At the end of the post about Amsterdam were on our way to Barcelona. We had booked a hotel room in Barcelona for two days. It was five o'clock in the afternoon when we arrived in Barcelona, Barcelona Airport. The flight from Amsterdam to Barcelona was only a few hours so it seemed to go by quickly. From the moment we landed in Barcelona everything went smoothly. It was strange landing in another country and not having to go through customs. We left the plane, walked down the terminal and followed the signs to baggage which led us to the lower level. The Barcelona is a nice looking airport, very clean and spacious. There is a large central atrium with shops and restaurants on two levels. It was too bad that we were not going to be returning to Canada from Barcelona, I would have liked to spend more time in the airport.
After we picked up our two suitcases, we decided that we would travel light on this trip, I had to find out how to get to downtown Barcelona from the airport. The Barcelona guidebook, Rick Steve's Spain - 2011, described how to take the bus from the airport to Place Catalunya where we had booked a hotel. I decided to ask the person in the information booth for help. I had all of the phrases in Spanish that I thought I would need readily available. the first thing that I asked was, :Habla Ingles? The young man behind the counter said,"Yes sir, may I help you?" He gave me very clear and concise instructions in English on how to take the bus from the airport to Place Catalunya.
We followed the instructions and easily found the bus, Airport bus to Place Catalunya. We bought our bus tickets from an automated kiosk right at the bus stop. It only toook a few minutes for the bus to come.. It was an express bus called, "Aerobus".
We were told that the bus would be blue and it would have "AEROBUS" written on the side. The bus only made a few stops before it stopped at Place Catalunya. The entire trip only took about thirty five minutes.
At Place Catalunya we got off the bus. We saw the square which is not square and had no idea where our hotel was. When we booked the Hotel Continental. it said that they were virtually on the corner of place Catalunya but we could not figure which corner. I asked a young lady who was walking by where the Rambylas was and she gave us directions to get there. In fact she walked across the square with us to make sure that we went in the right direction. Once we were on the Rambylas we thought we would find the hotel right away. Instead we started walking away from the hotel. We walked half way down the street then I decided to get out our map and try to pinpoint the location of the hotel.
As Istood by the curb studying the map an man walked up to me and asked if he could help. We were told to be wary of pick pockets in Barcelona so I was suspicious. Still, he did not look the type. I told him we were looking for the Hotel Continental. He said that it was just up the street. He said that he would take us there. i did my best to make small talk in Spanish but my Spanish is fairly limited. He showed us the hotel. We thanked him profusely and went into the hotel.
At reception we were told that our reservation had been cancelled. By this time were getting exasperated. I pulled out our reservation and gave it to the receptionist. She make a few phone calls then said that there had been a mix up. We did have a reservation but they had no vacancies. We were about to protest when she said that they would give us a room and their sister hotel that was just a few blocks away. It was a more expensive hotel but they would give us a room for the same price as our reservation price. We were relieved. The receptionist said that we could walk to the other hotel. It would only take us about ten minutes.
With directions in hand we set out for the hotel then promptly got lost. There was something about Place Catalunya that I could never figure out. The sqaure was very disorienting, at least it was for me. We wondered around aimlessly for about half an hour, our suitcases in tow. One of the problems with Barcelona, in fact, all cities in Europe is that street signs are nice but not always present. you just have to know where you are going. Finally, I established a cross roads then proceeded street by street, checking the cross roads at each street. This was to become our most common means of navigation in Europe. We eventually made it to the second Hotel Continental. We quickly checked in and went to our room. It was late and we were tired so we decided that we would just eat from the 24 hour buffet in the hotel. It was great! There was plenty of good food and lots to drink. They had beer, wine, soft drinks, tea and coffee.
After eating and resting for a bit we decided we wanted to see something of Barcelona on our first night. We walked along the Rambylas careful not to stray off the street. We did not want to get lost. The Rambylas is an amazing place. It is part restaurant, part carnival, part tourist trinket mecca and 100% entertainment.
Even though we were completely exhausted we staying out exploring the Rambylas until almost 11PM.
It took us some effort to get to our hotel but it was worth it. It was an elegant hotel. Right from the foyer,