My wife and I had one full day to spend in Barcelona, and we wanted to visit very specific places: Las Ramblas, the old city, La Boqueria, the Picasso Museum, Sagrada Familia, and Parc Guell. Most of the tours that we found were either driving tours, which drove you by the attractions and only let you see them from the outside, or were tours which allowed you to go inside the attractions, but their itineraries did not match ours.
Runner Bean's website was not very clear that they did custom tours (after looking at the website, my wife was convinced that they did not do custom tours), but when I emailed them that we wanted a private, custom tour, we got a quick response that they would be delighted to accommodate us. After several email exchanges (they were very prompt), we had locked down the arrangements. On this tour, Runner Bean would buy our tickets to the Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell (the guide enters for free) and we would provide the taxi fares. The only exception was the Picasso Museum, where we had to buy our tickets for my wife and myself at the door. Again, the guide got inside for free.
We were supposed to meet our guide Dani at the Liceu Theater at 10 AM. When we arrived at the Liceu Theater, Dani was waiting on us. Dani was very knowledgeable on the history of Las Ramblas, the old city and La Boqueria. Dani grew up in Barcelona and knows this area very well, pointing out where the river used to flow, the ruins of the old city walls, and the history behind certain streets, including mosaics, churches, and the market. His stories were fascinating.
When we went into Picasso museum, Dani told us who the people in the painting were and how Picasso knew them. His ability to tell us details on the Picasso paintings as well as the artist life and history were terrific.
At lunch, we swapped stories of our families at lunch (including getting to see pictures of his family).
The Sagrada Familia was stunning in its beauty and unique in design. Dani told us that he used to be a guide at the church and his narrative of the history of the church, its statues, and symbols made the visit 10 times more impressive then if we had just visited the church by ourselves.
We ended up the trip at Parc Guell, where Dani taught us about the history of its buildings as well as pointing out things that we would not have noticed.
One important item, having Dani accompany us allowed us to skip the long lines at the Picasso Museum, the Sagrada Familia (which was sold out that day), and Parc Guell. We did not wait to get in at any attraction more than 2 minutes to get in.
The price was reasonable for this kind of private, guided tour where Runner Bean pre-purchased the entry tickets.
Some guides talk in a monotone, and you can tell that this is a job for them. This description does NOT fit Dani. Dani made our visit to Barcelona a very wonderful adventure. Dani is very affable and was a pure joy to be around. He loved showing us his city. My wife now claims that due to Dani, Barcelona is one of her favorite cities in the world. I had previously been to Barcelona and was not a big fan of the city, but Dani changed my mind. It is now one of my favorite cities as well. When we come back, I will email Runner Bean and we will book another tour with Dani.
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