We had lunch at Les Quinze Nits, a reasonably priced Catalan restaurant with excellent food and mediocre service. As usual we had the Creme Catalán for dessert (which is much like Crème Brulée, only better). Then we took a nice long siesta because we really didn't get a very good night's sleep on the train. I think the Spanish are definitely onto something with this siesta idea.
Our plan for wednesday was to take a day trip to somewhere up on the Costa Brava (the part of the Mediterranean north of Barcelona). Almost all the towns along there are named [something] del Mar. There wasn't any regular train service up there, but the buses ran regularly. Anyway, when we woke up in the morning, it was raining! Not much, but not really a great day to go to the beach. So instead, we went to see the Palau Güell, a national historic building that is in the process of being restored. We only saw the stables in the basement, and the roof, and one of the interior floors. But it was very cool.
By the time we were done with that, the weather had cleared up and it was sunny again. So we decided to head to the bus station to pick a $random_del_mar to visit. We decided to go to Tossa de Mar, a little resort town with an old medieval castle and ruins. But not 20 minutes after we left Barcelona on the bus, it started raining again! Sure enough, it was still raining when we got there.
Not to be deterred, we got a map and wandered toward the beach area. The town almost seemed deserted, especially for being in the height of the summer season. There were a row of shops selling cheesy beach stuff and souvenirs, and we popped in there a bit to avoid some rain. But by the time we made it to the beach, the rain had almost completely stopped.
The beach at Tossa de Mar is not really sand but more of a fine granite gravel. We walked along the beach for a bit and the sun peeked out, so Amy laid out a towel and I poked around the rocky coves and such. After we sat on the beach for a while, watching people slowly come back out to the beach after the rain, we headed over to the old medieval town to check it out before our bus returned to Barcelona.
Thursday was my last full day in Spain, and we started it by sleeping in a bit. Amy wanted to get a bit more time at the beach (after the mediocre beach day in Tossa de Mar), so she headed down to the Barcelona beach while I explored a market and bookstores etc. In the evening, we took a sail on a 75 foot catamaran along the Barcelona waterfront. It was quite relaxing, and we had wanted to do some kind of sailing since the first few days we were there.
My flight home left at 10:40am, so we figured I should get to the airport around 9am. We got up on friday at 7am or so, did final packing and so on, and took the metro to the train station. The trains to the airport leave about every half an hour or so. We looked up at the departure monitor, and it said 8:38 to the airport, and my watch said 8:37! We heard a train arrive and quickly purchased one one-way and one round-trip ticket to the airport. Ran downstairs and there were two trains, luckily I had noticed which platform was airport-bound. 30 seconds later and we would have missed the train.
When we arrived at the airport, we said our goodbyes and Amy took the train back to downtown Barcelona. I headed to the terminal area and looked around for the Delta checkin desk. There was a mass of people in all kinds of lines extending around the area, and I had to cut through a few to find Delta. Then I followed the line back, and back... and back! There were probably 200 people in line. So I located the end, confirmed with somebody else in line that this was indeed Delta, and waited. This was 9am. At 10am, after waiting an hour, I had moved perhaps 20 feet. My international flight was leaving in 40 minutes, this was not good.
I had overheard the Spanish-speaking couple in front of me mention that they were also heading to Nuevo York. The lady had gone up to the desk a couple of times to see if she could figure out what was going on. Eventually she came back and motioned for her husband to bring everything and go with her. I followed, knowing that this was probably my best chance to get on this plane. Spending a day or possibly a night in the Barcelona airport was not my idea of fun.
We cut through lines and went straight up to the first class checkin desk, with me following trying to look like I belonged there. The agent hurriedly helped the couple with their checkin and bags, and then I said that I was on the same flight. The agent asked me how long I had been waiting (I said an hour and a half), she kind of sighed, asked me how many bags ("just one"), and finally said "ok, give me your passport". She quickly checked me in, I put my bag on the carrier they had specifically for our three bags, got my boarding pass, and headed up to security. Fortunately, the line there wasn't long. Then I realized that I wasn't in my originally assigned seat, but I was in 2G, a first class window seat! I ran to the gate, avoided the long line of people waiting to board by joining the first class boarding line. I was seated and had finished an orange juice by the time the rest of the people were done boarding. What luck!
Since it was a daytime flight, and I wanted to make sure my internal clock didn't get further screwed up, I stayed awake for the whole 8.5 hour flight. Believe me, if you're ever going to have a fortunate bump to first class, you can choose no better leg than the longest flight on your way home. That definitely made up for the extra JFK-ATL connection that I had to take on the return trip.
If you have read this far, you've reached the end of my journals for this trip. As your reward, my pictures from the trip are now online in my photo gallery. There are 190 photos in several albums (watch for the sub-albums especially the three in Barcelona). Enjoy! We certainly did.