Thursday, August 18, 2016

Lisbon, obrigado!!! ¿Barcelona, estás listo para nosotros?

Thank you, Lisbon! Barcelona, you ready for us?
When we got home on Monday night, it was already quite late. It was our last evening in Lisbon, and we had an early morning plane ride to Barcelona. We had to pack up everything, but we were so tired from exploring Cascais. We decided to hop in the shower, rest for a bit, and by midnight, that was when Nancy and I packed all our stuff.

We woke up at 4:15am, we had a car service scheduled at 4:45am. We were all ready to go, and left the Doubletree Hotel just one last time. We had a wonderful experience at the Doubletree. The staff was accommodating. They went out of their way to help us, to make phone calls for us. The breakfast was very good, and our room was just perfect for the 4 of us.

We left the hotel and headed straight for the airport. We were at Lisbon International Airport by 5am. Our fight was scheduled to leave at 6:45am. We printed our boarding passes, and started to look for the ticket counter to drop off our luggage. We were directed to go to one line....one huge queue. There must have been 300-400 in queue. How the heck are we (all the passengers) going to get on our flights? The line did not move. There were no ticket agents at the counter. Suddenly by 5:15am....the line started to move, and I was kinda shocked and pleased that it didn't take that long....we must've have stayed in line for about 15-20 minutes. I guess I can't really get mad, once the line opened up, it was swift.


Security was a breeze, no issues there. We had about an hour before boarding and we headed for ANA Lounge, it was one of the airport lounges that we have access to as Priority Pass members. All four of us enjoyed our last breakfast in Lisbon. To my surprise, they also had freshly baked Pastel de Nata.....why not? I surely enjoyed my last PDN. We left the lounge around 6:20 and went straight to Gate 26. The other passengers of our TAP Portugal flight were already in queue, while we were just making our way to the line. We didn't stay long in line, we were given priority boarding and went straight to the gate agent.


The flight from Lisbon to Barcelona left on time, and the flight lasted for about an hour and twenty minutes. We made it to Barcelona Airport by 9:45 am local time. It was also a pretty big airport. I felt like I was in a mall. Lots of shopping to be had at the airport.


What do we do now?
Come to find out that Uber was not allowed to operate in Barcelona. We made our way to the nearest Metro station and told the agent that our hotel is on Avinguda Diagonal. He quickly pointed at the train stop....so simple, he said, "Take the Linea Nueve to Collblanc, then transfer to Linea Cinco to Diagonal." Ok cool, that was easy. We followed as we were instructed and headed to the L9 (Orange line). The train came within a few minutes. We boarded our 2 kids and 4 luggage. It took about 12 stops to Collblanc and we transferred on to L5 to Diagonal. Easy....until....when we got out of Diagonal, our hotel was nowhere near this station. It was time to call for help. TAXI!!! Showed the guy the address to the Sheraton Barcelona Diagonal and we were on our way. The ride was about 10 minutes and we got a glimpse of the city center. Lots of old buildings, exactly how I pictured it would be.



We arrived at our hotel close to noon. The cab ride was around $7 Euros, but we were also charged $1 Euro for each luggage, fair enough! Since it was still too early to check in, and we've been traveling all morning, we grabbed a quick lunch at the deli next door. While I waited for our lunch, I checked us in and was given an "okay" room at first with no view. The  one that they had reserved for us wasn't going to be ready until after 4pm. I decided to wait for the "better" room. So I went back to the deli. After lunch, we didn't feel like exploring yet. The couches in the lobby called our names. It gave us time to relax, to charge our phones, and surfed the net. Luckily, just shortly after 1pm, Lucas from the front desk, called to inform me that our room was ready. Yay!!!

We moved to the 5th floor, and once the elevator door opened up on our floor, to the left was a distant view of Sagrada Familia. We saw our room, 502, our room for the next 5 nights in Barcelona. It was humid in Barcelona. Our room's AC was on blast, and I wasn't sure if it was just too hot, or maybe the AC didn't function to its full potential. When we left the room by 3pm, I decided to let the hotel staff know about it and had asked them to look in to it.

Walking is good!

Knowing that Uber was not available, I didn't want to just flag any cab. I liked the certainty of Uber, knowing how much I'd be getting in to prior to the ride. So we decided to take the Metro. Glories, the nearest station, was about 10 minutes away. It was a straight walk in this humid Tuesday afternoon. We had a few options, get day passes (unlimited rides), or T-10, it was around $10 Euros good for 10 rides, and can be used by up to 10 people. So for the 4 of us, to get from point A to point B requires 4 tickets, and to return from point B to point A is another 4 tickets. Transfers are good within 75 minutes. So we opted to go with a T-10. It was also recommended by lots of TripAdvisor experts.

Catalunya, City Center

I checked my Visit A City app and followed it to go the city center, Placa Catalunya. It reminded me of Champs-Elysees in Paris. It was a huge avenue bustling with stores, and restaurants, and tourist attractions. We walked up and down the avenue, stopped at Casa Battlo for a few photo ops. Man, what a busy road. I couldn't believe it. I mean, I've been to NYC many, many times, and Paris a few times and just couldn't compare to what I saw.






Feed the birds
Somehow we all ended at Placa Catalunya. Again, Caitlin and Evan, they're just kids. They've been a great sport as we moved from one place to another, walked for miles and miles, so when we found ourselves at the Placa, it was their time to play. We bought a bag of bird seeds and for nearly an hour, we joined and watched them play and feed the birds. Life is quite funny. It's the little joys that we tend to forget. We took the time to feed the pigeons, and the last time I recalled doing this was over a year ago in Venice at Piazza San Marco with Ethan and Madison.





Las Ramblas

Not too far from Placa Catalunya was Las Ramblas, another busy road....extremely busy. I mean, where did all these people come from? It was a Tuesday night. A work night, and I wasn't sure if school was already in session, and if it was, then why was it so busy? It was uber crowded. Amazing. Think of the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica....on steroids. It was longer than that promenade. I've been there on a truly crowded night, but nothing compared to the crowd in Barcelona.


We grabbed something quick to eat....Doner Kebab, which has become a tradition for me and Nancy to eat. So quick, so easy to prepare, so reasonably priced. Evan got in on the action, and he enjoyed it as well. 


We kept on walking for blocks after blocks and chanced upon Patisseria Escriba. What caught my eyes was this old school nurses cap? You know that white cap worn by nurses? There was a pastry with that cap, and it turned out to be a cheesecake. I just had to order one. Delicious!





That was it....our first night in Barcelona. Thank for coming along.



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