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Spain Interrupted: Our not-so-excellent adventure

Spain Interrupted: Our not-so-excellent adventure

Old Mar 24th, 2020, 08:35 AM
Join Date: Jun 2019
Posts: 29
So close yet so far!!

Your report is seriously awakening all kinds of travel emotions lodged in the crevices of my bones. I really really hope you made it to Spain
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Old Mar 24th, 2020, 09:10 AM
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Could it get any worse?
Treesa is offline  
Old Mar 24th, 2020, 09:18 AM
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Treesa...yes, yes it could.
Melnq8 is offline  
Old Mar 24th, 2020, 10:18 AM
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[QUOTE=Melnq8;17083653]or just show up at the airport and try to get the missing flight worked out then. Yeah right.

This is exactly what I had to do 3/3 when coming back from Vietnam when flights to and from Hanoi/Seoul were banned a couple of days before I was flying. The new itinerary had me going Hanoi-Ho Chi Minh-Seoul-JFK, but the flight Seoul-JFK was leaving 6-1/2 hours before I got to Seoul. I had to hope I could change that in HCM. (Fortunately, I did!)
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Old Mar 24th, 2020, 11:33 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Oh, dear, Melnq8. At least there is a h**l of a story to share! But jeez, even the start is pretty crazy!

Looking forward to the rest, warts and all.
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Old Mar 24th, 2020, 11:36 AM
Join Date: Dec 2005
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Looking forward to the next installment.
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Old Mar 24th, 2020, 12:02 PM
Join Date: Mar 2014
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Wow!!!! What a start to your trip!!! I guess the only thing you can do is laugh about it. You have quite a story to tell family and friends! I think you have all of us on pins and needles waiting for your next installment. We have something unique, crazy, and entertaining to look forward to. But I do sincerely sympathize.
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Old Mar 24th, 2020, 01:51 PM
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Hanging on every word on this one.
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Old Mar 24th, 2020, 02:35 PM
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Sounds like our Christmas trip. I think I'd give up travel if it happened often. Paying for good seats and then having to pay for them again on a rescheduled flight really gets me mad. It cost us 200 at Christmas and we had purchased tickets with good seats on the original flight. UGH.
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Old Mar 24th, 2020, 03:57 PM
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What a nightmare of a start - and to know it doesn't end better! I'm glad you were at least able to squeeze in a few high points. I hope you are able to get your travel issues out of you for a long while after this ordeal.
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Old Mar 24th, 2020, 05:58 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
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OMG. I hope I haven't heard the high points yet! How frustrating!!!
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Old Mar 24th, 2020, 07:15 PM
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Even I am waiting with bated breath, Mel!
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Old Mar 24th, 2020, 09:21 PM
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So stressful for you, I would have been close to tears (or a migraine ). I don't know how airlines get away with the things they do to passengers.

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Old Mar 24th, 2020, 09:36 PM
Join Date: Jan 2009
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So sorry things didn't go to plan, Mel. Total bummer!

I was moaning the other day about not being able to travel again for ages and my husband suggested I get an uncomfortable chair and sit on it in a cupboard for 24hrs to replicate the flight from home to Europe. I couldn't see the humour (but could see the parallels).

And I agree with Kay, some airline behaviour is just so arrogant.
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Old Mar 25th, 2020, 05:52 AM
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Thank you all for joining me on my tale of woe.
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Old Mar 25th, 2020, 06:19 AM
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Wow, what an inauspicious start! Living two hours away from DFW, I have the same type of choice (fly from the local airport, or avoid that connecting flight and make the drive to the big city airport). Luckily for me, the airport is on the right side of town and I don't have to drive through city center traffic.

Microbursts are incredibly dangerous. It was a Delta flight that crashed at DFW (I think in the early '80s) that caused airports to invest in microburst detection radars. They are very small and localized, so the chance of hitting one at the wrong point is really small, but if you do, you're going down. A plane that is on final approach, nearing stall speed, and goes through a microburst encounters 100+ mph headwinds (not a problem), but then, seconds later, you get a 100+ mph tailwind and lose all lift, causing a stall at the most vulnerable point, with no time (or altitude) to recover.
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Old Mar 25th, 2020, 06:49 AM
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"Thank you all for joining me on my tale of woe."

Trip reports where things go wrong are always the best (even if the trip isn't). At this rate, you should get a Pulitzer for this one.
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Old Mar 25th, 2020, 07:47 AM
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March 9 -

Up early, I caught the shuttle back to the airport, dropped off my bag, cleared security and waited in the United Club, wondering if UA would manage to get me to Newark.

United's original re-booking offer included an hour layover in Newark, but I requested a longer one. I have not-so-fond memories of EWR...getting to Barcelona at the crack of dawn would create issues with the Air BNB…and I just don’t trust them.

Surprisingly, all went well. We took off, we landed, and the seat next to me was empty.

Bill had contacted Lufthansa the night before and asked them not to cancel my return flights, thinking that since I’d missed the outgoing flights they might automatically cancel the return. He also requested a refund on the difference between Premium Economy and Economy, and for my paid seats.

He also tried to cancel the hotel in Madrid, as did Donna, who was actually at the hotel. We figured it was too late, as the deadline had passed while I was sitting on the plane in Colorado Springs, but Expedia agreed to cancel with no penalty (thank you!).

Newark was an unexpected breeze, no need to change terminals; my arrival and departure gates were very close.

