10 reasons to go to Barcelona – And it’s not only for tapas and sangria, but you know, I’ll take it anyway!

The headless man in Barcelona, Spain.
The headless man in Barcelona, Spain.

So last week, I told you how I got abandoned at Barcelona Airport and it was pretty traumatising. Not only did I have to go through a flight delay with Vueling before I got to Spain but I went through a horrendous flight delay with Norwegian, on the way back to Germany too.

You really couldn’t make it up.

The fact is, whenever you go through an unpleasant time, it leaves a slight taste in your mouth and then you have a negative image of that destination.

The fact is, you begin to think it was that place rather than that airline.

Spain - Here we come!
Spain – Here we come!

The fact is, Spain is a great country to go to and Barcelona is just a thrill and I reeeeeally do like Barcelona and don’t want last week’s post to spoil the good time that I DID have in Spain so perhaps, I might go back to Spain again sometime this year.

It deserves a second chance.

One of the best things about going to the TBEX EUROPE conference is that you get the opportunity to be introduced to other organisations and outlets that you might not have thought of. You also get interviewed. I was asked, by the Travel Massive community in Spain, whether it was worth attending TBEX. Here’s the link to what I said!

Catalonia or Catalunya, Spain. Spain - Catalonia
Catalonia or Catalunya, Spain.
Spain – Catalonia

Now, I’ve actually been to Barcelona about four (4) times now, and this was the fifth (5th) time so I knew Barcelona as a fun city, but I didn’t know Barcelona as a cultural city!

As you know, my time was extremely limited in Lloret de Mar and I really only had one day to play with as the TBEX EUROPE bloggers conference took place from 30.04.15 – 02.05.15. Basically, three (3) days and nicely done over a public holiday and the weekend.

My initial plan was to use May 3rd to go to Barcelona, as you can’t be in the region and NOT go to Barcelona. That would be sacrilege!

Moventis, Sarfa.

As a TBEX EUROPE accredited blogger, the city of Lloret de Mar and the region of Costa Brava did their very best to provide either complimentary, or reduced-priced transport.

Now for those of you who have been following my blog in the last year (thank you so much!), you know that I attend quite a few parties, festivals, and events and I’m not averse to having a jolly good time LOL! I do however, also like history and culture, so I signed up with a company called Context Travel or #DeepTravel.

Context Travel had tours operating in Barcelona and in order to join the tour, I had to make my own way down …

Barcelona isn’t actually that close to Lloret de Mar and depending on where you are going, can take up to two (2) hours…..Since I wasn’t going to the airport, I decided to make use of local transportation which would comprise of either taking the bus or the train. Would you believe it if I told you that travelling by bus was much faster?

shutterstock-92810047-zob

You know how I love coach-bus travel so by bus it was to be.

On the last official night of TBEX EUROPE there was a closing party at a local club in Lloret de Mar. I was still quite exhausted from sleeping at the airport the previous day so I decided to go back to my hotel a little after midnight! Thankfully, the lovely 4-star – Hotel Gran Garbi in Lloret de Mar was about just seven (7) minutes away from the local coach-bus station so I sprinted towards it and took the 09:30 bus to Barcelona early on Sunday morning!

The fantastic thing about the Lloret de Mar coach-bus station is that not only could you go straight to the airport, but you could also travel to Toss de Mar, Barcelona, Girona and France!

I didn’t have any time for France but I did have the whole day allocated to spending as much time as possible in Barcelona.

Train & Bus tickets in Barcelona, Spain.

In order to get a return ticket, you have to choose and book the time that you wish to return. It’s a long journey so I chose the outward journey of 09:30 and a return time of 19:15. A return ticket would usually cost €10.75 but with a TBEX “pass” it cost just €9.75. Every penny counts.

The bus was quite comfortable, very clean, and pretty much fully booked. I ended up sitting next to an Italian guy who lived in Switzerland and had travelled to Spain to get his suit custom-made! He was pretty worried about getting his suit squashed and spent the whole journey holding it. He was fun to talk to though!

The bus is described as having WiFi but it didn’t work all the time, and on the return journey didn’t work at all!

From the Land of the Dead.
From the Land of the Dead.

I was set to meet Context Travel at 11:00.

Our meeting point was at the Hard Rock Cafe on Plaça Catalunya. When I got to Est Nord – which is the Barcelona Central Coach-Bus Station – I realised that I only had twenty (20) minutes to get to the meeting point, so I took a taxi.

