Saturday, June 7, 2014

Hop on and off

We really like the 'Hop On & Off Bus' that they have everywhere in the world - Very touristy and sometimes a little embarrassing but I think it's a great way to get to know a city I don't know anything about, especially big cities like Barcelona or New York.

It is a fun and easy way to get your bearings in a new city.

It's even better when they have the live guides or really good audio guide like the one in Barcelona (So far, we've done NYC, Chicago, Tokyo, Barcelona, Istanbul, thought about doing it in India but decided against it due to traffic, oh and Austin - ok this was the 'duck tour' - so a little different. In case you didn't know, the duck tour is where the sightseeing bus turns into a boat and goes into the water half way through the tour... and everyone's given a duck whistle at the beginning of the tour and tourists blow at the locals along the way - how annoying right? but the boat part is kind of fun)

I have to say the one in Tokyo needs a lot of improvement in terms of audio guide... there is so much to see in Tokyo but the announcements were way too short and few. I was very disappointed. I hope they are working on it and improve it before the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. Maybe I should make some suggestions to them...

Anyways, the hop on and off bus in Barcelona was pretty good... I think the official name is "Barcelona Bus Turistic". It is operated by Barcelona Turisme and TMB (Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona) in partnership with the Citysightseeing company.

We purchased a two day pass for 31.50 euro online instead of 35 euro (on the bus). With the ticket, you also get a map & discounts coupons which are really useless - for example a discount coupons for an amusement park that is currently closed or a 'free gift' when you spend 50 euro at a shop...(probably a T-shirt or paper bag or something else lame).

The bus is nice, the audio guide is in 11 different languages. Sometimes the audio system doesn't work but overall, very comfortable.

So there are three routes:
Red line covers Montjuïc area like the MNAC (Museu nacional d'art de catalunya), Fundació Joan Miró, Poble Espanyol etc., the port area (Port vell, world trade center etc), the zoo, Plaça de Catalunya, Gothic Quarter, etc - very nice route that takes about two hours.
Fira de barcelona
Plaça d'Espanya
MNAC
Lobster Statue
Poble Espanyol
Anella Olímpica

Blue line covers the famous Sagrada Família, the Park Güell, Barcelona football stadium, Gracia etc and takes about one hour and forty-five minutes.
Casa Batlló (Stupid truck!)
Sagrada Familia
Still building..
Park Guell
Overlooking the city
FC Barcelona 
Green line is the shortest and quietest. It drives along the beach and the new developed area near Diagonal Mar. It is about thirty minutes or so. Still very nice to see less touristy side of Barcelona.
Museu Blau
Cool residential buildings
Diagonal Mar area
Torre Agbar
Multi-faith worship center
Port Olímpic
We had a two day pass so we managed to do all three routes plus actually hop off and do some sightseeing. Fun!! But to get into all these sights, it cost quite a bit. One admission could just be 5 euro but it all adds up, for example, Sagrada Família's general admission is 14.50 euro. If you want the audio guide (or guide) it's 19.50 euro! Even the park costs money to enter. Ok, it's not the entire park but if you want to see Gaudi's work then you'd need to pay 8 euro for the entry to the main section. Anyways, nothing is free and everything is pretty expensive. By the way, compare to that, wines are super cheap in this country. You can find wide selection of wines under 2 euro (and I mean bottles) at supermarkets. So I guess it all works out fine.