May 3 & 4, 2003
(Saturday and Sunday)
We've spent all day scrambling about getting ready to leave. Putting stuff in our suitcases, tossing
the cat out of the suitcases, standing on the suitcases to get them closed, adding one more thing to the
Laura in the car on the way to the airport
Our driver arrives and we're off to fabulous Spain! Or rather, we're off to SeaTac to sit around in
the South terminal for a couple of hours.
Robert's sandals set off the metal detector so they get X-rayed and he gets
"wanded" to determine if he's got any metal on his body. Despite the obvious security
risk, they decide to allow Robert through.
We're on board our British Airways 747-400 bound for London. The plane is pretty full (we
count only two empty seats). Robert is delighted because each seat has a tiny
seven inch LCD TV!
...which isn't turned on right now, so he plays with the radio channels instead. We also get a cool
little package that has socks, a sleep mask, toothpaste and a toothbrush. Laura is afraid that after
eight hours (and 50 minutes) of flying, Robert will use the toothpaste to make mustaches for his
Right now it's 2:22 am in London, so we really should be sleeping.
Our in-flight TVs aren't running yet
Laura gets more excited about our trip
Everybody can watch their own show
Laura tries to get comfortable while reading
On the second Med try, we also flew British Airlines. We remember that the airplane meals were
fabulous consisting of real silverware, napkins, and china, along with genuine, non-plastic wrapped
This trip, the utensils are plastic, the napkins are paper, and the food is shrink-wrapped in Sri
One of our two meals on the plane--and rather plainly presented at that
Robert watches Star Trek: Nemesis on his little TV, while Laura
Sunday 12:52 am
One of the channels on the little TV shows a map with a little icon of an airplane, that purports to
show the actual position of the airplane. (Since it's dark outside, we have to take the TV's word
for it.) According to the TV, we're now between Greenland and Iceland.
This shows that we are partway between Greenland and Iceland
If you want to know what this part of the trip is like, lock yourself in a closet for eight hours
(and 50 minutes). Even the TV has run out of things to say--the only active channel is the map
channel. There is only so long you can watch an airplane icon creep along a map.
Sunday, 11:45 am
Robert gets bored and decides to switch over to Spanish time to heighten the jet lag experience.
According to the map channel, we're flying over Belfast right now, but all the window blinds are
closed, so we can't see any Irish people (or soap).
We're on the ground in London, but we're stuck waiting for a parking spot at the gate.
We have to pass through security again, because airport construction has made Heathrow as leaky as a
sieve. This time, it's Laura's possessions that raise suspicions: specifically, her sewing kit.
Several (male) security guys examine it and finally check to make sure that it's really a sewing kit
using the age-old technique of showing it to a woman and asking her what the heck it is.
Fortunately, they reach the conclusion that it's not a weapons-grade sewing kit and let her pass.
A toilet at Heathrow airport (a pretty normal toilet compared to most of the rest of them)
Our plane touches down in Spain. Although it's been a smooth flight, the passengers applaud,
apparently thrilled that they are back in civilization. They all start chatting to each other at the
same time in Spanish at 300 words per minute.
Even Robert is humbled that anybody could talk that fast.
Travelers tip: Spain is a little country. They have little roads, which means they have little cars.
Little cars have little trunks.
If you have five pieces of big luggage, Taxis (consisting of little cars) will laugh at you as they
zoom by. Even when you are at an airport taxi stand.
Translations into English are sometimes a bit lacking
Laura steers our stack of luggage
Robert finally begins making jokes about the size of the trunks ("His trunk is too small!"
as he holds his fingers about two inches apart), and a taxi driver decides that
his trunk is way
more macho than anybody else's (although he uses a bungee cord to keep it closed, and puts about
half our luggage in the front seat).
We see bits of Barcelona on our way in (including the traditional Ikea store). Lots of people on the
streets (one guy wearing a Superman cape, talking to a bunch of his buddies).
How "Ikea" is spelled in Spanish
The driver turns onto a pedestrian plaza and begins zooming along it, while Robert is looking up the
Spanish phrase for "Please don't drive like a maniac" (Por favor, conduzca con mas
cuidado, in case you were wondering). Turns out that he's supposed to drive like that, because
that's where the entrance to our hotel is.
We're finally checked in and we head down to the outdoor cafe downstairs. Here, we gaze across the
plaza at a 8 zillion year old Cathedral, and watch the Sunday parade of people. A couple of kids are
trying to see how high they can kick a soccer ball and still bounce it off their heads while
remaining conscious. A woman wheels her baby along, and is soon surrounded by admiring grandmothers
(no doubt supplying age-old baby-rearing wisdom). From the cathedral, we hear the occasional sound
of opera and applause.
We feel pretty damn cosmopolitan.
Or maybe that's just jet lag....
Signing off from Barcelona and the Hotel Colon
Robert & Laura