I went to Spain between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Here is a report that summarizes the flights and the accommodation used.
Maps generated by the Great Circle Mapper – copyright © Karl L. Swartz.
A last minute trip to Europe to visit a friend is a good excuse to write an article. One week before my departure, on December 25th, I proposed to a friend from Toulouse to join me a little further south in Barcelona. He finds a cheap ticket with Vueling. All that remains is to find an award ticket to reach the Catalan city.
We often talk about the flexibility needed to put together an itinerary with miles. This is even more true when you are looking at the last minute. One of the advantages, however, is the availability of seats in business class. Indeed, Air Canada’s Star Alliance partners will release these seats at the last minute when their sale seems unlikely.
The return flight is easy to find with Swiss to minimize carrier surcharges, but the Aeroplan site tells me there is no availability for the 25th inbound.
I am looking with British Airways, having Avios points from a bonus transfer of American Express Membership Rewards points. But there too no room. I look at Iberia. The Spanish company is part of the same group (IAG) as BA and uses the same currency (Avios). Having flown with Vueling (still part of the IAG group) this summer I opened an account that allows me to transfer Avios Executive Club to Avios Iberia Plus. Do you follow me?
I manage to find a route via London and Madrid but the taxes are high (about $400).
But looking closer at Swiss flights from the US East Coast, I see availability with Aeroplan from Boston and New York. I then look at the Montreal-Boston segment and I find several flights available in economy class (which is normal because the flight is operated with a CRJ200 which does not have business class).
After a call to Aeroplan customer service I got my round trip ticket for 110,000 miles and $198. Here is the itinerary.
Summary of flights
Here is a mini photo-novel that illustrates the many flights to and from the airport.
Hotel in Barcelona
There is a neighborhood that aroused my curiosity in Barcelona: El Poblenou. With an industrial past, it has known a new youth following the Olympic Games of 1992. It is much less touristy and very pleasant.
Starwood has a hotel at the end of the ramblas in Poblenou: Four Points. It is not the most luxurious but it is very well located and comfortable. Plus at 7,000 SPG points per night for a price of $160 per night, it’s still a good value.
Conclusion: Barcelona in December
I was familiar with Barcelona but this time I experienced it from another angle. In low season, therefore with less tourists, and in a less central district, it was a very pleasant re-discovery of the city. I also took the opportunity to go to Sitges, a small coastal town accessible by train. I leave you with a few pictures that I hope will convince you.
I’m also leaving you a link to a Foursquare list of places I’ve visited or that have caught my eye.Come to discuss that topic in our Facebook Group!