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When I started my retirement travels - the first of which was my solo overseas trip to Italy in 2009 - I wanted a way to share it with family and friends as it happened. Hence, "My Travel Journal". However I realized I wouldn't always be on a trip and wondered what to do with the blog in between times. My daughter pointed out, wisely, that travels can also include trips to the kitchen to try a new recipe, trips to visit family, trips to my neighborhood Starbucks, or a fun day trip with a friend. You're welcome to join me on any of these journeys!

P.S. I've set up separate pages for each of my major trips (see tabs above).

I recently added an "Italian Word a Day" thingie which shows up at the bottom of every page. You see the word and can click to hear it pronounced. I've been enjoying it and I think my accent is improving as time goes by.

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October 22, 2015

In Barcelona and finally out of Barcelona

It's 5:15 a.m. EST - 11:15 a.m. Barcelona time.  My plane to Madrid leaves at 4:10 p.m. so I have a kind of ridiculous wait.  We arrived from Philadelphia around 4:00 a.m. our time I think or maybe 2:00 - at any rate it was a good flight aside from the fact that nothing seemed to work - I couldn't get on line with my phone or computer (except for one brief moment on the computer) and the darned movie thing was hopeless.  I had decided that this trip I was going to watch something to make the time pass a little faster and my screen just wasn't working well.  But the seats were certainly more comfortable than some I've had and there were actually empty seats which is unusual.  There was an empty between me and a couple in my row so we were able to push the extra arm rests up out of the way.  They were nice and chatty without being overly so - we kind of cut the chit chat once we were truly on our way.  And I think I actually slept a little on this one.  I remember looking at my watch and seeing it was only 10:30 p.m. and thinking OMG!  I came back to my seat and fooled around a little bit and tried to doze off for probably an hour or two but then I think I DID doze off for an hour or two cause I awoke to the stewardess saying they would be bringing around yogurt and drinks prior to landing!  That was nice to hear.

I took a picture of the plane that went from Baltimore to Philadelphia where I connected to my Barcelona flight.  It is the smallest plane I've ever been on and we were in flight for about 18 minutes!    Seems so silly when I could just as easily have flown direct to Barcelona from Baltimore or DC but it was a frequent flyer miles trip so I'm not quibbling.  You can't tell from the picture that it's real small but it was.  That made me think I should take a picture of every plane I'm on this trip but of course I forgot to take one of the Barcelona plane which was a biggie.  Four seats down the middle and two seats on each side.


And, Chris, they had a beautiful glass exhibit there at the airport along with a permanent really wonderful decorative art I guess you'd call it.  I took a couple worthless pics of the glass but there was no way to take pictures of their artwork that ran along with the moving sidewalks.  They were tiny little brown cutouts of birds in various stages of flying and resting and it took passing several of them by before I finally realized they were shapes of birds in flight.  The very last one was of an airplane in flight.  Neat!

 These look huge and they were nice sized but table sized - biggish table, I guess.
My only complaint about everything so far is that the stewardesses on the Barcelona flight were just really kind of unpleasant.  I don't believe I ever saw a smile and if you asked a question, the response was very brusque and was made as they continued walking past your seat so too bad if you still needed help.

And me being me, I've already suffered my first injury.  We got to Barcelona and instead of using those tunnels to go from the plane to the terminal they announced that we would have to use steps like the old days and then get the bus to the terminal.  No, I didn't fall down the stairs.  But when I went to get on the bus, I guess I didn't step high enough, stubbing my foot against the stair and falling into the bus.  Got my pants all wet cause there was a puddle, scraped the bottom of my leg bloody, and felt like a fool.  But the pants are now dry and fortunately Heather gave me a little traveller's aid kit one time and there was a large patch type bandaid so that's all taken care of.

There are lots of shops here, of course, and little cafes.  It's a beautiful airport so I'll probably wander for a bit and have a little something to eat at some point.  The photo doesn't really give an idea of the lightness and vastness of the place.  That green is green glass (opaque) so it has a sheen and the entire building is made with that and regular glass  - at least that's how it looked to me.

This is just a shot from the plane window as we were descending for arrival at Madrid.  As far as I can remember, that was a nice easy flight - in fact I had all three seats in my row to myself!

Once at the airport in Madrid I had to find my way to the train to take me to Atocha train station while lugging my "feels like a hundred pounds but is only 33 pounds!" luggage with me.  But I've learned - don't try to find something and then ask questions, just start by asking questions.  So I got my ticket and got down the escalator to the platform and then asked three young people if they were waiting for the same train and they were.  From then on, it was just labor - getting the luggage on and off the train - up and down escalators at the Atocha station (the escalators are killers with luggage), more questions outside the station to try to make sure I was on the right track to walk to my hotel and then the horrendous walk to the hotel which wasn't very far at all but was over uneven cobble-type sidewalks and then those rubber bump type things that go from sidewalk to road.  I finally saw the glorious name of my hotel on top of a building across the street, got over there, could barely get myself in the very narrow door with my great load, and got checked in with my signature on all the various docs illegible because I was so shaky by then.  Came upstairs and calmed myself a little, changed clothes and by now I think it was 8:00 p.m. (2:00 p.m. our time so I had now been up (and working darn it!) for probably about 31 or 32 hours.

Had a chat with the very nice lady at the desk about a place to eat a real meal since I had only been eating airplane food and airport bits and pieces and she suggested the restaurant right there in the hotel.  Even went and got the menu to show me and explain what a couple of the things were.  So, even though at home I don't think a whole lot of hotel restaurants (at least hotels I can afford), I opted for that and hoped for the best.

I ordered prawns for my primo and fresh fish for my secondo - how's that for nifty?  The prawns were actual prawns, not shrimp and they had their heads still with them.  I think you're supposed to eat the whole thing, and I was going to try but when I got to the head part and got a glimpse of the inside I decided no, I'll leave those for the alley rats.  But they were tasty and I ate them all with some very nice very crusty bread. Oh, and of course - a glass of rijoa wine which was delicious.

Then came the fish and I'll let the picture below tell you how I felt about it.  This also came with head still attached - but I don't think that's supposed to be eaten.  :)  I was enjoying myself so much by then I ordered another glass of wine and when I couldn't find anymore fish to eat, even ordered a funny little cake for dessert.  And that whole, delicious meal was 12.90E!!  That's maybe $14.00?


So I staggered back through the lobby and up to my room and I got as far as uploading these last three pictures and was thinking I'd get this post sent before midnight back home time but just couldn't do it.  I crawled into my bed and was asleep almost instantly I think.  Woke up once in the night for a bathroom visit, and woke up again and it was 11:00 a.m.!!  I am feeling exceptionally better and think since it's so late, I will just try walking up to the royal palace with the idea of going inside, but maybe by the time I get there, I'll just decide to walk back.  I am going to visit the Prado Museum tonight so if I don't go into the palace, I'll at least make one tourist visit.  Madrid is really my waiting room for my stay in Barcelona with Chris and Heather.

Adios for now!

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