While I was cooling my heels in the United Club in Newark, Donna was in the hotel lobby bar in Madrid having a gin and tonic on my behalf. Some four hours later, I was off to Barcelona.

Donna's dinner of champions, Hotel Riu Plaza España

The flight from Newark to Barcelona took just over 7 hours. I was in the middle section of the plane in an aisle seat; the middle seat was empty as were several seats around me; excellent.

The flight was smooth for the most part and I managed to get about three hours of much needed sleep.

March 10 - I arrived in Barcelona at 9 a.m. Finally!

Donna and I had been texting since things went sideways and she’d been busy on her end. She’d notified the Air BNB hosts in Barcelona that I’d be arriving earlier than planned; they agreed to let me check in at 10 am.

She’d also been researching the best way for me to get to the apartment from the airport and had determined that I should take the Aerobus to Placa de Catalunya (she’d even sent a photo and fare details, bless her - 5.90, pay the bus driver, no bills bigger than €20) and then take a taxi from there. Which is exactly what I did, easy, taxi was €6.

Donna had spent her last day in Madrid at the Prado, viewing Las Meninas by Velazquez, Garden of Earthly Delights by Heironymus Bosch and the Descent from the Cross by Rogier van der Weyden.

She’d also explored the church behind the Prado, San Jerónimo el Real, a Roman Catholic church from the early 16th-century.

Museo Nacional del Prado

I’m told the weather was spectacular.

I’d also been texting the Air BNB hosts to let them know my progress and they were waiting for me when I arrived at the apartment. Cesc whisked my luggage up several flights of narrow stairs and then he and Marta gave me the run down on the apartment. They also provided a detailed overview of Barcelona (much of which went in one ear and out the other because my brain was numb) and assured me that there was “no Coronavirus in Barcelona”.

They suggested we keep photos of our passports on our phones, leave our passports in the safe, warned about pickpockets, told me which areas to avoid at night and advised that we ‘tip very lightly’.

The Air BNB was just as described; three bedrooms, spacious, spotless and well equipped. This would do nicely.

I had several hours to kill before Donna arrived. Fighting the urge to sit down for fear I’d not get back up, I got settled, then hit the streets. I followed my phone GPS to a few nearby grocery stores, hoping to find some favorite European products and to pick up some milk for coffee.

As I wandered I got my first glimpse of Sagrada Familia – wow! It was right there!

Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia

Hungry, but too tired to chase down one of the restaurants I’d earmarked, I popped into the bar next to the apartment for a bite to eat. I was the only customer, but it was early…and this was Spain.

I ordered Patatas bravas, which was okay, but nothing to write home about, and Pan con tomate (tomato bread, which did absolutely nothing for me) and a nice glass of red wine – 10.

Then I hit the streets again, enjoying the lively atmosphere and the warm spring weather. I eventually got a text from Donna; she’d arrived from Madrid and was taking a taxi to the apartment. I managed to find my way home and was waiting for her on the steps when she arrived.

After she got settled we went out to wander a bit and to ogle The Basílica de la Sagrada Família, aka Sagrada Familia, which was literally around the corner. We’d nailed the location.

We eventually found a bar, La Cerveceria Clandestina, and settled in to catch up over generously poured gin and tonics, both giddy to finally be in Spain.

Later, we hailed a taxi and went to Tosca, a promising tapas restaurant Donna had scoped out in advance. Not realizing there were two, we were deposited at Tosca Del Carme, instead of our intended Tosca Palau, which was located directly across from the Paleu de Musica, where we had purchased tickets for the 9 pm Barcelona Guitar Trio and Dance, Tribute to Paco de
Lucia (€47 each).

Tosca Del Carme was lively, the friendly atmosphere right up our alley.

Donna was anxious to try out her Spanish, which she’d been working on for months. I was happy to sit back, smile and nod as she placed our order.

We shared five tapas (four would have been plenty). Patatas con Jamon (grilled potatoes topped with cured Spanish ham), Empanada de cebolla (empanada filled with carmelized onion, walnuts, goat cheese and mozzarella), Ensalada de quesco (goat cheese, lettuce, cherry tomatoes, almonds, honey and lime vinaigrette – fantastic), Brochetas Pollo (honey and curry chicken skewers) and Ponchos cerdo (pork with carmelized onions and potatoes).

We both thoroughly enjoyed our meal; €49 with a bottle of local red.

Ensalada de quesco

Patatas con Jamon

Brochetas Pollo

Afterwards we took a taxi to Paleu de Musica, located in the Sant Pere district, said to be one of the most beautiful areas of Barcelona.

I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t this. WOW.

The Art Nouveau building was spectacular; I couldn’t take enough photos.

Paleu de Musica

Paleu de Musica

Paleu de Musica

Paleu de Musica

The sparsely attended concert was excellent, although I found myself nodding off during some of the mellow guitar segments. But then the flamenco dancers would come on stage and jolt me back to life with their amplified hand clapping and percussive footwork.

We both really enjoyed the evening…and that building! Incredible.

After the performance we found ourselves wandering through a dark passageway, not sure where we were going; we hailed a taxi at the first opportunity and returned to the apartment.

It’d been a very full first day for me…I was ready to crash.

To be continued…
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Old Mar 25th, 2020, 07:58 AM
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twk - thanks for the info on microbursts...yowsa. I'm all for arriving alive
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Old Mar 25th, 2020, 08:12 AM
Join Date: Jan 2018
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Excellent! So glad you made it. I am staying positive here
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