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Travel Day & Barcelona

Updated: Apr 21

Days 1 & 2: Western Mediterranean Cruise with Barcelona

Royal Caribbean | Wonder of the Seas

Our trip to the Mediterranean Sea began yesterday morning, but for us it feels like one long day. We arrived at the airport more than three hours before our flight. We were a little concerned regarding a name difference from one of our vaccine cards to our passport so we wanted the extra time in case we needed a last-minute Covid-19 test. It wasn’t an issue for us and check-in was a breeze. The day before flying we filled out health forms through the Spanish Government’s website that showed we are fully vaccinated including a booster within the last 270 days. Young children are exempt from this form. Overall it was pretty simple.

We packed a lot in carry-on bags because we didn’t want to chance lost luggage. We arrive to our gate and we’re told only 20 carry-ons fit in the overhead compartment for the entire plane. The check-in agent assures me that lost luggage has only been an issue abroad and that we’ll be fine with it making it to Barcelona. I reluctantly hand over some suitcases. The idea of moving through JFK with less luggage does sound appealing though. We check our bags and begin boarding.

Colton has gotten into this game on his iPad where you’re basically a flight attendant serving food. The more you serve, the more you unlock in the galley and pantry. Colton was excited to see the real galley on the plane. We were seated towards the back of the plane and at the end of the flight Colton was able to checkout the real galley and the flight attendant let him talk on the loudspeaker. He followed that up with checking out the cockpit with the pilot. American Airlines really went above and beyond with letting Colton learn about airplanes!

Child pilot on American Airlines
American Airlines Plane

We had a decent layover in JFK, but before we knew it, we were already boarding the massive plane to Barcelona. As we enter the plane, we walk past the business class seats. They are essentially individual pods that look like they recline fully. Colton is worried. “Mommy we can’t sit together!” I laugh that Colton sees business class as a serious downgrade. We sat in economy which feels much more cramped than I remember from my last European trip in 2006.

The flight attendants are busy on the flight. Our seats welcomed us with a pillow and blanket and shortly after settling they offer headphones for the TVs. Next, we’re offered drinks and then dinner. Dinner was a choice of chicken or pasta. It was a full tray of food with an entree, bread, cheese and crackers, a mini salad, and a brownie. The utilitarian appearance made me happy that I ate a delicious Caesar salad while at the airport. I took one bite of the chicken dish and then suddenly wished I hadn’t eaten such a large salad! The food was remarkably delicious.

I spent the next several hours trying to convince Colton that sleeping on the airplane would be a good idea. It’s going to be morning when we arrive…This is the only time you’ll be able to sleep…You’re going to be tired if you don’t sleep now. What a waste of energy. The airplane was too busy for a sensory-rich kid to fall asleep. Well, that is until we’re 15 minutes from the gate and then Colton is completely out.

Family on plane
Transatlantic Flight

We arrive just after 6am local time. Immigration and customs were efficient and pleasant. It didn’t take us long and before we knew it, we’re waiting at baggage claim. Now to find out if all our bags make it. Tanner’s bag arrives first, then Brian’s bag, and my shared big bag and checked carry-on haven’t arrived and the crowd is thinning. Just as I start to think about shopping, my bags are in sight. We wheel our stuff out the airport and to the taxi line. There are several taxis already lined up in various sizes. Hopping into a taxi is easy peasy and we’re off to the hotel!

I didn’t know Barcelona would be mountainous! Our drive starts in what smells like a very rural setting. The smell of cows and manure is strong, but the farm is nowhere to be seen. We pass by a shipping yard, a port with Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas docked, and a large mountain that turns out to be one giant cemetery. Barcelona is quiet.

Our taxi stops at an alleyway and our driver tells us our hotel is down there. There is graffiti everywhere and the streets smell like urine. I’m a little worried about our hotel. The automatic doors open to our hotel and the cool breeze welcomes us. There is an old marble staircase to our left and the check in desk straight ahead. My mind eases as the chic hotel matches my memory of the pictures and vibe. We walk to the front-desk praying that by some miracle our hotel room will be ready at 6:30am even though our check-in time isn’t until 3pm. That miracle doesn’t happen so we check our luggage and go off to explore the city.

Colton is still sleeping and was successfully moved from the airplane to the stroller to the taxi and back into the stroller.

Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona, Spain

We head towards the water and meander through parks. We see lots of people biking, boxing, running, and working out. We saw some beautiful architecture on the walk including Familia Sagrada and a building designed by Guadí. It’s beautiful, but we’re all too tired to really appreciate it. We take a break at a small cafe and enjoy some drinks. My freshly squeezed orange juice is delicious, but I was a little jealous of the looks of Brian’s cappuccino. We walked for hours and arrive back at the hotel when we couldn’t stand upright anymore. Understandably, our room still wasn’t ready so we plop on chairs and wait. At around noon, I think the front desk feels bad for us and tells us that while our room isn’t ready, they can switch us to one that is. Tanner, Colton, and I crash into beds and Brian goes and runs three miles.

Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona, Spain

We nap enough to walk again, but are still tired. We eat dinner at the hotel restaurant and then Tanner and I go off shopping for a couple toiletries and some chocolate milk for Colton. Brian crashes while we shop and it’s a laid-back evening in our hotel room. Tomorrow we’ll be ready to explore!

I studied abroad in Sevilla many years ago so this shouldn’t have been a surprise, but it was kind of cool to see the city really wake-up. The morning started out quiet, but by our little shopping spree the streets were vibrant with activities. It was also 1000 times more comfortable walking because it was a lot cooler.

Tomorrow we’re doing a walking tour and checking out the beach!

About the Author

Amaris is the owner of the Ohio-based travel agency, Adventures by Amaris. Her love for travel began at a young age when she traveled to her parents' home countries of England and Mexico. She continued traveling in High School by participating in a People to People program to Italy, France and Monaco. In college, she spent six weeks in Europe studying abroad and traveling. She visited Spain, Portugal, England, Wales, Ireland, Vatican City, and Italy in a whirlwind summer. Through her adult life she continues to make traveling a priority with her family. Her young son is autistic so navigating the world of traveling with an autistic child brings on new adventures. Her travel resume includes Mexico, Turks & Caicos, Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Panama, Costa Rica, Haiti, Jamaica, Colombia, and Cayman Islands. She is an expert in planning family vacations across the world from Disney World to Europe to worldwide cruises.

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