You hear many things about the unscrupulous taxi drvers in Barcelona.

And the cost?

€5.00!

I didn’t get cheated at all and I managed to get to the Hard Rock Cafe with two (2) minutes to spare!

And then I looked around.

No tour guide but very creative students in Barcelona, Spain. Getting "married!"
No tour guide but very creative students in Barcelona, Spain.
Getting “married!”

No tour guide!

No person, man or woman holding-a-context-travel-sign-with-the-name-of-the-tour as instructed.

No umbrella person.

No groups of lost-looking-tourists-also-going-on-the-tour.

Nothing!

Sigh!

He was in the Shopping District in Barcelona, Spain. Gorgeous!
He was in the Shopping District in Barcelona, Spain.
Gorgeous!

I spent fifteen (15) minutes staring into the faces and peering at random strangers, hoping that they were the guide. Or lost tourists.

And then I saw a woman constantly looking at her phone and wearing pedal pushers. Could she be?

Yep! She was a blogger – Luxe Travel Family.

A fellow TBEX EUROPE blogger.

Hurrah! I’m not in Kansas anymore Toto!

And she was standing next to a young lady. She was a blogger too! – Travel Geekery.

And then not more than a few minutes later a woman came huffing and puffing. Another blogger! – Rachel Heller.

Hurrah, for TBEX EUROPE bloggers.

But wait. Where was our guide?

We’re experienced travel bloggers. We have social media at our finger tips. We’ve climbed volcanos, interviewed top artists, and sat on the front row at Fashion Week, surely we know what to do with all that technology at our finger tips?

Yeeeeeah!

So we called up.

Yep! We used the telephone LOL!

Anyway, it transpired that the organisers had messed up. There was a guide who was at the other side of Barcelona who had been waiting for a group of tourists who hadn’t turned up, and we were on the opposite side of the city thinking the same thing….!

Biel - our guide in Barcelona.
Biel – our guide in Barcelona.

In less than twenty minutes, our lovely guide arrived. His name was Biel. He was an absolute top fellow, in his late twenties, and professional. After making sure we were all together and brief introductions, off we went.

I’m an eager beaver, so I booked up for two (2) tours. The first one was called: The Gothic Quarter and the second one was called: Gràcia and the Spirit of Catalan Independence!

The Festival of The Day of the Virgin Mary, in Barcelona, Spain.
The Festival of The Day of the Virgin Mary, in Barcelona, Spain.

For the Gothic Quarter Tour, it was just the four (4) of us so Biel was really flexible and let us concentrate on the things that we were interested in or in anything we saw. And we saw a lot of things not even included in the tour because May 3rd was a public holiday in Barcelona, and the locals were celebrating  the festival of The Day of the Virgin Mary!

Loads of local Spaniards were out and about and I saw lots of families with children putting their blanket on the cool stone stabs and simply having a picnic, right there in the historic quarter of the Roman era! The festival turned into a bit of a musical parade which was in full force, and we even left the tour for about 20 minutes and joined in the parade itself.

Barcelona, Spain.

Now this is being in Barcelona!

It was a great day, extremely sunny and the feeling that I was really in Spain, began to slowly settle in.

Si!

So let’s have some history:

BARCELONA

Parc Guell in Barcelona, Spain.
Parc Guell in Barcelona, Spain.

Barcelona,, although not the capital of Spain, is indeed the capital of Catalunya or Catalonia and with 1.6 million people, is the second largest city, after Madrid, – Spain’s real capital city! It’s an old city founded by the Romans and emerging in importance in the Middle Ages. It’s a city that is over 2,000 years old and is open to the sea and influenced by many cultures.

Barcelona is a cosmopolitan city and a capital of business and commerce as well as a leading tourist destination, with some of the world’s finest architects having left their mark that integrate with the elegance of the Eixample district, and the down-to-earth squares of the Gràcia districts.

Barcelona, Spain.

It’s a fantastic city of both history and culture and it’s no wonder that millions of people flock there.

Catalonia’s fight for Spanish independence was based on political and historical ground, as far back as the 14th century, but was lost in 1714. The region got a resurgence of Catalan nationalism in the 19th century but with the dictatorship of General Franco, all of Spain was in dire straits.

Today however, Barcelona is a mediterranean city  that invites you to stroll on it’s streets filled with life and atmosphere, or to breathe in the rich ancient language of the Catalan people.

