Stuck in Barcelona – Thanks Lufthansa

My return travel plans have been changed by the Lufthansa pilot’s strike that has now entered its third day.  All flights from Barcelona to Frankfurt have been cancelled for the day and I have had no choice but to rebook for the next day.  Of course, this means another night of hotel and meals which I will have to work on being compensated for when I get home.

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It will be interesting to see how Lufthansa reacts.  Typically, the European Union has some very defined protections for consumers in these situations and it is possible that I could be compensated up to 600 euros which would cover the expense, if not the inconvenience.  However, the language does make exceptions for strikes but I’m not sure if this relates to external strikes or internal ones.  I’m not sure why a problem with their own workforce would be exempted from the provisions.

I just wrote about the “protest culture” in Europe earlier this week and have posted about strikes in France previously.  On a few occasions this has had a minor impact on my plans, e.g. train strikes that require taking a different line or mode of transport, but I’ve never had a flight canceled.  But, this is not a completely unheard of thing in Europe.

I guess Barcelona is not the worst place in the world to have to spend an extra night.  I gave brief consideration to staying another couple of days in order to see Sunday’s El Clasico match between Real Madrid and Barca at the Camp Nou but I’m ready to get home to my family and a more normal routine.

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Barcelona – Les Ramblas, Camp Nou, and Le Meridien

After finishing up in Madrid, I walked down to the Atocha station and caught the high speed train to Barcelona.  This trip only takes about two and a half hours and arrives at the Sants station where you can get an easy connection to the Metro for your final destination.

Again, I was using Starwood points and staying at a hotel that I have not been to before this trip – Le Meridien Barcelona.  This elegant property is directly on Les Ramblas just south of the Plaza de Catalunya.  In other words, it is the heart of the nightlife, restaurant, and shopping scene.  The nightly rate using points was 12,000 points per night versus a cash rate of 229 euros plus VAT.

Despite being directly on the main drag, my interior room was very quiet even with the window cracked.  Staff was top-notch and attentive and fluent in multiple languages.  I had a chance to have lunch in their restaurant and it was a good meal at a decent price.

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Barcelona is very different than Madrid and has many fans.  I have been here several times and have enjoyed it but I never felt it has the same attraction to me as London or Madrid.  Barcelona feels more like Paris – a bit more rushed, harder to find a place to sit down and relax, and a bit more pretentious.  Don’t get me wrong, it is a wonderful destination but not a place I will go back to over and over again.

However, two of the highlights of my trip occurred here.  First, I got to see the Champions League match between Barcelona and Manchester City.  A few weeks ago, I got to see the first leg of this match in Manchester City and Barca was bringing a 2-1 advantage into this game.  Not only did Barca win, they played brilliantly.  It will be hard for my American friends to understand how a game that finished 1-0 could be so one-sided and dominated.  It was an incredible display by the team and by Lionel Messi, the best soccer player of all time.

Second, my daughter was traveling around Spain this week with a concert band from her university and I got to see their final performance at a small church near the center of town.  For some reason, she has developed an attraction to international travel and had a great time on this trip.  She has said she might want to write a guest post on the blog, so we’ll see if she comes through with it!