the other parts of the city. Barcelona has many different neighborhoods with their own unique atmosphere, and it is a good idea to break away from the trodden path and discover something different.
Don't: walk up and down "La Rambla." See it, and walk down this famous street filled with bird and flower stalls and street artists and pricey cafés … once. That is enough, and you can move on to other areas of the city.
- Do: seek out independent design stores, galleries and delicatessen in areas like El Born and Gracia.
Don't: do all your shopping in the large malls. The best deals and the most unique items are found in the independent stores, and you'll have more fun while shopping in these neighborhoods!
- Do: take precautions and pay attention as not to fall victim to pick pockets in the streets of Barcelona.
Don't: leave your camera or bag dangling from your shoulder or place a wallet in an open pocket. Maybe self evident, but a wide array of strategies are being employed to relieve tourists of valuables: coming up from behind on a motorcycle, create a diversion, being a "helpful" stranger, and simply the "long-finger" approach.
- Do: try the local cuisine. Spanish cuisine in general, and Catalan in particular is "on the menu" of every serious gourmand for its inventive use of quality local produce!
Don't: take all your meals in international chain restaurants or in tourist traps by the most visited attractions and miss out on all the good stuff! Usually these places are "announced" by having posters with pictures of the dishes and overly eager "hosts" trying to entice you in. If you venture into the backstreet of the Old Town you are more likely to find genuine food for an acceptable price.
- Do: enjoy a drink or a glass of wine outdoors in one of the countless "plazas" all over the city!
Don't: enjoy drinking outdoors in the streets as you're liable to be fined by the police.
- Do: be cautious when venturing into the traffic here, whether as a pedestrian or driver.
Don't: expect traffic rules to be viewed as anything but vague "guidelines" to be ignored at any given time!
- Do: look out for last-minute deals on Barcelona apartments. Except from in the "highest of high seasons" agencies will offer their unoccupied beds for a reduced rate.
Don't: "book blind." If you have some flexibility as to traveling dates there are always good Barcelona accommodation deals to find!
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