Art and Culture in Barcelona Spain

March 25 through 31, 2019

Politics & Prose invites you to join us for a week of Art and Culture in Barcelona, Spain.

 

Next spring, join a group of like-minded travelers to explore Barcelona, capital of Catalonia and site of splendid architecture, art, food and wine. We’ll stay for a week in the four-start Hotel Duquesa de Cardona, right on the edge of the Gothic Quarter, and walkable to shops, museums and restaurants. Oh, the restaurants! You’ll eat seafood, and tapas, and toasted bread scraped with tomatoes, patatas bravas, and lots more. Barcelona is worth the trip for the food alone.

      But we’ll do lots more than eat. We’ll not only visit Barcelona’s most famous site, Antonio Gaudì’s Sagrada Familia, but also homes and a park he designed. We’ll visit museums dedicated to two of Barcelona’s most celebrated artists, Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró. We’ll take a cable car high above the city for views of the ocean meeting the land, and we’ll climb to the roof of the Gothic Barcelona Cathedral.

      On another day, we’ll take a day trip out of town to Montserrat, where we’ll see the Virgin of Montserrat, a Black Madonna, in the basilica there (it’s possible to queue to touch the Madonna statue), and – with any luck -- hear the famous boys’ choir sing in the sanctuary.

      Catalonia is famous for its cava sparkling wine, so of course we’ll visit a vineyard and taste cava as well.

      In addition to our planned activities, you’ll have plenty of time to explore Barcelona on your own. You might simply stroll along La Rambla, stopping every now and then for coffee, or churros, or tapas, and visiting the bustling Mercat de la Boqueria, where you can taste so many of the Catalan food specialties. There are enticing little shops in the Barri Gòtic and La Ribera sections near the hotel, and a number of special interest museums, including the nearby Maritime Museum. (Remember that Barcelona has a long seafaring history.)

     History itself is always present in Barcelona. We’ll probably see lots of signs and posters advocating for Catalan independence. The first shots of the Spanish Civil War were fired here, and Barcelona provided inspiration for many of the Americans and people from other countries who came to fight.

     Most days, we’ll move about the city as the locals do, using the Metro and city buses.

     Each evening, we’ll gather in the hotel before dinner for a glass of wine and conversation, and then break into small groups to choose where you’d like to dine.

     Late March is a wonderful time to visit Barcelona. The tourist hordes haven’t arrived yet, and it’s still cool enough to enjoy walking all over the city. Daytime temperatures should be in the high 60s or low 70s, with nights cool enough to need a light jacket.

     If you like, you can add an optional three-day extension to Madrid after our time in Barcelona.

itinerary

Who should come on this trip?
Do I have to pay a single supplement?
I’m coming with a spouse or partner and we want to share a room. Do we both have to pay the full rate?
How many people will be on the trip?
Why do you call this a "trip" and not a "tour"?
Tell me about the trip leaders.
What’s the best way to fly to Barcelona?

About Barcelona
What is the Hotel Duquesa de Cardona like?
Is there Internet access at the hotel?
What will the weather be like?
What clothes should I bring?
Why aren’t lunches and dinners included in the price?
Is it safe to walk around by myself at night?
Do you require us to buy travel insurance?
Some friends are going to be in Barcelona while I’m there. Can they come along with us?
When do I need to sign up by?
If I want to stay longer than six days, can you arrange that?

 

Q.  Who should come on this trip?
This is the perfect trip to take by yourself; you’ll make new friends and will always have people to do things with if you like. Or come with a friend or spouse or partner. We’ve often had mothers and daughters come together. You can spend time with each other and also have time to pursue your separate interests. The trip is also perfect for any small group that wants to travel together but doesn’t want the hassle of planning it all in advance.

