Advantages A great way to take in almost everything the city has to offer.
Disadvantages You will look like a right tourist!
|Is it worth visiting?|
I have often smiled, perhaps unkindly, when looking at these open-top buses for tourists in Edinburgh. There is something amusing about a bunch of tourists sitting on top of the bust getting a running commentary of the main sights… So, if there is something to this karma business, a few Barcelonans probably had a quiet chuckle at me sitting atop the Bus Turístic. Yes, even though I had always promised myself I would never be one of these tourists, it seemed the right thing to do in Barcelona… And let's face it, unlike in Edinburgh, we were unlikely to get wet!
You can buy a one or two day ticket. These are available on board the bus, at tourist offices or online (www.tmb.net).It cost 18 € for one day and 22 € for two (consecutive) days for adults, and 11 € and 14 € respectively for children of 4 to 12 years old. Younger children go free.
This gives you unlimited access to two (three in summer) lines, stopping at 44 places of interest. You can get on and off as many times as you like. You will also be issued with a small information guide giving you brief information about every stop and more importantly, a handy discount voucher booklet giving you reduced entry to many visits. The trick is to remember to use it.~Our experience~
The two main lines covered by this company (the only two I will talk about as I didn't travel on the green line) cover different parts of Barcelona. They overlap for a few stops to allow travellers to switch easily. Following the advice given in our guide book, we bought the 2 day ticket, the first day being spent getting an overview of the city and finding our bearings, and the second to travel to places we wanted to visit. This way of proceeding held both benefits and disadvantages. The first day certainly did give us an idea of what the city had to offer and helped us decide the programme for the week. It also went a long way towards familiarising us with the layout of the place, as Barcelona is not particularly difficult to get around. But as we did both the blue and red line in that first day, we ended up spending about 4 hours on top of a bus, at the end of which we found we suffered from a very bad case of 'numb bum'. The second day, although only costing an extra 4 € each, was not as useful as we had hoped, as the buses go around in loops, and you have to go right round before getting back to where you started.Most people catch the bus on the Plaça de Catalunya, the city's nerve centre. Here you can get onto both the blue and red line. This can lead to lengthy queues to get on the buses, unless you get there early. The buses run between 9.00 - 9.30 am and 7.00 pm in winter, 8.00 pm in summer. If you start off a little late, my advice is to catch the bus from a different stop. They are easily identified once you have seen the eye symbol that is at each stop. The buses run every 5 minutes in the high season, falling to every 25 minutes in the winter.
On board, along with the driver, each bus has a guide who as well as selling passes, provides a running commentary in about 4 languages: Spanish, Catalan, English, and another, either French or German. They also make sure tourists are seated on the top deck, an important safety consideration. The guide's language skills are excellent, in what must be a very demanding task, switching constantly as they do from language to language. The commentary itself is pretty basic and changes from guide to guide. One guy was really quite funny. When one of the American tourists downstairs asked if Park Güell was worth visiting, he went off on a rant that sounded more like Basil Faulty doing stand-up than someone giving tourist advice. You had to be there I guess, but my husband and I were shaking with laughter upstairs. And he was right… We would have been total idiots not to visit. All the guides we came across were very pleasant and helpful.
I will not go through everything the buses take you to, just a few highlight.The 1992 Olympic Ring
The Fundació Joan Miró houses in a striking building a very important collection of works by this challenging artist who could express his poetic universe through a huge variety of media, painting, sculpture, ceramic, tapestry…La Ribera district, with the beautiful church of Santa Maria del Mar, a fine example of Catalan Gothic architecture, and the Museu Picasso, a must-see.
The Barri Gòtic, the cradle of the city of Barcelona, with a wealth of Roman remains.~The red route~
This route takes you past several buildings by Antoni Gaudí, a modernista architect (the movement known as Art Nouveau elsewhere), and Barcelona's most famous son after Picasso. Barcelona could be called Gaudi city, so numerous are his legacies and so representative of the city. The high vantage point is a huge bonus to see some of the landmarks, such as the Sagrada Família (or 'Sangria Familia', as we overheard one tourist call it…), or the Park Güell, the Casa Batló and the Casa Milà (known as La Perdrera).The Nou Camp stadium, a must for any self-respecting football fan.
Go on, be a tourist!
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