Originally published 31 December 2017
New years, Plaza Espana, Barcelona
It’s moving day again. We packed up in our tiny hotel room in Nice this morning and boarded the express bus to the airport. It was Sunday morning so we figured the crowd would be light. The bus did wind up with a fair amount of people on it, and there were some people traveling on New Years Eve, but it was relatively light. We had a bit to eat at the airport, went through baggage check, and boarded our plane.
We’ve flown EasyJet this trip for several reasons. One reason is they had direct flights to where we wanted to go. The second reason is that the cost of our flights on EasyJet would be scandalously cheap in the U.S. As I mentioned, they charge about 15 bucks for a checked bag. WITH the extra cost for a checked bag, our one hour direct flight from Nice to Barcelona cost $67 U.S. per person.
Excluding a one hour delay leaving Geneva for Nice, they’ve been right on time. The service is as good or better than I have experienced on regular airlines in the states. The seats actually seem more roomy than those on our U.S. flights. The seats are comfortable, and made by Recaro, the car seat people. They do not recline like our U.S. seats though, and are “thinner”. But they feel fine to me. Especially considering that almost all of EasyJet flights are short haul of 1.5 hours or less.
View from our hotel balcony, Barcelona
We arrive in Barcelona, reclaim our checked bags, and start out in search of the train into Barcelona. It’s a bit of a walk and we got our exercise today, in full gear nonetheless. We bought train tickets into Barcelona for something like 4.80 euros each to the stop where our hotel is. The train went exactly where we expected, we got off, and walked to our hotel. We are staying at the Expo Hotel, across from Sants Station.
I chose a hotel for the last two legs for a couple of reasons. We like staying in apartments, but for Nice and Barcelona, it was much cheaper to get a hotel room. This is probably due to the holidays and there are probably good deals on apartments once the holidays are over. Nice was a short stay of 4 nights and 3 days. Barcelona is for 5 nights. We booked the best deal when you do all the math.
As for our hotel, compared to the tiny room we had in Nice, this place is a palace! I chose a hotel right across from the train station as, well, it’s right across from the train station. We have to walk a very short way to board a train that goes directly to the airport. One of the New Years celebrations is just a few blocks away, and we can walk. Also, there are two subway lines right by the hotel. We chose this based on convenience.
Our room has two beds, a balcony looking out over a square, and a not so pretty parking deck, but that’s not a big deal. It is VERY convenient. I could not turn around in the shower in our Nice hotel without my shoulders hitting BOTH walls in the shower. If you used the toilet, you had to sit at a 45 degree angle. It wasn’t big on comfort. This place has a full desk and work area, a huge closet with drawers and shelves, a large flat screen TV, a fridge, a safe, a pool and bar on the roof in warm weather, and was around $100 U.S. a night. We’re quite pleased.
After checking in, our priority was laundry. We were out of clean clothes and needed to do wash. We found a laundromat a few blocks away, put our clothes in the washer, and went next door to have doner kebab! This is shaved meat, cooked on a big rotating spit. It’s usually chicken or turkey but may be beef or lamb.
Bullfighting ring....now a mall
Doner is usually quite good as well as quite cheap. This was no exception. It hit the spot, and consisted of shaved meat, bread, salad, french fries, and a coke. Laurie added a beer, which brought the total cost to 14 euros. That’s cheap. We popped in and out of the doner stand to tend the laundry.
We finished dinner just as the wash was finishing drying. We shoved all our laundry back in the laundry bag, and took it back to the hotel. We didn’t bother to fold it at the laundry as we were putting it in drawers and hanging it in the closet. We’re going to be here 5 nights so there was no reason to repack the stuff.
Laurie wanted to stop at a street corner fruit stand. A lot of produce is grown in Spain and it’s usually a real bargain. She bought 8 clementine oranges, and 3 or 4 navel oranges for me. She had to ask twice because she couldn’t believe the price. 2.47 euros, or about 3 bucks. Spain looks to be much more reasonably priced than France at this point. We might like this place.
We came back into the room, I did a bit of blog writing and photo downloading, and we’re going back out to explore the town a little and take in the New Years celebration.
Insert a six hour break here. Now I’m back before bed.
We went down to where the Barcelona New Years Eve celebration was going to occur. We’ve been to Berlin which in my opinion was the most insane NYE you can go to. Berlin is just nuts after 6 P.M. and they shoot fireworks……and about half of them come AT you. They had over 1 million people in the Tiergarten in Berlin when we were there. We got in before New Years when we did NYE in Berlin, simply for safety.
We saw the crowd in Barcelona and thought “this isn’t that bad. We’ll wander through and head back to the hotel”. The hotel was allowing guest to watch the fireworks from the rooftop bar, which is closed for winter. We thought we would hit and run with the festivities downtown, get out before it got too crazy, and go watch from the roof. This did not happen.
As we wandered through the crowd, I paid attention to things such as perimeters, paths of retreat, etc. It is Europe and we all know things sometimes go badly here due to terrorism. I noticed hundreds of police, manning perimeters, checking bags as they entered the celebration area, we figured we would hang out a while and check things out.
They played music and had a show with the fountains. Lots of people were piling in. Pretty soon we realized that we’re not getting out. We’re along for the ride…and it seems like a lot more fun than the hotel roof! We stayed put to see in the New Year.
Our new friends from Holland!
We were treated to what can only be called phenomenal. The police who were manning the perimeter started moving. As time wore on, I figured it out. They weren’t leaving, they were retreating! They fell back to a secondary perimeter and set up again. People continued to pour in, eventually numbering in the hundreds of thousands. It was, with all kidding aside, the most amazing NYE show I’ve ever seen. We shared the experience with a couple from Holland who came for New Years. They were such fun!
While Berlin is marked by sheer craziness, this one was incredibly civilized. After the show was over, we had to work our way back towards our hotel. We walked several blocks west then turned to the northwest to take us back to our hotel. We grabbed a snack, and I’m turning in.
As New Years Eve celebrations go, Berlin is the most out of control and crazy. Barcelona was classy and fun, not to mention simply amazing. If you can only pick one……this is it.
Goodnight everybody. I need sleep.
Barcelona slide show day one