 THE GOTHIC QUARTER AND GRACIA AND THE SPIRIT OF CATALAN INDEPENDENCE

There be dragons in Barcelona, Spain.
There be dragons in Barcelona, Spain.

Barcelona’s Barri Gótic, or the Gothic Quarter is one of the best preserved medieval districts in the world, where you can ramble through the squares and hidden corners and discover the charm of buildings that are hundreds of years old.

We certainly did.

Our guide – Biel – took us through the layers of Barcelona from ancient Roman times, through the Middle Ages and until the 19th century.

The ancient Barcino Temple in Barcelona, Spain.
The ancient Barcino Temple in Barcelona, Spain.

We were shown the remains of a Roman gate, parts of the Roman wall and some Roman architecture. You all know the saying that “All Roads lead to Rome.” Not only that, but did you know that the saying in Barcelona goes – “All Roads lead to Rome and to the Gate of Augustus!”

It’s certainly true as in practically every twist and turn in and in every back alley, you could see a part of Roman history and Roman architecture and ideas that comprised of guilds, sophisticated professional and merchant classes, and a rich religious life for many religions.

FC Barcelona.
FC Barcelona.

Later in the day, I went on my second tour to Gràcia and as I was the only guest, it ended up being a private tour of one.

I also got to know a little bit about Biel as we sat in the Spanish sun and drank a can of non-alcoholic beer!!!!

Biel – the tour guide – was actually a young academic and an Art Historian who had not only been working with Context for three (3) years, but was also teaching at the local university AND was also involved in a local street festival, that took place once a year. The celebration was called the Festivity of Gràcia or the Fest de Gràcia and was a community effort.

Barcelona, Spain.

I had a look at his workshop which had signs asking for the locals to send in their recyclable products that he and his team needed, and they did. In fact, the project was so successful that last year, they won first prize for creativity.

Gràcia is very different from Barcelona Central and quite working class. There were hardly any tourists around and lots and lots of locals sitting in the sun, drinking, playing or just chatting.

I saw many churches, places of worship. And flags. I also got a peek into the history of the rise for independence by the Catalan people and even though Biel said nothing to suggest his feelings, I could feel the passion in his voice.

The Catalan people are proud. Proud of their language, proud of their culture, and proud of their soul.

Iberico ham.
Iberico ham.

If you’re thinking of going to a warm European city where the sun always shines, Barcelona is a good bet.

Here are ten (10) reasons why:

  1. Barcelona is easy to reach by plane, train, and by ship.
  2. If you like “living” history, there are so many open-air museums, squares and streets that you can stroll through. Take your time, close your eyes and imagine that you’re right back in time. At every turn and nook and cranny, you can bump into medieval bridges, romanesque chapels and gothic arches.
  3. The most brilliant works of Catalan Art Nouveau such as the marvellous beauty – La Sagrada Família –  are to be found all over the city through it’s most talented son – Gaudi.
  4. The Catalan people have a patron saint called Sant Jordi who happens to be the exact same patron saint of England – Saint George. I couldn’t believe it. I was enthralled and delighted.
  5. Look for dragons which are hidden. You can find them everywhere. If you look! Take a closer look at the architecture, in the stones and on the windows. They’re all over the place!
  6. The traditions of Catalonia are so rich that it is packed with carnivals, festivals, dances, bonfires, streets and squares filled with “Giants” and human towers that are such an exquisite sight, that the castellers have been declared a World Intangible Heritage! It was such a shame that I missed seeing them personally on my first day, due to my flight delay…
  7. Catalonia isn’t just Barcelona but consists of a diversity of land and regions ranging from the rugged Pyrenees, charming villages and towns, and farmed fields of the plain, not to talk of the beautiful sea, and has 16 natural parks and nature reserves, and a collection of sea scapes and mountains that are as wide in size, as the country of Belgium!
  8. Check out Barcelona’s most modern stadium and visit FC Barcelona filled with such beauties and talents, as Neymar and Lionel Messi!
  9. Visit Barcelona’s open-air or Historic Trail Markets and stuff yourself with the abundance of extremely tasty natural produce and gastronomy, based on seasonal produce such as paella, tapas, seafood, fideuà (a type of noodle casserole), black rice, home-made desserts and Cervesa.
  10. Discover and hang out in Barcelona’s underground scene that includes wild jam sessions, techno dancefloors, film screenings and flamenco!
A special Catalan dish at Carmelitas Tapas in Barcelona, Spain.
A special Catalan dish at Carmelitas Tapas in Barcelona, Spain.

