A Travellerspoint blog

Spain

LESSON NUMBER 4

Always, always arrive 2 hours before you flight!!

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Our host at our hostel in Barcelona had told us that we only needed to be at the airport one hour before our flight as it is not like the UK. We therefore planned to catch the 06.50 train from Sant Andreu direct to the airport thinking he would know best.

We had been very organised the night before and were able to get all of our stuff out of the dorm without disturbing our fellow travellers, but spent a little too long faffing and before we knew it it was 06.45 and we were still 10 minutes from the station. FYI Power-walking with a 4 stone of backpacks in 26 degree heat (yes at that time of the morning) is not a good idea!! Thinking all was lost we arrived at the platform just as the train was pulling in and hoped on board - phew!!

Roughly 40 minutes later we arrived at the airport at roughly 07.30 thinking we were all good, but when we checked the board we saw the gate was due to closed at 08.15 causing Nick to start to panic. We then realised we needed Sector C of the Termina building (we were in Sector A), so trotted off following the signs...

...however, 20 minutes later (and still lugging 4 stone in backpacks) we finally made it to the check-in desk and surprise surprise there was a huge queue with only two members of staff working - surely the whole point of a Baggage Drop is just that! Just as we reached the front of the queue one of the staff members started asking for passengers on the Milan flight to come forward - this being Europe a sea of people tried to barge there way in front of us, however after a week of this we were having none of it and stood our ground!

Finally bags dropped, and heading up to security when we realise that they have brought the time of our gate closing to 08.00, not 08.15. More panic!! Luckily security is seconds away and deserted - although as usual I got frisked and ordered to take my walking boots off for now apparent reason causing more of a delay!

We made it through to gates and for once luck was on our side and our gate was right in front of us (rather that the usual trek to some far flung corner of the airport) - yey! We swiftly joined the already large queue and within minutes were on the plane, where I promptly fell asleep from all the stress.

In some ways, this may be the way to do it - no hanging around in busy, boring departure lounges, but for this amount of stress we’re sticking to getting there two hours before from now on!!

Lesson learnt!!

Posted by Nick-n-Charlie 17:00 Archived in Spain Tagged barcelona_airport_terminal_1 sector_c Comments (0)

Barcelona, Spain

Such a beautiful horizon...

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View Honeymoon World Tour on Nick-n-Charlie's travel map.

We finally arrived in Barcelona after a luxurious 5 hour train journey, the train had seats you could push back, plenty of leg room even for a normal sized person and a movie if you wanted to watch it (beats RyanAir any day!)

Once we arrived at Barcelona Sants (the main station) we purchased a T10 ticket €9.80 (It’s for the Metro, Bus and Trains and allows you to have ten trips which can be used by multiple people.) So for Nick and I we managed 5 Trips working out at €1 a trip - bargin! Once on the Metro we headed for Sant Andreu the neighbourhood our hostel was in.

On first impressions this seemed like a swanky area and upon discovering our hostel we realised we were correct. The hostel beat all expectations and was better than the photo’s! http://www.coroleuhouse-bcn.com

We were greeted by Jose Maria the owner of the hostel who was fantastic and had great English, he kept asking us if he was getting it correct so he could better it. He showed us the house, told us the cheapest places to get; fruit, breakfast, dinner, the best places to visit with the time we had, how best to get back to the airport (with all the info to hand) and gave us a Metro map.

By this time it had reached 21.30 so we made some food before getting to meet our roommates (although it turned out only for that night). We spent the rest of the evening chatting with 2 guys from Chile & Peru who were spending 3 months travelling round Europe and two girls who were studying in Valencia but were on a weekend away.

The next morning we were up fairly early and as it was a little overcast headed straight into central Barcelona were we spent most of the day exploring Barri Gotttic, Barcelona Cathedral, la sagrada familia and generally getting to know our way around the city. After our emergency cafe stop (see Lesson Number 3) we hit the supermarket on our way back to the hostel to stock up with provisions for the rest of our time, The evening was spent relaxing in he hostel, researching and sending emails.

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On Wednesday morning the sun was shining again (much to Nick’s delight!) so after a healthy breakfast of fresh fruit, it was back onto the Metro and hike up the hill to Parc Guell , the Guadi designed public park. Not surprisingly the place was packed full of people, so we headed away from the crowds as best we could and found some hidden gems with not to many people around. The place is beautiful with something to look at around every corner and we spent a good couple of hours exploring before heading back to the main gates and actually managing to get a photo of Nick with the famous mosaic salamander without too much pushing and shoving!

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As the weather was so good, we decided the next stop really had to Barceloneta beach where we ate our pack lunch and Nick got to sunbath (again!). The beach is actually really nice, and it is s strange to think that you are only minutes away from such a huge, bustling city - and something else free to do!

