Day 1

May 3 & 4, 2003
(Saturday and Sunday)

3:42 pm

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 suitcases.

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.

4:41 pm

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.

6:22 pm

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 sock puppet.

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

8:43 pm

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 food.

This trip, the utensils are plastic, the napkins are paper, and the food is shrink-wrapped in Sri Lanka.

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 watches About Schmidt.

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).

12:54 pm

We're on the ground in London, but we're stuck waiting for a parking spot at the gate.

1:33 pm

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)

5:34 pm

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.

6:35 pm

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).

Barcelona countryside

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.

7:30 pm

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


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