Saturday : Leaving Bev, the Barcelona Airport Lounge, BA into Heathrow and Bus to Hotel

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Saturday was the day that we were all returning back to the UK, Bev on Ryanair as she likes the jeopardy, with Ross and I departing with British Airways a little later on during the day. Without a huge desire to traipse heavy bags around for the day, we thought that we’d walk slowly around the city and then get onto the Metro to the airport. And that day started with a delicious goat’s cheese roll with doughnut and coffee at Cafe Bazar, with the advantage of people watching as the cafe windows overlooked the busy nearby market. I can’t recall a city with so many cafes, this was my sort of city….

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It was a bit hot, but these narrow streets do a very decent job of shading walkers from the overheat sun pounding down on them.

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Pub one and needs must… This was a sheltered terrace so that I wasn’t sitting in the sun itself, but it allowed Bev to feel free in the outdoors. We pondered whether we might have been better with the pub next door as their food looked quite exciting, but I got beer of sorts and that sufficed me. I know my loyal readers (or reader might be nearer the mark) might comment that this sounds very relaxed of me, but I had already accepted I wouldn’t be getting craft beer on this day.

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Free olives, I was sold on this pub after that.

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Bev, busy looking at the football scores, she was a nightmare doing that, always wanting to see how her favourite teams were getting on and getting the latest news on the transfer markets.

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After the pub we had a little walk through the nearby park, which offered views over the city.

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The second pub and more free olives. Bev ordered some dumplings as well, Ross gave up on beer and I just had to tolerate what they had. Such a trooper….

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I’m glad I have a new phone now, as my old one didn’t produce the quality of the photos I’d like (obviously it can’t possibly be my fault that this photo is blurred). This was us waving goodbye to Bev as she was departing from a different terminal. I’m pleased to report that she got back safely with Ryanair and National Express, but that’s the end of Bev’s story on this blog. She was marvellous company as usual, glad that she’s out and about again.

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That meant just one more stop on the Metro to get to Terminal 1, where we were departing from. As I mentioned earlier on in the week, I was impressed with the Metro system, it was clean, reliable and we rarely had to wait for more than a couple of minutes. Other than when Bev posted her ticket into the machine itself, we had no issues with the tickets either.

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Safely at the airport with its grand sweeping spaces which felt rather under-used. Think of the number of craft beer bars that they could fit in there.

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Ross wanted to go to Burger King, it says one minute but it took us about half an hour to find the bloody thing.

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Not that I’ve ever tried smoking, and it’s not exactly likely I ever will, but this is a good idea for an airport, having an external outdoors area which is embedded within the airside section of the building. Smokers can then do what they want in this area, away from sensible non-smokers.

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The lounge was easier to find than Burger King and we were welcomed in by a friendly member of staff and it’s fair to say that I was surprised at just how large it was. There were also plenty of power points which transpired to be useful.

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More of the spacious lounge and I noticed that the staff were obsessively cleaning, always reassuring.

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The food and drinks area, with a range of high and low seating. I prefer high seating and so we perched about three metres from the food for about three hours. What a time to be alive….

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Cold meats and cheeses, some of my favourite food and quite a lot of this disappeared quite quickly as I needed to test its quality on numerous occasions.

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Light bites. Ross had already gone to Burger King as the reviews of the lounge that we had already read didn’t make it sound very decadent, but I’m glad I didn’t get anything as I was surprised and delighted with the food options here. I took the risk that food would be available as I was hungry (again) and the lounge didn’t let me down.

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There was a selection of pre-made rolls, or customers could make their own.

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Pastries and biscuits.

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It wasn’t busy at this time in the late afternoon, but it got much busier later on, but it was never going to be anywhere near capacity. This is the non-Schengen lounge, there’s another one for those boarding Schengen flights. I won’t mention that I’m quite jealous of them, as that might suggest how much I quite like the border-free arrangement of most of the EU.

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They had three different beers which at least gave me some variety, although there was nothing that surprised and delighted me in that regard. There were plenty of different soft drinks though, so no shortage of choice and there were some spirit options as well.

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The hot food only came out a little later on in the day, I’m not entirely sure why they couldn’t have been more generous with the hours that this was served. The portions were small, but the food had a depth of taste, and it was easy to just get another portion. This was the chicken curry, which wasn’t overly hot in terms of spice, but the chicken was tender and flavourful. The pasta was perhaps a little bland though.

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Off we go, we were the 19:10 flight to London Heathrow.

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This isn’t the plane we were getting, but I liked the view out of the window over the tarmac. The airport itself was spacious with plenty of seating and nowhere felt particularly busy, although it was clearly a well-used terminal.

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The boarding gate and everything was neat and organised here, with plenty of seating. There was boarding by group number, which meant we could get on to board early on, giving me sufficient space to put my bag over my seat. I mention this as one group of three people put their bags in the overheads by the exit row seat before walking about twenty rows back, which gave the crew later on at the empty gaps for bags were at the back of the aircraft. I’m not sure why passengers do this, they’re in danger of the crew moving the bags into the hold if no-one in the vicinity identifies them as theirs.

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Our aircraft, and again I’m writing this too far after the event to work out what the registration number was to see if I’d flown on this before. A pointless hobby of mine I accept, but it occupies me for a few minutes.

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Boarding the aircraft, with the crew being friendly and personable. I wore my mask out of habit on the aircraft and only noticed mid-way through the flight that nearly no-one else was, namely because they weren’t required. It occurred to me that unless there’s another outbreak then this might have been the last time that I had to wear a face mask, so that’s the end of an era. Or, at least, I hope it’s the end of an era.

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I had an exit row seat and there was no-one else in the row. Given that, during the flight I went to find Ross who was stuck at a middle seat somewhere near the back and suggested he moved forwards, which he did.

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The usual snack on-board, so I can’t write anything different to what I usually do, which is it’s basic but I appreciate having something provided. Perhaps British Airways could though at some point rotate the snacks, as those customers who fly weekly deserve a little change. Maybe they could offer Hula Hoops, or something just that bit more decadent such as Roast Beef Monster Munch.

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We sailed through security into T5 without any delays, always a relief when getting late at night. It was a quick walk to the bus stop at T5 to get the first of our two buses.

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Waiting at the bus stop for the second bus to get us to the hotel and this is the Longford Pump, a Victorian water pump.

The accommodation situation wasn’t ideal, but the cheapest hotel in the area was the Holiday Inn Express and Ross and I can’t afford the luxury of the Sofitel that Richard always goes for. We got to the hotel just before midnight and I, as usual, had worried that they would have given our rooms away, but my concern was unnecessary. Although, that reminds me, they didn’t bother to reply to my email saying we’d be arriving late, so I’m now post-annoyed as I had forgotten I had sent that. Our hotel was the Holiday Inn Express T5, although it’s not hugely convenient for T5 if I’m being honest, as it requires two buses or taking the over-priced Hoppa Bus which I haven’t used for the best part of a decade.

I’ll take this opportunity to write a little about Barcelona, although I’ve alluded already to my thoughts about this rather really marvellous Spanish city. I was very much of the opinion that this was a city at ease with itself, as although Barcelona has problems with so much accommodation turned into holiday lets, the heart remains. The markets are vibrant, there are endless cafes, the food is of a decent quality, the people were friendly and the streets were clean. The beach area contrasted with the bustling city centre, the suburbs maintained their own identity and last, but definitely not least, there was decadent craft beer. I look forwards to going back, this was a city that felt on-trend, modern and well-run, I liked and enjoyed it very much. And thanks to Ross and Bev for keeping me company.