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About ljandgb

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  1. We used Steel Donkeys and really enjoyed it. I'd definitely recommend them. The city has many, many pedestrian/bike only streets, and wide sidewalks. I never felt unsafe. As most of the city is very flat, it was also very easy, even though the entire tour was almost 4 hours. We stopped mid-way for a coffee and snack. We had a guide at the front of the group and would stop whenever she stopped so she could relay information, but I also picked a tour with a small number of people. We were 8 people. I would not have wanted a much larger group, especially around Las Ramblas where it got harder to thread through the crowds.
  2. Barcelona is very easy to navigate on your own, but if you'd like a little intro to the city, we did a bike tour with Steel Donkeys. The city is flat and has many, many pedestrian/bike only areas, so it was a very easy tour. We saw a huge amount of city, stopped for a mid-way sandwich and coffee, and really enjoyed ourselves. If you are hesitant about pedaling, they have e-bikes also. Honestly, I wouldn't stay near Las Ramblas. That was my least favorite area, as it was wall to wall people. We stayed near the Arc, at Catalonia Born, just 5 minutes from a metro station and train station. Super easy to get around, several restaurants and a bakery near by.
  3. We did a really fun food tour with a local company, Streaty, thru the street markets. It was obvious he knew everyone around and it felt like traveling with your cousin (well, if you like your cousin! lol )
  4. The option for the shuttle is at the end of the booking process for the BL. You can do a dummy booking to get an idea of what you need. Just FYI, as there isn't much info on their website about it.
  5. When you say layover, you mean at the airport? Reykjavik is 45 minutes from the airport, and you will need a good 90 minutes to go thru security. You may not have near as much time as feel like you have. You could consider going to the Blue Lagoon, as it's just 10 minutes from the airport and shuttles are offered. Entry is timed however, and tickets prices go up as availability goes down (the frequently also sell out.) It's best to pre-purchase them.
  6. To the OP, English is the international language of business. Even in Europe, many people know English in order to talk with Europeans from other countries. I've really only had issues with very rural areas and older people. Even much of the signage in Europe frequently has English "subtitles."
  7. The main train station is on the other side of Tivoli, so you have to skirt the edge of the park to get to the square. Go left out of the station, it's a shorter walk. The train from the airport was about $8/person I think, and easy, as it loads on the lower level of the airport.
  8. We used them in SPB a few years ago. They were excellent in all regards. I wouldn't hesitate to use them again. We were a private tour for the 8 of us. They modified their usual stops to include a few my daughters wanted to see, and found us good restaurants for lunch and dinner.
  9. The Scandic Palace, across from Tivoli, had AC when we were there several years ago.
  10. We were in Barcelona in June. It was absolutely lovely. We walked or biked all over the city and had no problems. Las Ramblas was a sea of people, and I can see how it would be easy to be pickpocketed there. Virtually everywhere else was more normal crowd levels. We had no problems, including riding the subway, being out late at night, etc. I have a cross body purse.
  11. It probably depends on the time of day, but with no traffic (it was 4:30 am) it was 20 minutes or so.
  12. We stayed there in June. It's a nice hotel. I wouldn't actually consider in El Born, but on the edge. It is a very easy access to the subway (5 minute walk), and the street its on has several restaurants but isn't super loud at night, so considered it a good location. Staff were very nice, room clean, bathroom large. We were on the 4th floor I think, with a room facing the courtyard, so quiet even during the St. Joan festival that was happening.
  13. Great idea. Come June-September for a self drive trip. With your long johns, bring a hat, gloves, scarf, a warm jacket," and a waterproof outer layer if you want to get close to the waterfalls or will be spending any amount of time outside. It rains frequently and sideways. We went the last week in May, and our "summer vacation" family picture has us bundled up like the middle of winter. LOL
  14. It's not deep cold and snow, it's the wind, associated with the fact that Iceland hovers around freezing, so lots of freeze/thaw cycles leaving ice on the road. The gulf stream hits Iceland then turns east. The roads there have electronic wind monitors that locals know to watch to decide if they should proceed. Car doors can get ripped off. Cars can blown right off the road and down steep embankments. A local posted on TripAdvisor about a section of ROAD that got blown off recently, as in the tarmac was stripped off. When you add that to the ice and narrow roads, it can get precarious. Certainly not constantly, but there are many microclimates, so it can easily be nice on one section of your drive, but bad weather an hour or two down the road. We were there in March and had whiteouts, gale force winds, and beautiful sunny warm skies in the span of 4 hours. Many people visit Iceland, have great weather, and talk about how easy it is to drive there. Some experienced drivers get caught in bad weather and say "never again." I've read where perhaps the only climates/driving experience that are similar are northern Canada, the Scottish highlands, and Siberia. Just passing info along. I grew up in Upper Michigan, so have a healthy respect for bad winter weather, but moved to Texas in high school and have done all my driving in the south. No way would I be prepared to drive in Iceland.
  15. Agree with Nitemare, April is still winter and self driving requires vigilance checking road conditions. You should also be familiar with driving in high winds and ice, and how to handle a car if you hit black ice. The roads are elevated, narrow, and have no guard rails. If you really want to self drive, look at lodging for at least one night out of the city. I would consider looking at a 2-3 day tour that includes lodging. That will get you out into the countryside and let experienced locals drive while you can gawk at the scenery and/or snooze a bit from jet lag. Look at south coast tours, or ones that include the Golden Circle or Snaefellsnes. If you stay in Reykjavik, anything in the 101 code is well situated for exploring the city. The Blue Lagoon is nice, but not mandatory. It is near the airport and is often done on the way to/from your flights. Their website has info on the shuttle there - go thru a dummy booking to see your options as it doesn't show up until you have tickets in your cart. If you do want to go, definitely book tickets early, as the prices rise and availability falls.
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