Royal Voyage 2015 Day 1: Other Activities

What a crazy year. I’m sitting on a plane 39,000 ft. above ground writing the first half of the recap for the first day of our Royal Voyage 2015. It's surreal. To the point where I’ve stared at a blank word document for a long time wondering how do I even begin? I want so badly to encapsulate the peace and joy that was restored in our lives and also how much this trip means. But I guess instead of finding the right words, I will just write about the start of yet another amazing journey for Jenn and I.

I take for granted how much work goes into planning these trips each year. A couple of days before we left on this voyage Jenn and I both had the same thought, are we even prepared for this trip? The short answer is no. We’ve never done less research. We’ve never had less planned on a trip. And yet I don’t know if we’ve ever needed a trip more then we do this year.

We woke up the morning of October 6th bright and early in our beautiful high rise apartment. Jake was such a great driver for us on last years trip we hired him again and so we jumped in Jakes Lexus and headed to LAX. As is the norm, there was both traffic and Joel stressing out on the way down to the airport. All for not, we got to the airport with two hours to spare, said our goodbyes to Jake and checked our luggage and went through security.

In year’s past we’ve been in the International terminal for our trips which has a ton of food options. We assumed that other terminals in LAX would have great food options but sadly that wasn’t the case. We ended up grabbing Starbucks. I got a cup of coffee with a bagel and cream cheese and Jenn got a hot cocoa with a pumpkin bread. It was a nice combo. Of course it wouldn’t be a Joel and Jenn adventure without a little drama or as Jenn calls it Joel stressing out. We ended up having the only delayed flight on the board and ended up leaving around 45 minutes later then we were supposed to. Luckily we had two hours in Philadelphia to make our connection so it turned out to be a non-issue.

The flight over to Philadelphia was actually great. Jenn slept. I watched a The Kingsmen on their on-demand service in which it allows you to use your iPhone or iPad as the screen and we shared the iPad to watch an episode of Catastrophe on Amazon Instant Video which was fantastic. We even sat next to a big-wig at YUM, who Jenn knew of but didn’t personally know.

We got to Philadelphia on-time (they made up for our delay in the air) and luckily for our our connecting flight to Barcelona was right around the corner. So our next job was to figure out lunch. My goal for this leg of the trip was to get an authentic philly cheesteak. Sadly, after walking up and down the terminal I can confirm there was nothing open offering a cheesesteak. So we went with the next best thing, a wine bar. I ended up getting a flight of three red wines (zinfidel, merlot, and a malbec) and Jenn surprisingly went with a glass of chardonnay. Two of the three reds were fantastic, and Jenn loved her chardonnay. Because all we had was Starbucks for the last five hours we got lunch. Jenn got a cheesy pasta (can’t remember the fancy name for it) and I had a brie carpaccio sandwich. Jenn’s was fantastic and mine was so-so. For airport food it did the trick.

We left the wine bar thinking we had thirty minutes to board so we went to a shop bought some popcorn, vitamin water, and gum for the flight and walked over to our terminal. When we got there the plane was boarding and a couple minutes later we were off to Barcelona.

Our flight into Barcelona was one of the best international flights we’ve been on. We left early and got in over an hour earlier then was originally scheduled. On the flight Jenn and I watched San Andreas (review coming soon) and just relaxed for the 6-hour flight. We’ve only had a break in an overseas flight once and that was not our choice (Europe Trip 2012) but I have to admit I really like it. It broke up the long flight and because both flights were mostly on-time it made the whole flying experience much more bearable.

We went through customs a little after 8AM and were in a cab and on our way to the W Barcelona at 8:45AM with bags in hand. On our way to the hotel we hit a little bit of rain and then when we arrived we caught a nice break in the weather. We checked in and were told that our room would be ready in a couple of hours. We headed to the hotels restaurant and had breakfast. Jenn went with her go-to eggs and bacon and I had their eggs florentine. Jenn did throw a curve ball in the meal while I had my normal coffee she got a lemon grass tea which she really enjoyed.

After breakfast we had a little burst of energy and decided to go out exploring. We walked the coast, took in the nude beach, and walked around a mile to the subway station. We had no plan for the day, nothing we needed/wanted to see. Just wanted to enjoy the city. We got on the subway in hopes of finding La Rambla one of the main shopping areas in Barcelona. In true Jenn fashion she got us there first try. On our way we stopped at a beautiful gothic cathedral and a Starbucks which I acquired a new city cup at.

We walked around La Rambla and then headed back to the subway, back to to our hotel, and into our beautiful ocean view room. We did a quick room tour (which you will see tomorrow), did other activities, and literally passed out a little while later. We put the alarm on for 5:30pm to give us a wake up call to make sure we didn’t sleep through the night and went out for dinner.

We both woke up groggy and grumpy after a couple hour nap. Jenn likes to call it a power nap I would call it passing out. Semantics. We got up, walked around like zombies in our room for an hour and headed out to find dinner. There were some pretty menacing clouds facing us but the weather remained amazing as we walked to find our dinner spot.

As we got to more of the city center the rain started coming down and we stumbled into an Italian restaurant where we sat on the patio. We started with glasses of red wine and carpaccio. I didn’t love either but Jenn loved the wine. Our plan was to get the check and see what other places we could try. Sadly, the forecast which called for sunny skies turned to a downpour and we moved indoors into the restaurant and ordered our main courses. Jenn got the lasagna and I had their spicy pizza. Jenn got another glass of wine and I got a beer. The main courses were great. We tried to wait out the rain as long as possible (to no luck) and walked back the half mile to our hotel in a light rain.

We concluded our first day on this royal voyage feeling full, tired, and brimming with excitement. It’s been 5 years since the last time we were in Barcelona and I can say for both us we are really excited to be back. I can’t wait to see what the city looks like after we get a full night of sleep. Until then buenas noches.