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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Flying and flying and flying to Barcelona

I hated leaving Budapest. I am now obsessed with getting back there someday. I can't recommend it as a destination too much or too often.

But we had to move on, so we took a very early flight to Prague and then on to Barcelona from there. We didn't exactly expect what happened on the way, but then, you never do.

We couldn't see the plane from our gate, because our gate led to a bus. Well, that's no big deal; it happens all the time. So we got on the bus, and rode and rode and rode until we were at the furthest taxiway from the terminal, and there we found a tiny turbo-prop plane, which I thought was an antique. And I wasn't wrong; but they still fly it. We had already checked one bag each, but when we arrived at the plane, they took the other one as well. Whatever! It was only an hour flight. I still had my shoulder bag.

The little old plane was, indeed, able to hoist itself into the air, and we chugged on over to Prague. At some point, Joyce got the idea in her head that either because of a time change or a screw-up, we were an hour late and might not make our connection. We did a wild charge through the lovely new Prague airport, arrived sweating but not quite naked at our gate, only to discover she had mistaken the boarding time for the take-off time, and I never had a chance to stop and actually look at anything because we were so frantic to make the transfer. And then, of course, we left late anyway. Next to our pen, I mean, waiting area, there was a flight to Tel Aviv getting ready, including several dozen brats shrieking all at the same time. I bet their parents had bought them ALL one way tickets.

And that wasn't the only flying thing we were dumb about. There really was a time change between Budapest and Barcelona, someplace, and our brains were so fried at that point, we just couldn't figure it out. I thought we had a four hour flight from Prague to Barcelona. It wasn't even two! Oh, and again, at the gate, they took our unchecked bags, saying they were too big. It's true, they don't fit the little measuring box at the gates; but they never have. They fit just fine in the overheads, though. And plenty of people who boarded after us carried huge things on. Ours are quite small in comparison; small and soft, not the those enormous hard-sided things on wheels with a laptop strapped on top. Ours hold about 25 pounds and convert to backpacks. We aren't big enough to carry more. And we don't have that much crap, anyway.

But that gave us the strange experience of walking through the Barcelona airport entirely unencumbered by bags. I would never have checked everything on purpose; we all know what happens to checked bags. But gee, it was a relief for a change. And the bags did show up, and we got into a taxi, and our entire time inside the Barcelona airport, from de-planing to taxi, was 45 minutes. Incredible. I guess they got it all fixed up for the Olympics, and it's fantastic. Paris should send observers from Charles De Gaulle airport to see how it ought to be done. In fact, everyone should. A model airport for sure.

And a good omen for our stay in Barcelona, too. It's a long way from the airport donwtown but they have great roads and there's lots to see. Our driver gave us the tour in Spanish. I would guess we understood about half of it. It was enough. We kept saying to him how beautiful the city is. It's got to tbe the best place in the world to study architecture, but if you studied there, you would never build anything of your own. It's just too intimidating.

We had nothing scheduled for that evening so we went for a swim and to dinner. This was our first-ever boutique-y little hotel. Its name and address are the same: 83 Granados. The staff dress like mafia with urban camouflage t-shirts under black suits.

Here's a look down the elevator shaft from the fourth floor. That's the lobby, the reception desk, and some objets d'art down there.

This is the elevator shaft from the roof:

And here's our room. Camera's gone blurry again.

And the rooftop bar area and plunge pool.

Finally here's the tapas bar we ate in. These are such cute little places, and they are all over the place, just like pollerias in Quito. Although we ate in, dining on the sidewalk is always an option.

Barcelonans stop here on the way home from work, sit out and talk with friends. When they are with other real humans in the same place, they are not on their cell phones. They actually pay attention to whomever they're with. Imagine that! Oh, and they walk around a lot, just for recreation, and to see each other, and talk. In person. They use their cell phones when alone, not with others. I can't emphasize that enough. For those of you who don't get it, think harder. This is what all humans used to do before cell phones. They met in person and talked face to face. These people still choose to do that.

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