We're back!!! After a few tough years managing COVID and Cancer, we're ready to hit the road again as a full-on family of three! Adventure Baby is a baby no more; it's now Craig, Erin, and Adventure Girl (aka F)!
There was a new sense of excitement leading up to this trip. First of all, it was going to be our first family "backpacking" trip...no suitcases, no stroller; just us walking with our bags! Adventure Kid was also old enough to be a part of the planning, decision-making, and packing. A whole new adventure awaited us. With plans to long-term travel as a family in the upcoming future, this trip will be a real test...
It didn't start on the best note. We were scheduled to leave at 8pm Toronto time. It took us about 45 extra minutes sitting on the plane for them to resolve an issue with the bathrooms before we could actually take off. We let F watch tv during the delay so it was no big deal.
When we got into the air, we said it was time to try to sleep and within minutes of stretching out on us, F was alseep. It wasn't the most comfortable for any of us but we hoped that by prioritizing her sleep, it would be worth it in the end.
For the most part, F slept. She woke after every sleep cycle (40ish minutes), cried for a minute in a confused, half-alseep state, then would settle back in to the same position and sleep again. She got about five hours like this, with Erin and Craig resting as much as possible before the crew started to serve breakfast and F woke up. Not too bad for an overnight flight...we were thankful to not be the people trying to console a young toddler the entire time we were in the air!
Things got worse when we landed. We were stranded on the runway without air conditioning for another 45 minutes as they struggled to get the plane connected to the terminal. The temperature and tempers both rose. When we finally de-planed, we followed the throngs of other passengers to an endless hallway where we joined a chaotic, unsupervised line that stretched out of sight. No one knew if they were in the right line, nor could they get close enough to any relevant sign to figure that out. After 30 or 40 minutes airport personnel arrived to direct EU citizens and those with connections to squeeze past the hordes of tourists. For an hour, we inched along, completely exhausted from the flight, the heat (without air-conditioning the hall was in the mid thirties), and the complete lack of any food or drink services. People were literally collapsing on the verge of fainting, children were slumped in akward heaps against the walls. Finally, some staff were seen walking up and down the line and they began pulling families with babies and young children in strollers. We waited for a sign that we might also be chosen but our child was clearly "too good" of a traveller to be deemed essential for a bump up the line. With Erin and F's eyes starting to glaze over from the heat and a day without meaningful sustenence, Craig asked a passing personnel if we could join the other families (with older children) that had passed. They granted our request and we gathered our things and headed up alongside the line.
It went on FOREVER. Easily three more hours of waiting to pass through Spanish customs with no services available. We were so grateful that we got bumped and we will certainly avoid flying through the Barcelona airport in the future...
Finding our bags would be the next struggle made worse by our hour's long wait to get through customs. We entered a sprawling baggage claim area devoid of landmarks. With thousands still stuck in custom lines, their bags had been thrown haphazardly all over the floor to make room for more recent flights. Everything was unattended. Toronto had long since left the claims board so we split up and dragged ourselves up and down each carosoul aisle searching for our luggage. In a far corner, Erin overheard someone mention Canada and she went to investigate. She asked about the flight from Toronto and was told that all of the bags from the TO flight, along with Montreal and New York were "here" with a vague gesture of the surrounding area. Miraculously, she looked down and Craig's backpack was at her feet. She surveyed the scene and spotted what she thought was her bag, three deep up on a carosoul. She was able to track down a baggage handler to mount the stack of bags and he turned over her pack.
Finding Craig and F seemed insurmountable given the size of the baggage claim area, and seperating was starting to feel ill-advised. Thankfully, due to Craig's affection for wearing orange and his impressive height, it wasn't too long before we were reunited.
On to the next hurdle...the line up for taxis stretching back and forth outside the arrivals area.
Needless to say, by the time we arrived at our apartment close to the Barcelona airport, we were spent. Thankfully, it was situated right across from a lovely sand beach, and it had air conditioning.
We were able to spend a couple of hours in the water, grab some dinner (lunch? breakfast?) and head to bed at 6pm local time, knowing we'd be up at 4 am for our next flight. It was time for a high-five and a cheer for Adventure!