Time to book hotel reservations for Barcelona….Itinerary updates…

Yesterday, while we were docked in Colon, Panama again staying onboard, we realized it was time to go online to book a few hotel reservations. We had a strong signal with our XCOM Global WiFi and decided to take advantage of the it.

Now, today, we’re in Puerto Limon, Costa Rico, comfortably seated in the Sky Observation Lounge in the bow of the ship, hoping to get a better Internet signal with our XCOM Global MiFi, while we notice a number of passengers getting off of the ship, walking the mile long parking lot and subsequently returning to the ship.  Apparently, there was nothing to see from this location. 

The few offered excursions included a bumpy bus ride to “touristy” shopping areas at the cost of $49 per person.  Why spend money to spend money on items we don’t need or want?

As mentioned earlier, we had no problem visiting a few of the same ports we experienced earlier in the month on our journey through the Panama Canal.  We love cruising and visiting two of the same ports in the past three weeks was no different to us than if one was on vacation and awoke in the morning to the same view as the prior day.  No big deal, right?

On to our hotel reservations.  Requiring reservations on two separate nights, May 5, 2013 and June 3, 2013 in Barcelona while we’re between cruises, it was time to book these after we had made our airline reservations from Dubai back to Barcelona with Emirates Airlines last weekend while in Florida.

Here’s how this looks directly from a portion of our itinerary.  The highlighted items are  five of our six remaining cruises.   Everything you see here is booked, as is the reminder of the first 2 1/2 years of our journey which will grow as we continue on:

Belize to Miami  (return trip to Miami from Belize)
3 4/9/2013 –
Cruise Miami to Miami (Caribbean cruise) 7 4/13/2013-4/20/2013
Cruise Miami to Barcelona
Cruise (across the ocean)
11 4/20/2013 -5/1/2013
Cruise Barcelona to Mallorca 4 5/1/2013 – 5/5/2013
Hotel Barcelona 1 5/5/2013 – 5/6/2013
Cruise Barcelona to Dubai 15 5/6/2012 – 5/21/2013
Dubai Condo – High Rise Tower
overlooking Palm Island
13 5/21/2013 – 6/3/2013
Flight Dubai to Barcelona 0 6/3/2013-6/3/2013
Hotel Barcelona 1 6/3/2013-6/4/2013
Barcelona to Venice – Cruise 12 6/4/2013-6/16/2013

As a pleasing point to us, the above first two cruises, beginning on 4/9/2013 and 4/13/2012 respectively, are on the same ship and in the same cabin.  The next two, beginning on 4/20/2013 and 5/1/2013 are also the same ship, same cabin.  This translates into a 10 day stint and a 15 day stint moving only once in between. 

We felt lucky to have been able to do this.  But, after meeting many people aboard ship, apparently avid travelers often book cruises back to back to avoid moving luggage and for the purpose of extending their experience on one particular ship.

Ideally, we wouldn’t have these nights in between the cruises but based on the advice of our cruise guy, Joaquin, at Vacations to Go, it was too risky to plan to get on another cruise on the same day when subject to an airline reservation. 

This is the case on the return flight to Barcelona from Dubai on June 3, 2013.  The earlier date in May was simply an extra day in between two cruises.  That was as tight as we could book these particular two cruises. 

Yesterday, off to Expedia.com we began a search for an affordable highly rated hotel in expensive Barcelona our criteria being:  close to the pier, free WiFi (which we may not need if we have our trusty MiFi), rated four stars or more by Expedia reviewers. 

We lucked out!  Our first reservation for May is $166 a night and the second in June is $140 (both with taxes) and to boot, with a 4.7 our of a possible 5 star rating. We couldn’t be more thrilled. 

Earlier today, while looking online for a storage facility in Barcelona to store our excess baggage during our trips to Dubai, Kenya and South Africa (when we’ll have no choice but to fly), I stumbled across a few travelers who had worked with a number of hotels in Barcelona which were willing to store luggage for a fee for extended periods.  This would be ideal with Barcelona as a central location for many of our comings and goings.

If we can’t convince the hotel to store our bags, there is a huge self service storage facility less than five miles from the hotel.  As time approaches and we have a better feel for what we’ll need in our luggage, we’ll decide if its worth storing two or three large bags or paying for excess baggage fees.  We don’t fly until May leaving us time to figure it out. 

Check out this link for the Grums Hotel in Barcelona for our two separate nights.  We opted for non-refundable reservations for both nights in order to save almost $100. 

How did people travel the world without use of the Internet?  Somehow, they managed, making endless long distance phone calls, using the services of travel agencies, all the while booking directly with each establishment. 

The time saving benefits of using the Internet makes this experience much easier for us.  However, in any case, it still requires an enormous amount of advance thinking and planning.

A few night ago at dinner we spoke to a couple, perhaps a few years older than us, who said they’d spent days planning this single cruise.  They asked, “How in the world did you book one location after another, keeping it all straight?”

The answer is clear to us…bite sized pieces coupled with precise record keeping with absolutely NO RISK of losing the records by storing them in multiple locations.  In our case, we’ve stored all of our records (and photos) in Dropbox of which we each have separate accounts, local copies on the desktops of each of our computers and in each of our Outlook and Gmail accounts.  In addition, my new Windows 8 laptop has the cloud Skydrive where we also store copies.

Thus, if both of our computers were stolen, all of our records (and photos) would be readily available online in our multiple accounts.  This gives us considerable piece of mind. 

Wherever we may go, whatever plans we may make, there will never be a time as we continue to travel the world, that we can stop being mindful of the next location.  Luckily, we both enjoy the process.  Tom may not do as much of the searching as I do but his suggestions and input is equally valuable to us in the process.  Is it overwhelming?  Not at all. 

For me, its not unlike grocery shopping.  If we like homemade food, we make a list,  plan meals creating a menu for the week, whether written or in our heads.  I’ve never tired of grocery shopping.  Each time I walked into the same or a different grocery store, I was challenged by the opportunity to make delicious and varied meals that we or our guests would enjoy.

Its the same with planning our next step in the journey; make a list of that which we desire to do, first consider our existing itinerary, plan a budget, do some research to determine if it is possible and affordable and then…begin booking, all the while documenting the results. 

Actually, I do miss grocery shopping.  After almost 23 days aboard ship with every meal prepared for us, it’ll be time to dig out that little skillet I stuffed into one of our bags and start cooking again. 

In a matter of a mere three days from today, we’ll be tucked into our little beach house in Placencia, Belize figuring out how to get a ride to the grocery store to purchase our first week’s groceries.  Wonder if they’ll have grass-fed meat, organic vegetables, coconut oil, free range chicken and eggs.

If not, well…we’ll improvise.