Barcelona Stories and Tips

A Birthday Surprise

Surprise!! Photo, Barcelona, Spain

We were embarking on the best kept family secret ....ever. My son’s partner had decided that she wanted to surprise him on his 30th birthday and had decided to book him on a long weekend City Break in Barcelona. Would we be interested in being part of the surprise and booking in to the same hotel on his birthday week-end?

To be honest this was a bit of a no brainer because we’d been considering a weekend in this city for some time. This was the very impetus that we needed and so we, alongside my youngest son and his wife entered into the intrigue. The southern part of the team (my son’s partner) set off with a brief to find a suitable hotel, check on its availability, whilst my internet booker (my wife) started surfing the net for deals on flights.

We’d got plenty of time as it was only January and birthday boy’s significant event was not until August. However, as we were looking for three rooms in the middle of the summer holidays we did not intend to drag our feet.

Within a couple of weeks we were engaged in the first of our secret phone calls and whilst oldest son was involved in a parent’s evening at his school we confirmed the plan to travel Barcelona. The hotel had been identified and the dates agreed so we needed to synchronise our annual leave and then get on with booking. First step achieved we were soon on to the net confirming two bedrooms at the Hotel Casanova. It never fails to amaze me how simple the whole business of booking over the internet proves to be. A few key strokes and the transaction is complete and we then send off a text to the “southern team” to confirm that the rooms are booked. Within seconds we get a reply (the world of texts continues to be a complete mystery to me) confirming that she too has booked in to the Rafaelhoteles Casanova. Woops – that sounds a different hotel to me. We enter mild panic mode and for 10 minutes or so there’s a hurried return to the computer and an exchange of texts confirming the name and address of the hotel. Phew – no problem we’re all booked in to the same place.

Next we’re on line to sort out cheap air fare. Ryanair flies out of Nottingham East Midlands (our nearest airport) and there are great deals on the flight so an immediate booking is made. However, all bargains have a downside and several months later we realise that Ryanair does not fly into Barcelona International Airport. It’s a much smaller airport to the north of the City and now we realise that it will take a good hour to get into the town. Once again it’s panic time (it doesn’t take too much to unsettle me in the early stage of holiday planning) as we try to sort out how the transfer from airport to hotel will be managed. Reason sets in as I decided that we won’t be on our own! There must be some infra-structure to manage the hoards of people that Ryanair and other low-cost airlines fly into the airport and sure enough we find that there’s a regular 24 hour bus service (at least every half an hour) operating between the airport and the City centre. Panic over!

Now all we have to do is manage the next few months without breaking our secret. This proves to be none too easy as our eldest son, being a teacher, was concerned to plan his summer visit back to Nottingham.

There were several key / problematic times.

First when I’d just got back from Rhodes and was telling him how I’d returned with a fair number of Euros.

“Mind you”, I say, “it’s not a bad thing because at least they’ll give me a head start when we go to ......”

“Blimey” he replied “you’ve only just got back from holiday where are you going next”.

“Well” says me “it’s not until November, but winter sun in Lanzarote is planned and it seems daft to change to Euros back to pounds”. My wife scowled at me and I indicate that I think I’d got away with it.

The second problem was that his sister-in-law, part of the conspiracy, was really anxious that

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