Earlier in the week Nick had been contacted by an old friend who he used to work with at Paul Smith called Ornella who he had totally forgotten now lives in Barcelona teaching her native French. She had seen Nick’s Facebook status saying he was in Barcelona and asked if we were free to meet (OK so him constantly checking us in does have some advantages!). Of course we jumped at the opportunity, so our final night in this amazing city was sat eating Tapas, reminiscing and chatting until it was far too late (we only just caught our last train back as they stop running at midnight!). Fantastic to meet up with her!

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Thursday 06.00 and time to leave Barcelona (and Spain for that matter!) and make our way to the airport to catch our flight to Milan - See Lesson Number 4 - Ooops!

Posted by Nick-n-Charlie 17:00 Archived in Spain Tagged barcelona metro ticket t10 parc_guell coroleuhouse barcelona_transport barcelona_public_transport Comments (0)

LESSON NUMBER 3

Charlie needs Food and Nick needs Sunshine

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For those of you who know my husband he has a very annoying habit of, well, not eating regularly and moans a lot when the sun is not shining!

So on our first full day in Barcelona we woke up to an uncharacteristic overcast day which saw Nick slump into his usual mood when deprived from sunshine for too long, although to his credit he snapped out of it pretty quickly!

Anyway I tried to be sensible and organised as ever by suggesting we went to the supermarket to get some breakfast and maybe something to make sandwiches for later in the day, but Nick's response was "no, we can get something on the go" which I knew was a bad idea, but I went with it and succeeded in walking around Barcelona starving to death and rapidly becoming more annoyed with him. As no food makes Charlie a dull, moody, snappy girl!!

We stumbled across an ok looking cafe where I decided enough was enough and we were going in - after a small melt down and a decent sandwich, things seemed much better and we were both back on form to continue exploring Barcelona!

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Lesson learnt!!

Posted by Nick-n-Charlie 17:00 Archived in Spain Comments (2)

Alicante to Barcelona, Spain

with "minor" police presence

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We again had a leisurely start to the day, getting all our stuff together, that had managed to scatter it's self around Sarah and Paul's house. Once we had forced as much as we can into the backpack we headed to the bus stop to get a bus to Benidorm bus station €1.50 each. Once we arrive we quickly got tickets to Alicante bus station (€4.60 each) and run to the shop to get dinner for that night. We enjoyed a nice air conditioned 45 min bus ride into Alicante and were hit by the heat as we arrived ready to walk half a mile to the train station...

...Think I now know the limit I can walk with my backpack, without the backpacks it took us 13 mins at a steady pace, with the backpacks it took 20 mins, but it was 27 degrees so was very hot.

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However, we soon forgot about the weight, as the train station was surrounded by police cars and there were police men and women wearing riot helmets at every entrance. There was also some sort of protest going on outside and the roads were blocked off. We had to show our tickets to the police to get into the station and then once we were in half of it was cornered off.

After 30 mins a train came in with lots of important looking people on it and what looked like high ranking military Army, Airforce and Navy (as I'm writing this I have looked up what was going on and Spain’s Crown Prince Felipe was on the a new train from madrid, which cost loads to build making people redundant in the process, so that explains the security and the 200 strong people outside protesting.

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We didn't get to Barcelona till 20:00 (not because of the stuff at the station just the long journey) and we left Sarah and Paul's at 11:00, but we did get 2 buses, a train and had to walk about a mile. We are now chillin in our new home for a few days, which is really nice, and the people here all seem nice too. Everyone is from all over the world but they all speak english better than us and Spanish.

Posted by Nick-n-Charlie 17:00 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

A few days exploring

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View Honeymoon World Tour on Nick-n-Charlie's travel map.

Alicante

Having figured out the buses we successfully made it to Alicante!!

We thought we would be organised and headed straight to the train station to figure out our options for getting to Barcelona later in the week, before heading off to explore Castillo de Santa Barbara...

...however, half way up a very steep hill which we thought had the castle on top we turned around and realised our actual destination was on the opposite side of town!

A short bit of navigating our way through some winding side streets and we finally made it to the beautiful Castillo de Santa Barbara and it's stunning views out over the Mediterranean Sea

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A weekend in La Nucia and around

Saturday morning we all had a little lay-in before heading to Albir to wander around Sarah & Paul's old neighbourhood and for a good old English breakfast just 2 Euro's. It was then off to Mercadona to buy supplies for the BBQ Sarah and Paul were throwing for some friends and neighbours, a massive shopping trolly full later we headed back to prepare.

The BBQ was great with everyone enjoying the food and getting on really well before we got treated to a spot of magic from one of their guests who was a retired Magician who used to perform in Benidorm!

Once everyone had gone home and we finished tiding up, we had a few drinks we headed out to see what La Nucia had to offer for the night, we ended up having more food in a lovely bar, with very "exotic" pictures on the walls!

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Sunday saw another lazy start to the day before we headed up to Fonts de l'Algar, a beautiful natural spring and waterfall where we relaxed and went for a (very brief) swim in the freezing waters. All of this fun made us al very sleepy so we ended up having a 3 hour siesta back home before Paul cooked a gorgeous home-made Paella!

