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Trip Log 26.  Day 28. "We're on our way home, We're going home" - The Beatles ("Two of Us")

Tuesday, November 9, 2010. Flying East

Good morning. It's a blue sky day, and it appears that the wind has calmed down a bit. It's just a little before 8 am. I'm counting luggage pieces - there should be seven. Let's see, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and two more, 6 and 7. All here.

Ramon's son Marc comes and helps us with the luggage, though Ramon and I got it down from the top floor to the middle floor.

Marc helps get it out to the car.

I say to Emma, "Our gift to you is to give you back your house." She says, "Na na na na, na na, na na..." We all laugh. This is something I've been doing at parties and restaurants we've been to here to entertain and amuse. It's that old fake magic act a comedian used to do. He holds a towel in from of him, the lower end of it touching the floor. He lifts it, and you see his two feet. Back down to the ground, he lifts it again. Only one foot. Drop, lift again. Other foot. And all the time he's singing' this tune, which I don't know how to describe except to say, "Na na na na, na na, na na."

You hadda be here.

We load into the car, and Ramon says, "Where to now?" To which I respond, "Airport." And off we go.

As we head out past the unmanned guard shack, Ramon reaches out and takes the top one from a stack of free newspapers. "Do you want it?" he says to Sharon Sharon says, "No, it's in Spanish." Ramon says, "No, it's Catalon," as if to follow that up with, "so you CAN read it." Sharon says, "I'll give it to Enric (our Spanish neighbor and friend)." Ramon says, "No, it's in Spanish," knowing about Enric and that he grew up in Barcelona. Who's on first?

Sharon says it was interesting watching a policeman give a parking ticket to a van. He put the ticket under the windshield wiper, then took a picture from the front of the van, aiming at the ticket. Then he took a picture from the back, showing the license plate. Obviously their procedure was formal, based on ways illegal parkers had gotten off in previous incidents.

Sharon is tickled by a sign that says, "Tiempo is Money." Ramon drives on.

Seeing a field of artchokes, I ask Sharon how much are the artichokes, and she says, "Three for a dollar." Then she says, "Tell Ramon that joke." I say, "I can't. He'll miss our turnoff." It's about twenty till eleven now.

We are looking for Terminal 1, Departures. The choices were 1 arriveos or terminal 1 salidos, which means exit. Sharon panics, thinking exit means exit on the road, from the airport. But I put dos and dos together to reason that it must mean departures by air, not exit by car. Then she relaxes, as it becomes clear soon. {Me, panic? Moi?}

11:00 OK, we're at the airport, at check in. Ramon has let us off. Thanks Ramon! {Ramon wanted to park in the garage and help us through the airport. But my nervousness about time leads me to ask him to just drop us off at the front gate as I am afraid that organizing our luggage and walking it in from the garage would take longer. We have to convince him that our friends in the States always just drop us off as he really wants to help us.} Our luggage takes up so much space, that there isn't room for Emma, so she neither met us when we arrived, nor sees us off.

I hook up our luggage and we snake it to the entrance and into the terminal, where we get in line.

The helpful attendant guides us to the machine automatica. We have bags, are checking three. One is way under the limit, one is 19 and the other is 20 kilos, versus a limit of 23. So then the check-in lady gets real serious, and says she's going to ask us some questions. We're all business too. Actually tourist, but never mind. She asks how long we have owned our suitcases. She asks me to name all the electronics I have. She asks if anybody has given us anything to put in any suitcase. She asks if we have sent any of our electronics out for repair.

She seems to like our answers, and gives us the big AOK. Sharon asks if anybody has yet told her today that she's doing a good job. She blows her whistle, and yells for security. Nah, just kidding. She says thank you and wishes us a good trip. Big smile, very friendly.