I only had roughly eight (8) hours to spend in Barcelona in which I went on two (2) walking tours, had a local lunch at a Spanish bistro that served traditional tapas and typical Catalan dishes, with the bloggers. The bistro was called Carmelitas Tapas. After that I had some ice-cream, and still managed to take a couple of selfies at the Arc de Triomf, and in plenty of time to take the coach-bus back to Lloret de Mar!

if you’re interested in history and art then Context Travel or #DeepTravel might be a good fit for you.

I loved my day out and found Barcelona utterly charming!

Barcelona, Spain.

Here are the details:

WHAT IS CONTEXT TRAVEL?

Context Travel also known as #DeepTravel, is a network of scholars and specialists who specialise in archaeology, art history, cuisine, urban planning, history, environmental science, and the classics, and who design and lead in-depth walking seminars for small groups of people who are intellectually curious.

Their vision is to bring together local scholars and specialists, with visitors who are curious, so that they can learn and allow them access to places and cultures that might otherwise remain out of sight. Their biggest goal is to take visitors off the tourist track and into the real life of the people, history, and culture.

My type of people then!

WHAT IS THE GOTHIC QUARTER TOUR ABOUT?

Barcelona, Spain.

The Gothic Quarter Tour goes through the heart of the town, learning about the evolution of Barcelona, going through the neighbourhood, walking through Barcelona’s main market, into La Ramblas and taking a look at how modern development has changed the city in the 18th and 19th centuries. You get to learn about the rich religious life and Barcelona’s history through the remains of the ancient city, the medieval splendor, the modern technology and the cosmopolitan urban mix.

WHAT IS THE GRACIA AND THE SPIRIT OF CATALAN INDEPENDENCE TOUR ABOUT?

St. George AND the red cross on the streets of Barcelona, Spain.
St. George AND the red cross on the streets of Barcelona, Spain.

The Gràcia Tour is about the loss of independence in the region of Catalan and the neighbourhood of Gràcia. The walk introduces us to the intricacies of Catalan history and culture, the difference between the Catalan and the Spanish and why they continue to fight for independence. The tour also shows the wealth of the area during the Industrial Revolution and at the same time, the village-like feel of the tiny squares, the places of worship, the narrow streets and the romantic architecture.

Phew!

DO I NEED TO UNDERSTAND SPANISH?

Nope!

These tour are in English. If English isn’t your native-language not to worry, as the company can arrange customised tours.

Some Spanish biscuit and cake!
Some Spanish biscuit and cake!

WHAT DO I NEED?

A pair of good shoes, a pair of sunglasses, suncream, a hat, a huge bottle of water, a few Euros for a snack, and a huge smile!

ANYTHING ELSE?

Yes. The tours are extremely small and have no more than six (6) people at a time. It’s a little pricey at $91.00 or €80.00 but if you want professional art historians who really know their stuff, then it’s worth the price.

The tour is three hours long so don’t make an important appointment immediately after. You might want to hang-out with the tour-guide and other members of your tour group, over a beer or two.

MY VERDICT:

Barcelona, Spain.

I’m aspiring to be an art history and culture buff, so it was just perfect. If you’re not that well inclined, then they do customise tours for individual groups. As my last tour was just me, my tour guide did just that. We focused on the things that were of interest to me and skipped the ones that weren’t!

Everyone should do a walking tour every now and then, if only to make sure that you know exactly what you’re talking about or can follow up with someone who does LOL!

I really enjoyed the tours but I don’t recommend them for children or young teenagers. Highly recommended for a more intimate, hands-on experience.

Many Thanks to TBEX, TBEX EUROPE, the Catalunya Experience, Costa Brava, Lloret de Mar, Context Travel and all the wonderful bloggers that I met, for the good times and for their warm hospitality.

See you in Stockholm, 2016.

This article is not sponsored, and even though I was a guest of Context, all opinions and the Iberico ham and lovely red wine that I consumed, are my very own!

I have so much to share with you.

Stay tuned!

Paletilla Iberica at Carmelitas Tapas in Barcelona, Spain.
Paletilla Iberica at Carmelitas Tapas in Barcelona, Spain.

Next week, I’ll be back about the secrets of Estonia and what we did in Tallinn with the help of the Tallinn Card, what the view was like on the ferry crossing from Estonia to Finland with TALLINK SLJA LINE and what we thought about Helsinki in Finland!

The Berlin Music Video Awards will be taking place from May 27.05.15 – 30.05.15. It’s going to be great.

