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Spain, Portugal and Basque France Adventure 2014

Arrival in Barcelona

Flag of Spain  Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Thursday, June 12, 2014

I arrived in Barcelona soon after 2 pm. It took me a long time to get the rental car, a BEAUTIFUL VAN, by the way, because another customer held up the checking out line arguing with everyone that he was not going to pay for damage he had done to the car.

Well, then I had to focus on the manual shift gear and maneuvering the van out of the narrow parking spaces around the narrow lanes of the airport garage. The GPS had not kicked in yet, so I pulled up somewhere and waited for it to find its bearings!

Then, off I went and the stupid thing started saying “right, keep left, left, keep right!” so I decided to stick to the right which happened to be correct (phew!!). I decided to play her at her own game and stick to the side mentioned first. That seemed to work – but for about 20 minutes I was in 1st and 2nd gear only in early afternoon home-going city traffic.

Lots of cycling going on all around me, but on the whole everyone was very polite.

Then, NO WARNING! “Turn right, you’ve reached your destination”.. and even at my slow speed of 40 miles an hour, it was too late. So, I had to take the next turn, and that took me through a series of one-ways that you can’t believe!!! until finally, after throwing a huge S, I managed to stop in front of the hotel, only to be told that after a quick off-load of my luggage, I had to drive to a parking garage 2 blocks away since my van was too large.

Well, by the time I was booked in, I thought I better sort out the cellphone first and was told that I had to walk to the nearest shopping center about 8 blocks (20 minutes walk) away. Very few people understand English by the way and by this stage I had my little pocket dictionary out and was throwing the Spanish around! So, I managed to buy a Spanish sim card and had it activated (with great hilarity!) and buy a stapler (without a word of English!)

Well, I then joined the locals for a glass of wine and shish kebabs on the sidewalk and texted Cassandra.

I thought I might be back in time for the concert at the music theater across the road and flagged a taxi since I got so turned around that I did not have a clue where the hotel was and did not feel like walking the long way back again. The taxi driver took me to the wrong place – he heard ‘theater’ and OFF he went… well, he did not charge me the full price, so I tipped him a euro for the sightseeing and then I aimed for my room.

I had a missed call and thought it was Cassandra, but on closer inspection, I had checked the wrong phone and it was Bill and Linda who phoned from SC. United Airways had messed them around because of bad weather and they could not get a flight before tomorrow, so they will be arriving a day late. I have since heard that they will not get to Newark for their newly scheduled flight to Barcelona because of thunderstorms once again delaying their connecting flight. Now they will be two days late. What a disaster – so sorry about them missing some of our excursions.

My first night ended with me listening to the open-air jazz concert while in bed.

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