The heights of Montjuïc and an aborted landing at Heathrow

Un viaje en España – Day 11 – Adios, Barcelona

A final day in Spain brought us to the gorgeous heights of Montjuïc, the tallest peak around Barcelona.

It was an easy trek there – taking the Metro to the funicular rail up to the Montjuïc station. From there, it’s an extra charge to take the cable car up to the imposing fortress. With beautifully manicured gardens and moat, the fortress was an impressive sight on the hilltop. It offered sweeping Barcelona views from its ramparts, including a view right into the main harbor and shipping yard. Also, plane-spotting was great as they dove low over the sea to land at El Prat Airport.

Exploring the fortress walls and historical markers made for a good morning out. Whilst the breezes were fierce at the top, the sun was also equally fierce. We would have given anything for a cold water at that point.

On the way back down, we grabbed cold Cokes from the vending machine. However, as we opened them, they sprayed all over and earned us annoyed looks from others. It wasn’t as if we’d shaken them! Those Cokes were the only cold things left in the vending machine after everyone else had the same idea we did.

Iberian hams, Barcelona restaurant

Otherwise, since our flight to London wasn’t until almost 9 PM, we ambled back to the Gothic Quarter. I spent more time checking out the Roman walls and beautiful architecture of the Barcelona Cathedral. Then, we found a Danish-design store with a random assortment of goodies for only a few Euros apiece. I didn’t think I needed anything until heading in there, but I ended up with a good-sized bag of things such as a towel genie for my hair, a fold-able paper cupcake (to embarrass my family with at Heathrow when they arrived), fancy Danish-printed pocket tissues, make-up wipes, confetti, brightly colored measuring spoons (I like to bake?), and a few other somewhat nonsensical items. I felt like I usually did after an afternoon in IKEA – like I’d bought too many useful but probably unnecessary products.

Update: To be fair, I have used the heck out of those measuring spoons!

After a few coffees and snacks in the Gothic Quarter, we finally headed back to the hotel to collect our luggage and prepare to depart for the airport. We both had the genius idea to change outfits after being out all day in the hot sun at the hotel since the bathroom was likely to be better than the airport ones. Maybe not so much a genius idea as just a really good one?

At the airport, the line for British Airways check-in was incredibly long. However, the most interesting part of the airport was that we could see all the restaurants down below us. We could smell burgers. However, no matter what stairwell or escalator we tried to take once we passed immigration, we never could quite access the food court. We weren’t alone in this perplexing dilemma either – by the time we had gone up and down a few stairwells, we had acquired followers looking for the same thing. I felt like Forrest Gump when he went running. Suddenly you turn around and whoa! people following you like you have the answers.

Actually, when teaching younger students, it’s sort of like that every day.

We all gave up eventually and walked toward a further set of gates. Down there we found a cafe that had an incredibly limited selection of cold sandwiches, limp fruit, and some juices. There were two muffins left in the basket, so we grabbed those as well. Next to us, a woman decided to change her baby on the food court table instead of going to a bathroom about 10 feet away.

Needless to say, it was like being in the Twilight zone that evening.

Sunset at El Prat Airport

To top it off, of course our flight was delayed. Then, as we were about to board, I noticed a few very loud British women (VLBW) – the same who had been at our hotel at breakfast drunk and practically screaming at each other for no reason – also join our flight. Dear sweet tomatoes, this was going to be bad. I just hoped they weren’t anywhere near me as they looked more drunk now at 9:40 PM than they had at 9:40 AM.

The flight seemed rather uneventful – until we went to land at Heathrow. As we were making our landing, and were nearly there, one of the VLBW’s, who was quite plastered, plowed over her seat companions from the window and ran into the bathroom at the back of the plane. The flight attendants were hollering at her to go back to her seat. Everyone was giving the evil eye. I was giving the Evil Teacher Eye, which is more evil and frightening than just the everyman’s evil eye.

The pilot came on the intercom to demand that she return to her seat as we were about to land (even the flight attendants were buckled in), but she still didn’t get out. Another few minutes ticked by, and she finally pulled herself free of the toilet, smug as all get out, and wobbled back to her seat. All of a sudden, our plane makes a massive pull upward to the sky instead of landing because, as you’ve probably guessed, we missed our landing slot thanks to VLBW.

We circled Heathrow again, and twenty minutes later, we finally got to land. Our departure from the plane was delayed, and all of us were hoping that the police was going to take her arse off the plane to the cheers of all of us.

By the time I got to immigration, I was tired and grumpy, and the officer at the desk looked like a larger and more bouncer-sized version of Ed Sheeran. I got asked all the usual questions – such as where I’d come from, why I was in Hong Kong, and all that – and finally was waived through.

We received our bags, hopped into a black London cab, and arrived at our hotel not much later than that. We were only staying the night near the airport as my family would be arriving at Heathrow the next afternoon to begin Part II: London, of my summer holiday.

We get our room in “the Annex”, which means we somehow must manage a long, twisting walk with our luggage through various corridors after going up in an elevator one floor. Then we turned and twisted through another set of corridors, only to arrive at the end of the hall and another elevator. We must now go down one floor again. Thankfully, the reasonably clear signage made this a little less painful to navigate.

Three turns later, after going up just to go down (there’s not a floor-to-floor connection, I suppose), we arrived at our room. I made the comment that I thought the twin girls on tricycles from The Shining would appear at the end of the hall and that the theme music from Psycho would start playing. It was that weird of a hotel experience.

But ah, blessed sleep … but not until I’d nearly taken out a toe whilst trying to turn on the kettle for hot water as the small room fridge was sticking out just that much.

On the plus side, at least the little sign said we could drink the tap water, just in case we weren’t sure …

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