Spain, Planes, and transport Pains!

by Debra Chappell

View from Las Ramblas – Barcelona:

Mood Reading: ZZZZ’s (after a week of debauchery – finally got a good 9 hours in!)

After 34 hours, 3 layovers and enough airline food to challenge the healthiest of digestive tracts, we arrived in Barcelona hot, tired, and rumpled to bits…only to find our bags hadn’t!  They were apparently still sitting on a tarmac somewhere between London and Paris so – what’s a girl to do? Run around Las Ramblas for two days in the same sink-rinsed underwear and the wrinkled, not so fresh pink shirt worn the previous 34 hours and now smelling more than slightly fragrant – that’s what! 

After touching down and assessing the state of affairs, we did what anyone with extensive crisis management skills would do, headed for the nearest bar.  Actually, we’d heard of Cerveseria Cataluna — a terrific Tapas bar with just as terrific Sangria located just off of Las Ramblas – and headed there immediately.  After such a brutal beginning, it was just the ticket to boost our disheartened spirits and dragging nervous systems.  The city is vibrant, noisy, jam packed and pulsing until 2 in the morning, and that’s on a Monday night!  Our inner clocks being completely shattered by this time anyway, we found ourselves partaking of the local customs and falling into bed at about 1:30am.

Woke up the next day mid morning a bit worse for the wear but summoning reserves of adrenaline enough to get out of bed for a new adventure. The hubby had already run off to the stadium for the men’s pole vault qualification at the World Junior Track and Field Championships, which left me free to shop, sip cappuccino and otherwise explore the city – a tedious job I know but I’m always happy to do my part.  I explored the Barcelona Cathedral, the outdoor markets, several boutiques, and more nooks, crannies, and alleyways than you can shake a stick at.  Needless to say – had an absolute blast.  Also found it highly ironic that I could negotiate the subway system in Barcelona better and more efficiently than I had in New York months earlier, and with less of a language barrier!

We dined later that evening (much later that is, no one even thinks about eating before 10pm) with some friends from stateside, coaches and athletes we’ve known for years, and wound up at the rooftop outdoor bar (with a fabulous view of the city) of one of them until 2am.  Exhausted but reeling still from a great evening with old friends, we staggered back to our hotel with the great hope that our suitcases had finally been delivered to the front desk as promised by the airline. Though I had by this time, dispensed with the now infamous and wafting “pink shirt” in favor of a  6 Euro billowy blouse I’d found at a market earlier, I wasn’t looking forward to doing more sink laundry at two in the morning.

Alas, the only bags that had appeared were the new ones compounding under our eyes so off to bed we went again, setting the alarm clock to rouse us before midday the following day.  As my head hit the pillow I had the fleeting thought perhaps the late-night city life was more suited to the young but then, I banished it as quickly as it appeared and am quite sure was snoring happily in short order!


To be continued…