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Our Magnificent Journey
Chapter 13
Greece, Turkey and Spain


At the Parthenon  
Day 19

Slept for 3 hours at the Sofitel Hotel at the Athens airport, then walked 20 yards into the busy airport for our 8:45 am flight to Barcelona. Due to yesterday’s general strike in Greece, all flights are delayed, so our Airbus A321-200 actually departed at 9:45 am. The air traffic controllers must be having headaches by now.


The day is sunny and cool. 30,000 feet below us, Pelopenesia fades away behind us. We are sad to leave this beautiful and important part of the world. The names of the cities below are so familiar and yet so distant – Sparta, Hydra, Delphi, Corinth, Olympia. I look out the window and am struck by the contrast of the deep blue Aegean against the green-brown Greek coastline. The rugged mountaintops seem to beckon to us.


Passed south of Corfu and headed west across the Ionian Sea. Crossed the "toe" of the “boot” of Italy at Crotone, and veered northwest, passing Naples and across the Tyrrhenian Sea. Sorrento, Salerno and the Amalfi coast are to the north. The skies are clear and I believe I see the peak of Vesuvius to the north. Athens has already sunk below the eastern horizon, far behind us now. Palermo, Sicily passes below us, while Rome lies to the north. Next landmark is Sardinia, then onward west across the Mediterranean to Barcelona.


Landed at 11:25am, Barcelona time, after the pleasant, comfortable Aegean Air flight. Grabbed our bags off the carousel, hailed a black and yellow taxi, and within twenty minutes we were at our hotel – Soho Hotel on Gran Via de las Corte Catalanes – a modern, hip place with an easy, laid-back vibe and an excellent location.


At this point, we have been in 3 countries in 12 hours – Istanbul at midnight, Athens at 2 am and Spain at noon. What a world!


Checked into our clean, modern, funky room (the light/mood controls were interesting,) showered and went out into the warm, humid, sunny Barcelona afternoon to explore.

Our room at the Soho Hotel

Our hotel is on Gran Via de las Corte Catalanes, a wide, busy avenue close to the university section. We walked east towards the University. We were hungry so we sat at an outdoor café near La Rambla and enjoyed a delicious lunch of seafood paella, shrimp salad and fruity sangria. Our waiter, Jose, is from Mexico and he spent time in Orlando working at Disneyworld as well as the Princess Cruise lines. Very personable and cute, we enjoyed schmoozing with him and gleaning tips from him. “Watch your possessions – this city is known for its pickpockets as well as its beauty” were words of wisdom from Jose.

Jose and Carol
Paella in Barcelona

We thanked Jose, said adios and walked south towards the Barcelona Cathedral. At 5 pm, this area is abuzz with people enjoying the evening. There are shops everywhere, selling everything.

Enjoying the Barcelona evening

At one point we stopped to ask a policeman directions. When he asked where we were from and we told him Arizona, he spent the next 15 minutes educating us on the link between Spain and Arizona.


We wandered around the cathedral area and observed a peace demonstration marching through the square. Within minutes we heard loud voices approaching and as we looked east, a demonstration of hundreds of people marched down a main boulevard waving flags and carrying banners. These were educators angry at the government’s recent austerity cutbacks in education.

Demonstration march in Barcelona

After filming the massive march, we walked north among the hordes of evening revels, window-shopping until our feet begged us for a break. We sat at another outdoor café (“The Lion of Istanbul”) for glasses of refreshing sangria.


At 10 pm we realized we haven’t gotten much sleep over the past 2 days so we began to walk towards the Soho Hotel. Hungry, we stopped at a tapas café near the hotel and enjoyed potatoes with garlic aioli, pickled anchovies, calamari, bread with tomato basting and more fruity sangria.

Tapas in Barcelona

Sated, we practically crawled to the hotel, found our way to our room and fell into bed.


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email david@davidandcarol.com