When a Long Trip becomes Too Long (& then a cancelled flight makes it better?)
Saying Goodbye to Spain and Meeting Malala? WOW!
When we were first dreaming about taking the whole family to Spain, we thought it was going to be a 2 or 3 month long working trip for Dad and the family tagging along for the summer months.
When that fell through and we changed our dream to a shorter vacation type of family adventure, it seemed kind of a bummer to fly so far only to stay 5 or 6 days. We came up with a plan for 5 days in Madrid and 4 days in Barcelona. Plus we sneaked in a day trip from Madrid to Toledo.
On paper and in our checkbook it all seemed do-able and fine. In reality with 3 kids and a budget that was NOT unlimited we ended up feeling like we spent one day too long in Madrid and maybe one day too long in Barcelona as well. We knew by that point our whole years’ worth, maybe two years vacation budget had been spent.
We were tired in a general—10 Days out of our own world sense, and we were definitely tired of all the walking. Tired of the smokers on the sidewalks and I just wanted my own bed and my own food (and a Diet Mountain Dew)! I wanted so much more in the way of modern art tours but the kids were ready to shoot me if I asked to go inside another Gaudi building.
Walking. Walking. Walking.
Her Face Says It All…
On our last day we woke to a flurry of emails and texts from United that our flight was *maybe delayed, they didn’t know how long. After waiting on hold and then talking to an airline rep we stayed on our original schedule and taxied to the Barcelona airport very early… with little in our bellies. Figuring we would eat breakfast after we checked in and passed through TSA.
The originating flight (out of Newark) was cancelled and therefore our flight was also cancelled.
Now what? Our already long trip becoming a day longer. The airline very nicely put us up at a hotel airport and told us to return the next day for hopefully the same early flight? Oh no. An ‘airport’ hotel in Spain sounded like it would be dreadful.
Wow how wrong.
Our little budget vacation ended on a luxurious 24 hour note!
The Barcelona Airport Hotel or BAH is totally worth booking your last night before flying out of the Barcelona Airport (El Prat)! Who Knew? Around 100 Euros per night including breakfast, 80 Euro without breakfast…
After a free shuttle bus over to the hotel and a slightly long check in process (no room was available for us that early in the AM), we headed to the hotel restaurant and proceeded to devour—in the nicest possible way—the most amazing breakfast buffet I’ve had in a very long time. Maybe ever?
EGGS! Toast! Fruit, cereals, yogurt, fresh croissants, hot chocolate… it was heaven.
It was smoke-free.
It was air conditioned.
It was divine.
And the pool? Even better!
Our breakfasts till that point had consisted of quick bowls of cereal and day old croissants purchased at small grocery stores. But the Spanish grocery stores don’t sell any fruit or veggies. Those are at different little fruit stores and we never had time to stop at additional stores. Plus they were never air conditioned and I was slightly grossed out by the fruit and veggies sitting out like that not chilled. (I know, dumb American… but still. Weird.)
The hotel itself was very European and modern. Circular architecture and bright colors with sleek calming lines and furniture. I’m not kidding it had possibly the most beautiful –small— outdoor pool I’ve ever seen.
Using the hotel free shuttle we spent the afternoon back in the city and took a harbor cruise, something we didn’t feel we had time for before and even for 5 people it cost only a little over 50 Euros. We smiled and figured… oh well, take it as a sign that we were supposed to see more of the city after all. We relaxed on the 90 minute Mediterranean boat ride and enjoyed the views of the city from a different angle than is possible while walking around the city or on a tour bus. And later we met a couple sister missionaries walking along the pier on a day trip themselves, who totally recognized our slightly longer than normal shorts and asked us if we were Mormon. I got the feeling they were super happy to speak English with us.
Don’t we look exhausted and kind of cute on our last… LAST day in Spain?
We took the subway and then the local train system back to the airport and used the free hotel shuttle again from the airport to hotel at that point. Finishing the afternoon calmly in the hotel’s gorgeous outdoor pool and then another amazing dinner buffet was enough to make us almost grateful(?) for our extra ‘forced’ day in Barcelona! How strange?
Because we were so close to the airport in the morning we had time to completely devour another insanely wonderful (included) breakfast before taking the shuttle over to the airport. Where we thankfully had no further delays or problems with our flights.
Here’s the Truly Crazy Part of our Extended Trip
While waiting for our flight from Newark back to home to Charlotte we soaked up a corner in the United Club, spread out, charged our electronics, snacked on crackers and Ghirardelli hot cocoa. The perks of having a dad who flies often for work is admittance to airport clubs!
Guess who walks by at one point?
GUESS? (You’ll never guess.)
I nearly fell out of my chair.
Malala Yousafzai and her Father.
Was that really her? I wondered while rubbing my eyes. Did I make it up?
I talked my 13 year old daughter into strolling around the club to see if we could find her, if it was really her. And YUP. On the other side of the room there she was, sitting with her father talking to people sitting near them.
I Was Dying!
We promptly went back to our seats and while I talked myself OUT of going to speak to them, my daughters and friends on Facebook admonished me. Why not? She speaks publically? She must get admirers who talk to her? Since last December when I read her book I’ve been slightly obsessed with her and her cause… GO TALK TO HER everyone said.
We finally did. (Took me 10 minutes to psyche myself up!) My main goal was for my 16 and 13 year old daughters to meet her and see her as a real person, a girl just like them fighting for the rights of OTHER girls just like them. I rehearsed what I would say.
Her father saw us walking towards them and he immediately stood up and accepted us very graciously. He shook our hands, asked my daughters how old and what grade they are in and Malala, demure, didn’t speak a lot but looked us all in the eye and you could see and feel her beauty and character.
WE MET MALALA on our way home from Spain!
It was like our own personal Malala Day
(PS. Her birthday was this past July 12th … now known as Malala Day. )
We were delayed by an extra day on a trip that was already too long only to really enjoy that last day in Barcelona probably more than the rest of the trip and then met a current Hero of mine!!
That… my friends is the ending to a perfect family adventure.
“They thought that bullets would silence us, but they failed. Instead, out of that silence came thousands of voices. My birthday wish this year is that we all raise our voices for those under oppression, to show our own power and that courage is stronger than their campaign of fear.” – Malala Yousafzai