Magic in the Med: Aug. 10-17 TONS OF PHOTOS!
Let's try this again, I've written this first installment twice and in my jet-lagged stupor deleted it both times!
Here's the cast of characters:
From Waco, Texas:
From San Jose, California:
Tuesday, August 6
Our flight was scheduled for 5:45 p.m. out of Dallas Fort-Worth (DFW) and we live in Waco, about 2 hours south. Because I-35 is notoriously bad, we decided to leave extra early about 10 a.m., have lunch and mosey on over to the airport. In addition, there was a Homeland Security high-risk thing going on, so it seemed best to err on the side of caution.
No problems on I-35 but the metroplex was a hot mess of contruction and detours. The GPS was totally befuddled and we couldn't even find the exit to get some lunch. We decided we'd just go ahead and head to the airport.
Paul had already made an on-line reservation at the Parking Spot for off-site parking. theparkingspot.com We had not used this service before and we were very pleased with it. We were assigned a covered parking spot at $11.50 a day. Paul backed into it while the shuttle driver waited, we boarded and we were off.
DFW is a very nice airport. It's bright and airy. There are colorful mosaics on the floors and sculptures and other artwork. Free wifi and lots of USB ports and electrical connections. We checked in, got boarding passes, passed through security and had lunch at Au Bon Pain. Then settled in for the afternoon with our myriad of iPads, Galaxies and iPhones.
David, Norene and Brian arrived from their San Jose flight, and we were excited to be getting closer to time to board.
Except it wasn't.
The monitor said the flight was scheduled for 5:45 but now moved to 6:00. Then it creeped in 15 minute increments to 6:15, 6:30, 6:45...
Finally, the crew made an announcement that the plane was delayed because the ground air conditioning wasn't working and the cabin was too hot.
Once we got in the air, the plane's air conditioning would be fine. So, we settled in and it was hot for a while but cooled down once airborne.
Norene and Brian are happy to be on their way
As are Stephanie and Rachel:
In all the years of flying, I don't recall seeing such a dour-looking flight attendant as we had. Paul dubbed her "Hilda." (sorry to all the nice Hilda's out there....) She never smiled and looked like she really didn't like her job.
Paul moved to the back row of seats and was able to sleep for a few hours. The rest of us didn't get any sleep.
Wednesday, August 7
We landed in Madrid at 10:45 a.m., an hour late, and were given special express passes to get to our connecting flight to Barcelona. The route through the airport was convoluted to put it nicely -- we went down passageways, up and down elevators, through security -- and got to our gate with no one there. Nada. Zippo. No one to ask. No departure/arrival board. We frantically looked around and found an information desk and were told our gate had been moved. More stairs and a shuttle bus. Just in time, we boarded the Iberia flight.
At last, Barcelona. I was too jet lagged even to sing "Barcelona!" a la Freddie Mercury.
There are lots of taxis in Barcelona fortunately -- A taxi picked us up and I showed him the paper that said "Tryp Apolo" Ah - Apolo! he told the other driver. He zipped through the streets and arrived at our hotel on Avinguda del Paral-lel. We had reserved a family room. It's not the Waldorf Astoria, but it worked for us. A master bedroom and a sort of bonus room with two beds for the girls.
You have to put a card in the slot when you enter the room to get the lights and AC to work. Except the AC was not very cold. We called the front desk and requested someone take a look at it while we went out for a bit.
The hotel is in a good location if you don't mind a bit of walking. It's about five or six blocks from Las Ramblas. We walked over there and looked at some of living statues, the beautiful street lamps, the graceful balconies.
Wednesday, August 7 continued
Back at the hotel, David, Norene and Brian had had a little nap and were ready to eat dinner. We all walked back to Las Ramblas and the passed through to the Placa Rieal. This is a beautiful square with restaurants all along the interior corridors. In fact, it appears that everyone eats al fresco in Barcelona!
