The Barcelona Bus Turístic was recommended to us by friends who said it was a great value and easy way to see a large part of Barcelona. How right they were! The side benefit for us was it provided a way to handle inevitable jet lag from a 7 hour timezone difference.
We arrived in Barcelona before we could check into our hotel. After some quick reorganizing of things, we stashed our bags with the front desk and walked the short distance to Placa Catalunya to pick up our bus passes from the tourist center. Placa Catlunya is a major transportation hub and public square. Passes in hand, we headed for the red line bus, which would take us on a circular route of the northern part of Barcelona. We weren't the only ones with this idea in mind.
Our intent was to ride the bus and plug in the provided headphones for prerecorded commentary on what we were seeing on the ride. It was a very sunny day, so we opted for sitting downstairs rather than on the exposed roof of the bus. As a result of that seating choice, we were able to board the bus ahead of anyone who was waiting to sit on top. We decided that was a better choice than getting a potentially bad sunburn on our very first day of vacation after many months of gray, sunless skies in Chicago.
The bus stopped every half mile or so. It felt like we were keeping a good pace and people moved quickly on and off the bus. It was nice being able to sit and not have to think about navigating ourselves. I'm sure we both nodded off once or twice, but stayed awake for most of the journey.
Our intent was to ride the bus, get the "lay of the land" and make note of places we'd want to revisit when we're more awake. We ended up getting off the bus for a few locations instead, including the site of the 1992 Olympics and the National Museum of Art.
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Before heading back to Placa Catalunya, our bus made a trip through the waterfront area and past some famous landmarks like the statue of Columbus and "The Barcelona Head" by Roy Lichtenstein.
The sun, fresh air and ride helped to forestall jet lag as we'd hoped and gave us a wonderful introduction to Barcelona.