Friday, March 29, 2013

The Dab's Have Landed in Europe!

Europe Trip Post# 2: Atlanta to Barcelona 

5/21/2012-5/22/2012 (Monday-Tuesday)

Atlanta: Our very good friend (Adam) was kind enough to drive us to the ATL airport. Despite the tornado warnings and gusty winds we were excited to embark on our family trip.

Mom and dad at the new ATL international terminal ready to go!

The check in process was pretty easy. We did have to do the luggage shuffle to get the weights under. Although we weighed our bags at home, the airport scales were different and they were VERY strict at the ATL airport regarding weights. We did do some maneuvering to make the weights work. After our carry-on’s were given the OK, we loaded them up with more stuff… eeek, I am sorry, don't tell! 

Not-so-neat-at-the-time story: I don’t know if Tyler has that police “look” but the guards at the ATL airport needed his assistance and we were unaware. Tyler was first to go through security and this is my account of what happened…

I see Tyler walking ahead of me with a black duffel bag I didn’t remember him having (but hey, I am on anti-anxiety medicine so maybe he did?) Hmm I thought? Then out of nowhere I see 2 German shepherds attack the mysterious black bag! I thought oh boy, crap, ahh, what the heck? What is going on? My dad thought “are you kidding me this guy is going to marry my daughter and he is smuggling drugs?" and my mom was confused and my brother was behind fiddling with his stuff on the security belt. We all are looking around thinking is anyone else seeing this? We realized everyone was starring at us like we were criminals about to be on "Locked up Abroad" in our own country haha!

Turns out they were training the dogs for drugs and asked Tyler to help. Phew, that could have ended the trip real fast. We have seen one too many episodes of "Locked up Abroad!" So we continued on and my dad didn’t have to kill Tyler (that was a joke of course, my dad told me his story once we got home). Any-hoo we carried on to find our plane....

We arrived to our seats with plenty of time, got settled, and prepared for the long flight. We took off at 6:20 pm ATL time. To be honest I do no remember that much of the flight; it was pretty uneventful. However my journal entries tell me it was smooth, and long. I do remember spilling some of the scorching hot food on Tyler. I actually look forward to meals on planes. I know it sounds weird but it takes my mind of the flight so I enjoyed the meal. I also tend to go to the bathroom a lot to take my mind off the flight. I have a lot of plane anxiety therefore getting up and moving around helps some.

Frankfurt, Germany: After over 4,000 miles we arrive in Frankfurt at 8:20 am (FKFRT time). We had a 3 hour layover. We killed the time by eating pretzels, “frankfurts,” shopping duty-free, and catching up on sleep. Well not so much sleep, we were too excited for that- we were almost done traveling! I was starting to wake-up from my anxiety haze and the anticipation was growning strong! HOLY COW “I AM IN EUROPE!” -it hit us, we are in Frankfurt right now!

Pictured below: First "meal" in Europe

35,000 feet: Next we flew Air France to Barcelona. The ride was very bumpy. I don’t know if it was the leftover medicine or my excitement but I was not scared one bit (for once in my life!)…. We were flying over THE freaking (I hate that word but seemed appropriate here!) ALPS! I could not believe my eyes! I looked back to notify my dad who was a few rows back, but he was sleeping! I thought about yelling to wake him up but I realized not everyone on the plane was as excited as I was. I kept popping my head up like a prairie dog checking to see if my parents were seeing what Tyler and I were seeing. It was amazing, simply stunning to fly over the Alps.

On this short flight we were served these baguette type bread pieces with butter in the inside, I liked it, no one else did. But then again I am the strange person who actually likes airplane food. I have a lot of weird airplane rituals to take my mind off the flight!

Pictured below: Finally at last we see the Spanish shore... Arriving into Barcelona!

Barcelona, Spain: Upon landing we easily gathered our luggage, counted the pieces, and headed for European soil! (Well concrete to be exact). I did my research on the “yellow” cabs in Barcelona and their rates. I was always paranoid we would get ripped off or pick-pocketed on this trip, but that was never an issues.

pictured below: All smiles on European "soil" (our first picture in Europe!)

