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DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Barcelona & Catalonia Paperback – 1 Feb 2011
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No other guide whets your appetite quite like this one (The Independent)
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On the upside it covered most of the main attractions, and its attempts to give the reader an informed view of what to see from more than the average tourist perspective are commendable. Its also not too big, and has some good history and useful contextual information.
Overall I think its on the right lines, but could be improved significantly. I would guess that there are better alternatives out there.
I would like to counter the complaints of some reviewers that there was not a map of the drive from the airport to the city. If you are renting a car, get that information from the rental agency. But more importantly, if you are planning to drive anywhere in Europe, use a GPS. No map inside a guidebook will save you from getting hopelessly confused on the roads -- they are not intended to serve as road maps.
I would add that we never take the accommodation recommendations in guidebooks -- we use tripadvisor for hotels, and usually find apartments to rent on our own.
The restaurant recommendations were actually good, but we also peruse internet sites, newspaper articles and such for restaurant and café recommendations. We also like the restaurant recommendations in the Guide Routard (the French know food!), and so sometimes purchase it as well.
The DK Eyewitness Travel Guide to Barcelona and Catalonia though, is the single best guide there is -- don't leave home without it.
Leave it at home to enjoy on your return and buy a book with better info for travellers (the real hub of the Book doesn't even start till p.50 "Introducing Barcelona").
The book doesn't take away that slightly lost feeling you have when travelling - enjoyable when you are alone / in a couple, but not really as a family.
The information we needed (I will assume most people new to a place do too) didn't seem to be in this book e.g. useful insights to help you out - I will give you one as an e.g.
There are 4 pages dedicated to the Sagrada Familia in the book. A tiny panel is all the info about getting there. When we arrived there was a huge queue - but none at the "Tickets Online" counter.
With 2 children we couldn't stand in the queue - and on a different day we booked our entry tickets from a computer and walked straight in.
This guide book could have provided us this as a tip and saved a half a day carrying the kids up and down stairs etc on the underground (metro).
Tips like these should abound in a good guide book.
Incidentally, another top tip - if you get the train from the airport to Barcelona I think a station is actually signed "Barcelona Sants" on the platform and "Sants Estacio" on the Metro map.
I might be wrong about this but I missed our stop because it didn't have the station name I was expecting and this is how I think I did it, and hope you don't make the same mistake.
Lots of other problems with the book - e.g. our child's favourite day there was actually going to the water park Illa Fantasia - not mentioned (I don't think) in the book (nor the details of the harbour cable car on p53 map) - nor his second favourite day trip to a shallow pool recommended on a mums travel web site. Hence - the book is poor for families but beautiful to look at - and with an excellent laminated map included.
Incidentally this is called "Free pull-out map" on the cover but as it is glued in I think it is integral to the book - which means it isn't. Hence, the integrity of the publishers is questionable. Plus they have maps with scales on different pages, refer to the location of one area as "behind Barcelona" - whatever that means. Hmm. It could be so much better.
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