Q. Do I have to pay a single supplement?
No. This trip is priced based on each person having his or her own hotel room.

Q. I’m coming with a spouse or partner and we want to share a room. Do we both have to pay the full rate?
For people who share a room, we offer a discount of $150 each. We’ve priced the trip primarily for people to have their own rooms, because Spanish hotel rooms just aren’t as large as those in the U.S. But of course you can share a room if you prefer.

Q. How many people will be on the trip?
The maximum number of people is 18, so you won’t feel like you’re part of a huge group. There’s a 12-person minimum group size. So please don’t buy your plane tickets until we confirm to you that we have reached the minimum group size.

Q. Why do you call this a "trip" and not a "tour"?
We’ve included the things we like best about group travel, including the convenience of having someone plan daily itineraries. But there are lots of things we dislike about tours, so here’s how this trip is different:

        - You’ll never board a big tour bus.

        - You won’t follow a tour guide, trying to keep up through crowded museums, except for the private tour at La Sagrada Familia.

        - You won’t be seated at long tables for big group meals at “We accept bus tours” restaurants. Instead, we’ll suggest authentic
          places for you to
eat in small groups.

        - You won’t have early morning calls to leave the hotel.

        - You only unpack and pack once. We’ll venture outside of Barcelona one day, but most of our focus is on the city itself.

Q. Tell me about the trip leaders.
Sheila Campbell of Wild Blue Yonder has been organizing informal groups of travelers for years – often on hiking trips in France, England, Italy and Spain, as well as for Politics & Prose. In her day-to-day work, she’s a group retreat leader who understands how to ensure everyone is involved and having a memorable experience. She lives in Washington, DC, where she is a volunteer at the National Gallery of Art.


Donna Morris is president of Best Friend in Paris, where she creates customized experiences for travelers to Paris. She has lived in France since 2006 and is one of the founders of the Politics & Prose travel program. She’s fluent in French and is an expert navigator of European cities and sites.

About Barcelona

What’s the best way to fly to Barcelona?
At this time, there aren’t any direct flights from Washington, DC to Barcelona. Since you’ll have to change planes somewhere, we strongly recommend that you book a flight where the change is in Europe, not the U.S.

You might want to look for a flight that arrives around noon, since your hotel room in Barcelona won’t be ready till the afternoon. United has a flight that changes planes in Frankfurt and arrives at 12:05pm. Delta’s best flight changes planes in Amsterdam and arrives about 12:15pm.

Note that if you’re planning to take the optional extension to Madrid, you’ll fly INTO Barcelona but OUT OF Madrid.


What is the Hotel Duquesa de Cardona like?
We first fell in love with the hotel’s location, right on the edge of the Gothic Quarter, across a wide boulevard from the port. It’s a historic building, dating originally from the 16th century, but now beautifully appointed as a hotel. In addition to the lavish breakfasts, the hotel has a restaurant and a rooftop cocktail bar.
In the afternoons from noon – 7pm, there’s a little “free food” bar behind the breakfast area that has sweet and savory snacks – a nice little lift when you come in from a busy afternoon. You’ll have a safe, a hair dryer, and a small refrigerator in your room. What you won’t have is a face cloth; like so many other European hotels, the hotel doesn’t stock them.
There are a number of small but very good tapas restaurants in the blocks around the hotel, and it’s a short walk to Barceloneta, the old fishing village where they say you can still find the very best seafood.

Is there Internet access at the hotel?
Yes, free wifi comes with your room.

What will the weather be like?
It’s impossible to predict any weather accurately these days, but generally late March in Barcelona is terrific for walking around – cool and sunny during the day (highs in the high 60s), cooler at night. Rain is always a possibility, of course.

What clothes should I bring?
Wear what’s most comfortable, and pack lots of layers. Jeans are acceptable almost anywhere, except for the very nicest restaurants. It’s considered polite to cover your shoulders in many churches, but you probably won’t be going sleeveless in the late fall.

Don’t forget your raincoat or umbrella, just in case. You’ll need a warm jacket and maybe a scarf for evening. Most important: comfortable walking shoes.