The Berlin Fashion Film Festival will be taking place on 05.06.15.

I’ll be there. Will you?

As usual, you can also follow me via daily tweets and pictures on Twitter & FB!

If you’re not in Berlin right now, then you’re losing the experience of Berlin – the place to be!

May is going to be exciting.

Watch this space!

About to leap outside the Arc de Triomf in Barcelona, Spain!
About to leap outside the Arc de Triomf in Barcelona, Spain!

 

Have you ever been to Barcelona? Are you a fan of Gaudia or a fan of sangria?

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post or if you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

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How I went to TBEX EUROPE, got abandoned at Barcelona Airport & what I learnt!

My TBEX Badge 2015.

So last week, I told you that I was going to write about Estonia but you know what? I changed my mind!

I changed my mind because I went to TBEX in Spain and got myself into a lot of hot water! Remember how I thought it would be a good idea to climb up a live volcano in Bali. Well it wasn’t! How about the time when I fell off a ski lift in the Czech Republic? I mean, I was lucky that I hadn’t broken both my legs. What about the time that I flew to Korea but I should have been going to Qatar?!

Yep! I don’t know how I get myself into these weird situations and they always seem to follow me around. I usually take them in my stride and laugh them off, but this time I wasn’t really laughing.

How dramatic!

So what happened…?

TBEX-EU-Light-drop-shadow

Firstly, let me tell you what TBEX is all about.

TBEX is the holy grail of the travel blogging world and stands for Travel Blog Exchange. The organisation used to be located in North America and Europe but for the first time in 2015, is now based not only in “the West” but in Asia too, and on a cruise-ship in the middle of the sea!

How exciting!

I’ve heard a lot of good and sometimes controversial things about TBEX but I decided to attend the conference for myself and make up my own mind.

TBEX-infography-page-0

 

I decided to stay closer to home and attend TBEX EUROPE. In previous years, the bloggers conference had been in Dublin (whisky & beer. Yay!) and Athens (ouzo & wine. Double Yay!). This time, TBEX EUROPE was in Costa Brava, Catalunya. In Spain. (tapas & tequila. Olé!) In Lloret de Mar to be specific. Near the beach. Oooooo!

According to the TBEX website, it’s the world’s largest gathering of travel bloggers, writers, new media content creators, digital publishing and social-media-savvy travel industry professionals. It’s also a medium for the creative minds of the travel industry to come together, to network, to learn, to negotiate with the travel industry and for those who are so inclined, to take the business of blogging to the next level.

Am I one of the social-media -savvy people?

Eeeek!

So what’s the next level?

It’s entirely up to you.

Phew!

At the TBEX EUROPE 2015 Friday night "Sangria on the Roof" party, sponsored by Eurail. With myself, Carly Hulls and marta@a-girlwhotravels.com in Lloret de Mar.
At the TBEX EUROPE 2015 Friday night “Sangria on the Roof” party, sponsored by Eurail. With myself, Carly Hulls and marta@a-girlwhotravels.com in Lloret de Mar.

Every year, TBEX partners with fantastic destinations so that bloggers and media people get the opportunity to meet potential business partners or sponsors, meet influential bloggers, get new strategies and tips, network with each other, discover new destinations, share a new experience and well, be entertained and paaaaaaaarty like it’s 1999!

Oh alright then. Paaaaaarty like it’s 2009!

There. Happy now!

Me on the beach at Lloret de Mar, Spain.
Me on the beach at Lloret de Mar, Spain.

TBEX EUROPE promised us an exciting night life, delicious food, outdoor locations and enlightening cultural excursions. Did they deliver on their promise?

They sure did!

And I only got a tiny bite of the apple.

Awwww!

I know right?!

But it wasn’t the fault of TBEX oh dear me no. It was the fault of…

Drum roll please….

In fact, a crash of cymbals please…

It was in truth….

The airlines.

Not an airline. AIRLINES!

Sigh!

My journey to Spain didn’t start well….!

Spain - Here we come!
Spain – Here we come!

I was really excited to be going to TBEX EUROPE and I was one of the early birds and paid just $127.00 as far back as November 2014, so I was well and truely locked LOL!

Of course, once I booked my conference ticket I reckoned that if we’re going to have a gaggle of bloggers descending on Lloret de Mar, then I ought to reserve a hotel room.

I did.

It wasn’t such a good idea.

I’ll tell you why later!

