Saturday, February 11, 2012

And finally, the trip ends...

We left Spain on a Tuesday. We had to get up bright and early to get to the airport. Kym, Kyle, Alan, Erin, David, and I were all on the same flight. Lea and Amit were on a later flight, and Kelly an even later one. The six of us were up pretty early, putting all the beds and mattresses back in their proper places, as quietly as possible so the others could continue snoozing.

Sigh. It was sad to leave. It is always hard to see a vacation come to an end. This one was particularly so because I felt there were so many things I still wanted to see. We didn't get nearly enough time in Barcelona or Madrid. I didn't see the bull ring in Sevilla. I wish we'd eaten more tapas. And seen more Flamenco. And we didn't get to see the market in Barcelona. So many things left undone.

But, it was time to go. Fortunately, getting to the airport was relatively quick and painless. Sure, my backpack weighed about a million pounds, what with the wine and olive oil inside. But, we had a very short walk to the Metro and then we were on our way.

The Madrid-Barajas airport is really, really huge. I think we were flying Continental. After we got off the Metro, we actually had to walk a ways to get into the airport proper. Then it was the never ending walk to find out check-in counter. I'll put it to you this way - we had to go to counter 437 or something. We started down by number 1. I'm not kidding - I think it was at least a quarter-mile walk, maybe a half-mile, past an never-ending array of airlines. Some with just one little counter, like Qatar Air. Some counters had a line stretching as far as you could see of people waiting to check in. I thought we would walk forever...this on no breakfast and no coffee. By the time we got to the Continental counter, I was soaked in sweat and pretty grumpy. There was a decent sized line there so I just threw everything on the ground and started sort of kicking it along with my feet.

Luckily, an airline employee let us know we could use the self-check in where there was no line, so I dragged my bags over there and we were able to get checked in and get rid of the super heavy bags pretty quickly. Happiness! Of course, this was not without its glitches. When Kyle swiped his passport, it asked him if he was "Javier Germikulitchtenstein" or something like that. But, eventually we were on our way.

I did have a little aggravation when we went through security. Apparently, my Kindle needed to be removed from my bag. The security lady started talking to me in Spanish and I kindly told her I didn't speak Spanish. So, she told me she needed to know what was in my bag. So I showed her, and she started speaking to me in Spanish again. Lady! I just told you I don't speak Spanish. I had to put all my stuff through the machine again. Sigh.

But, finally we were through and we found a little cafeteria/deli with some breakfast sandwiches and coffee. David and I were able to use up the last of our Euros. I also saw a guy try to put his sandwich, paper wrapper and all, in the toaster. Ooops!

Once we got to the area where our gate was, we could not leave and wander around the airport. We were trapped with only a duty free shop and some vending machines to keep us occupied. And the duty free shop was sort of lame. I just wanted some snacks - not a box of chocolates or a bottle of rum. Sigh.

I don't remember much of the flight from Madrid to JFK in New York. I watched movies. We had some lunch. I read some. We had a snack. When we got off the plan, we walked through first class...oh my gosh. It looked so nice...seats that go back to horizontal, little bags of complimentary toiletries. That is the way to fly to Europe.

JFK is the worst airport ever. We had an incredibly long walk to our gate. It was crowded. The bathrooms were gross. The bright spot was a voicemail from my sister stating she wanted her voice to be the first I heard when I arrived home. I still have that voicemail saved. Unfortunately, she was beaten to the punch by the massage salon I go to.

The flight to Minneapolis was the worst. Ugh. There is nothing like knowing you have a four hour flight ahead of you and there isn't an exciting new country you've never been to waiting for you at the end. Don't get me wrong; I was excited to be home. But...ugh.

When we arrived back in Mpls we discovered that somewhere between customs in New York and the baggage carousel in Mpls, Kyle's back-pack had been completely destroyed by the airline. I think all these months later he is still trying to get that resolved. It appeared as though it had spent considerable time being dragged on the tarmac behind a fast moving vehicle, resulting in a broken wine bottle and now useless backpack.

Thank goodness my bag was okay and our wine was safe. David and I headed to the light rail station and shared a train with some guy who was obviously visiting from out of town. He spent the entire time talking loudly on the phone to his wife about making sure the kids get to bed a a decent time. I wished we were still in Spain so I would not have had to understand his innane conversation. Then we had a really awful bus ride on a bus that was much more crowded than would have expected at that time of night. Next time, I want someone to pick me up at the airport!

And then we were home! Home sweet home...our own bed, our own kitchen, our own TiVo waiting with our favorite programs! Yay!

And that my friends, is the end of the trip!

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