On Sunday we took a taxi up to Vigo airport for the first leg of our journey home. The last time I did that journey by taxi it cost me under 5€. This time it cost me just under 12€. I know a few years have gone by but not enough to account for such inflation. Maybe the rise in price is meant to reflect the increase in size of the airport. The last time I saw it they had just begun the expansion of the carparking space and one or two other improvements. Now it’s all bright and spacious – well relatively. It’s a pity air traffic through Vigo hasn’t increased to match the growth of the airport. It’s not the busiest place in the world and once you’ve gone through security there’s precious little by way of facilities. Still room for improvement, Vigo!
We flew with Vueling, which seems to be the budget wing of Iberia since our flight had two numbers, one for each company. I didn’t manage to work out if you got different and possibly better service if you booked with Iberia. Who knows? For once we had to go and check in at an airport desk, something we have almost forgotten how to do since we usually do on-line check-in and breeze into the airport at the last minute. But last week we tried for well over an hour to print boarding cards, all to no avail. When we mentioned this to the girl on the check-in desk, she was unable to understand it. Maybe it’s a glitch with Vigo’s airport.
Anyway, we set off for Barcelona, the plane doing just about the shortest run ever up the runway before taking to the skies. The plane was roomy and comfortable although all the printed notices were in some language neither Phil nor I recognised. So much for it being a Spanish airline!
By contrast with our short take-off, when we arrived at Barcelona (after flying over snow covered hills and mountains) we seemed to taxi forever before reaching the terminal proper. Barcelona’s El Prat (good name!) airport is HUUUGE! I swear there are cities in Spain smaller that that airport. And I don’t include all the runways. Just the terminal buildings go on and on and on.
Our flight information for our onward journey (that’s airline jargon for you) did not tell us which terminal we were flying from. The information boards in the terminal we had arrived at did not go as far ahead as our flight, which did not leave for hours and hours. After wandering around for a while we eventually found an information desk where a friendly and helpful young man informed us that Monarch flights usually left from the other terminal. He even went so far as to tell us exactly where to catch the free transfer bus and made sure we knew to catch the green bus. Full marks for customer service at the El Prat information desk!
So off we went on a looong bus ride to El Prat Terminal 2 and discovered which bit of the terminal our plane would fly from ... when the time came round at last. We walked what seemed like miles and miles. So, Barcelona El Prat has two HUUUGE terminals!! This second one though seemed a little shabbier. There were shop areas with their shutters down, looking very closed. Maybe even airport have Bajos Vacíos (empty ground floor shops) just like all the tall apartment blocks and office buildings.
By now it was lunchtime and we decided to select a suitable eatery. There was a posh nosh place with the cheapest courses priced at around 12€. As the courses didn’t appear to be anything extra special we put that at the bottom of our list and moved on. Finally we selected the Caffé di Fiore where we had a slab of pizza and a mixed tuna with drinks for rather less than the cost of two main courses at the posh nosh place.
The food was fine. The drinks were fine. The service was fine. The downside was the cutlery. All they gave us were plastic forks, albeit nicely wrapped in cellophane packaging. However we wanted to share the pizza slab so I went back and asked for a knife. After some umming and aahing, the young man behind the counter found me a knife... a proper knife ... made of metal!! On the first go of cutting up the pizza, one of the plastic forks snapped. We went and got another. That also snapped but not as badly. Even so, it was frustrating.
Maybe we should have gone to posh nosh just for the privilege of having proper cutlery. I thought it might be for ease of clearing up as there was one of those bins, the same as you see in fast food outlets, where you are supposed to get rid of the rubbish off your tray after eating. However, if you had real pot plates and not just plastic containers – it all depended on what you had eaten – you had to separate them out for disposal at the end. No wonder some people just left the tray on the table where they had been eating. Or is that just Spanish refusal to accept the do-it-yourself element of fast food consumption.
The irony of it was that when we had coffee after our meal, that came in proper cups with proper coffee spoons. Mind you, most of the list of available coffees was just like Caffé Nero or Délice de France or any of the other coffee outlets in the UK: caffé latte, vanilla latte, caramel latte and so on. I just asked for “dos cafés con leche, pequeños” and got just what we wanted, which is something I’ve never yet managed to do in a UK coffee shop without having to have a long discussion –aka argument – with the staff about what size I want. The thing is that the Spanish understand coffee. Mind you they don’t understand tea so I suppose it’s a case of swings and roundabouts.
Finally, after many more hours of alternately sitting in and wandering around the airport, we flew back to Manchester, where another airport delight awaited us. Our daughter was picking us up from the airport. As we arrived before she did we set about finding the pick-up point. Difficult! There was a large sign leading us, or rather, misleading us, to “Meet and Greet Car Park”. Now that seemed a logical place to head for. But no, it turned out to be a private car park. It just happened to be called “Meet and Greet”.
So back we went to the short stay car park, trying to find the entrance so that perhaps we could see our daughter’s car before she came through the gate and had to pay. Another seemingly impossible task.
When we managed to find an official who knew what was what – yet another hard thing to locate – he told us that what we should have done was go from arrivals to departures and from there progress to the departures drop-off area. Cars can stop there briefly without having to get a ticket for the car park. Logical, yes, but surely someone should make that clear within the terminal itself. Why is that drop-off area not also a pick-up area? And why are there no signs directing airport users to it?
Of course, all of that was no use to us at that moment as we had received a text message saying that our daughter was now in the car park itself. And indeed, there she was and we were soon speeding our way homewards along the motorway.
Very cold it was too!! And still is!! Double thick quilts on the beds at night!!
But at least today is bright and crisp and sunny as well, a perfect day for strolling along bridle paths and canal towpaths.