Believe me, even though you might think you’re a good traveler, there can be situations that show you that you’re not. No matter how good your sense of direction is or how good you unterstand subway maps, there can occur situations that seem like a mystery that you can’t explain.
In 2017 my and a friend had a situation like this when we traveled to Barcelona for a couple of days. Our trip was amazing but at the end we encountered a mystery that hasn’t cleared up yet. We still get a racing heart when we think about it.
Read our travel diary to find out why.
„Is this train going to the airport?”, I asked, but the man next to me gave me a surprised look. “To the airport?”, he repeated. “No.” We were in shock.
Although everything started so well. Five days Barcelona. Five days relaxing and sightseeing at once. Five days switching the mind off and not thinking about university. Enjoying life. This was the plan of me and my friend after we survived an exhausting period of exams in university.
Thursday, 25th May, 7.47 p.m.
After a two hours flight our feet finally touched Spanish ground. How long have we waited for our trip to the Catalan main city. Even though it was in the evening, the sun still had power and the sky was blue. A difference like night and day in contrast to rainy Germany. Packed with our suitcases, bags and a camera in my hand, we made our way to our hotel. As travel lovers we’re very familiar with city trips – at least that’s what we thought. I downloaded a map app onto my phone which helped us finding our way to our accommodation much better. At this time we didn’t know which mishap was ahead of us at the end our trip. We breathed in the warm summer air, as we scrambled the little crooked streets up to our hotel: A mixture of flowers, ocean breeze and big city. Wonderful. In the background, crickets and cicadas were chirping. A perfect mild summer night and a feeling that immediately reminded me of former family vacations on Mallorca. After a huge vegetable pizza we fell in a deep and relaxing sleep. That’s what we needed most because the next day a city tour was on our agenda.
Friday, 26th May 2017, 11:25 a.m.
The sun was shining and the sky was blue as we marveled at Gaudí’s church “Sagrada Familia”. The church hasn’t been completed since its establishment in 1882 and therefore several building cranes decorated our vacation photos. We sat down in the little park “Plaça de Gaudí” opposite of the church and I took a polaroid photo of the “Church of the Holy Family” which is its literal translation. Gaudí designed the church in the modernism style which was a cultural-social renewal movement in Catalonia that was mainly expressed in architecture, art, music and literature. In the afternoon we walked towards the Arc de Triomf and made a stop at the beautiful place Plaça Reial and enjoyed a coffee and “churros con chocolate“, a typical spanish dish. How delicious! (side note: at this time I wasn’t fully vegan yet) I dipped the deep-fried donught-like sticks in the hot chocolate and looked at the different people walking by.
Saturday, 27th May 2017, 12.33 a.m.
The sun was scorching like crazy but we didn’t care. We got comfortable at the warm asphalt ground on top of the shopping mall “Las Arenas” and enjoyed our view. In 2011, the former bullfighting arena was converted to a mall which is a new attraction of the city and has more than 115 stores, a fitness center, a cinema and event halls. From the rooftop we could see the Catalonian local mountain Montjuïc, which was also listed on our to-do list.
From Thursday to Sunday there is a colorful light and water show which is enjoyed by many tourists. The Font Màgica take place in the evenings and this day we also enjoyed the fountains accompanied by beautiful music and different colors. We were amazed by the spectacle and can definitely recommend this. Afterwards we went to one of those plenty tapas restaurants on Barcelona’s famous promenade “La Rambla”. We enjoyed our little snacks and drank Sangria as there was live music being played on the street next to us. As if that wasn’t enough, there was also a couple that danced professional Flamenco. What a lovely evening.
Sunday, 28th May 2017, 2:46 p.m.
My feet bobbed in sync to Despacito, as I looked at the blue ocean right in front of me. This morning it was a bit cloudy but now the sun was shining brightly so that we could tan again. Today it was definitely a beach day. Even though the ocean was a bit too cold for me to go for a swim, other more courageous people went in anyway. The beach of Barcelona stretches about 60 kilometers, beginning at the quarter Barceloneta up to Malgrat de Mar. In the distance we could see the famous hotel W Hotel which immediately reminds of the Burj Al Arab in Dubai.
After a refreshment in a smoothie bar, we made our way towards the “Bunkers del Carmel”, a viewpoint which is especially famous amongst locals. After a longer and bumpy bus ride and many, many stairs we arrived at the perfect timing at the top of the mountain. The sun was about to set and disappeared little by little behind the mountains in the background. The sky changed its colors to a mixture of shimmering pastel shades – a wonderful moment. I turned around the view was even better.
In the background we could see huge parts of the city as well as the ocean with its harbor and the both twin towers. Now, the sun was almost completely gone and darkness fell in. The viewpoint was crowded (but not overcrowded) and it was an enthusiastic atmosphere: people unfolded their blankets, talked to each other and drank “vino” and “cerveza”. In the background somebody played the guitar.
