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grnrab

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About grnrab

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    Cool Cruiser

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    Northern Calif, USA
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    Azamara

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  1. Excellent We took their Sintra and vicinty tour (dont recall its actual name) September 2018. Small van, about 8 of us plus Guide ( female) and driver. Guide was great - she was in her 30's. We really enjoyed their slightly off beaten track tour. For example while we stopped in Sintra and had time to roam around, we were not taken to Pena and Santa Maria which we could see from van but rather to the Palacio Monserrat - much less crowed with lovely parkland around it you can stroll - appreciated not being with the busloads in Sintra. Instead of going to the traditional coastal spot, Cabo da Roca, we went a little north of there to Azenhas do Mar to view beaches and coast and eat there in a small adega there. Then they took us all the way back down the coast stopping in Cascais, and again plenty of time to roam around then home. You have the option of ending at a place where their offices are just under the 25 April bridge which has a nice rooftop cafe/bar or they can take you all the way back to the Time Out market place in Cais do Sodre. If you end at their offices its an easy public tram ride or taxi back to Cais do Sodre and Praca do Commercio area. I suspect they mix it up a bit every so often to keep it fresh.
  2. Cleobella the only limited FADO experience I'm aware of is at Adega Machado ( Near/off the Cais de Sodre waterfront) - the downstairs part (they run I think two small shows with a two drink minimum - its about a 1 hour experience). Upstairs is a full restaurant with show experience. There may be other limited experiences as you wander around the Alfama district where you can maybe just have a drink and listen - the Fado museum there might be another bet for a limited experience.
  3. When in Barcelona I always recommend any of the hotels that are part of the Catalonia Hotel and Resort chain. They have 7-8 to choose from in the city and all have been recently updated and are quite attractive with interior atriums and other features. Good price/value imho - most also have a rooftop dipping pools, small bar area as well up there. Downstairs many of them offer a free and delicious late afternoon snack setup (again with a small bar setup) especially if you are tired from touring all day or a business day and just want to relax at your hotel before going out for a later dinner. I have stayed at all three of the following - all relatively close to Las Rambla and Pl Catalunya. One additional plus just about all their hotels are off of main streets (by 1-2 blocks) which can be quite noisy and congested. Try Catalonia Magdelenes, Catalonia Portal D'Angel, Catalonia Catedral.
  4. Yes very do it yourself - however be aware that Lisbon is very hilly which will make some walking excursions to elevated vista points or places like Castelo Sao Jorge a bit challenging . BTW there are at least two "free" walking tour companies in Lisbon. There is an excellent metro system, that and a mix of the buses, tram cars and elevadors (1-2 block long funiculars) will get you most places and help minimize some of the more challenging walks. Definitely consider doing the Alfama district by foot - lots of nooks and crannies best seen by foot including the Tile museum and FADO clubs if interested. Definitely consider walking down to or up from Praco de Commercio from/to Rossio Sq or Carmo district - lots of shopping/eating and elevadors Santa Justa and Gloria. We availed ourselves of a customized 2 hour tuk-tuk tour - reserved one of the many Tuk-Tuk companies about a 2 hour standard tour and then negotiated what we'd like to see with the driver which worked out well. A Tuk Tuk for 4-6 people is a good value - a little less so for just two unless you do a one hour with the guys you can pick up around town. We also decided to take a 7 hour small group mini-bus tour to Sintra ( which happened to stop briefly in Cascais on the way back along the coast). Outfit was called We Hate Tourists - wonderful tours and guides despite their name. As mentioned Belem can be reached by the 15 tram or even the small commuter train which runs out there. Just be aware Belem is about 10 miles northeast, its a time eater trying to include it in a city focused tuk-tuk tour, DIY separately if interested.
  5. Also - anything offered by "We Hate Tourists" - don't be put off by the name they have wonderful staff and tours. Try reserving in advance any of tuk-tuk firms for any of their 1-3 hr city tours. Do not take the Hop On Hop buses in our opinion it was not worth the money - bored drivers not tour guides really.
  6. Hotel Bessa right on Liberdade - right near Restauradores metro stop. Was excellent for us- recently updated. Get room in the back. Has wonderful breakfast room if inclined - steam spa, exercise room and semi-outdoor pool hidden in the back. Plus there is a full restaurant in front as well. Very close to everything and plenty of restaurants uphill in Bairo Alto and Principe Real. Principe Real has some nice places to stay as well.
  7. All the hotels in the Catalonia Resort & Hotel chain are excellent. I have stayed in Catalonia Catedral ( Barrio Gothic), Catalonia Magdalenes ( Barrio Gothic) and Catalonia Placa D'Angel (Barrio/Pl Catalunya - right next to shopping) . All of the hotels have been recently updated and have a nice modern feel. Many have roof top dipping pools and many offer a free hosted bar/happy hour with snacks in late afternoon - very nice if you aren't quite ready for a late dinner. I prefer hotels there that are a little away from congested streets like Las Rambla, Via Laeitana, Diagonal, and Gran Via Les Corts de Catalonia - you don't have to be far off them to get more quiet. Very easy to get around with metro stops everywhere and great easy buses. Universal also sound good. I think Jazz is in a too busy area.
