In the next thrilling installment of ‘Steph shows you loads of holiday photos, pretty much just of her standing in front of stuff’ we get to day 3, our last day in Barcelona (and can I just say – you have had to endure this many posts just for a weekend away – can you imagine how annoying I will be when I go on a proper holiday?? Live in fear, people, live in fear).
Being as the time seemed to have slipped past far too quickly, as it always does when you’re actually enjoying yourself, we decided we wanted to make the most of what little time we had left before we had to head to the airport in the early evening, so after a lovely last breakfast and saying goodbye to the hotel (yes, like Ross & Phoebe in Friends that one time in Barbados. What can I say, I get attached to things easily) we reluctantly checked out and headed into town.
First up, I had to go say goodbye to the sea (obviously) so we headed beach ward, though en route got distracted by a commotion in the streets of Raval. It turned out to be a parade, of which it transpires there are lots in Barcelona during February and March for the run up to Lent and Easter. This particular parade featured large mascots in traditional dress, which to be frank, creeped the bejeesus out of me, because I’ve never been a fan of mascots and mannequins. When I was a child any, entertainer in a larger than life fancy dress outfit seemed to be able to smell my fear and make a beeline for me, and even now they make me feel super uncomfortable. Just another one of those strange irrational fears of mine I guess. Still, there is also a tradition in Barcelona that during parades they throw sweets out into the crowd, so, you know, every cloud and all that! After soaking up a bit of that party atmosphere (I resisted temptation to run around gathering up said sweets, shoving children out of my way in the wake…) we made it down to the sea only to find yet more festivities going on – this time a Maritime Festival which saw hundreds of boats flood into the harbour, alongside live music and street food stalls. Now, those of you that read regularly will know that as well as mascots and mannequins, another of my irrational fears is large boats, so you can imagine my joy at the vast yachts lining the dockside. I need to point out here – I’m not scared of all boats, per se. I will happily go on one. In fact I imagined myself sitting upon the deck of many of those yachts, drink in hand, catching a tan. It’s large scale boats, and I’m not scared of them exactly, I just feel unnerved looking up at them, no idea why. Anyhow, moving on….
So far, so good, huh? So why the title full of apocalyptic gloom? Well, after a lovely stroll around the harbour, spotting dogs along the way, we had just about enough time for a farewell meal at Makamaka before heading to the shops to get that skirt and some gifts for friends and family. Except OH WAIT! It was Sunday in a Catholic country, so Zara was, of course, closed. Now that I couldn’t have the skirt, the skirt became the most important thing in the world right now and I almost convinced myself that my companion’s ‘Why don’t you have a think about it, and if you still like it tomorrow we’ll go back and get it then?’ advice was all a cruel plot to make sure I never got to buy the skirt. I know. I wouldn’t want to go away with me either. So that was crisis number 1. I had to satisfy myself instead with massively overthinking Cava and Rioja purchases. I wanted to buy some fancy bottles, but it’s so darn cheap over there I struggled to find any that cost more than 5 euros, which was crisis number 2. Oh woe is me, what first world problems I was experiencing then. Well, you know what they say – bad luck comes in threes, so there was still a crisis to come….
Despite me having a history of bad luck when travelling we managed to get to the airport with plenty of time to spare. While we were queueing to check in we kept seeing exasperated people stomping off from the desk, luggage in tow, and wondered what was going on. A passing traveller grumpily informed us that all flights to Luton and Stanstead were cancelled. ‘Ha ha!’, we thought in smug glee, ‘Sucks to be you. Thank god we’re going to East Midlands!’ and up to the desk we trotted, happily handing over our passports and tickets. We should have been a little less smug, because next ensued an A-typical Ryanair dispute about the differing weights and ratios of our baggage (I know. I wouldn’t have chosen them either, but it was a surprise, after all, and they do say never look a gift horse in the mouth!) which meant we had to jump out of the queue to redistribute our many Zara purchases across the varying receptacles we had. This resulted in my companion informing me we might need to ditch the Cava and Rioja. Yes. The very Cava and Rioja I had spent too many minutes pondering over just an hour or so before. Given my churlish reaction to not being able to buy the skirt, you can imagine how this went down – cue a bit of a strop and lots of sulking (God I hate myself reading this back). I felt pretty stupid though about my tantrum when we got back to the desk and found that our flights too were cancelled, in fact all flights to, over or in the general vicinity of France were cancelled due to Air Traffic Control strikes. Oh.
To keep a very long and boring story short, after being told the strike would probably last ‘somewhere between 1 and 5 days’ we were pointed in the direction of another queue of about another 6 trillion stranded travellers to find out what our options were. Our thoughts about waiting in that queue were something along the lines of ‘OH HELL NO!!’ and finally our luck came in, because our travel insurance providers assured us any accommodation and alternative travel would be covered. Back on the train we got and headed back into Barcelona in search of a bed for the night and another route home, which is pretty much the point when I wrote this post.
AND THERE YOU WERE THINKING THIS WAS JUST ANOTHER LOAD OF BORING HOLIDAY PHOTOS!! THE DRAMA! THE EXCITEMENT! THE… oh, there are the boring holiday photos….
So, did we ever find a hotel? How on earth did we get home? Will I ever own that skirt? Tune in soon to find out! Don’t hold your breath now!*
*No really, please don’t. It’s not actually that exciting….