Barcelona to London: Top tips from the world's most famous commuter
The Local · 31 Aug 2015, 13:21
Published: 31 Aug 2015 13:21 GMT+02:00
- Eight great commuter flats to rent in Madrid (29 Jul 15)
- Best place to commute to London? It's Madrid (29 Jul 15)
- London's cheapest suburb? It's Barcelona (30 Oct 13)
He first told The Local back in October 2013 how, having done the sums, it could feasibly be cheaper swap his residence in London for a flat in the Catalan capital, make the 930-mile commute a couple of times a week and still save €387 (£330, or $530 according to prices and exchange rates at the time)
Done the sums. Would actually be cheaper for me to rent 2 bed flat in Barcelona+commute to London, than get 1 bed here. Genuinely. Blog it?— Sam Cookney (@Sam_Cookney) October 24, 2013
Three months ago, the 32-year-old who works in social media, decided to do just that and is now enjoying a sunshine filled social life in Barcelona returning to London half a dozen times a month.
His story went viral, an example of how property prices had spiraled out of control in London and coinciding with a campaign pitch by London Labour mayoral candidate Tessa Jowell who argued it was now cheaper for a London worker to commute from Spain than live within central London.
An expert at the five-hour commute between his flat in Barcelona and his office in London via Barcelona’s El Prat and Gatwick Airport, the world’s most famous commuter shares his tips with The Local.
Crazy day. Here's a return flight to Barcelona selfie. (PS I'm still single...) pic.twitter.com/Yk82yTJ2MR— Sam Cookney (@Sam_Cookney) August 5, 2015
1. Booking flights
Firstly, never assume the budget airlines are the cheapest option – just this week I flew British Airways to London, as bizarrely they were the cheapest of all the airlines that particular day. I use www.skyscanner.net to compare routes.
2. Save money on water
Take an empty bottle of water with you to the airport. Barcelona’s Terminal 1 water fountain near the FX bureau dispenses disappointing lukewarm water, but the one next to Pans and Company is ice cold – magic. It saves you spending €3 every trip, which soon adds up.
3. Buy your friends a drink
The Duty Free opens at 6am – when you tell London friends a litre of Tanqueray is currently on offer at €13, you suddenly find an active social life awaiting your arrival.
4. Avoid the germs
A mini bottle of hand sanitiser – essential.
5. GSOH? Not always appreciated
Kurt Geiger shoes have a long strip of metal in their base – it’s a bizarre quirk of the brand that’s known to airport security across Europe. The UK metal detectors seem to be more finely tuned than Spain’s, and always seem to pick them up. After a dozen full body gropes, you give up and realise it’s easier to simply take them off and put them in the scanner. (Do not say “to be honest, I just appreciate the human contact” to the man touching you down again. My sense of humour was *not* appreciated by Gatwick security).
6. Enjoy the views
On the morning flight out, the A seats are the best – the plane banks left up the coast, and you get a great view of Barcelona waking up.
7. Follow the cabin crew
If you’re not in a rush on the way home, take one of the local buses back into the city. They’re a bit slower, but are part of your T-10 pass, so only cost 1€ each way. They’re generally full of cabin crew, which suggests they’re a wise life choice.
8. Avoid the maze and always choose cava over champagne
The quickest route through the obligatory Duty Free is straight on. I know it looks tempting to wriggle in and around the various maze-like stands en route to the exit, but it’s an illusion – just go straight. If you’re lucky, you may get a free shot of whisky (not recommended at 6am, however). There’s a new Moët bar too. This is best avoided. You’re much better off with a decent cava like a Juvé Y Camps, a Mestres, or a Gramona.
9. Come and say hello!
Spot me in the morning? Best to solemnly and silently nod. I’ll understand. Spot me in the evening? Let’s grab a G&T and change the world.
Spain's gin and tonics are just utterly utterly ridiculous.— Sam Cookney (@Sam_Cookney) August 27, 2015