  8. Hi Have not stayed there but at a place about one block away. I did walk in the lobby and peruse the restaurant and it looked lovely. I'd say its considered a hi end hotel and that restaurant appeared more expensive with a lovely setting at the ground floor. Its right on Via Laetana so close to two metro stations ( one literally across the street) and it's about a block or two closer to Placa Catalunya than to the Catedral Barcelona and Placa Nova, but you are still close to all Barrio Gothic restaurants/sites as well as the shopping, food and hustle bustle around P.C. which gives you expanded local transport options, tour bus stops, cabs and the inexpensive and efficient bus in/out to the airport (aerobus).
  9. I'ts a toss up some of its going to boil down to comfort with atmosphere. My guess is that the latter may include one or two true restaurant stops which will require a bit of sit down and conversation around the restaurant itself and the dishes, including tastes of typical catalan dishes. We did something like the latter that was centered on just one restaurant, one table and a variety of small plates, one shared large platter entree and lots of wonderful wine. The true tapas experience is more bar like, even involving standup while rubbing elbows with other patrons. They tend towards the smaller size (except for those that are part of chains), so smaller might mean less comfortable for some and harder for your small group to be together physically. The latter again I suspect means more lingering and sitting at each of the four spots. No personal experience with either company
  10. I have often recommended the various hotels in the Catalonia Hotel and Resort chain. They have at least 20 locations across the city. I have stayed in their three hotels in the Barrio Gothic which leaves you walking distance to Placa Cataluyna and many sights as well as metro. They also have one about 1/2 block from P.C.. All of these have been modernized, updated and have small rooftop bars and dipping pools and lovely breakfast rooms below - sometimes workout rooms. All rooms are large as are the bathrooms. Try Catalonia Magdalenes, Catedral, and Portal De l'Angel - all off busy street. Without breakfast range throughout the year is $125-175E/night
  11. Hello Depends on where you are docking. If your ship arrives along Moll Adosset (I suspect), no, you will have to hop on the port shuttle bus for about 3-4E . This area is a very long finger with the ability to berth about 4-5 Large ships. The distance to the street is an issue - on a hot day you don't want to walk it and there is a commercial traffic bridge to negotiate on foot, not walker friendly. The port of barcelona use to provide this, its now been privatized and not part of the TMB transit system of Barcelona. The bus was formerly known as the T3 does a loop between all ships berthed there and the base of the Columbus Monument/Circle just beyond the port and at the foot of the Las Rambla . You can pickup either HoHo bus line company at the circle there. https://www.barcelonayellow.com/bcn/barcelona-tours/bus-tours/t3-portbus-barcelona-cruisebus/visit. If your ship will dock at one of the berths at the World Trade Center you are practically are at the Circle, the benefit though is as you leave the cruise terminal at WTC, there is a long two way divided promenade entryway leading to and from it and both companies have a stop there - you usually can't miss a bus waiting for one or the other. City Sightseeing or Bus Turistica. Recommend you look at a map of Barcelona and get familiar with the port area, base of Las Rambla. Enjoy
  12. Depends - my definition would be any along Av. Liberdade and either side of it Avenida Palace Hotel at the bottom near Rossio Sq , Hotel Valverde in the middle by the fancy boutique stores, and Four Seasons Ritz and Intercontinental at the top near Marques De Pombal circle and Eduard VII park.
  13. I agree with the suggestion of doing a bit of research about the major sites and neighborhoods as a jumping off point as well as possible restaurants near areas you want to visit. The choices in Barcelona are infinite. At night we decided we wanted to see some Flamenco - there are several small venues around town but chose Palau Dalmasses for one of their evening shows - we combined it with an earlier visit to Picasso Museum nearby and dinner after an early show. Earlier that day we simply took a ride on the HoHo bus and picked a few places to get off and on. On our other day we knew we wanted to see A. Gaudi works - settled on a small group tour of Sagrada Familia with a company of the exterior for about an hour and about 1+ hour inside. The guide was with us for the two hours, but we were able to stay inside longer. We asked for a restaurant suggestion that was in walking distance for lunch (since we started bright and early) and that was great. We walked a bit further to enjoy two of his other buildings just from the outside. Eventually we took Metro back toward Barrio Gothic -- near our hotel - watched free music in front of the Barcelona Cathedral about 4-5pm and again researched a nearby restaurant we wanted to enjoy for dinner. The last day we hit both of the indoor food markets and shopped. Its all about what YOU want to see and do.
  14. Hi again - I just checked the hotel you are referring is not part of the Catalonia hotels chain, it is around the corner near the Portal D"Angel location I mentioned. Sorry I don't have a specific opinion about that one.
  15. If you are referring to the Catalonia Hotels and Resorts chain and their facilities I have stayed in three of their facilities in/near Barrio Gothic. Magdalenes, Portal D'Angel and Gotic all very good - First one is modern outside and in on a quiet street. Latter two are renovations inside older buildings. Excellent accommodations with good amenities - including rooftop pools and lounges. They do have a location very close to Placa Catalunya (not theoretically in BG) named the Hotel Catalunya Plaza I believe - its is on a very busy street and would not recommend a room facing front. Good luck
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