Friday, April 9, 2010

On the road again: Spain, day 8

Note to self: Always carry a reliable alarm clock, maybe two, to international locations. Why? Because our room lacked a single visible clock. Thus, I had to rely on the hotel for an early morning wake-up call. Never mind that the hotel had been completely reliable in all previous such calls; I'm too paranoid to trust anything I don't control the night before a plane. Take that fact, add too much late-night caffeine, and mix with a full measure of my usual nighttime demons, and you have a sure-fire no-sleep cocktail. I might have gotten an hour of slumber, but I doubt it was that much.

So, morning came entirely too early, and with it the long transit process began. Everything proceeded as one would expect, though I was amazed to find the same woman who always seems to be in the check-in line in front of me, her travel woes requiring infinite explanation, to be in Barcelona as well as U.S. airports.

The least pleasant surprise of the morning was the additional security for U.S. passengers: A man with almost no English searched me manually (and I must say was rather gentle, perhaps too much so; did he wink?), and then completely unpacked my briefcase. This latter act may not sound like much, but that would be only because you've never seen how much I carry in my briefcase.

I was never so happy to have allowed the full three hours in the airport for an international flight.

I'm on the plane now, working after a brief doze. No airplane bandwidth is on offer on American's transatlantic flights, and I consider that to be a great loss. Still, it is not anything I can affect, so I will deal with the accumulated work later.

Every time I get to fly First Class, which we're doing this trip thanks to my many accumulated frequent flier miles, I wish again that I was wealthy enough to do this all the time.

No flight status, however, will save you from a late plane, an altered departure time, and huge lines at Immigration. We had all of those, which led to a lot of fast, sweaty walks and frustrating waits in queues. By the time our plane from Barcelona landed, our initial two-hour window to take-off was down to 90 minutes. We hit every kind of delay, including bad information from airline officials, but we still made it to our plane before they closed the door.

As frequent fliers will guess, what happened next was both frustrating and common: an announcement that we'd have to sit on the tarmac for quite a while due to a taxiing delay.

Still, when the plane leapt into the air, we were on it, and that's what counts in the end.

We arrived smelling like 23 hours of baked ass, but long showers--in my case, first hot and then several cold minutes to wake me fully--fixed that.

My plans for the evening are simple: a little food, a little socializing, a little work (which all too frequently turns into a ton of work), and then a lot of sleep.

I shall enjoy my 37 hours at home.

No comments:


Blog Archive