East End Gallery: A Part of the Berlin Wall.
East End Gallery: A Part of the Berlin Wall.

Since I live in Germany and Spain isn’t Poland or Lithuania, then the next thing is to book a flight. I couldn’t seem to get a flight with the times that I wanted, so I booked two separate flights with two different companies. Their names were Vueling and Norwegian.

Now since this was my first TBEX conference. I didn’t really know anyone who lived in Berlin and was going to TBEX too, so I didn’t have anyone to talk to about the logistics. If I had, I would have learnt to leave more than a weekend!

Yep! I didn’t know that TBEX EUROPE doesn’t only mean the conference weekend but actually a week of serious jollification and pre-tours before the conference and a week of a bit of a jolly after the conference! In fact, even though the conference officially took place from April 30th – May 2nd, some people are still in Spain NOW – Living the life of Riley! I don’t envy them in the least, I only wish it had been me LOL!

A map of the Baltic Sea.
A map of the Baltic Sea.

Anyway, since I had just returned from a two-week trip around the Baltics States, it wasn’t really appropriate or fair, to take off to a sunny destination so soon. So a long weekend it had to be.

As I said previously, the TBEX EUROPE bloggers conference took place from 30.04.15 – 02.05.15. Basically, three (3) days and nicely done over a public holiday and the weekend. Planned nicely, it would have been just the thing to have quite an interesting, but fruitful weekend in Spain. I couldn’t think of anything better.

Until I got to the airport!

I had dashed across town from my office to the airport. Berlin Tegel Airport is a great airport to use as it’s near the centre of the city, and is extremely small. Lovely!

Vueling, Barcelona - Spain.

I had never flown with Vueling before but I was excited to use the airline as it was a Spanish low-cost airline that I had seen posters about a year previously, but had never used. TBEX seemed to be the perfect opportunity.

And then the board flashed up that there would be a flight delay which you know, is a thing that can happen to any airline. However, as time flew by, I became visibly unrelaxed as the schedule for the out-going flight pushed back further and further away… My flight was originally due to leave Berlin at 20:45 and arrive Barcelona at 23:15.

My flight didn’t leave Berlin until 22:15 and arrived Barcelona at 00:30! A right old problem as I had pre-booked and pre-paid a shared taxi shuttle service from a company called HolidayTaxis.com to pick me up at about 23:15. Thank goodness for the Facebook TBEX networking page where I found out all about this company in the first instance, as after 22:30, no trains or buses are usually available and transport is either by taxi or hired car!

I'm a British girl in Beeeerlin!
I’m a British girl in Beeeerlin!

As you know that I don’t drive, it was imperative that the taxi shuttle took me to my hotel. Speaking of a hotel, I had originally made a reservation from a local establishment in Lloret de Mar right back in December, this hotel was called Hotel Excelsior Lloret. Now it’s probably a perfectly fine hotel but I’ll never know, as from the time I made my hotel reservation, they ignored all my Emails and messages on FB! Short of calling them, I Emailed them every month and then every week and by the time April crept up, I was understandably very nervous, cancelled the reservation, and booked ANOTHER hotel recommended and researched by TBEX EUROPE itself.

Thaaaaaaank Goodness because OMG! With the airport drama that was going on, I still hadn’t checked into my newly booked hotel, so I called them from the airport at 01:00.

They were absolutely great.

Even at that time of the morning they were only concerned about my welfare. The very friendly hotel was the 4-star – Hotel Gran Garbi in Lloret de Mar – that because it was still low season in Spain, had a wonderful weekend-special-and-on-line price of €33.50 that included a buffet breakfast, with a couple of swimming pools, close to the beach and in a (simple) en-suite double room for a single person booking!

Per Night!

Hotel Gran Garbí in Lloret de Mar - Spain.
Hotel Gran Garbí in Lloret de Mar – Spain.

You couldn’t get any better but how to get there?

By the time I picked up my luggage it was 01:00 and although I walked through the airport, there was no taxi shuttle service or man-with-a-piece-of paper-in-his-hand-with-my-name-on-it, to be seen.

I was stuck. In the middle of the night. At Barcelona Airport.

Alone!

HolidayTaxis.com
HolidayTaxis.com

I called HolidayTaxis.com and told them what had happened. I was so close to tears, tired, hungry, and fed-up. A customer-service lady – Barbara – promised to call me back in five (5) minutes to see if she could help me.

She did call me back and she did help me.

She was fantastic.

