How best to get around in Barcelona?
The airport at Barcelona is Aeroport del Prat just fourteen kilometers outside the city centre at El Part de Lobregat. The first time we visited Barcelona we decided to stay in El Prat as we weren’t sure what transport would be like and didn’t fancy wasting our first hours of a very short break struggling to get to our hotel. We also plumped for the taxi transfer service provided by our hotel the 3 star, Minotel Ciutat del Prat just to be on the safe side.
It was late afternoon when we landed after a pleasant one and three quarter hour flight with Easyjet out of Gatwick. The sun was still shining and it was almost disappointing to get into the rather stylish transfer car with its smoked glass windows. As it turned out we needn’t have worried but it was nice arriving in such style.
Trains, metro and the wonders of the T10 Barcelona
As our first full day was Sunday, we weren’t sure what would be open especially as Spain is a predominantly Catholic country. We decided we’d head towards the centre of Barcelona and do a bit of sightseeing. If everything was shut we would simply head for the beach. Fuelled by a rather strange breakfast including chocolate covered donuts (delicious) and calamari (a breakfast first!) and armed with directions and a map from Danka at the hotel reception we set off for the train station.
It was another lovely hot day and it took just ten minutes to find the station. Had I been alone I might have been tempted to take a taxi as the streets were quiet and much of the walk was though a fairly industrial area. The lady in the ticket office said she spoke ‘un poquito’ (a tiny bit) of English but again this turned out to mean she was fairly fluent. She helped us buy our T10 tickets, directed us to the right platform for the train to Barcelona and even told us how many stops it was to Passeig de Gràcia which she said was the best place to start for sightseeing.
The T10 ticket is a wonderful thing, for just a few euros (€9.80 at the moment) you get ten journeys on the metro or buses which is a great saving as one metro journey is €2! Valid for one calendar year (January to January) it can also be shared between members if a group. To do this you have to out the card into the machine at the turn style, take it out and leave it on the machine for the next person to use it. This is all perfectly legal, in fact it is encouraged. Each journey counts as one of your ten (or each journey for each member of a group) and the journey only ends when you come back out of the metro, so you can change trains as much as you like. A little known fact is that you can actually use the T10 on more than one means of transport and it still counts as one journey provided it lasts less than one and a quarter hours, which is wonderful. So you could leave the metro and catch a bus or catch a bus and then go on to the metro all as one journey. It is only when you re enter the metro that your next journey begins.
All metro stations sell T10 tickets and you can even pick one up at the Airport. The ticket is valid on the RNFE train to the airport but not on the Aerobus (the express bus service to the airport).
The station impressed us by being extremely clean with spotless seats and clear displays showing when the train was due. Unlike English trains, ours arrived exactly when it was supposed to and it too was squeaky clean and looked brand new. This turned out to be our experience the whole time we were in Barcelona both times we visited. The metro system was completely revamped in preparation for the 1992 Olympics and it shows!