A word about water, before I go any further. In the US, when you want tap water, or you're trying to economize, you say, "I'll just have some water." In Europe, "I'll just have water" will get you a beautiful bottle of water and a glass. No ice. Sometimes they ask you, "Naturelle? No gas?" meaning, no carbonation? And no, it's not free -- about 2 euros. Also, a basket of bread will set you back about 1.2 euros per person.
Seeing how it was our first meal in Barcelona, I had the four cheese pizza and a glass of wine:
These lamps were the first and only pieces of public art commissioned by the town council to the struggling new artist, Gaudi. Aren't they beautiful?
I love the gorgeous touches everywhere:
Somebody was tired.... time to go back to the hotel:
yay another med report!!! Keep up the good work. :cheer2:
Wednesday, August 7 continued
Dont' you just love jet lag? Went to sleep, got a good couple of hours and then I was awake. I looked out the window and I could see the Apolo was a beehive of activity about midnight. It wasn't sound that woke me -- it was all pretty quiet -- but I could see a club on the first floor with a ropeline and guys in yellow talking to prospective customers. Pairs of young people walking by. Finally fell asleep about 2:30 and slept for five more hours.
About the bathroom at the Apolo. Being an American, I have no idea what one does with a bidet, so that seemed kind of wierd but oh well. The water from my shower flooded the floor, so after that I was very careful to seal the shower curtain. No shampoo or conditioner -- we had to go to the local convenience store and buy shampoo, conditioner and sunscreen.
I liked this little plaque in the pavement in front of the store:
More details on the streets:
And why don't we have lovely store fronts like this?
Thursday, August 8
Every morning, the Texas part of the family went across the street to the Dino Pan coffee shop for breakfast. (The California Stringers had breakfast at the hotel as part of their room rate.)
Fortified with "xocolate" and "caffe con leche" we walk down to the Columbus statue and get the Turtistica HOHO bus. These are the turquoise colored double-decker buses. I waffled back and forth over the red Barcelona City Tours or the city-sponsored Turistica buses because they were comparable in price and the routes. Both could be purchased online but the red ones required me to give my passport number and that just made me a little bit --- um, I dunno, trepidatious. So, I went with the blue ones.
And I have to throw in this photo cause it's one of the few I'm in:
Great report so far, we also sated at this hotel in Barcelona! 2 family rooms! Did the job for us :-) Looking forward to the rest of your report!
We were also on your cruise and had a great time. Your off to a great start and I'm looking forward to reading your trip report. :banana:
Great job so far!!! Can't wait until you post more.:goodvibes
My DH and I leave one week from today to go on the last Med cruise before dry dock.
Thursday, Aug 8, continued
The HOHO bus trip was pretty long, even if you just stay on. I've seen where people say it was 2 hours -- nah uh! There are ear phone jacks with a variety of languages for you to hear the commentary. It was not too crowded during the morning as people were more enthusiastic to get on and off but as the afternoon went on, more got on than got off.
We drove past fountains, balconies, cherubs, taxis, flowers, lamp posts. When you're from somewhere that considers anything prior to the American Civil War to be ancient, it's amazing to see buildings from several centuries ago still in use.
We picked up the bus at the Columbus statue. Here he is staying, "Go thatta way!"
A couple of cool public artworks near the water front:
The Catalonia flag was displayed from many windows and balconies.
Love this building -- they just don't make 'em like this anymore!
And fountains! They just make everywhere seem so much cooler.
I have a thing for lamp posts:
Need a taxi anyone?
Thursday, Aug 8, continued
I hope y'all are not getting tired of all these pictures. Seriously, I didn't take nearly as many as Paul -- he takes pictures of everyhing!
The view from the Museu Nacional D'Arte de Catalonia!
Me and Paul:
David, Norene and Brian:
Back at Las Ramblas, Brian wanted a photo with one of the living statues. I think it was just a bit too real for him!
lunchtime on Las Ramblas! Is there anything better than al fresco dining?
Love this dragon!
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