Why aren’t lunches and dinners included in the price?
Restaurants that accept tour groups are usually the last places we want to eat. And there are just so many delicious choices for meals in Barcelona that we want everyone to be free to eat where and when they want. One day you might eat a sandwich for lunch, sitting out on a plaza; or you might choose to browse the local food markets.

      Alternatively, we often make lunch the biggest meal of the day, maybe even eating at a restaurant that would be too pricey at night. You’ll choose where you’ll eat, and with whom and how much you want to spend.

Is it safe to walk around by myself at night?
Yes. Of course, as in any city, it makes sense to be aware of your surroundings after dark. But in both Barcelona and Madrid it’s usually quite safe to be out on your own or with a friend in the evenings.

      The most prevalent crime is pickpocketing, which mostly happens in areas where there are crowds of tourists. Pickpockets are wily, so we recommend that you leave most of your money, credit cards and passport in the safe in your room, just taking with you what you need for one day. A handbag that you can sling over your shoulder and tuck high under your arm (with a good zipper) works better than bags with long straps that dangle below your waist. And never sling your handbag over the back of a chair; that creates a very tempting target.

Do you require us to buy travel insurance?
We very strongly recommend it. Reasons for cancelling a trip can happen suddenly. Please read the Terms and Conditions carefully to see our cancellation policy. Also be aware that trip insurance companies are very strict about what they will and won’t reimburse you for, so read their policies closely as well.

      You’ll want to be insured for both trip cancellation and medical treatment and evacuation. Many insurers require you to enroll as soon as you pay your deposit, so don’t wait. There are many websites which offer comparison information about trip insurance.

      Note that if you are on Medicare, it does not cover services outside of the United States, so you definitely will need medical coverage.

Some friends are going to be in Barcelona while I’m there. Can they come along with us?
Because we want to keep our groups small, we can’t invite your friends to come with us on our daily excursions. But you can bring them to our evening get-togethers. Please give us a day’s notice, and there’s a €10 per person charge for the wine and snacks.

When do I need to sign up by?
The sooner you put down your deposit, the better. We’re limiting the size of the group, so it’s best to reserve as soon as you think you’d like to come.

If I want to stay longer than six days, can you arrange that?
Yes. We can arrange for you to stay on at the hotel at your own cost, although our trip will be over. If you’d like to arrive early, we can also make those reservations for you. We may not be there to greet you if you come early, but it’s okay if you want a day or two on your own before the official trip starts.

Terms and Conditions:

Please read this information carefully, as payment of a deposit represents your acceptance of the following Terms and Conditions.

Trip Prices

Trip prices include hotel accommodations on a single or double occupancy basis, breakfast at the hotel, daily transportation as mentioned in the itinerary, entrance fees to museums if with the group as listed in the itinerary, tasting events, evening socials to plan the next day’s activities, and the services of the trip leaders as outlined in the trip description.

What’s Not Included in the Trip

Not included in the trip price are entrance fees to museums and other attractions not expressly included; taxis or other forms of city transportation; airfare and airline baggage fees; lunches and dinners; hotel, restaurant or airport tips; costs of passports and visas; personal expenses such as beverages, laundry or room service; internet wifi except as established in the trip description; airport transfers or any other services not specified in the trip description.

Please note that we cannot guarantee any special requests for hotel rooms.

Registration and Payment

The payment of your deposit confirms your reservation. Deposits may be paid by check made out to Wild Blue Yonder, Inc., or credit card via PayPal. There is a 3% surcharge for PayPal.

Your deposit is refundable for two weeks from the date it is received by Wild Blue Yonder, except for deposits made less than 60 days before a trip departs; those deposits are completely nonrefundable. Two weeks after the receipt of the deposit by Wild Blue Yonder, deposits are not refundable for any reason and will be forfeited if you cancel your trip reservation. Cancellations must be in writing by either letter to Wild Blue Yonder or email to scampbell@wildblueyonder.biz. Cancellations become effective on the date they are received by Wild Blue Yonder.