When we checked in, not only did I get boarding passes for here in Barcelona, but also continuation boarding passes for JFK when we get to New York. I also have luggage pickup tickets for our three checked bags. {Way to go, Bob. His organization has paid off so many ways on this trip. But don't drink the water!}

We go through security, and this is the best designed security entrance I've seen. It's huge, with each line coming not to just a line but a big inverted 'U', so there's lots of containers and space to unload all our cra-, uh stuff. No pressure, nobody's holding up anybody else. {In Italy and here in Barcelona, we don't have to take off our shoes. First time in years that is true for me.}

After security, we repack our carry-ons, and pass a "no turnaround" sign. Sharon's disappointed because she wanted to do some last minute shopping before we leave. I think I even encouraged her to depend on this. Anyway, there's only about one shop that's available after the no-turnaround point She picks up some things, and then we head out again for the gate.

Having emptied my water container, I purchase two bottles getting 16.40 euros back from a 20 euro note. {Unfortunately, being so sick, Bob had forgotten his great Thermos water bottle in Stephen's car when he let us off at Ramon's. He has been making do with plastic bottles until he can get a new steel one.}

We are leaving with about 100-150 euros. Let's call it an investment at 1.37 dollars per euro. If things continue on, in a few months the euro is going to be worth 1.50 dollars again.

We board late but quickly, and take off within ten minutes of the advertised time. This is on American Airlines. Great.

(L) View from the gate. (R) Did anybody see a Hoopoe out their window?

(L) Tibidabo and Communications Tower on top of that hill in the distance. (R) Time to New York

(L) We're next. (R) ... AND THEY'RE OFF!

Sharon noticed this extremely cool thin jet of vapor arcing over the wing, out our window. Doesn't she miss ANYTHING?

I have sent an email to our fantasy football commissioner, but didn't hear back from him. I'll have to check when we get into JFK, or call him to make sure he gets my message.

After taking off, we have lunch, and I chose paella with chicken. Mmmm good. The salad not so much. But good bread, butter and Bel Paesa cheese, coconut cookies and crackers. Plus my diet coke. No pecksi.

Now the cool thing about this is that we are in a 2-4-2 (or 2-3-2, I forget) seating arrangement. We have the two seats next to the window on the left side of the plane, so Sharon's on the aisle and I'm on the window. We're in an emergency exit, so there is about six extra inches of foot room. Man, this is luxury. I'm going to go for this on all our future trips. It's like being in business or first class. I review the diagrams to make sure I know how to take the window panel out.

I start a crossword puzzle, and Sharon knits. I take a break to sleep, and after a bit, Sharon wakes me up with, "Drinks Coming."

Time passes.

I get a couple of pictures of our JFK arrival.

I like the group of vehicles ready to move snow or push an airplane out of the way if it takes too much time to get to the gate.

Well we get to JFK fine, go through customs (we're way under the dollar limit above which you have to pay duty) and passport control, turn our three checked bags back in for continuation to San Fran. We pick up some snacks and food at JFK, I call our neighbor about picking us up, but get voice mail, so I let him know we're on schedule. So John and maybe Jan will meet us at SFO after we get our luggage.

By takeoff time, it's sundown and gorgeous,

This shot is from the terminal.

then we're off for a quiet, normal-seat, non-emergency-row, cramped quarters six or so hours to SFO. A little sleep, some crossword puzzles, a movie, no food except what we brought. All very quiet.

Window-seat Sharon gets this photo of the cabin reflection plus San Francisco lights plus the moon at upper right. One of my favorite sites - not the moon, I mean San Francisco Bay Area night lights from the air.

We have an arrangement with neighbors and friends John and Jan where the pickup person goes to the cell phone parking lot. When the arriving person gets in, that person calls the parking lot person to alert him. Then when you pick up your luggage and are outdoors, make the final call, and the parking lot person gets to the pickup point in about five minutes. An excellent design.

And it works just like that. John and Jan both meet us, John stores all our luggage in the trunk except for small items we want to keep inside the car, and gives us a luxury ride home. The roads are wet and it's been raining a bit in the Bay Area. They fill us in a bit on what's been going on in the last month.


We get home, John helps us put our luggage into the garage, we thank them, then it's Hello Kitty as we must seem like catnip to our cat Boomerang, or Boomer to us. He L-O-V-E-S Sharon to pieces, like meeces. You never heard such purring.

It's great to be home.

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