Set off early morning 16th November for Newcastle airport with tickets for Barcelona, flying with KLM, changing at Schiphol. Now I had heard of baggage going missing there (Schipol) so we only took hand luggage, this will also help speed up our passage through the airports.
Workmates had said to me "why not book with Easy Jet", "no way" says I, having seen that TV program about an airport with customers shouting at Easy Jet personnel who do not appear to be listening (you know the one, how on earth Easy Jet let them make this program is beyond me, worst advert for an airline ever), so I paid a bit extra for KLM. This was a huge mistake, I will never use KLM again as long as I live, I have not flown with every airline in the world but these are by far the worst, than any I have flow with (including some dodgy holiday charter flights).
So we check in, go through to the departure lounge, then about thirty mins before we are due to fly, the early flight is cancelled and we eventually find out we will be on the next flight two hours later. KLM hade excuses but they have two flights out of Newcastle within two hours early morning, in my opinion, if there are not enough passengers to fill more than one plain, then the earlier flight is cancelled and everyone moved to the second flight (I have no proof that they do this but the airport must know what was going on). We do however land in time to make the connecting flight to Barcelona but we can not get off the plain as there are no steps for us to disembark. By the time we do get to the gate for our connection we are late but there is no trace of our flight, not on any of the boards, no go to gate, no now boarding, no now departing (again in my opinion, this flight never existed or was like the one from Newcastle). Along with others, we now have to find out what to do next, after much searching around miles of airport we do eventually do get boarding passes for the next flight, yes you guessed it in two hours time.
It is getting close to the time we should be arriving in Barcelona, so I have to phone the showroom to let them know we will be late as they are supposed to be picking us up from the airport (and opening up on Saturday especially for us). Not any easy thing to do but got the flight number across so hopefully someone would be there to meet us.
Wiled away the time drinking with a couple of newlyweds from Hartlepool (our home town), drank a bit more than you should when going to make an important decision involving so much money and then, the flight is delayed again before we do eventually get going.
In Barcelona, our lift is there to meet us and within minutes we are at the showroom (more of a compound really but all motorhome sales are like that). All of these motorhomes are ex-rental and most have been used for one season only (less then six month old, and as I have discovered since, had all of the minor problems, lots of people seen to have with new motorhomes, ironed out). We look at the 410 and it is a bit small, the 432 is the same layout but longer, we also look at the 802 but think that it may be too big for us (I now sometimes think this is the model we should have gone for but I have no regrets) so the 432 is the one we choose. At the time we do think that the styling looks a bit old-fashioned but many new models since then, by bigger manufactures, look very similar.
The one we choose had a couple of minor faults that I ask to be rectified, the main one being a cracked headlight, I also ask about the cycle carrier and roof rack and ladder. Now the answers are very unclear, the headlight is under warranty, they say I can buy the cycle carrier for €150 and the roof rack and ladder are not on this one.
I did not haggle over the price (often wonder whether I should have) could have been a mix of drink and surprise at the low cost. I have now gone up one model (410 to 432), am paying £6,000 less than I would have at home for the smaller van and have saved over £10,000 on the 432. Admittedly it is six months old but as I have said earlier, for the same money I would have had to buy one at least seven years old in the UK.
Paid a couple of thousand Euro deposit with my VISA card, it had been previously arranged that as I will not get the money until the day I am actually redundant (my fiftieth birthday next March), full payment and collection would be held over until then. I was willing to pay more deposit but Dot was worried about losing our money i.e. the van and or the company still being here when we return. I also took several photos of the van, inside and out, two reasons, we wanted to show everyone what we had bought (and keep looking at them ourselves) and to have a record of the van, just in case.
We shook hands on the deal and are then given a lift to our hotel, for a couple of days holiday. The hotel was out near the marina built for the Olympics, in a bit of a downtrodden part of the city but it was being redeveloped and the hotel was very smart. A main road was between the hotel and the beach but this was also being altered with tunnels taking part of the traffic underground. From high up in our room, I spotted a sports stadium just over the main road and to my amazement a rugby game was in progress, I had not thought rugby was played in Spain.
We had been up since very early this morning and as it was now gating dark we thought it would not be worth getting a taxi in to the city just to come strait back as we where tired out. So we just walked over to the beach where there was a promenade leading to the marina about half a mile away. The sea air had freshened us up (as had a shower back at the hotel) so we set off for the bright lights of the marina and maybe some food.
It must have been about 19:30 by the time we got there and there was not a lot going on, there are plenty of bars and lots of fish restaurants some with a few people in them. Now you know how I mentioned earlier the Dot and I are from Hartlepool, actually we both lived on the seafront and both are not keen on fish, strange that, so after a look round the marina we have pizza in a Pizza Hut.
We then have a drink in an Irish bar before moving outside to a bar with patio heaters for another drink. It is now about 21:30 and an empty bar we are sat opposite is starting to lock up or that's what we thought, they actually open the front of the bar up fully and by 22:00 the place is getting busy. As we set off back to the hotel the whole place is coming to life, the bars are filling up and the restaurants are full some have queues out side, there seems to be lots of families out for the evening meal.