The earliest taxi shuttle that she could get for me was arriving at 04:00 in the morning. I was just so eager and desperate to get out of that airport, that I agreed on the spot.

Spanish beer & my little red handbag at a street food market in Lloret de Mar - Spain.
Spanish beer & my little red handbag at a street food market in Lloret de Mar – Spain.

The airport was pretty empty and only had a few stragglers and the bar staff of the 24-hour Caffé di Fiore, who were quite merry and sympathetic to my plight, probably gave me a larger ice-cold beer than I deserved at a cost of just €2.15. They also let me claim a corner so that I could huddle undisturbed as I was too afraid to actually go to sleep in case, I wouldn’t hear my mobile phone ringing, as Barbara from HolidayTaxis.com promised to give me a ring so that I could make my way to the airport car park.

I stayed at Barcelona Airport through the night!

At 04:20, the driver came, took my suitcase and kindly told me to make myself at home as he had arrived with a coach-bus.

It was just me in the 60-seater, so I did just that.

Lloret de Mar, Spain.

Lloret de Mar is usually a 2 hour journey from Barcelona Airport but thankfully, due to very little traffic, we arrived at about 05:20. And the male receptionist at the Hotel Gran Garbi was so nice that he opened the kitchen just for me, and asked me to help myself to breakfast!

I almost burst into tears again at his kindness and helped myself to cold cuts, cheese, croissants and a cupcake, with a much yearned for cup of hot chocolate as I just couldn’t wait for the cup of tea!

An early morning breakfast at Lloret de Mar - Spain.
An early morning breakfast at Lloret de Mar – Spain.

So did I go to the TBEX EUROPE Opening Party on the beach?

Nope!

Did I go to the Welcome and Opening Keynote Ceremony?

Nope!

Did I go to the first breakout Learning Session?

Hardly, I only got there in the last 10 minutes.

So what did I do?

I went to sleep and tried to combat a headache of not sleeping through the night!

Paella for lunch at TBEX in Lloret de Mar - Spain. Yum!
Paella for lunch at TBEX in Lloret de Mar – Spain.
Yum!

THE RETURN JOURNEY BACK TO BERLIN ON 04.05.15.

Me relaxing at the Berlin Music Video Awards, 2014.
Me relaxing at the Berlin Music Video Awards, 2014.

 

After my interesting journey into Barcelona, you would think that my return flight to Berlin would be uneventful.

I wish!

It was actually worse!

Feeling very sorry for myself flying with Norwegian.
Feeling very sorry for myself flying with Norwegian.

I was to fly with Norwegian and I wanted to give them a try as a German blogger called – Globetrotter Girls – raved about how much she loved flying with Norwegian although it too was a budget airline.

I’m sorry to say that choosing to fly Norwegian was a not a good sense of judgement on my part.

My flight was to depart Barcelona at 08:55 and land in Berlin at 11:45 so the taxi shuttle service picked me up from my hotel at 03:20, as it was a Monday morning and traffic in Barcelona can be extremely heavy. I arrived at Barcelona Airport at about 05:20 and then got a message on my mobile phone at 06:04.

The SMS came from the Norwegian airline and read that the flight was delayed until 13:15!

That’s annoying of course, but not too bad when I tell you that the departure time was shifted to 16:30 and in fact, we didn’t even leave Barcelona Airport until 19:00!

19;00.

Ten (10) hours behind schedule! Ten (10) hours!

Zoooooop! Don't say it! Image@ eatdrinkandrun.com
Zoooooop! Don’t say it!
Image@ eatdrinkandrun.com

I had missed the classes that I was supposed to teach later that evening. I had missed my very nice dinner waiting for me at home and I had missed the time that I should have been wrapping up my Master’s Dissertation paper!

I was not annoyed. I was pissed off.

To the airline’s credit, they very quickly gave out food vouchers and I received one in the morning to the value of €15.00 and one in the afternoon to the value of €12.00.

i_m_in_shock_look_i_have_a_blanket_by_teamfreewillangel-d62zdp0

I was so sleepy that I thought about paying up for the privilege of using the business class lounge but they had no WiFi service! In the end, I made myself a little nest at Burger King and bought a one day WiFi pass for €10.00 which after a few hours refused to work (they refunded the money), and so I went to a classier restaurant, bought some tapas and a small bottle of Spanish plonk resigned to never leaving the airport at all.

My flight arrived in Berlin safely but horribly late at 21:05 and we were finally able to retrieve our luggage at 21:25 making my flight ordeal to be that of fifteen (15) hours!

