Barcelona Apartments (2005)

When planning a trip somewhere, one of the first questions to answer is: Where to stay? The most obvious answer is: "In a hotel". However, in European cities there is another alternative: short term apartment rentals. It takes a little more work to find an apartment since unlike hotels they are not covered in the guide books like The Rough Guide.

I'm a pretty decent cook, so one of the attractions of an apartment is that I can cook meals for myself. Barcelona has amazing markets like the Boqueria Market, where you can buy fresh produce, meats and sea food. There is also the El Corte Ingles supermarket which sells almost anything else that you cannot find in the covered markets.

Barcelona has a vast number of restaurants. But Spain is no longer a cheap destination, especially for a US citizen who is a victim on Bush II's devaluation of the US dollar. Also, I was not always happy with the restaurant food I encountered in Barcelona. So an apartment provides the option of cooking some meals.

Since I wanted to cook, I looked for in an apartment with a decent kitchen: a real stove, instead of just a hot plate.

Another thing that I looked for was an ADSL connection. This was not an early requirement, since I was not sure how widely available ADSL is in Spain. As it turns out, a number of apartments provided ADSL connections.

Things to consider when renting an apartment

The Emili Vendrell 1, 3, 1 Apartment

Overall, I had a good experience renting an apartment, so it only seems reasonable to describe the apartment I rented. I certainly would expect that you would have a similar experience, but there is no guarantee. So remember, you rent at your own risk. Do not depend on anything that I've written on this web page (if this sounds strange to readers outside the United States, please remember that the US is the land of stupid law suits).

The apartment I rented is off of the tiny Emili Vendrell square, which is on the corner of C/de Peu de la Creu and C/ de Joaquin Costa in the upper Ravel not far from the Museum of Contemporary Art. The address means that the apartment building is #1 Emili Vendrell, on floor 3, apartment 1.

The pictures above show the apartment building (behind the tiny Emili Vendrell square) from outside, plus two view of the studio apartment and the kitchen.

The first floor of the apartment building has a restaurant and a small bar. This floor is numbered 0, so the apartment is actually on the fourth floor. There is an elevator, which is an important consideration after a day of walking around Barcelona.

I thought that the Emili Vendrell apartment was an example of the concern that people in Barcelona have with design and architecture. The apartment is nicely furnished mostly with Danish style furniture. The kitchen has a nice four burner range, with a good hood and fan. There is a good sized refrigerator and a cloths washer (in Barcelona people seem to air dry so there is no dryer). The kitchen has most of the pots and pans that one needs. I really liked the wok, which allows one to saute without getting oil on the stove. Many of the items in the kitchen seem to have come from Ikea.

The windows of the apartment are double glazed (there are two sheets of glass) and the apartment is four floors up. Still, there is no shutting out the city noise. On Saturday night in particular Barcelona parties and there will be noise from the street until the early hours of the morning. I suspect that this will be true almost anywhere you stay in Barcelona. I went by a pharmacy and got some ear plugs and I had no problem sleeping.

The building itself was very quiet. I did not hear much noise from my neighbors. The building has a steel structure (you can see the I-beams in the apartment) and may have concrete walls.

When I was there the Emili Vendrell apartment had ADSL, which was one of the reasons that I chose this apartment. I am used to ADSL where the ADSL modem has a "Cat-5" ethernet output that plugs into the ethernet port on the computer.

There was a computer in the apartment, but I brought my own laptop. I also brought ethernet cable and a D-Link firewall/router. As it turns out, the ADSL model had a USB (Universal Serial Bus) output, which plugs into the USB port, not into an ethernet port, so my router could not be used. The ADSL at Emili Vendrell also ran PPP over the ADSL so you actually have to "dial-in", which is something that I've never seen before. The connection speeds were about 200 to 250K bits/second. I had to install a USB driver, which took some tweaking, since I have a four year old laptop.

The apartment had a telephone that could be used for local calls or for people calling in from overseas. I had a cell phone with a Spanish SIM chip so I only used the "land line" to make restaurant reservations.

Last but not least, the person who owns the apartment, Victor, was very nice and very helpful. Victor's english is excellent and he was a pleasure to deal with. When I checked in, his associate Alba was there. Her english is not as good as Victor's, but she is also very nice. Between my limited spanish, a bit of french and her english we were able to cover all of the important issues.

I took good care of Victor's apartment and there was no problem getting my deposit back.

Links to Apartment Rentals for Tourists

Most of these web sites are run by people who act as agents for apartment owners who wish to rent their apartments. These are web sites I found through my searches for a place to stay for two weeks in April of 2005. I doubt that this is a complete listing. I've listed the web sites in alphabetic order. A listing here is not an endorsement. You should do your own due diligence.

If you are staying more than a few days, payment can be awkward. The people who run the web sites linked to below are simply agents. They will handle the initial deposit and the scheduling. But they frequently don't handle the payment for the balance of the apartment rent.

Some of the apartment owners will want payment in cash. From the United States transfers from regional banks to European banks, in Euros, can be awkward, since these local branch banks are not used to doing these transactions. Carrying large amounts of cash is also awkward. So it is worth considering payment issues early on. For example, the apartment owner may be willing to accept American Express Euro travelers checks.

Most of the apartments will want a deposit. In the case of the apartment I rented, this deposit was in cash and paid back in cash. This means that I had to pay exchange fees both ways (although these fees don't amount to that much in the grand scheme of things).

There are many places in the world that I would like to visit. Sadly, money and time is limited. So I do not think that I will be visiting Barcelona again. I don't plan to continue updating this web page. When I finished this web page, all the links were valid. I'm sure that over time some of these sites will disappear and others will come on-line. Please don't send me email asking me to add your site to this web page. The window of time for this has closed.

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