Our return trip on Sunday went smoothly, even with only 1 hour to change planes in Paris. Taking an early day return flight meant we arrived at Dulles when it was quiet, and went from landing to people mover to passport control to luggage to Customs to shuttle bus to car in under an hour. That has to be a record!
So my best picture of the whole trip is probably this one. Which as luck would have it, was taken with my iPhone on the way back from dinner the first night. There is the old adage that the best camera is the one you have with you. So true in this case.
I had a lot of fun with my Nikon D3100 DSLR, and tried to make use of my recent digital photography class. It will take me a little while to go through the pictures I took, because I would sometimes vary the aperture just to see what would happen. But I most importantly need to learn to remember to change the ISO back down after raising it when shooting indoors.
We liked Barcelona but did not love it. The Gaudi buildings were wonderful, but the city didn’t have the charm or old world feel of other places we have visited. The people were warm and friendly, we felt much more welcome than in Madrid last year. The restaurants we went to had great food. And it was not an expensive city, could eat, drink and shop relatively inexpensively.
Barcelona did not feel too much different than an American city. Except it was cleaner. And they have these weird diamond shaped intersections. Couldn’t figure out how they help traffic, but they offer parking along the diamond shape and pedestrians have to walk further to cross the street. Cell phone usage appeared pretty much the same as here, a lot of iPhones and Blackberries, almost no featurephones.
Here are my end of the trip bits of advice to myself and others if you care to avail yourself:
- Pack light. And when you think you have, take more stuff out. Everything is easier when traveling light.
- If an apartment hotel is a possibility, explore it. We felt so at home and comfortable. Being able to buy a few groceries, make your own breakfast and have a clothes washer made for a very pleasant stay.
- Take public transportation! It truly gives you a feel for a city, the people, the rhythm of a city by traveling as the locals do. And it’s a fun challenge to figure out the system. Dirt cheap too!
- Prioritize what you want to accomplish and what you will be disappointed not to have done if you don’t get to it. This was a short trip, but no matter how long you are in a city, you can’t do everything.
- Prepare mentally that everything will not go exactly right. We had a few of these on this trip: delayed initial flight that caused flight changes, missing our stop on the train and car not showing up to get us back to the Barcelona airport. You have to view everything that happens as part of the adventure. And it at least means the blog might be more interesting!