We went to Barcelona!

We took a late afternoon flight with Aer Lingus. That way we can arrive at our destination in the evening and get a night's rest before setting out on our adventures.

From the last 2 trips I have learned the following:

1. Do not try to steal an extra day with a late flight home because Liam hates "airport day" Even with a successful late checkout Liam will be be aware that it is the day we go back to reality as the vibe changes from relaxed to "getting everything organised to check out." So if possible book a late morning flight. Get up, have breakfast, get dressed and leave (maybe do some discreet shoving things into bags the night before but this will be easy as you can check that overstuffed bag)

2. Fly with the premium airline. The low fares option does seem appealing but by the time you have paid for all the extras that humanise the experience it won't be worth it. The premium airlines allow a checked bag free, and only charge a small fee for carrying that 10Kg bag on board on the way out so it works out very well.

The other problem is in cities where they segregate airlines into different terminals, the low fares ones will be in a shed with zero facilities and very unhappy people.  You will need to check in early, then stand in a crowded boarding area for way too long and once on board, you can't guarantee they will have the most basic refreshments. Seriously, coming back from Lisbon they didn't even have water. Never again.

From Check in to boarding Aer Lingus and Dublin Airport recognise and support people like us with discretion and understanding. We have the important flyer card and lanyard and seriously, you feel like Posh and Becks being ushered through the express lanes to baggage check.  I am always super organised with the liquids and the iPads etc and we put every extraneous accessory inside our very compact carry on bags. It just means less chance of a delay.

At security I always send Liam through the metal detector first and ask the staff to hold on to him. He doesn't run away but he does like to pace a bit and I ALWAYS BEEP AND GET SEARCHED. (I am small and I wear a bangle that doesn't come off) The staff are always very watchful but just to be safe I make sure Liam always has his ID on his person. 

After security I head straight for the lounge! That's right, I pay for lounge access when I book my parking. Duty free and a busy dining area just create stress. The help yourself queue and pay thing is also impossible when you are dragging around your carry on luggage with a vulnerable person. Leaving him to mind the bags while I get food is possible, but there is always the chance that some weirdo will spot that he is a good target and I panic the entire time. 

In the lounge I can just set Liam up with an iPad and some headphones in a corner with all our bags. Then I am free to get a drink or a snack for us and bring it back. I can also go and freshen up and not have to drag everything with us into the accessible toilet. He is perfectly safe as the lounge is well supervised and has a relaxed vibe - I guess because everyone is relaxed. Seriously, by the time you have bought food and 2 drinks at the main bar you will have spent more. Book the lounge. Get to the airport early and chill out!

If I do leave Liam's side we have a system where he can ring me if he is worried and he usually does before I am 2 metres away. I actually love it. 

When I booked Aer Lingus I paid for one 10kg bag on board as I like to be able to avoid the baggage carousel on arrival and head straight for our Welcome Pickup. This is a pre-booked taxi for a flat fee where the driver tracks your flight and meets you at arrivals. Our flight was early and our driver met us at the gate with a sign like the posh people. She parked right outside the terminal and gave us a lovely tour guide as we drove to the hotel. It is secure and safe and it saves me getting anxious about what it might cost if you hit traffic or your flight is late. (you get an hour wait time free)  It seems to suit the drivers as they are always very cheerful to see us. Go to WelcomePickups to book. 

We stayed at the NH Podium hotel. I joined the NH hotels loyalty program when booking for Portugal after our less than optimal experience in Paris with a bookings website. They offer best price on their own website and a 10% discount if you join. I did a bit of emailing back and forth before booking and they staff were very helpful. In person they were even nicer, giving us the exact room we needed we twin beds and a bath.  After a very straight forward check in process we were in our room and settled and Liam very quickly fell asleep. 

In the morning, after a lovely lie in I sent Liam a choiceboard via messenger to plan our day.

He chose the Sagrada Familia. a big church that looks like Termites are building it. 
It has been under construction for over 140 years so maybe they are. 

Our hotel was right around the corner from this, the Arc de Triomf so we headed there first. 

It is the beginning of an area of gardens and monuments. 

And statue people with tourists taking selfies. 
After a quick pic I decided to save the gardens for Day 2. 

So on a pretext of heading to the Sagrada Familia, I steered us towards the Mercado de La Boqueria - a huge undercover market full of fresh produce.

It meant crossing Las Ramblas where we came across a parade that involved people wearing papier mache costumes and a lot of banging drums. We never stop to do research so I have no idea what was going on but it was loud and colourful and we stopped to have a look.

If you have ever lived in Sydney you would have seen this guy in every shopping mall promoting the St George Building Society.  (the dragon, not Liam)

When we got to the market it was bonkers busy (Saturday, duh!) so we just kind of skirted the edges.

Liam very impressed with the Cone of Cerrano Ham. 

We also got freshly squished tropical fruit juice from a massive selection but seriously it was way too crowded, so we moved on.

All the juices

Via the Lego store. 

And some other wacky buildings (seriously, you spend your whole time looking up at amazing buildings)

The cathedral was impressive but absolutely surrounded by tourists taking selfies.

So we took our pics and moved on. As you can see the weather was beautiful. Really nice in the sunshine but quite chilly in the shade, and surprisingly cold at night. Colder than Dublin!

Then it was time to go back to the hotel and freshen up, then go out for a late lunch. After a long day of walking, I find it hard to get moving again after a break, so I leave it as late as possible. 

I actually asked the hotel receptionist for recommendations and she suggested this gorgeous place: 

He was very impressed with lunch. All the things he likes.

Mummy is a day drinker now darling.

 We had to wait for a table which is always a good sign. Had a traditional local starter of "tomato bread" which is literally toasted sliced panini bread with a fresh tomato and a clove of garlic on the side. You get a bottle of amazing olive oil and a sharp knife to serve up that tomato yourself. 

Liam really likes this kind of food. He also hoovered up some olives and potatoes brava. We had a pizza as a main but could barely finish it. Service and food were excellent. It's great to be in a place where being a waiter is a job that people do with commitment. 
We wandered back to the hotel afterwards, after a quick stop at the nearest Mercadona for supplies. 
I do not do hotel breakfasts. The idea of being around people and watching them queue and hearing them chew is way out of my sensory tolerance level. Let alone Liam's. 
We have a Nespresso machine and a bar fridge in the hotel room so we stocked up on Orange juice, pastries and these:

This is the nicest body cream in the world and at €1.50 a pot, and a free check in bag on the flight home, you can afford to stock up. Another good reason to take a break in Spain. And another reason to book with a premium airline as you can fill up your bag and check it in on the way home. 
That night we both took luxurious long baths, one of us had a cava or two and then got into bed and watched Wakanda Forever on Disney Plus. 

Via my iPhone. And a HDMi adaptor and cable. 

My top travel tip. I love a bit of @euronews.tv when I’m in the comfort of my own home but when you’re out all day in a new city, you want your Bob’s Burgers or a Marvel movie @disneyplus when you go back to your room.
I use my own mobile internet provider as its faster than the hotel wifi and Vodafone give us our full allowance anywhere in the E.U.

I can even use my Apple watch as a remote.

Absolutely winning when this boy-man has a restful night's sleep. 

Come back for Day 2 on my next post when we head for Park Guell

I also have a post to do on Sintra, Portugal from January 2023. 

All credit for consulting on locations to visit goes to my friend Janet at  One Street Over Travel