Once your reservation deposit has been paid, you will receive a confirmation email and further information to help you plan your trip.

We reserve the right to cancel any reservations that are not paid in full at any time after the final payment is due. If you make your reservation after the final payment due date, payment in full will be required immediately.

Full final payment is due November 19, 2018.

Cancellations and Refunds
For any cancellations made before November 19, 2018, you will forfeit your deposit but will be refunded any other payments you have made. If you must cancel your trip, the effective date of cancellation will be upon our receipt of your notification, which must be made in writing either by email or letter. No refunds are possible after November 19, 2018.

We strongly recommend that you purchase trip cancellation insurance when you pay your deposit for this trip.

Changes to Your Reservation
If you would like to stay on for longer than the official days of the trip, we will make reservations for you at the hotel. We will not charge you for any changes to your reservation outside of 90 days before the trip start date. From 30 – 89 days before the trip start date, if you make any changes to your reservation, a $100 per person administrative fee will apply. Changes are subject to availability and cannot be guaranteed. If your reservation changes from double occupancy to single occupancy, you will be charged the single occupancy rate.

Travel Documents
You are responsible for securing your own passport, valid for at least six months after the completion of your trip.

Health and Medical Issues
We welcome all travelers, but you must be in good health to participate in our trips. Our trips require a reasonable amount of walking, possibly several hours a day, uphill or on uneven streets or streets without curb cuts. You must be able to climb stairs and board trains and buses on your own. We regret that we cannot provide individual assistance if you require the use of a wheelchair or have other personal needs; in such cases you must be accompanied by a companion who will assist you.

If you are unable to navigate this amount of walking, you will not be able to participate fully in the trip, and we suggest you choose another type of trip. We cannot provide individual alternatives to the planned group activities. If your fitness level does not allow you to keep up with the group and/or travel on public transportation, you will be responsible for planning your own activities and for any additional costs incurred (for instance, but not limited to, personal taxis, train tickets, and entrance fees).

Trip Insurance
We strongly recommend that you purchase both trip cancellation insurance and traveler’s medical and evacuation insurance for your trip. Should you have to cancel your trip after you have paid in full, we cannot offer refunds other than specified above, because we will have already paid the costs of your trip to our vendors.

Arrival and Departure Dates
It is your responsibility to make sure you arrive on the specified trip start date. We cannot refund part of your trip if you arrive late or leave early, unless you have notified us of your different start or end date 90 days before the trip start date.

Responsibility
The liability of Wild Blue Yonder and Politics & Prose, individually or jointly (referred to hereafter as Trip Planners), is strictly limited. In no event will the Trip Planners be liable for amounts in excess of the amounts payable to the Trip Planners in accordance with the terms hereunder, nor will Trip Planners be liable for any consequential indirect or incidental damages arising from this agreement. Trip Planners purchase accommodations, transportation and other services from independent suppliers not under our control. We serve only as agents for these suppliers in securing trip arrangements, and therefore will not accept responsibility and liability for wrongful, negligent or arbitrary acts or omissions of these independent contractors, their employees, agents or representatives.

Trip Planners are not liable for injury, damage, loss, accident, or delay that may be caused by events not within our control, including but not limited to, without limitation, acts of terrorism, war, strikes, defects of any vehicle, adverse weather conditions, natural disasters or the negligence or default of any third party.

Trip Planners reserve the right to correct errors in advertised prices. We reserve the right to cancel an advertised trip, decline to accept a reservation or remove a person from a trip if it is determined by us to be in the best interests of the health, safety or general well-being of other trip participants. We will make every effort to conduct our trip as planned, but we reserve the right to make itinerary and other changes as necessary. If unforeseen circumstances require us to change a hotel, we will make every effort to select alternative accommodations of the same quality. The forgoing terms and conditions and all aspects of the relationship between Trip Planners and you shall be governed by the laws of the State of Maryland.