spreadsheets and suitcases

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Europalooza Trip Report Part 12: in which I dip my toe into the freezing Mediterranean

on June 1, 2019

After a fun 2 full days in Sevilla, it was time to travel to Barcelona.  Our friend graciously drove us to the airport 🙂  Our flight was at around 9:30a, and we arrived at the airport by 8:15a.  I had reincorporated the duffle bag that held the dirty (now clean) clothes, so were back to having 5 pieces (1 backpack for each traveler, plus the rolling carry-on).  Shouldn’t have to get into that long line to check in a bag at the Iberia counter then, right?  The problem was that European airlines’ definition & dimensions of “personal item” are much different than the American airlines… 

Here’s how Iberia defines their Personal Accessory:

iberia personal

That’s 15.7 by 11.8 by 5.9 inches.

And here is American Airlines’:

american personal

That’s 18 by 14 by 8 inches.

Big difference, as we were traveling on Iberia.  Absolutely none of our backpacks fit into their dimension criteria for “personal accessory,” nor did the rolling carry-on. I was planning to check my son’s backpack, and have the Disneyland Paris glass-containing rolling bag go in the cabin with us.   That way we didn’t have to worry about the dimension restrictions on personal items, because everything else fit nicely into the carry-on size allowance.  But…the line to check in the bags was slow.  We had our boarding passes, having printed them the night before.  We waited for like 10 minutes, but then bailed directly to the Security line.  I had no idea how long it would take to check in the bag, or how long Security would take.  We just risked being told during Boarding that something would need to be gate-checked.

It was the right decision to skip the bag check line.  It was now nearly 8:40a.  The Security moved fairly smoothly, and when we got to our gate, they had just announced the beginning of boarding.  I’m happy to report that we had no problems.  The fact that we had 4 people but just 1 bag in the overhead always helps (the backpacks slide under the seat).  We had an uneventful takeoff, short 1 hour layover in Madrid (where we also arrived at our gate to find it beginning to board), and landing in Barcelona.  Wow- the El Prat airport is HUGE.

We made our way to the Ground Transportation exits, and then to the Regional (RENFE) train station.  Similar to Paris, various transit passes are available, with some including airport travel and some not.  I had researched before we left, and knew that we wanted to buy T-10 cards, which are shareable.  I did the math, and the other unlimited options, like we had in Paris, didn’t make sense for us in Barcelona.

So I walked up to the kiosk and stuck my US-based chip-and-PIN card in the machine.  We brought it along specifically for European use at unmanned train station kiosks, and it worked like a charm.  Almost.  There is a main screen where you choose your kind of ticket, destination, etc, and a tiny screen by the credit card input.  I was staring at the screen waiting for it to tell me what to do next, and the transaction timed out.  Totally confused, I tried again, and this time, DD saw movement on the tiny screen and pointed it out- it was waiting for me to enter the PIN on the keypad, duh.  Tickets purchased, we boarded the train and got great, comfortable seats.  Destination: the El Clot-Aragó station.  It was about 1:45p.

We rumbled along a surprisingly rural-looking area outside the airport, then entered the city.  I don’t know if I was just getting tired of the traveling (as if!), or if it was just a gut feeling, but I wasn’t nearly as enchanted by Barcelona as I have been by other places in Spain.  My husband was thrilled to be back, as he had previously lived here and had many friends from those years that wanted to meet his family.  I resolved to give the city a fair shake.


After reaching our regional train stop, it was time to find our hotel, the Holiday Inn Express Barcelona- City22.  Once at street level, we started walking and realized we were at a big star-shaped intersection.  I have no sense of direction, and was therefore useless.  DH and DD were figuring out which way to go.  Finally, after walking for a good 20 minutes, we made it.  DH had paid attention to the local bus/train stops that we passed on the way, hoping that they would yield a shorter walk to the hotel in the future.

Anyway, the hotel was….practically American.  I know it’s an American chain, but still.  Check-in was easy, and they provided us a nice map that was marked with the closest bus/train stops. DH appreciated this, as it confirmed what he had observed as we walked.  Large room, huge bathroom, storage space, etc.  It was wonderful to throw ourselves on the cool sheets- it really wasn’t too cold during the day anymore, and we had sweat quite a bit during the airport transit.

It was tough to leave the bed, but tummies were rumbling.  At around 4:45p, we headed out to meet up with one of DH’s old friends.  After  proper introductions, we went toward the beach and stopped to eat at El Pibe, on the Rambla del Poblenou.  This restaurant is part of a small local chain, specializing in sandwiches, and ironically, hamburgers.  Everyone got a meal, and I was thrilled to see my favorite Spanish sausage on the menu: white butifarra, or botifarra in Catalan.  It was super tasty.  We paid, and kept walking toward the shore, with DH’s friend tour-guiding us along the way and sharing lots of local details about the neighborhood.

After another 15 minutes, we reached the Platja de Bogatell, or Bogatell Beach.  Yes, that is the Mediterranean Sea in the background.  As you can see, the sun was setting, and it was starting to get cold again. platja

After chatting for a while, and psyching myself up mentally, I decided to go for it.  I had been to Spain several times and not ever gone swimming in open water for a variety of reasons.  Now I was here, and determined not to miss another opportunity.  Of course, all I was dipping was a toe- I prepared by taking off just one shoe and sock.  Whoa Nelly, was it freezing!  DD took a short burst of photos, which you can enjoy below.



It’s alright, little wave, you can come a little closer.


There you go, almost there.



I got positively STABBED with cold water.  As you can see, my other foot was perilously close to getting wet also.  Luckily, only my shoe was damp.  I quickly retreated further up the sand, dried my foot, and put my sock/shoe back on.  It was exhilarating!

After my wild adventure, we walked along the beach toward the Peix Olímpic, or Olympic Fish, which is a famous statue designed by Frank Gehry.


This is a cool overhead shot I found on Google.

There is a large casino here, and the area was very lively.  We stopped at a gelato shop near the fish and enjoyed a yummy treat.  Afterwards, DS started acting up a bit.  He was tired and wanted to go back to the comfy hotel.  I was keen to join him.  We headed to a nearby train station and used our passes to hop on.  DH’s friend gave me a very useful bit of info…the back of the T-10 ticket tells you how many trips are left.  It’s printed by the machine after every use.  Nice!

We got off at our local stop, Llacuna, and made our way back to the hotel, much faster this time.


I love taking pictures of the station signs.

We got everything ready for the next day, which was to include Parc Güell, La Sagrada Familia, and another old-friend meetup.  A heavy-hitting touristic day for which would need a good night’s sleep.  After showers for all, we settled in by 10:30p and very much enjoyed the fat pillows.

One response to “Europalooza Trip Report Part 12: in which I dip my toe into the freezing Mediterranean

  1. Gina says:

    Brave girl!


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