Hotel and Travel
When in Spain
This is my Maiden Voyage into the world of Hub Pages and writing meaningful, and hopefully helpful information for you the traveler, lover of great food, fashion and art. My name is James Chien. I am a Professional Chef of 28 years, also a former Fashion Designer and Stylist for New York based companies. I've traveled extensively during my Fashion Years and also throughout my personal life domestically and internationally. I've written under the name TheFashionExecChef for Trip Advisor, with a readership following of 12,000 plus. I hope you'll enjoy my written adventures, as much as I've enjoyed making them a reality. Cheers!
Flying internationally with a Carry On.
My journey began in Atlanta International Airport, where I was flying Air France from Atlanta, GA to Charles de Gaulle Airport, then onto Barcelona, Spain. The gate crew will profile your luggage, as they did with mine. While, I've used my bag for many trips over the past 20 years, it was never subjected to being too large. However, in this instance, it was. And they confiscated it at the gate. Luckily, as a well seasoned traveler, I had packed what I called, "Day Bag" in my Carry-On. My Day Bag is used for day trips whether for shopping, sightseeing, touring. It is used primarily for carrying my tripod, travel maps, sunglass case, etc. Whatever I needed when touring the city, or just out shopping for souvenirs. In this particular case, I used it to remove all essentials from my carry on, which will now be taken from my possession over the course of the next 11 hours of travel and connecting travel. I removed my grooming kit, which also contained medications that I may require, etc. The lesson here is two fold. One, having a back up bag for such spontaneous emergencies, and also realizing that I may need to purchase a newer, slightly smaller Carry On for future travels. As it turns out, my bag never made the Connecting Flight from France to Spain. Fortunately, they did find it on the computer in Spain and processed the necessary paper work to retrieve my lost bag and deliver it to my hotel, later that evening. Ideally, I have found that under 21"x13"x9" is best suited for a carry on, domestically and internationally.
Travels by Spain Rail Pass
Since I was planning to go from Barcelona, to Madrid, with a short roundtrip to Segovia, then off to Valencia and eventually back to Barcelona to exit Spain. I needed an economical way to navigate my destinations. I looked up the Rail systems for Spain. While there are several Rails to choose from, I stayed with Renfe, Spain Pass. You can purchase these online, with several options to choose from. I bought 4 segments to be used in a month's time. Typically, you can purchase these, right before, you're set to travel to the country of your choice. It's extremely helpful to know ahead of time, your desired travel times. Because it is necessary to make "reserved" seating for each segment of your trip within your predetermined travel destinations. Traveling by rail is safe, convenient and a great way to relax, continue learning that foreign language, sleep, see the landscape of that visiting country. There's no real difference in purchasing first class or premium seating, versus economy. So you're better off buying economy. You're guarantee a seat with an assigned number, in an assigned coach, when you purchase and reserve your travel segments. Again, the only best advice is to know what your travel times are, in advance. I usually schedule myself, taking into consideration, what MOST hotel check in times are. If the train ride is 3 hours, I would schedule myself to take the 11 AM train, arriving at the destination by 2 PM, allowing time to get from the station to the hotel, in time to check in.
Typically the information on your reserved Rail Ticket will show; Originating Train Station, Date of Travel, Time of Train, ETA. name of traveler, Coach (Compartment/Train Carriage) and the Seat number/letter. And of course the destination train station's name. The trains will have the coach number displayed on the outside of each train car, as well as on either end, inside, of the train car. Most of these trains are equipped with a Cafeteria Car, which can be a huge convenience for coffee and snacks. Also each train car/coach, is equipped with a WC (toilet or Water Closet). There's plenty of luggage space, above your seat, or at either end there exists a communal luggage rack. Each window is also equipped with a pull down shade, some seats have a shared table, most seats are equipped with an outlet to recharge your electronic devices. Just remember to pack that universal adapter with you. I'll cover all that and more in my, "What to pack" section.
What to pack.
