12 November 2008

The Rain in Spain is Mainly at the Airport

Hola from Barcelona! Here´s the news so far:

Got home from work about an hour before the shuttle came to pick me up which gave me time to shower and change before the flight. Always good when you are going to be traveling for a long time.

The shuttle arrived on time with a very friendly driver who asked if I had my passport & tickets. We had one more stop and then flew to LAX with zero traffic. There was no line at the Swissair counter so I had about 90 minutes to shop, eat, etc. before boarding.

After browsing the Duty Free shop (does anyone really buy that stuff?) and having a snack, I zipped through security, obtained some Euro, then went to the gate. Oddly, the same gate I left from for Ireland in 2006!

Once the flight had boarded, the captain announced there would be a slight delay. It was actually a medical emergency and delayed our leaving for about an hour. They not only had to get the passenger off but also his luggage. I was only nervous because I didn´t have a long layover in Zurich. The flight itself was fine. I didn´t have a seatmate so was able to spread out a bit. I had a personal tv and watched ¨Get Smart¨ and ¨Mamma Mia¨, plus two episodes of ¨Friends¨. I also played Sudoku and read one of MAD´s romance novels (she gives them to me to read on planes). I even managed to sleep!

We landed in Zurich at 4:10pm and my flight to Barcelona boarded at 4:45. I sped through Flughaven Zurich but it looks like a nice place to have a layover. I had to go through security again so I had to put everything back in the plastic bag and toss the water I had bought in LA. A quick passport control line and then boarding commenced.

As soon as we boarded, the captain came on to make the announcement that a passenger had not boarded so we would be delayed while his luggage was removed. It was just my day for that sort of thing.

An uneventful flight during which I slept and we landed in Barcelona in the rain. T texted me to say she would be in the arrivals hall just outside customs. I zipped through Immigration, collected my luggage and met her easily.

While she had been waiting, she had discovered that the Aerobus was a better option to our hotel than the Airport Train so we took that. It was raining as we walked to the stop, but not very hard. We boarded the bus, got our Barcelona card discount on the tickets, and were off.

The bus stopped at La Placa Catalunya and we got off. The tricky part was figuring out which direction our hotel was from there. I knew it was on a pedestrian street so we headed in the direction of the only pedestrian street we could see. Good choice! We were at our hotel in less than 10 minutes. And it wasn´t raining!!

Greeted with cava, everything was great. We had a little trouble with the lights, but it turned out to be the circuit breaker and was fixed in a jiffy. Showered and changed, we headed to dinner at a place suggested by both of our guidebooks and less than 5 minutes walking from our hotel.

El Quatre Gats, now a restaurant, was an artist´s club modeled after Le Chat Noir. Picasso held his first exhibition there. They have a traditional Cataln menu. We had olives, bread, mesclun salad with goat cheese, spinach & goat cheese ravioli, baked cod and roasted goat. A bottle of the house red topped us off.

We stopped in the hotel bar for tea and were asleep in our beds within 30 minutes of finishing dinner.

The agenda for our first day includes the Picasso museum, La Sagrada Familia, Michael Collins Irish Pub (seriously!) and who knows what else.

Stay tuned...

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