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October 20, 2009

The Best Way to Book 6 Nights in Barcelona

ts_Pedrera_Apartment_Barcelona_091020.jpg
If you'd prefer an apartment to a hotel, you can find one through Spain vacation-rental specialist Mary Vaira of El Sol Villas. The red arrow points to an apartment she represents in Barcelona's Gaudi-designed La Pedrera building. 

A question has come in from reader Ira Kaplan:
"Having trouble finding the right travel agent for a family trip to Barcelona in fall 2010, and I'm hoping you can point me in the right direction. We are four adults - A mother and father in their 70s and a brother and sister in their late-40s/early 50s - looking to spend around 6 nights in Barcelona. This is a bit harder to book than your typical trip because three of us are leaving from Minneapolis and one from NYC; we want to also hit Amsterdam for 2 nights, either on the way to or from Barcelona; and we ideally are looking for an apartment (although two hotel rooms would do). What we don't want are any kind of tours (we like doing our own thing) or ultra-expensive, lap-of-luxury accommodations. It seems we fall into that great middle between a trip that we can book by ourselves and those complex, tour-filled trips I see being pushed on so many travel agent websites. I've e-mailed a couple of travel agents and gotten either an unsatisfactory or no response, and I'm wondering where to turn. Hoping you can help."

If I were you, I'd book the airline tickets and Amsterdam hotel on your own and then book the Barcelona portion of your trip either through a Spain specialist who knows the hotels well and negotiates special rates -- have you tried Virginia Irurita of Made for Spain? I've booked two separate, affordable hotel stays in Barcelona through her -- or via a Spain vacation-rental specialist such as Mary Vaira of El Sol Villas, who does have a few Barcelona apartments in her portfolio.

Any other readers have ideas? If so, please share them in the Comments section below.
September 28, 2009

The Right Travel Agent for Spain and Morocco

Top_126_Travel_Specialists

by Wendy Perrin

It's a question I get often. Readers who rely on my annual list of top travel specialists to pick the perfect travel planner for a specific destination want to know: When you're combining two countries in one trip, which travel agent is the right one to use?  This time, reader Dave Nader wants to know which one person--or two people--to use for a trip to Madrid and Marrakech:

"Hi Wendy.  I have a question for you. First, some background. I have been a Conde Nast Traveler subscriber for many years. I have used two of your travel specialists to plan trips for my family over the past two summers.... "

You can read the rest of Dave's question, as well as my answer, after the jump.

Continue reading "The Right Travel Agent for Spain and Morocco" »

June 29, 2007

WHERE'S WENDY? Round 10

by Wendy Perrin

Handwoven scarves, shawls and blankets are sold in this artisan textile studio in which town in Spain?
This artisan textile studio handweaves gorgeous wool scarves, shawls, and blankets.  Buy them here and  you'll pay half what you'd pay if you bought them in boutiques elsewhere in Spain.  Where am I?

Children at play in the town square, where the textile shop is located.
This is the main square of the town where the shop is located.

A few more clues:

Continue reading "WHERE'S WENDY? Round 10" »

June 29, 2007

WHERE'S WENDY? Round 9 Wrap-Up

by Wendy Perrin

If you guessed Wendy was hiding out in San Millan de Cogolla, you guessed correctly.
Tracker1312 managed to guess where I was yesterday: San Millan de la Cogolla, Spain.

The Monasterio de Yuso in San Millan is an important pilgrimage site with many claims to fame, but the one I find most interesting is this:

The Monasterio de Yuso in San Millan is an important pilgrimage site. One of the main attractions is this Latin text with a Spanish inscription - the first words ever written in that language.

See the handwriting next to the printed Latin text?  Those are the first words ever written in the Spanish language.  They were scribbled by a monk up on the hill at the Monasterio de Suso -- the one that looked familiar to LoriB:

Continue reading "WHERE'S WENDY? Round 9 Wrap-Up" »

June 29, 2007

WHERE'S WENDY? Round 9

by Wendy Perrin

At the entrance to the Spanish town of Laguardia hangs this sign:

This sign hangs at the entrance to the town of Laguardia in Spain's La Rioja wine country. It reads, "Peace to those who arrive. Health to those who live here. Happiness to those who leave."

When you last heard from me I was in the charming village of Laguardia, but of course I've moved on from there.  Can you guess where I am?  Here are your clues:

Wendy Perrin expects you to deduce her location in Spain from this stretch of highway.

This truck is driving on a road that leads to . . .

Continue reading "WHERE'S WENDY? Round 9" »

June 28, 2007

WHERE'S WENDY? Round 8

Blogger Wendy Perrin takes a break at the Hotel Marques de Riscal, attached to one of Spain's oldest wineries.
The terrace of the vinoteca at the Hotel Marques de Riscal, designed by Frank Gehry.

by Wendy Perrin

Okay, you found me: Yesterday I stopped by the stylish new hotel attached to the Marques de Riscal winery. It's in Elciego (which means "The Blind Man") in the heart of Spain's La Rioja wine region, and it also happens to be on Conde Nast Traveler's 2007 Hot List.

