One night in Barcelona?

It’s my favorite time of year - trip planning! Tom Scud and I are thinking about Morocco in the beginning of June, and basically all the return flights have a layover somewhere or another. The cheapest flight by far (it would save us something like $600 total) has an overnight layover in Barcelona.

So what would you do for one night in Barcelona? I speak Spanish, so we should be able to get around just fine, but neither of us has ever been to Barcelona. Tips on neighborhoods to stay in, restaurants, places to people-watch, etc. would be appreciated.

…and the world’s your oyster
The bars are temples but the pearls ain’t free

Sorry, I lived through the eighties and I couldn’t help myself. And I’ve never been to Spain* so no actual travel advice.

*But I kinda like the music
(Sorry again, I also lived through the seventies)

I think your best bet for a hotel location is one near Sants Estació (one of the train stations: if you’re using a webpage, make sure any hotels you get “near the train station” are near Sants and not França or Nord). You can get there from the airport (direct, frequent, cheap trains; Renfe’s station at the airport is hard to miss) and it’s well-placed both for doing something in town and for getting back to El Prat.

If your visiting time is the afternoon/night, my own recommendation is to drop your stuff off at the hotel and head to Las Ramblas / Plaça Catalunya / Ciutat Vella. Rambla de Catalunya and Passeig de Gràcia, both heading “up” or “mountainwise” from Plaça Catalunya, are shopping/business areas. Passeig de Gràcia has several Modernisme buildings. Las Ramblas, heading from Plaça Catalunya “down” towards the statue of Columbus, are very colorful in their people, the buildings and the going-ons… just remember not to play the trileros :slight_smile: Portal del Àngel, heading from Plaça Catalunya to the Cathedral (the Museu Picasso and the Museu Diocesà are both in the same square as the front of the Cathedral), is again a shopping area; if you’re there early enough, there will be artisan’s booths.

The area between Las Ramblas and Via Laietana includes, as well as the aforementioned Cathedral and Museums, the itty bit that’s left of the Roman walls, the Plaça Reial (which used to be very run-down but has been recovered) and several ancient churches. Do not go into the streets on the other side of the Ramblas, it’s very much the bad side.

Thanks, Nava - there are a number of flight choices, but the one that saves us a ton of money arrives at about 9 pm, and departs at 8:45 the next morning. There are some options that would get us in earlier, but they start at $120 per person more expensive, which would only get us another 4 hours in Barcelona. And well, this is a Morocco trip; northern Spain is a whole different trip (which I hope we will get the chance to do someday).

So probably it’s just a late dinner in Barcelona and maybe a bit of peoplewatching. On the bright side, we should have just small carryon bags; usually if the layover is less than 24 hours, checked bags go all the way through.

How long on Renfe from the airport into town? It looks like the airport isn’t so far out of town as it is in many major cities.

The train itself takes about half an hour and runs every half hour. And it’s not late dinner by local standards, although you’re definitely too late for museums :slight_smile:

Map of Metro. From Sants Estació to Plaça Catalunya, it’s the green line, or you can take the blue line to Diagonal, exit on Passeig de Gràcia and walk down. The schematic map doesn’t “match” the streets very well.

Never mind - I just found the schedule search prompts.

Go out to dinner (you won’t be able to get into a restaurant before 10:00 pm, unless you go to a tapas bar). There are tons of great restaurants. After dinner go walking down the ramblas. People are out well into the night. You will see a lot of wonder sights.

For a single evening, I’d suggest randomly plunging into the old city east of Las Ramblas. You’ll find something interesting - even if you were never ever able to find that particular bar/restaurant/whatever ever again.

That’s really not a lot of time. Remember that you’ll have to be at the airport very early. Can you get a day’s layover?

Just go to the beach and bring a bottle of wine, maybe get some late night dinner. You don’t have time to sightsee, so you might as well just relax and enjoy yourselves.

Downtown has quite a few lunch-to-dinner restaurants, they’re not the fancier ones but they’ll feed you any time from noon to midnight. That’s the Passeig de Gràcia / Rambla Catalunya / Plaça Catalunya area. There’s tapas there but I’ve had much better ones in the area below Plaça Catalunya (between Ramblas and Via Laietana).

The more I think about it (and from what I see, people agree), your best bet is to take the metro to Diagonal, walk down Passeig de Grácia (there’s several Modernisme buildings and the floor and lampposts are Gaudí designs) and head down the Ramblas, stopping at some point(s) along the way for foor.

Eva Luna - crazy question, but I am going to be there overnight with my buddy on June 27th I think… if you will be there before then, can you tell me how the layover went, and if you have any places that were great to see in the night?! Our flight gets in to Barca at like 7:30pm and leaves at 6:30am, so we’ll probably rough it and head right back to the aeropuertoooo… -Tom.

Sorry, I haven’t updated, but as it turned out, by the time we both had permission to take the time off, the airfares had changed significantly - and once again it was much cheaper to fly home via Madrid. So that’s what we’re doing.

Hotel is booked, and I spent a semester in Madrid in college - but that was in 1988, so I imagine things have changed quite a bit. So any recs for Madrid would be appreciated as well.

Well, the usual…

I assume it’s late-afternoon again, right? Just walk around the center, Sol/Gran Vía area.

Eva Luna, some Madrid rec’s I posted on another recent thread:

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showpost.php?p=12066185&postcount=36

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showpost.php?p=12117187&postcount=37

http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showpost.php?p=12173405&postcount=23

Some big obvious changes to the city center of Madrid since 1988 to take note of: In the Plaza Mayor they uncovered some interesting paintwork on one of the buildings that had been covered over - that’s been restored. Plaza del Sol has been revamped - they moved the bear statue to another corner (supposedly to where it used to be a long time ago) and installed a new underground train station that connects with the Metro. The streets connecting Sol to the Opera has been pedestrianized. All the old movie theaters on Gran Via have been converted to clothes shops. As mentioned on one of my posts I linked to above Mercado San Miguel has been completely remodeled and transformed.

I’m getting excited! Even in 1988, I really didn’t get out much to Sol, Plaza Mayor, etc. - I was a pretty darn poor college student, even by college student standards (although I actually came out ahead on studying in Spain over studying in NY, because it was my own school’s program, and so as a Spanish major, my entire full-tuition scholarship transferred to the Spain program - and tuition in Madrid was cheaper than tuition in NYC, and so were living expenses at the time). But the money my parents were supposed to give me, well, they mostly didn’t, which a loooong story that belongs in the Pit. So I was pretty broke, and my biggest adventures were often seeing how cheaply I could eat dinner on Sunday nights, when my hostal didn’t serve meals.

It’s good to be a grownup sometimes :smiley:

I want to second (or third?) going down Las Ramblas. It’s an interesting time. If you walk far enough South, there’s the Bosc de Les Fades at Passeig de Colom. Eat there, then go up and down Rambla de Santa Monica. By day, it’s a tourist bazaar. By night, it’s a…well…it’s interesting.
Caution: Just like food attracts flies, tourists attract thieves. Put your wallets in your front pockets and hold your purse tightly in front of you. I saw someone getting picked or robbed just about every day there after dark. But don’t worry-they’re not dangerous. No one will hurt you. Just stay vigilant with your belongings.