The remainder of our final night in Barcelona was spent walking the streets until we decided to get something to eat. We thought we’d try some authentic paella since for some reason we were yet to try it. We picked a small restaurant on las Ramblas and tried one of the most well-known dishes in the Spanish cuisine. It was fantastic and a great way to conclude our time in Barcelona and our time in Spain. After dinner we made our way back to hostel to get some much-needed sleep, especially after the last couple of nights. I remember telling my parents years ago that one day I would travel to Spain, it has been a dream of mine for a while. So, to finally be able to say I’ve travelled to Spain and particularly Barcelona is amazing, and it was sad that it was finally time to say goodbye to this magnificent country and I hope to be back some day in the future. Our flight to London was at 11:45am the next day meaning we would need to be at the airport at approximately 9:45am.
We woke up the next day, December 24th, Christmas Eve, with enough time to pack up our things, have something to eat and make our way to the train station and then on to the airport. Our flight to London would be our 10th in the last 15 days but would also be our last for 3 and a half weeks. We arrived at the airport at about 10am, giving us plenty of time to check in our luggage, go through customs and passport control and finally find our gate and wait until it was time to board. We checked in our luggage and lined up to go through customs, the line was long but moving at a steady pace. We eventually got through customs and had to just get through the passport control before we could walk to our gate. As we made our way to line up for the passport control it became clear that the ‘plenty of time’ we thought we had was no longer. There were two lines for getting our passport checked, both were roughly the same length however, one line was for EU passports and the other was for Non-EU passports. The EU line had 3 staff checking passports and the Non-EU had 1 meaning we would be moving at a significantly slower pace.
As the minutes ticked by, we were getting increasingly nervous, it was getting closer and closer to our boarding time and we were still a fair way back in the line. We had already missed one flight on our trip so missing a second wouldn’t be ideal. We were making progress; however, it was at a very slow rate. I checked my phone and was shocked to see it was 11:05, our scheduled boarding time. From this point on every passing minute meant we were getting closer to missing our flight. By this time, we were close to the front, but the line was still moving slowly. By the time we got to the front and through passport control it was almost 11:30. We put our bags on our back and sprinted for our gate as we were running out of time and I wasn’t going to miss another flight. It was just our luck our gate was at the other end of the airport, we were getting tired, but we had to keep running. We got to the gate with literally minutes to spare as were told boarding was almost closed. We boarded the plane whilst trying to catch our breath and when we were finally in our seat it was a huge relief. It was a Christmas miracle that we made that flight. I’ve certainly learnt my lesson travelling during Christmas, next time I’ll ensure I arrive at the airport even earlier.
We landed in London in the afternoon, and pretty much headed straight for our hotel, we would be staying at the Royal National Hotel. We didn’t do to much that afternoon however at night we to Hyde Park as there was a Winter Wonderland. It was a great way to relax after almost missing our flight earlier in the day. We walked around for a couple of hours, had some food and played a few carnival games before heading back to our hotel to get some sleep. The next morning we woke up and then it hit me, it was Christmas! We had a hop-on hop-off bus tour booked that would take around London in the morning. The tour started at 10am so were up early so we didn’t miss it. Before though I called my Nan and then my family. It had been a couple of days since I’d spoken to them, so it was good to talk, especially since it was Christmas, my first Christmas away from home. One of the main things I remember from the tour was how cold that day was, however that was expected since we were in London during their winter. The tour took us to places like the Tower Bridge, Big Ben (which was being renovated) and Buckingham Palace and finished around lunch time.
After we were done exploring London on the bus, we walked around the streets of London just taking in the atmosphere. After walking around for about an hour or so we headed back to our hotel to get changed as one of Benji’s relatives was picking us up and we would be spending the night with them. We were picked up shortly after 4pm and it was about a 45-minute drive to their place. It was a great evening, we had dinner with them, it had been a while since either of us had had a home cooked meal so that was nice, especially since it was Christmas. We spent a few hours there talking about our travels so far and where we were headed next, played some pool and had a couple of drinks, it was a great way to finish our Christmas in London. We were dropped back at our hotel in London and it wasn’t long before we were asleep as tomorrow, we had to be up and on a bus to Liverpool at 6am. Whilst I did enjoy my first Christmas overseas, up until the evening it didn’t really feel like Christmas. I guess that was because I was expecting a white Christmas (which I learnt in London is unrealistic) and being away from family was probably another contributing factor. Nevertheless it was still a good day and we were now approaching the halfway point of our trip across Europe.