My boyfriend surprised me for my birthday by announcing that he would pay for us to fly to Barcelona, as I had obviously spent far too much of my time talking about the city in the run up to turning 20.
I was so excited to introduce Jamie to the city I’d fallen in love with a few years before. I couldn’t stop thinking about the beautiful places I’d visited and the delicious cafés I’d eaten in and how much Jamie would love them too.
Alas, nothing ever goes how you want it to and convincing Jamie that Barcelona was the best city in the world was definitely an uphill battle.
First of all, it was booked fairly last minute due to a shortage of money caused by several unexpected payments. We booked the trip in April, leaving us just over a month to sort out everything else we needed.
Secondly, this date fell between my major deadlines, and my exam, meaning I could either revise for the exam whilst on holiday, or trust my knowledge to get me through with only a few days of revision when I returned.
The hectic time at uni muddled my brain a little and the day before we left I realised that we hadn’t bought any Euros. I’d meant to get a travel money card which allows you to put money onto the card and convert that money to the local currency when you make a purchase or a withdrawal. This came back to haunt me later into the week…
We set off without a problem and successfully made it to Barcelona airport without a hitch! Unfortunately, there we ended up waiting for over an hour for our pre-booked airport transfer.
I’d booked the transfer as an add-on when I booked the trip with Expedia. I thought the simplicity would give me peace of mind and convenience but boy was I wrong. A search of the area would have probably revealed that I could have reached our hotel via the metro station connected to the airport which would have been quicker, easier, and far cheaper!
We eventually reached our hotel and checked in with ease. Soon afterwards, we left again to go and meet one of Jamie’s friends from uni. Another mistake was made which would end up coming back to bite me. We forgot to take her birthday present and the ginger nuts we had been instructed to bring.
Emma, the friend we had gone to meet, was lovely and showed us around the gothic quarter. I’d never been brave enough to explore the area before because I feared getting lost but it was absolutely beautiful! We stumbled upon a wedding as we walked and saw a few must-see history sites of the city!
All was well until we bade farewell to our guide for the evening. It was about 8pm and we had been awake since 6am to catch our flight. I was completely exhausted but followed Jamie to visit the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc, cited to be one of the most romantic spots in the city.
On the way, I had my purse stolen from my bag. It contained about €80, my personal and joint account cards, our travel ticket for the metro, and my driving license. I was perfectly aware of how dangerous it is for your belongings in Barcelona because of the pickpockets, but what I hadn’t thought about was the failing state of my aging bag sometimes preventing the clasp from closing properly.
Had I used a travel money card, I wouldn’t have lost the €80. If I’d packed my purse with Euros before we left, I wouldn’t have had that many in there. And if I’d taken my deep, shoulder, tote bag, there’s no way the purse would have been retrievable by anyone other than me.
The next knockback came from our hastily-bought travel insurance. It covered us for up to £250 worth of stolen belongings, but it didn’t pay out for the first £100 of any claim and as the amount lost only just cleared £100, it wasn’t worth the £50 we’d pay to claim in the first place.
Our lack of organisation, although sometimes brought about by factors beyond our control, really brought the mood down on the first day of our trip. It was supposed to be a romantic break for us both to be able to relax and enjoy our time together in a completely different place to the relatively boring city of Lincoln.
We were, coincidentally, flying back on our anniversary and the poor start to the trip really knocked me down. I felt like I’d failed in being the romantic, caring girlfriend I try to be and it didn’t feel worth the effort, cost, and heartache.
Thankfully, a night of well-rested sleep let me wake up with a completely new perspective. It was just money and although finances are a little tight for the pair of us at the moment, it couldn’t be too bad or we wouldn’t have been able to afford the trip in the first place.
We spent the rest of the week sampling tapas and the best burger either of us had ever tasted, visiting La Sagrada Familia, Roman ruins of Barcino (the city that Barcelona was built on), the city’s Roman graves, the Olympic Stadium, Park Güell, Plaça de Catalyunia, Las Ramblas, St Josep La Boqueria food market, and enjoying the sunshine at the beach for a bit of relaxation before we went back to normality.
The trip was fantastic and it felt like we had a great value for money. We got two day tickets to one of the bus tours for €70 and we used them to death! The tour also gave us ideas for where we’d like to go the next time we visit the city which made it even more worthwhile. The bus was open-topped too and it was the perfect way to enjoy the glorious weather as we made our way through the city.
By researching the places we wanted to visit, we managed to save money on transport and entry costs. Emma told us that the museums are often free on Sunday afternoons (something we didn’t know before we met up with her) and that helped a lot with our finances!
Despite the catastrophe we experienced at the start of our first solo holiday together, I think it turned out pretty well. I definitely convinced Jamie to go back one day, but I don’t think he loved it quite as much as I do!