I have mixed feelings about planing – I like being spontaneous when traveling, but I am time and money restricted too. As a full time working folk I have limited annual leave, but I am still determinate to get the most out of it. This year luckily I did a wise thing and planed all my holidays in January – I even bought all flight tickets in January, which saved me a lot of money. I used some of my credit card points for flights to Berlin and Bologna, managed to snatch nicely priced tickets with Iberia to Alicante and was fortunate enough to buy quite cheap tickets to Barcelona. The most expensive trip is Corfu, as I need to get to Berlin first and then fly with my sister and mum to the island – but Easy Jet made the whole trip rather inexpensive in comparison with other airlines.
This Saturday, 31 January, we are off to Barcelona. It is a short trip, as we are back on Tuesday 3 February. I am pretty sure this is not enough for this charming city, but this is what we can manage with our funds and time.
We are planing two longer trips this year too – one in June to Poland (two weeks – doing our Yachtsman Certificate as a first step for our future plans of sailing in Mediterranean Sea, visiting family in Mazury and going on a short trip to Vilnius) and one in October to Spain (to test my Spanish and have a wild adventure with rented car and our tent again).
Having a detailed plan for every single trip is not something I would consider wise. If I want to visit a city, I like doing some preparations, as these types of trips are short and there is so much to see always! Our trip to Copenhagen was very much planned, but a lot changed when we got there. However we did managed to do almost everything what we planned, changing the order of things slightly 🙂
In Barcelona we have even less time and I decided that we need a better plan. So, as I always do, I looked into City Card deals for Barcelona. After careful reading about what is included for the first time in my life I decided to ditch the City Card idea. I am deeply disappointed with the offer. I used City Cards in Paris, Berlin, Copenhagen, Prague, Dusseldorf , Amsterdam and Rome and I can honestly say they are worth consideration. But not the Barcelona one, not if you are visiting for the first time and want to see Sagrada Familia and Picasso Museum. Not when you are planing on visiting L´Aquarium, Guell Palace, Park Guell, and La Seu Cathedral. The card is simply useless.
So on Sunday morning I set myself a task of planing our Barcelona trip in order to save money and see what we want to, not what is included in a card and in what we are not interested for our first Barcelona visit at all. By looking around and reserving tickets online I managed to save 6 euros on tickets for Aquarium, make sure we will visit Picasso Museum on Sunday, when it is free of charge (first Sunday every month and every Sunday after 3 p.m.), secured Sagrada Familia tour with a guide and tower climbing for 49 euros, made sure we will be getting into Guell Palace on our chosen time and not be stuck in a queue and bought tickets for Park Guell Monumental Zone. I reserved a hotel near Las Ramblas with breakfast for 130 euro and planned getting from and to airport and around the city by metro and buses. The useless City Card for 3 days would cost us 90 euros plus 11.60 for travel to the airport on Tuesday – 101.60 in total and we could not do any of the things we wanted to! So by adding 45.05 euros we are going to see what we want and do what we want.
Short city trips should almost always be planned, as you can save time and money, however your longer trips, like 2-3 weeks, are different matter all together. We had an amazing time in Portugal, not being really sure where we want to go, having just a rough idea of driving from Faro towards Fatima and stopping when and where we wanted. This freestyle enabled us to see amazing things, like Batalha and the most beautiful beaches we have ever seen! We will try to recreate this in October and go from Alicante towards Gibraltar and perhaps Marocco, again driving rented car and putting our tent where we want to.
Looking at our previous short trips to European cities, I would say that planing in more details is at least wise. You can easily skip the queues and save money by booking your tickets online. If you want my advice – plan for the short trips to the cities but let your imagination go wild on a longer once!