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Before we knew it our week with Sarah and Paul was over and it was time to say our emotional goodbyes before heading off to Barcelona!!

Posted by Nick-n-Charlie 17:00 Archived in Spain Tagged alicante_bus_station benidorm_bus_station Comments (0)

LESSON NUMBER 2

Make sure you know how to get back to where you are staying!!

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After exploring Benidorm for the day we headed for the bus stop and got ourselves tickets to La Nucia - the town we thought Sarah & Paul lived...

...however, 40 mins later after passing through the town centre of La Nucia with no sign of anything we recognised the bus terminated at Callosa and we realised something had gone very wrong!

Callosa has a very friendly Tourist Information centre (which was far easier to find than the one in Benidorm) and luckily we had taken a photo of the bus times from the bus stop closest to Sarah & Paul's which helped him figure out which bus we needed to get back....

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...however, it was an hours wait until the next bus and then a tense 30 mins of playing guess the bus stop as we were not 100% sure exactly where we were going, but fortunately we finally saw the local Mercadona so frantically jumped off the bus before heading home.

Lesson learnt!!

Posted by Nick-n-Charlie 17:00 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Benidorm

It's actually not that bad!!

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After our day of sunbathing and relaxing, we decided it would be a great idea to walk the 40mins down into Benidorm (despite the heat), with the intention of making our way back to the Bus Station to find a bus to Alicante...

...however, the road we walked down did not take us where we thought we would go and find the Tourist Information to get a map and directions...

...however, 1 hour and half later of essentially walking around in circles we finally discovered it by which time it was too late in the day to get a bus to Alicante. So we made the most of our time in Benidorm and explored the old town and beach.

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Posted by Nick-n-Charlie 17:00 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

LESSON NUMBER 1

Apply suntan lotion more regularly!!

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So after our epic day of travelling and finally arriving at Sarah & Paul's apartment in La Nucia (just outside Benidorm) we decided to treat ourselves and have a day relaxing by their pool and soaking up the sunshine...

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...however, we did quite realise that the temperature was soaring into the early 30s and Nick particularly ended up a little pinker in areas than he had intended!!

Lesson learnt!!

Posted by Nick-n-Charlie 17:00 Archived in Spain Comments (1)

How to get to spain the long way round

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View Honeymoon World Tour on Nick-n-Charlie's travel map.

Part 1 - Coach to Gatwick - 04:10

After a very emotional goodbye to my parents outside Broadmarsh bus station, we set off on our epic journey to...

... Benidorm

We decided to get the coach to Gatwick airport saving someone the mad drive there and back. Little did we know this would be the start of a very long travelling day.

We managed to survive the 5 hour coach ride rather well, as we slept most of the way. There was the occasional snoring and smelly person, but nothing too bad.

Once we arrived and checked in our bags, we headed straight for breakfast. The food was the usual airport breakfast, no too inedible. Better than the one at Stansted Weatherspoons last year, when the eggs kept there shape the whole time you were eating them (Sorry Katie).

Part 2 - Flight to Alicante - 11:40

After food and a peruse of the shops we headed for our gate, where we settled in an empty section of seats to wait for our flight. Then, within minutes we were surround by parents and there crying, loud children.

Oh what a joy this flight will be.

Then to top it off they announce that the French Air Traffic Control are on strike today till 17:00 and will not be letting anyone fly over France.

Great.

The flight will be delayed 45 minutes, however because it’s BA we only actually wait 20 minutes, much to our pleasure. As by this time all the parents had started getting toys and food out to entertain their kids and now had to urgently tear it all away from their children to pack it up again.

That made up the noise.

We are now settled on our plane ready to take off when the pilot announces, that due to the strike they are going to have to fly around France and approach Spain from a new direction, adding an hour on to our flight time. However this didn’t matter too much, as we’re flying BA and receive complementary drinks and food.

Part 3 - Bus to Benidorm 17:05

We finally arrive to a very humid airport and have to wait what felt like and age to get our bags then headed for the bus. Thanks to Sarah we knew exactly where we needed to go to get the bus and how to get tickets. Unfortunately for us, we had just missed the bus by 5 mins and because of the economic climate bus ran every 2 hours instead of 1.

So we waited for 2 hours, part in the airport and part in the sun, (after we made our British clothes a little more summery). Eventually the bus arrived and we were happy to be on as we had already made our friend wait 2.5 hours for us. This journey was a much shorter 45 mins and after 15ish hours of travelling and waiting for transport we made it to Benidorm bus station, to meet Sarah.

Part 4 - Chilling in La Nucia 20:00

Sarah drove us to her lovely apartment in La Nucia, where the sun was shinning and the pool was looking inviting and we could finally settle down and eat some food, catch up with gossip and go to bed.

Posted by Nick-n-Charlie 17:00 Archived in Spain Tagged alicante benidorm spanish_transport la_nucia Comments (0)

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