Skipping the Line – Facts & Fallacies


It is true that you can skip the line to purchase a ticket to a sight seeing destination. For example, the Basilica Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. This does not actually mean you will not spend time standing in line. Purchasing a ticket to a guided tour is a trickier proposition than one might think. It is however, sometimes, the only way for you to get inside. We discovered this when we tried to purchase a ticket directly from the ticket office at La Sagrada Familia… where a nice security officer advised us there were no tickets to be had. Directly. Hence, the internet and “skipping the line” options.

First, you are not purchasing a ticket directly from the organization that operates La Sagrada Familia. You are working with a third party who has an agreement with La Sagrada Familia operating crew. Now that you have your ticket, you need to know who that third party is, and where their offices are in relationship to La Sagrada Familia.

You will need to appear at that third party location a short while before the tour begins. There will be a line involved to check in with the tour operator, be assigned a tour guide, and head over to your destination of choice with your group.

The group will then stand in line… in our case almost an hour from the appointed time of the tickets. High demand locations like Casa Batllo or La Sagrada Familia tend to a bit of airline fever. They oversell tickets in order to meet the demand with the hope that no one will be too fussy if they don’t get in to see the venue at the specific time allotted, so long as they eventually get in.

This works just fine for your average tourist. Where the solution breaks down is for anyone with a physical disability that makes standing around for long periods of time painful. Think bad knees, feet, backs, hips, and the like. A broken tibia, a recent bunion surgery, a hip replacement, pregnancy, sprained ankles, or just a few too many days walking around for six hours can lead to the kind of silent agony that overshadows even the most spectacular location. While you can gimp around through an hour tour, the additional hour and a half of waiting in various lines can really be a deal breaker.

But you’re there. And you really really want to see this place. You know you will regret not seeing it, possibly for the rest of your life. So you grin (or grit your teeth) and bear it.

I have a few suggestions to make the inevitable waits easier. Some of them I have employed myself, some I discovered just standing around observing more savvy travelers than myself. Bring water and anti-inflammatories (aspirin, ibuprophen, aceteminophen, etc…) Take as directed, and of course, as needed.

Spain is one of the enlightened places where cannabis and alcohol are equally respected for their ability to make life better (in the right dosages). You might want to stock up on vape pens and CBD rubs at the local Hemp Shop.

You should also bring things with which to distract yourself. If you’re an extrovert, make sure you have a bit of extra phone data to use Google Translate and strike up conversations with the other people in line. While standing for 40 minutes (in the wrong line – the Sagrada ticket line, instead of the Julia Tours line), we discovered an Italian family in front, and a crew of young Japanese women to our rear. That was good for about 20 minutes before the language barrier made it all too exhausting to proceed. (of course, we are introverts… true extroverts would never allow something as minor as the inability to understand someone else’s language to stand in the way of a good conversation)

If you are alone, and an introvert, bring your eReader.

There are also some handy little physical supports that double as canes and small travel stools. If you’re willing to give up a hand to that kind of device, you’re good on the sitting front… although I suspect they get pretty uncomfortable over the duration. Popular venues are stingy about seating. The intention is for you to see it, buy your souvenirs, and move out to make room for the next tourist. Sitting around just enjoying the view is not on the agenda. That is what a camera is for.

Speaking of cameras, familiarize yourself with its low light settings. The use of the flash is highly discouraged, if not outright banned. Don’t risk a bunch of blurry photos of all the cool stuff you are about to see. If your camera doesn’t have such a setting, invest in a better one (or borrow one). Seriously.

I will never forget La Sagrada Familia with the evening sun flushed through the reds and golds of the Passion facade. There is simply no substitute for actually being there. I could have easily sat there for an hour just basking in its beauty… except of course for the paucity of seats, and the fact that we’d already stood around for two hours before gaining access, and my feet and back were killing me. Being a tourist is not for the faint of heart, or the under-prepared.


What about you? Have you found a real way to “skip the line”? What do you include in your travel arsenal to survive those blistering days on your feet? Share your wisdom (and experiences). Drop a line in the comments!

Jet Lag in Barcelona


I’m a big fan of stepping right into the new time zone. Wasting time during a business trip, or worse, a vacation – calculating what time your body “should” think it is, is an utter waste of time. I keep the curtains/blinds raised so the sun can tell my body when to get up, drink a lot of water (amidst whatever else I might be consuming, depending on the occasion), and try to power through those draggy parts of the first couple of days.

This usually works. What doesn’t work, is to nap. Napping makes the insomnia / exhaustion cycle even worse.

So what did I do this afternoon, 3 days into our trip to Europe? Nap.

As a result I am wide awake after having spent four hours staring at the ceiling, with my brain on Antoni Gaudi, the visual equivalent of crack cocaine. Obviously, this is another case of do what I suggest, rather than what I do. On the other hand, there’s no point in beating yourself up if you do decide to succumb to the siren song of that oh-so-comfortable mattress. It is what it is, and if you’re on Holiday, you get to set the schedule. Tomorrow we have nothing booked until 4pm which is when my much-better-half and I are scheduled for a tour of The Cathedral of the Sacred Family (aka, La Sagrada Familia) – which is generally booked solid.

PRO TIP – if you’re heading to Barcelona, you will want to see the work of Antoni Gaudi. Book ahead on one of those “skip the line” deals.

I would post some photos but all I have is my Chromebook and a bunch of memory cards for my DSLR. Hopefully I’ll have some killer photos from the trip, but they won’t be posted tonight. If you want a sneak preview, check out the picture at the top of the blog page… that is the Mercat Caterina, which is full of seriously interesting food stuff, and as we discovered today, far less jam-packed than it’s older sister, La Boqueria off Las Ramblas. Just saying.


Jet lag tips of your own? Post them in the comments for the benefit of our fellow travel lovers.