First impressions can make or break your travel experiences. SHE's just spent four lovely days in Barcelona and SHE admits there were some high expectations pre-trip. SHE'd been travelling in Morocco for a week and was very much looking forward to exploring another new destination - and what a fantastic experience it proved to be.
Airports are the gateway to a destination and they can be such stressful places. SHE was tired and grumpy: we'd been travelling for most of the day. What a treat to arrive in Barcelona: from the moment we stepped off the plane it was a world of good!
The arrival area was clean and well maintained with good signage and loads of space. Passport control was a breeze: no queues, plenty of open aisles, and no landing cards required here; just present your passport, have it stamped and you're through to baggage claim. In the arrivals hall SHE counted at least 13 carousels - admittedly not all servicing flights at the time of our arrival. SHE braced herself for the long wait (it's often up to 30 minutes for a bag to appear at Sydney International Airport!). And surprise, surprise...within a snappy 10 minutes, the bags rolled out. Load them on a trolley (that's a free trolley!) and it's off to the waiting taxis (nice clean cars too!). Oh hola Barcelona! SHE loves you already!
The icing on the cake: SHE scored Barcelona's friendliest taxi driver. Agustin has won an award for his skills, and rightly so: he's a welcoming, local expert who helped with suggestions on great places to visit, things to do, where to shop, where to eat. First impressions: this city is fabulous! Can't wait to get amongst it!
Imagine if our Australian arrival process was as slick, and hassle free, and so downright welcoming. Imagine if a visitor to our country had such a powerful, positive first impression? There might be more people jumping at the chance to travel to our shores, spreading the word to their friends, and returning again and again. And of course our taxi drivers would greet our visitors with a smile, and be genuinely welcoming, whisk them off to their hotels, sharing some great local facts along the way. Ah yep...right. SHE's just dreaming...