Off to Barcelona

After another limited Continental breakfast we booked out of the hotel in Lyon. Just as we started down the street, one of the ladies called us back as they had a gift for us. Her partner appeared a moment later with 2 spectacles cleaning cloths with the hotel name on them. It was the first time that we have ever been offered a gift from an hotel owner. Yes, there are often freebies in the room or sweets at the front desk but to be called back to receive a gift to thank you for staying here was quite surprising and appreciated.

The morning was cold and damp so walking the 800m to the station was not the most pleasant. We arrived at the station 25 minutes before the train was due to depart and we had to stand and wait for 20 minutes to learn from which platform our train to Barcelona, via Valence,would leave. Then it was a dash to the platform at the far end of the station. There are times when having to reserve a seat are helpful as one knows that you have a seat and will not have to spend time searching for one. The only form of security check from the Gare du Lyon was proof of this reservation. Quite different from Paris.

We had to change trains at Valence, S. France and it was here that we had a perplexing but interesting experience. A number of passengers disembarked here of whom all but ourselves and one other woman left the platform in minutes. To catch the next train we had to get to the main hall but how? There was 1 lift on the platform and it took us a few moments to work out how to get the door to open. Once inside the lift there was just 1 option, upstairs, so off we went assuming the the main hall was upstairs.

As the doors opened we realised that this was definitely not the main hall. It was another platform which was absolutely empty. Not a soul in sight and there was definitely no other button in the lift for another exit. Just as we were about to go back down and start again, I saw a 2nd lift. In there we found a choice for the main hall so off we went. Very strange. Then, when the information came up on the screen from which of the 4 platforms our train would depart, access to the platform was via 2 very long escalators. Otherwise our journey to Barcelona was uneventful. It was our arrival in Barcelona that became a bit of an annoyance.

Security here was once again very tight. Passengers arriving could leave unhindered down one section of the platform while those getting on to the train went through x-rays and other equipment as well as confirming that they had seat reservations.

Before leaving home I had checked the route to our hotel on the Espana Plaza, which was just 950m from the station according to their website, but we made the mistake of confirming the route with an information officer. She told us that it was actually in the opposite direction and was a very long walk. Would we like a taxi? No thanks, we have had our share of taxis for a while. Having 2 sets of instructions, mine from home and what we had been told by the information officer, Trevor decided that we should go with the local knowledge. So we set off in that direction and after about 15mins decided to confirm that we were headed in the right direction and 2 young teenage girls said that we were.

It was much warmer in Barcelona than in Lyon and we were still wearing heavy jackets so walking was no great fun. After another 15mins I said that I would check with the local pharmacy and the lady there was stunned that we had been directed in completely the wrong direction. She then redirected us down another side road which she said that would take us directly to the Espana Plaza Really?? So off we went with our 2 suitcases, our backpack and my walking stick in these heavy jackets. Not surprisingly, we received a few funny looks.Barcelona our hotel2Catalonia Hotel


Eventually, 45mins after leaving the station, we arrived at our 4-star hotel. What a contrast with the little place in Lyon. Large, spacious, modern and beautiful! By now I was really irritated and blamed the hotel staff for advertising the place just 950m from the station. Well, one of the Reception staff called up their Home Page and confirmed that if we had come the way I had recorded at home it would have been 950m! Well I ate humble pie and made very sincere apologies (not like our President’s). Our booking in was handled by a wonderful young man, Dario, and when he learnt that 1) the booking was for just 1 person and 2) a double room and not a twin as requested, he decided to upgrade us. I was loving Barcelona now.

We were booked into a suite on the top floor with absolutely beautiful views over that part of Barcelona. What a treat after an irritating afternoon.

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Barcelona freebiesWe got lots of freebies and they would be replenished daily

Barcelona main view from our window The stunning view from our window

About Me

I was born into the early part of the Baby Boomer generation, the 3rd of what came to be a family of 6 daughters. Although both our parents, who are now deceased, had been raised in rural Natal (now KwaZulu-Natal) and the 2 eldest daughters were born in a country town, the other 4 of us were all born at home in Durban. Read More

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