Fifteen hours!

I have sent in delayed flight claims and wait eagerly for their response. And you’ll be the first to know!

After a delay of over 10 hours, we landed at Tegel Airport in Berlin. At last!
After a delay of over 10 hours, we landed at Tegel Airport in Berlin. At last!

And now:

WHAT DID I LEARN AT TBEX ?

Happiness is street food in Lloret de Mar - Spain.
Happiness is street food in Lloret de Mar – Spain.
  • Leave plenty of time for trips, tours and meet-ups both before and after the conference.
  • Networking is key to putting a face to a name in the blogging community.
  • Think about your future and where you would like your blogging career to lead to.
If you want jelly & ice-cream - you can jolly well have it! TBEX lunch in Lloret de Mar - Spain.
If you want jelly & ice-cream – you can jolly well have it!
TBEX lunch in Lloret de Mar – Spain.
  • Don’t be afraid to monetize if that is what you want to do, just be realistic as nobody ever “made it” by blogging alone. There’s a huge amount of hard work behind the facade of “success.”
  • Think about what your niche market is and if you’re a local destination expert – own it!
  • Think carefully. If you do decide to take your business off the blog into the “real world” there would be many things to consider. Not least adhering to the laws of the land where you reside or settle, and such mundane things as licences, insurance, taxes, banking, a virtual assistant, marketing and sales, PR, etc.
  • Don’t spend more than you can afford to lose.
A rich salad as part of a TBEX lunch in Lloret de Mar - Spain.
A rich salad as part of a TBEX lunch in Lloret de Mar – Spain.
  • Improve your photography.
  • Give back to the community.
  • Look at present day trends to predict the next big thing.
  • Cruises are the future.
  • Airlines are the strongest competitors of social media experts.
  • Listen to your readers.
Waving the flag of Britishness!
Waving the flag of Britishness!
  • Look at what excites YOU.
  • Educate yourself.
  • Get started.
  • Build your audience.
  • Do things your way.

Lloret de Mar - Spain.

WHAT DID I LEARN IN SPAIN?

  • Spanish tapas is cheap and will fill your tummy no matter what time of day.
  • Not every hotel is equal.
  • Just because the sun is shining doesn’t mean it’s warm.
  • Take more than one (1) pair of fancy shoes.
Jack Woodhead with a lovely pair of silver, sparkly shoes which I want! Photo@Jack woodhead.
Jack Woodhead with a lovely pair of silver, sparkly shoes which I want!
Photo@Jack woodhead.
  • You don’t need to speak Spanish to hang out with Spanish locals. A simple smile will get the ball rolling.
  • The beach at Lloret de Mar is stony.
  • You’re in Spain. Drink some sangria, put on some music and dance the night away.

 

WHAT DID I LEARN ABOUT TRAVELLING BY BUDGET AIRLINES?

Oh dear! What to do!
Oh dear! What to do!
  • Don’t do it!

Well, that’s it.

Many Thanks to TBEX, TBEX EUROPE, the Catalunya Experience, Costa Brava, Lloret de Mar and all the wonderful bloggers that I met, for the good times and for their warm hospitality.

See you in Stockholm, 2016.

Myself & Wandering Earl at TBEX in Lloret de Mar - Spain.
Myself & Wandering Earl at TBEX in Lloret de Mar – Spain.

This article is not sponsored, but all opinions and the wonderful paella and sangria that I lusted over, are my very own!

I have so much to share with you.

Stay tuned!

Next week, I’ll be writing about Barcelona and after that, the very interesting Estonia and what we did in Tallinn, Estonia with the help of the Tallinn Card, what the view was like on the ferry crossing from Estonia to Finland with TALLINK SLJA LINE and what we thought about Helsinki in Finland!

The Berlin Music Video Awards will be taking place from May 27.05.15 – 30.05.15. Anybody can apply!

The Berlin Fashion Film Festival will be taking place on 05.06.15.

I’ll be there. Will you?

As usual, you can also follow me via daily tweets and pictures on Twitter & FB!

If you’re not in Berlin right now, then you’re missing out!

May is going to be exciting.

Watch this space!

Myself, Nomadic Matt & Legal Nomads in Lloret de Mar - Spain.
Myself, Nomadic Matt & Legal Nomads in Lloret de Mar – Spain.

Have you ever been to Lloret de Mar? What would you do if you found yourself abandoned at the airport?

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post or if you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

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