Monday, 29th May 2017, 11:20 a.m.
After drinking our morning coffee, we strolled through the quarter “Barri Gotic”, Barcelona’s oldest district.
In the early afternoon we visited the Park Güell, probably Gaudi’s most famous work. Again, we were fascinated by his architectonic talent and called him from there on only “Genius Gaudi”. His attention to details and how he designed the facades and benches of the park is incredible.
After a little time-out at our hotel’s pool, we visited the market Boqueria Mercat, a roofed market with several stalls and tons of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and smoothies – a real paradise for me. The next day we had to get up very early so we enjoyed our last evening with a sushi menu at our hotel.
Tuesday, 30th Mai 2017, 06:06 a.m.
We checked out of our hotel and made our way to the station. Up until now, everything went according to plan. We were perfect in our scheduled time. After several subway changes we arrived at the station Sants Estació. Our train to the airport should arrive at 07:07 a.m. We still had eight minutes. We ate our breakfast package that we got from the hotel and waited. A few minutes later our train was arriving and we got in. The train got the label “Aeropuerto” and we stood at the right track as well. We passed a few stations and even recognized the area from our outward journey a couple of days ago. Strangely, we drove a bit longer than expected which is why I opened the map app on my cellphone. “Everything is okay”, I told my friend as I looked at my phone. The little GPS point on the map approached El-Prat Airport. We had more than enough time. After ten more minutes without a single stop, the situation seemed a bit odd to me and I looked at my phone again. “Oh God”, I said to my friend, slightly in a shock. I showed her my phone. “Our current position is beyond the map.” And I only downloaded a map for Barcelona before. This couldn’t be real. I was sure that the airport was definitely in the map that I downloaded. “I’m sure your GPS isn’t working properly”, my friend told me but I was sure: We have passed the airport a long time ago. They didn’t even mention the stop “airport” in the train nor did the train stop at any other station. Now we both had a queasy feeling and time seemed to pass very quickly. “Is this train going to the airport?”, I asked the man next to me. “To the aiport?”, he repeated. “No.” We were in a shock.
Now we hat to act very quickly. The man told us that this train would drive 200 more kilometers and the next stop would be Sitges. After another 15 minutes of driving in the wrong direction we got off and arrived at rainy Sitges. As soon as possible we asked for the right train. Only a few minutes later we sat in the right train and luckily we saw people with suitcases in our train compartment. “We won’t gonna catch our flight”, said my friend. “He have to look for alternatives. Either we fly earlier or we stay another night in a hotel.” I wasn’t sure how but I just knew that we would sit in this goddamn airplane. We couldn’t do anything less than wait and see and hope that the train would speed up a bit on this wonderful but rainy route along the coast. I heard the ticking of the second hand deep in my ear. Now it was 08:25 a.m. and we still were some kilometers away from the airport. Boarding was starting at 09:05 a.m. As soon as the train stopped, we started running like crazy to the subway to get to the right terminal. With our backpack, our suitcase and a bag full of fresh fruits (that my friend bought yesterday at the market), we ran as fast as we could through the airport building. Zig zag and past other travelers. We wheezed, we sweated and were completely out of breath. The risk of collapsing was high.
We had to run to the check-in counter 8-14, but it was still a long way to go. To avoid another time searching for this counter, we asked a ground hostess at a different counter. We gasped with a bright red head: “Is counter 8-14 still open? It’s about our flight to Düsseldorf.” She furrowed her brow and made a disappointed face. “I’m sorry. You’re too late for your flight at 9:15 a.m.” She put her list with the scheduled times aside. But wait a moment. Something was wrong. “We mean the flight for 09:35 a.m.” Our words came out quick like a shot. We were full of hope again. She took her list again. “You’re lucky.” She smiled and looked at us. “The counter will close in five minutes. Come with me. Quickly.” Like in trance we ran after the woman and made it to the counter to check in on time. Not more than 15 minutes later we sat soaking wet full of sweat in our plane seats. We were relieved. But how we managed to catch the wrong train even though it was correctly labeled was still a mystery. According to our opinion, we did everything right. We looked at each other and laughed. We will be home on time. And that is everything that matters.
Honestly, we don’t know how this could happened to us. In our opinion we did everything right. After we arrived at Düsseldorf Airport, we sat down at Starbucks and tried to find an explanation. We again checked the subway maps, looked on the Internet at the trains and their stops in Barcelona and discussed our journey in every detail as possible.
Nevertheless, we couldn’t find an answer. I guess we have to accept it as an unexplained mystery.
Have you ever experienced a situation like this? I love to year your thoughts and stories in the comments below.