June 12, 2012: Off to Spain

We did nothing this morning but sleep in and stay in the hotel room in Milan until it was time to head out to go to the airport.  We walked over to Milano Centrali which was right across the street from our hotel, got a light breakfast at the station and caught the shuttle bus that runs from Centrali out to Milani Malpensa, the airport from which we will be flying to Barcelona.

The shuttle took about an hour and the ride on the shuttle gave us a chance to see, by far, the most of Milan that we got to see on this trip. It still was not very much, the shuttle didn’t pass any important sites.  Oh well, hopefully we will see Milan far more often than we event want to very soon.

The airport was mostly uneventful outside of a bit of confusion around checking in to our flight.  We are flying through Iberia but they have us handled by Vueling, one of their partners.  So when we went to the Iberia counter to check in… no one was there but the counter was officially “open”.  There were a lot of people having this problem.  There was a bit of a panic but I took the lead and talked to the information counter and found out that Iberia had multiple check in counters and that the one for Barcelona was in a completely different part of the airport.  That was extremely confusing and having their main counter completely unmanned so that there was no indication whatsoever that we were in the wrong place didn’t help anything.

After that, everything went smoothly.  We had gotten to the airport nearly two hours before our flight so had time to relax and eat some snacks while we waited for the flight.

The flight itself was pretty short, just over an hour.  It is not a long flight from Milan to Barcelona.  I had a great view out the port window nearly the whole time and was able to identify The Langhe, the Maritime Alps, the French Riviera, etc.  Pretty amazing views from the plane.

Unfortunately we had an incident on the plane.  I was feeding Luciana food from our snack stores and she gagged a little on a pecan sliver and threw up while we were in flight.  She has a really touchy gag response, always has.  Any little thing and everything comes up right away.  What a mess that was.  All over her, all over me, into the seat behind us.  Not fun.

Other than that the flight was good.  The seats were very tight with no legroom at all.  It was actually quite a bit claustrophobic.  Having to hold Luciana on my lap in such a tiny space was very awkward.  Good thing that the flight was really short.

We landed in Barcelona and took the first shuttle bus that we could to the city center.  Just that drive was pretty neat, Barcelona is a really attractive town.

We got to the main plaza and then took the Metro from there to the stop near our hotel.  It really wasn’t bad.  The Barcelona Metro is really quite nice.  Clean and easy to navigate.

We got off at the Barceloneta stop and walked to our hotel, the Hostal Nuevo Colon, which was very close to the Metro stop.  An easy walk.  The air was brisk and cool but the sun was really hot.  Bliding, in fact.  The sun in Barcelona was really intense.

The hotel was pretty nice.  Directly across the street from Estacio d’Franca and right on a main drag with tons of restaurants and shopping right outside.  Our room had three beds and a pack and play for Luciana.  We are pretty happy with it.

After getting settled in to the hotel room we headed onto to find some authentic Barcelonian tapas which we have been wanting for years.  We love tapas and we haven’t had good tapas since moving out of Newark and eating tapas regularly in the Ironbound.

We found a little place called Adriatico right down the street from the hotel and settled in there. We sat on the street and Dominica sent me in to order.  She speaks Spanish better than I do but she panics when dealing with things in another language so makes me deal with things whenever possible every since early on in Italy.  So I ordered us some coffee and a ton of tapas.  We were really hungry and excited to be eating real tapas in Spain.

Dinner was excellent.  We really liked it.  From there we just went back to the hotel.  Officially we don’t have Internet access in our room but in reality we do and it works great.  The girls were worn out from traveling so we spent a while just relaxing in the hotel.

Dominica wanted some supplies so sent me out to do some shopping.  So I went for a bit of a walk and discovered that our hotel is right on the water front with ships and the harbor and everything right down the street.  I walked around for a bit completely stunned by the beauty of Barcelona and the Mediterranean.  Really impressive.

I found a small “corner store”, somewhat oddly referred to as a supermercat here, that had what we needed, most importantly chocolate milk for Liesl, and I returned home.  I am very happy to discover that chocolate milk is so popular here that there is a large brand made right here in Barcelona so it is really easy to find.  Everyone carries the local brand and it is really good.

If I ever have to open my own chain of “super markets” in the region I will have a merecat as my logo and call it the Super Merecat Supermercat.  At least no one would forget it.

We had some snacks from the grocery and just relaxed.  The girls were busy playing with their toys and harassing Dominica as usual.  Dominica was very impressed with my ability to get out and find what we needed just walking around in Barcelona.

Dominica also did a bit of tour bus research tonight.  We are just tourists here in Barcelona so our plan is to actually use the tour buses and get out and see the city.  We have no agenda other than to see the sites.  I’m not much into being a tourist but there is no opportunity for us to get into normal life here and there is a ton to see in this town.  So likely we will be riding the tour buses all day tomorrow.

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