For my ten day trip, I packed the following:
4 pairs of pants, 5 tops, 2 layering tops (long sleeve, color matching friendly, i.e. black or grey) sporty/utility jacket, dress jacket (for evening, in my example, a black woolen blazer), running/exercise sneakers/shoe. Shoe/boot, scarf, gloves, 5 pairs underwear, 5 pairs socks, 2 pairs sport socks, toiletries/medicine/vitamins, etc., exercise pants, swimming trunks and goggles, camera and equipment, International plug adapter, travel umbrella and the quintessential day bag. Whether man or woman, always pack something black, classic, goes with everything has a default to dressy, going out at night, styling and cruising to be seen, yet comfortable and always in style. Documentations, copies of my Spain Rail Pass, photo copy of your Passport, Passport and ID's. (Drivers license), copies of trip Itineraries, both air and rail, World Taxi calculations from starting point to end point, because you don't want to be ripped off, in any language. Any pertinent information for your trip. If traveling with a partner, have copies made for him/her to hold as well. Upon arriving at each hotel, secure your Passport in the room safe. Do not carry your Passport around. Carry only copies with you.
H10 have hotels all over Spain and Europe, with some in the Caribbean and Latin American Countries. They are a boutique hotel brand. In Barcelona alone, there are 12 H10 Hotels to choose from. My choice was H10 Marina, Barcelona. Located approximately 25 minutes from the Barcelona Airport, I took a shuttle van from the airport, which cost $18.75, which I purchased in advance with my Expedia bundle (air, hotel and ground transport). They are local to Barcelona Airport Terminal One, located on the street level, Aero City Transport.
Check in was relatively stress free. Your Passport and Credit Card is needed. So far, in Spain, the ground floor, street level, is "0". The numbering system can go either way, -1, sub level, which housed the Spa, Wine room/area, and the restaurant. My room was on level One, not much of a view but that's okay. This hotel boasts a Rooftop Bar and Pool, however, much to my disappointment, it was closed for renovations. This is the third time, this has happened with bookings through Expedia. Just a side note, word to the wise. Expedia is wonderful with what they do for you as a potential traveler. Only down side is that Expedia is a discount site for the hotels and airlines. Which means, you won't get the best view, rooms, most times, Reward Points with the actual hotel groups, will not be honored, such as SPG with Starwood hotels, if you choice of hotel was purchased through Expedia. Expedia however, has their own Reward Point System. I have found with most of my purchases with Expedia, all the hotel rooms were on a lower floor and usually without a good view. And with this particular instance, I was not aware of any hotel renovations and hotel amenity closures.
H10 Marina's rooms are very clean and comfortable. My only "nit picker" was that the tub and glass partition was flimsy and not large enough for the size of the tub. Which sprayed water onto the floor and warping the base of the wooden bathroom door. Every hotel I've stayed in during this Spain Trip, had a bidet. Which for me, growing up New York and USA, am not accustom to using it. Therefore, it was just a piece of European bathroom art, for me. I did partake in the Hotel's restaurant called, "Dionissos". Once for dinner and once for breakfast. See also my pictures. Dinner was terrific. I had Roast Suckling Pig, with poached pears in a puree of sweet potatoes. Spain is famous for their Iberian Pig Dishes. Breakfast was overwhelmingly delightful. With almost a hundred feet worth of a buffet selection, catered to the international traveler, with lots of Charcuterie and Cheeses. Manchego, is a Spanish style hard cheese, with a consistency liken to a Wheel of Parmesan, not as crumbly. Lot's of juices to choose, modern Espresso machines (I counted 3), to offer you any style of cafe, including hot chocolate. Eggs in European countries are not like in the United States. It's evidently not a staple item for Europeans. Fresh eggs are available, however, the usual Citric Acid eggs, leaves much to be desired. I believe they may use "powder eggs". The form is usually curd like in shape and not very tasty. Whereas back in the USA, the citric acid eggs, at least gives you the illusion of real scrambled eggs. I would definitely recommend this Hotel Brand when traveling to their destinations.
On my next upcoming articles on Spain, I will cover 3 Major Hotels, One Brand. Foods and Sights.