Since the Frank Gehry-designed hotel lies in the heart of Spain's La Rioja wine region, a glass of vino tinto is in order.
Marques de Riscal is one of Spain's oldest and most venerated wineries.

Afterward I stumbled upon fiesta preparations in a nearby hilltop village:

Continue reading "WHERE'S WENDY? Round 8" »

June 28, 2007

WHERE'S WENDY? Round 7

by Wendy Perrin

On her way north from Zaragoza, travel blogger Wendy Perrin stops for a glass of wine. Can you name the town and the vinoteca?

Yesterday, on my way north from Zaragoza, I stopped here for a glass of wine with a view. 

Where am I?  Name the town and the vinoteca.

On her way north from Zaragoza, travel blogger Wendy Perrin stops for a glass of wine. Can you name the town and the vinoteca?

June 27, 2007

WHERE'S WENDY? Round 6

by Wendy Perrin

Wendy Perrin tips you off as to her exact location by showing both ends of the street she's on.
Here I'm in the middle of a street looking in one direction.

Wendy Perrin tips you off as to her exact location by showing both ends of the street she's on.
And here I am on the same street, looking in the opposite direction.

One more clue:

Continue reading "WHERE'S WENDY? Round 6" »

June 24, 2007

WHERE'S WENDY? Round 4, Take 3

Mission accomplished - a reader tracks down Wendy Perrin in Valencia, Spain.
The Autoridad Portuaria de Valencia, Spain, June 24, 2007.

by Wendy Perrin

Apparently at the same moment that I was publishing my last clue saying that nobody had correctly named the building, Tracker was posting a comment correctly naming the building. Congrats, Tracker!

June 24, 2007

WHERE'S WENDY? Round 4, Take 2

Travel blogger Wendy Perrin keeps them guessing as she spots a balloon high above the SuperYacht Marina at Port America's Cup.
The SuperYacht Marina at Port America's Cup.  Note the balloon in the distance. How fun would that be?

by Wendy Perrin

Hey Kiwiwriter, you didn't wake up too late!  You say that Tracker and Lori "seem to have listed every possible name for the white building" . . . except that they haven't.   Nobody has correctly given the name of the clock-tower building as written (in Spanish) on its facade.  Just in case there's any confusion, I'm talking about the sea-facing facade: the one that was behind me when I shot the photo above.

Tracker, you're right:  Valencia is a really cool city.  I only wish I had more time here.  Gotta keep moving, or you guys might get bored.  Lori, I promise: No more building names!  And Kiwiwriter, just for you I'll wait till tomorrow evening (my time) to post the next clue. (And yes, I'm up waaaaay too late... and I'm not even partying with racers or doing a tapas pub crawl. I'm furiously writing my September issue Perrin Report!)

June 24, 2007

WHERE'S WENDY? Round 4

Wendy Perrin admits to being in Valencia, Spain, but demands that her trackers identify the white building in the background.
I snapped this picture as I strolled around Port America's Cup this morning.

by Wendy Perrin

As the WHERE'S WENDY? gang has cleverly guessed, I'm in Valencia, Spain, at the 32nd America's Cup.  (Hooray!  New Zealand won today!)

But can you guess where I am more precisely?  Name the white building in the photo above. Here's another peek at it:

Continue reading "WHERE'S WENDY? Round 4" »

June 23, 2007

WHERE'S WENDY? Round 3, Take 2

Name that port: Wendy Perrin expects greater precision from her readers as she watches spectator boats swarm around the two sailboats competing in the first match of the 32nd America's Cup.
Behind the spectator boats, you can (just barely) make out Switzerland's Alinghi (white spinnaker) and Emirates Team New Zealand (red spinnaker)-- the two sailboats that raced today in the first match of the 32nd America's Cup. June 23, 2007

by Wendy Perrin

I'm not sure anyone has correctly named the port and building yet!  The city is indeed Valencia, and the jets are indeed the Patrulla Aguila -- the aerobatic demonstration team of the Spanish Air Force which, together with the Patrouille Suisse, kicked off the 32nd America's Cup with an air show.  As for the port and the building, the names given so far are not the same as what's written on the America's Cup maps and literature around here.  So I feel I've got to be a stickler and ask again: What's the official name of the port, and what's the official (Spanish) name of the building?

The mystery port at night
Here's the port at night, viewed from about the same vantage point as yesterday. See the lit-up building on the left with red lights on top?  That's the team base for today's winner, Alinghi.  June 23, 2007

June 23, 2007

WHERE'S WENDY? Round 3

by Wendy Perrin

Admiring the aeronautic display high above, Wendy Perrin asks you to name the jets, as well as the city, port and building visible from her vantage point.

 These jets flew overhead earlier today.

Admiring the aeronautic display high above, Wendy Perrin asks you to name the jets, as well as the city, port and building visible from her vantage point.

And this building was completed only last year.

Where am I?  Name the city, port, building, and jets.