Europe Spring 2024: introduction + flights

by | Jun 4, 2024 | International Travel, Travel

We have long wanted to try an extended stay in Europe, but previously stuck to 1-2 week long trips due to our dogs. Finding ourselves dog-free for the first time in 15 years we decided to finally try a remote-working stay, and ultimately booked ourselves an apartment for 4+ weeks of remote work in Valencia, Spain, followed by a week of vacation in Croatia. In between we also managed a quick weekend trip to Mallorca, and we book-ended the trip with stops in Madrid and Chicago.

It was a lot of work to setup all the details, but it was worth it as we made a ton of memories.

  • Valencia was a great base for us and we were rather sad to leave it after our month – we definitely want to return in the future.
  • Mallorca was a fun weekend trip and we’d love to check out the northern section.
  • Madrid was hectic as usual, with lots of interesting food; plus we got to see Rafael Nadal at the Madrid Open.
  • Chicago was a fun overnight filled with jazz and food.
  • Croatia was filled with waterfalls and wine, two of our favorite things!

Flights

ORD > MAD
Iberia was flying out of terminal 3 this time, which meant that we had better lounge access (AA flagship) than the sad offerings of terminal 5. We toasted the start of our trip with champagne, followed by Italian beef sandwiches and chocolate cookies. Our view was nice too.

Boarding was relatively easy- the lounge announced boarding, and indeed, it was underway when we got the gate a few minutes later. We wound our way to the front and then straight on the plane and our seats in row 1. We didn’t love the front seats as it was a staging area for staff throughout the flight, we would look for options further back next time. Also, the flight was fairly turbulent, so staff struggled to get food out, and we got less sleep than normal.

MAD > ORD
For our daytime flight back to the US we had seats 1 and 2 on the left side of the plane. Seat 1A is fairly annoying – your feet are almost in the aisle, and it is close to the light of the galley. For some reason the staff on this plane poured me a red Ribiero wine when I asked for the white Rueda on two separate occasions. I actually asked them how I was supposed to pronounce it but I didn’t get a good answer (I didn’t have a problem with this over 5 weeks in Spain). I think they were just assuming that a male would want red wine? Otherwise the flight was unremarkable – service was minimal, the food was fine, and we each got a small nap in on the way back.

VLC > PMI > VLC
Metro ride to the end of Line 5 was easy and not as busy as feared for 8:30 in the morning on a Friday. Made it through security super quick with our backpacks and headed for the lounge. Lots of breakfast food options and plenty of seating, it was quite a pleasant surprise!

Our flight to Palma was short and uneventful with more legroom than I would expect on BA or even AA regular economy.

PMI is a bigger airport than VLC, but we followed signs to bus depot, got our return ticket from the machine, and were underway without much difficulty. Lots of stops around the perimeter of the city, which is bigger than expected.

We did the reverse to get back to the airport and left a little early so we could hang out in the lounge. The space was a little smaller than expected, but food and drink options were reasonable. Our flight back to VLC was short, 35 mins, and we got ‘upgraded’ to an exit row by a flight attendant.

MAD > ZAG > MAD
In Madrid boarding was messy – we were first in line for group 3, and staff insisted our bags had to be checked. I pulled out my OneWorld card to make sure they put priority tags on the luggage, and all of a sudden our bags were acceptable… The plane was warm but the XL seats provided a good amount of room in our row. On the flight back from Zagreb we also had the XL seats, plus it was less crowded and we had an open seat between us.

In Madrid we had access to the Plaza Mayor lounge which was crowded the evening before a public holiday, but we found a spot in the back room. They had three different cavas available, so Leandra arranged a taste off – I liked Cavas Hill on the left (more acidity), L liked the middle Patriarche Heritage (richer flavor).

Cavas Hill 1887 Brut, Patriarche Heritage Brut, Conde de Caralt Brut

In Zagreb the Primeclass lounge was quite large but fairly quiet on a Tuesday evening. We topped off our device batteries and tried some of the sodas, including a tangerine Schweppes, and had some snacks prior to our flight.

Our Itinerary

2024 Trips

San Diego, CA (Jan)
Sarasota, FL (Feb)
Madrid, Spain (Mar)
Valencia, Spain (Mar+Apr)
Palma, Mallorca (Apr)
Croatia (May)
Long Island, NY (July)
Faroe Islands (Aug)
London, UK (Sept)
Bari, Italy (Sept)
Rome, Italy (Oct)
Frankfurt, Germany (Oct)
Grand Rapids, MI (Nov)

2022 Trips

Florida (Feb)
NC Mountains (Apr)
Washington DC (Apr)
Valencia, Spain (May)
Hilton Head, SC (May)
Pacific NW (Jun)
Long Island (Jul)
Florida (Sept)
Chicago (Sept)
Poland (Sept)
NC Mountains (Nov)
Euro Xmas Markets (Dec)