Review Barcelona and Paris in November

#1
My wife and I just returned from a ten day trip to Paris and Barcelona. My wife had a work event in Paris so we decided to tag on a trip to Barcelona (a city neither of us had been too) the week prior.

Arriving - My wife's company policy put a limit on where we could fly so we decided to fly economy via Air France from JFK to CDG. Since her flight was paid for we used her Barclay Arrival Plus to pay for my seat. Cost was 82526 points roundtrip. We then booked a connecting flight via Air France from CDG to BCN. Total cost round trip for 2 pax was $295.24 which we paid for out of pocket.

Barcelona:
My wife wanted to stay at the Hotel Arts in Barcelona which is a Ritz Carlton property. Since she has executive platinum status with Marriott we were upgraded upon arrival to a club room and had access to the lounge on the 33rd floor which was amazing and very convenient. We stayed 5 nights for 240K points. The 5th night was free. The hotel is right on the water with great views of the oceanfront and Barcelona. The staff were very friendly and helpful. I'd highly recommend staying there if you have the points.
We usually try to pack a lot into our vacations but since my wife is expecting with our first child we chose to take it easy. We spent a ton of time walking around the city and seeing the sights. Our first day we did the Hop on Hop Off bus tour. One of the stops was right in front of our hotel. I'd recommend doing this even if you aren't into bus tours. Barcelona is very spread out and It allowed us to see a lot of the city in one day. Plus the tourist coupon book they gave us more than made up for the cost of the tour itself. It had had a ton of deals for things we wanted to do. We also did a bike tour with Fat Tire Bike Tours - Barcelona which I would highly recommend. Barcelona is steeped in history and our guide Benja told us about all the layers of it as we rode around the city. The cost was also very reasonable. Approx $27 pp. Its definitely something I may look to do again in other cities.
The food scene in Barcelona is worthy of its own post so I won't go into every place we went to. I'm more than happy to give recommendations to anybody heading there. We chose to also do a food walking tour with Devour Barcelona. We did the Tapas, Tavern, and History tour our last night in Barcelona. The tour was modestly priced at $112 pp. While the price is expensive the tour did last approx 4 hours and we definitely got our fill of tapas and wine that night. If possible I would recommend doing the tour on the first night there. It would give you a good sense of the city and the food scene. Our guide was also more than happy to give recommendations to places to get good paella and other good tapas places to try. Our last food experience we chose to do was the Jamon Experience. It's located directly across from the Boqueria Mercado right on Las Ramblas. The price (approx $17 pp) included a tour of how jamon is made and where it comes from which is followed by a tasting of 6 types of jamon paired with a drink of your choice. We choose to buy some Jamon from the store afterwards.
As for the sights of Barcelona we took the 153 bus from Pl. Espana to Castle Montjuic and spent a few hours walking around the castle. The castle offers dominating views of the city and Barcelona's bustling seaport. It's something not to be missed. The Montjuic fountains are located near the Pl. Espana circle and are very cool to see. The fountains are synchronized to music and lights that made the water fountains dance for the large crowds. Get there early to get a good seat.
Getting around Barcelona is very easy. The metro system is simple to understand and if not there are plenty of taxis that can get you to where you need to go.
Paris:
Since this was our second time to Paris and we had done so much of the "must-dos" the first time, we didn't do a lot of sight seeing. Most of our time was spent walking around the city admiring the architecture of the buildings and getting our fill of crepes and baguettes. We stayed for 2 nights at the Renaissance Vendome which is a great location on a very quiet block. Total cost was 90k points. The hotel is walking distance from lots of nice restaurants, the Louvre, the Park Venodme, and many other attractions. After the 2 nights we moved over to the Westin Vendome (which my wife's company paid for) which was just down the block from the Renaissance. Being a history buff I decided to finally go to Normandy and see where the US Troops landed on Omaha beach. My wife was required to be away that day for a work event so I went with a tour. Since I booked it the night before I used the hotel concierge. The price was pretty expensive at approx $250 pp. The mini bus picked us up at approx 630 am. We then drove for about 3.5 hours to Pointe du Hoc where the US Rangers stormed the cliffs to assault the german position on June 6th 1944. We spent about an hour there. Then we went to Omaha Beach followed by the American Cemetery near the beach. Walking amongst the tombstones of the troops is quite moving and really puts the sacrifices they made into perspective. After that we stopped for lunch in a town near Juno Beach. We finished up with the Caen Military Museum which I have to say was amazing. The museum has a ton of artifacts and displays and is probably one of the best WWII museums I have been too. Afterwards we headed back to Paris. Due to traffic we didn't get back to our hotel till about 8:30 pm. The tour was very good and our guide was extremely nice and knowledgeable but it did feel a bit rushed. I would recommend giving Normandy 2 full days if you can swing it.
Final Thoughts:
The weather in Paris was similar to the weather in NY. Cold and damp. The weather in Barcelona however was quite comfortable during the day and only slightly chilly at night. I've heard Paris can be extremely busy in the summer months so I'd recommend anyone visiting for the first time to try and go in the Oct-Nov range. Everywhere we went in Paris has few crowds if any.
 
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