We left for Barcelona a week after our Mediterranean Cruise holiday. It felt like luxury jetsetting off to another holiday destination. Anyway, I had tried to link to 2 trips together, but it gave me a cruise itinerary that I was not interested in. Our flight was with Easyjet departing around 2 pm in the afternoon, so it was a civilised trip to the airport (not the crazy morning one we did 2 weeks prior).
The train to Gatwick cost us around $15.50 pounds one way, covering 2 adults and 1 child. It took about 1 hour altogether to get to Gatwick. This time we knew what to do with an Easyjet flight. Once we got into the secure area, we pretty much stood near the front. Easyjet in London are not very organised at all. Easyjet tickets have different groupings. Other European centres group passengers into some semblance of order. But in London, they must like the “let’s crush people at the door” effect. Anyway, once our group was called, we went through the door, and hurried towards the plane. (I’m thinking this is a bit sad, like really “kia-su”. But whatever, I’d better hurry or I’ll lose those seats near the front of the aircraft.)
If ever you need to catch a flight to Barcelona, make sure you get the window seats on the right side of the aircraft (when facing front). When you come into Barcelona, you get a perfect view of the city as it comes in to land at the airport.Because we did not have checked luggage, it was pretty much straight off the plane, straight through immigration and out the front door. And that is where the momentum came to a dead end. Now what do we do?
As usual, I had travelled to a European country with no language skills (other than English, of course). But many people in Spain speak English, so it was really quite easy. Also, they are much more willing to engage (than the French) so it makes it easier. We definitely wanted to take the metro to our hotel. I had read on Trip Adviser that it was quite easy. In hindsight, it really was. But I think it’s the initial haze that comes from being in a new place. It’s harder to process the names of the station, harder to find it on our train map, difficult to follow the tube line, etc. Plus, did I mention the weather? It felt really hot. The 200m walk undercover from the airport to the train station was stifling. (I found out later that it was 38 degrees celsius.)
Anyway, we bought our tickets from the ticket counter. Make sure you buy the T-10 tickets. It costs $7.70 Euros, and gives you 10 trips. If you buy single tickets, it costs $1.75 Euros. You can buy T-35 tickets, but that’s only if you have a big group travelling, or you are going to be here a long time. You can use these tickets multiple times to let however many passengers through. So, for a T-10 ticket, we would have 3 trips as a family, before we would have to purchase a new set of tickets.
The great thing is that the trains are air-conditioned, unlike London. So you could cool off a bit. The one thing I noticed once I landed in Barcelona is the smell. There’s a sewerage smell that wafts up not infrequently when you are walking about, and there’s also a lot of sweaty people smell – some worse than others. I think it’s just the heat and the humidity. I found that Barcelona was quite a clean city and there’s not too much rubbish about.
We changed trains at Passeig de Gracias, to catch the yellow line that’ll take us to El Maresme Forum where our hotel is. It’s a bit of a maze underground when you’re changing trains. There are clear signs but you have to look out for it. Often the passages links in to the platform at the end of the platform. It’s just confusing the first time around. But fortunately, we met a elderly Spanish couple who gave us some advice, and basically confirmed some information such as which train station to change etc. They were quite lovely. There’s a really long tunnel to walk in Passeig de Gracias. It’s like 200m in a straight line. I’ll bet there were races in here at some stage. Unfortunately, due to the hot day outside, it was absolutely stifling underground.
We emerged at the El Maresme Forum station to blocks of flats. It looked like suburbia. A short distance away was a huge shopping mall. Yes, we were on the right track to the Hilton Barcelona del Mar. You know, the first time you walk a route, it just seems to take absolutely ages. Hilton is what you expect Hilton to be. It was shiny, swish and modern. Having been in small European hotels with “character”, we loved the big room, shiny bathrooms and large beds. The pool was also fantabulous. Even though we were not in the main drag of Barcelona, we were very happy with our choice of accommodations.
Now that I don’t have to travel for work anymore, I am beginning to enjoy again, hotel accommodations. When I travelled for work, I wasn’t present enough to just really enjoy the room as a holiday from home. Usually, I was slightly distracted with doing what needed to be done for work. But I think what it is for me, is that it is just lovely to share a lovely experience with your family. Travelling for work is solitary, and for me, what’s missing is the shared experience.
Dinner on the first evening was in a Tapas restaurant in the Forum Shopping Centre. Yes, it’s touristy, but prices were affordable and I felt, good value. All up, dinner was $30 Euros for the 3 of us and we were very full. It’s not too bad travelling in Spain with no Spanish language skills. Most people are quite accommodating and helpful. In fact, most franchise chains have a menu in Spanish and in English, so you need never go hungry.