The nice lady pointed us to the cab line and 2 cabs pulled right up! Tyler speaks some Spanish so he told the drivers what hotel we were at. We split up between the cabs and were on our way! Our cab driver spoke little English. There were protests going on in the city so traffic was a little heavy. He tried to narrate the drive for us the best he could in English and Spanish to Tyler. and some French to me (he knew more French than English).

5/22/2012, Tuesday
Barcelona, Spain

Pictured below: the first glimpse of our hotel, Hotel Arts Barcelona

Our hotel for the one night we are in Barcelona is the Hotel Arts Barcelona. This hotel was spectacular and highly recommend it to anyone! The staff is in abundance, speak English, and literally stand around waiting to help you. The staff take your luggage from the ground floor and you are escorted to an elevator to bring you to the lobby. The lobby was stunning. We were given our room keys (I forgot to record the room number but we were up high, maybe floor 17-20? I am not sure, maybe even higher?) and went to check our rooms out. Shortly after arriving to our rooms we heard a ding-dong; our luggage arrived. I gave STRICT! Orders not to nap in order to avoid jet-lag… and honestly we can sleep when we are 6-feet under… we only have 24 hours in Barcelona! No jet-lag for us! (actually that is the best way to avoid jet-lag... don't nap!)

Pictured below: inside our hotel room and view of marina and city

Some more hotel pics:


 Pool area over looking the beach 

After a quick tour of the hotel pool area we headed out to explore the city. I had planned for us to tour the city via foot today. We had a cab drop us off at Placa Catalunya and slowly strolled down la Ramblas taking in all the neat buildings with eyes and umbrellas artistically thrown on. Went into a few touristy type stores, trying to avoid the rain. Scam artist type people did not approach us at all. We went into the famous fresh market, pictured below, and took in all the smells and sights. By this point Tyler was plotting how we could move here already. He LOVES fresh food, and is liking the looks of this market that other people (like myself) find unappetizing… such as the hanging meats!

We worked our way towards the Christopher Columbus statue. It was bigger than I imagined so we walked around it, taking in Barcelona, and the glory of Europe. By this point it is all hitting me... we are really in Europe... for real... not imaging this... yes, this is really Barcelona... pretty much on the verge of tears because I could not believe my family was in Europe together! Very much "pinch me now" feeling. I love, love, love Europe and to show my family the places I love- and discover new places together meant EVERYTHING to me.

By now we had walked a few miles and my family started to get annoyed with me by the walking. I didn't realize the walks really were this far and said we didn't need a taxi, whoops, you know I kept saying things like "almost there" and "just around the corner.". I LOVE to walk and take in the sights and smells of a new place, that is one reason I love Europe, the walking. My family, not so much.. just wait until we get to Kotor, HA!. I wanted us to walk everywhere and the hotel people made it sound like it was easy. I was holding the map up (like a typical American tourist should) as we worked our way back along the water to the hotel and kept saying “almost there! Just look, see?” when in reality, I was thinking “man it is further than I thought” Still, I was determined to walk back. In hindsight we should have took a cab, my parents were right. But they were troopers and listened to me since I was in charge of planning. I guess I should address this now, I was in charge of planning the entire trip (I think I mentioned this?) so I became commander in chief of the trip.

We were almost to the hotel and stopped into this little restaurant for dinner. No good. Well, it was so-so. We were so tired at this point from the traveling and walking that we were just happy to sit and eat. Brandon had a burger that we think was spam. I had pizza and Tyler had some kind of chicken dish. We all went to bed that night pretty early because I had a tight schedule tomorrow! Up bright and early with the Spanish roosters!

We had a half-day of touring in Barcelona before heading to the cruise ship: CELEBRITY SOLSTICE!

Valet and Lobby Area

Buenas Noches!

Other stops on our trip:
Barcelona Day 1 (exploring on foot)
Barcelona Day 2 (hop on/hop off bus)
Cote d'Azur and Monte Carlo, Monaco
Florence, Tuscany, & Pisa
Naples, Pompeii, Amalfi Coast, Sorrento, Positano
1st Sea Day
Kotor, Montenegro
Venice, Italy Day 1
Venice, Italy Day 2
Dubrovnik, Croatia

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